Every few months there’s another finger-wagging piece about models in the fashion industry. Generally, the topic is weight: the epidemic of anorexia; the efforts underway to mandate a minimum weight; praise for more robust models (more robust meaning a few pounds above malnourishment).

The other topic that crops up is age. It was recently reported that some runway models are as young as 13. This hardly seems surprising. If you search “Teen Models” online, you’ll find pages of agencies geared to this group.

But what exactly is the problem with very young models? Is the issue one of child labor? Plenty of teenagers work in theater and play sports in front of large audiences. Those activities don’t warrant outrage.
More… “Face Value”

Paula Marantz Cohen is Dean of the Pennoni Honors College and a Distinguished Professor of English at Drexel University. She is the host of  The Drexel InterView, a unit of the Pennoni Honors College. The Drexel InterView features a half-hour conversation with a nationally known or emerging talent in the arts, culture, science, or business. She is author of five nonfiction books and six bestselling novels, including Jane Austen in Boca and Jane Austen in Scarsdale or Love, Death, and the SATs. Her essays and stories have appeared in The Yale ReviewThe American Scholar, The Times Literary Supplement, and other publications. Her latest novels are Suzanne Davis Gets a Life and her YA novel, Beatrice Bunson’s Guide to Romeo and Juliet.


You may have noticed that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City contains strange rooms. They are tucked away in the European Interiors section or back in the American Wing. These rooms do not display simply art or artifacts; they display other rooms. Or you could say that the rooms themselves are the display. In the American wing, you can see the interior of an old colonial house, or something tasteful from the  Edwardian era. There is an entire living room designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, originally part of the Little House in Wayzata, Minnesota. In the European section of the museum, the interiors give you a glimpse of palace life in the 17th century and the salons of the 18th century.

One great way to briefly turn the conversation toward myself at a party is to answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with, “I’m a writer.” Not that most of the people I’ve met at parties have read my novels or short stories or feature articles; when they ask, “Have I seen any of your stuff?” I shrug and the conversation moves on. If I want attention for an hour or so, however, I’ll tell them my horrible secret — for several years I made much of my freelance income writing term papers.

I always wanted to be writer, but was told from an early age that such a dream was futile. After all, nobody ever puts a classified ad in the paper that reads “Writers Wanted.” Then, in the Village Voice, I saw just such an ad. Writers wanted, to write short pieces on business, economics, and literature…. More…

Spend more than a day at the North American International Auto Show and you realize that there are many tricks to selling a car, and few involve the car. It can mean putting stuff on the roof, to convey a particular lifestyle through a kayak (Volkswagen), or a bike or snowboard (Suzuki). If you’re MINI, it’s a DJ and team of twenty-somethings who wear matching blue fleece jackets and tight blue jeans one day, and matching red sweatshirts and tight black pants the next. If you’re Ford, it’s the Ford VJ station, at which one can tape a video message to be displayed on a floor-to-ceiling screen. (“Does this have something to do with the technology in the cars?” I asked. “Nope,” an eager VJ told me. “It’s just for fun!”) Toyota has a game stage where you can win M&Ms for answering questions about watershed moments in Toyota history,… More…

I was 20 minutes into a knock-off reality television show called Make Me a Supermodel — which pits aspiring male and female models against one another — before I started to wonder how I had gotten sucked into the absurdity of it all. It took another 10 minutes to muster the discipline to turn it off.

It was enthralling television in spite of its derivativeness and dithering dialogue. Dominic recalled how everyone always told him that he should model and Perry told us that he was only auditioning for the show because his girlfriend insisted, while Aryn swore that modeling had always been her dream and Holly cried when she talked about how proud her family would be if she became a model.

Up until the moment I turned it off, I was completely caught up in the excitement of looking at beautiful people, figuring out what made them particularly… More…