Yesterday around 11:00 am, when news of L’Wren Scott’s suicide hit social media–the world was shocked not only at news of the designer’s death but also media’s treatment of it. Twitter headlines announced the death of “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend,” touting the suicide as a tabloid scandal. These weren’t celebrity news sources–they were publications that knew better, such as the New York Times and BBC.
However, twitter wasn’t the only outlet that dispersed news of “Mick Jagger’s Girlfriend” allegedly committing suicide—the headline was all over online articles, television, and radio reports. The media believed the only reason we could possibly care about the death of L’Wren Scott was because of her high profile celebrity relationship with the Rolling Stones frontman.
It didn’t matter that Scott was discovered by Bruce Weber at the age of 18 and became a big name runway model. It didn’t matter that she went on to pursue a styling career, becoming the official stylist for the Oscars in 2000. It didn’t matter that she launched her own collection and outfitted the likes of our First Lady, Angelina Jolie, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Christina Hendricks. It didn’t matter that she designed entire wardrobes for hit films such as Oceans Thirteen.
Most importantly, it didn’t matter that she openly stated, “I’m a fashion designer. I don’t want to be defined as someone’s girlfriend.”
Image via Telegraph.co.uk
As soon as L’Wren was found dead, her accomplishments, career, and hard work no longer counted. The media scaled her down to a mere name tacked on the end of Jagger’s other female conquests—Marianne Faithfull, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, and L’Wren Scott. Attention was turned to Jagger’s devastation as a feeding frenzy for media consumption. Buzz surrounded the inconvenient cancellation of the Australian branch of the Stones’ tour. However, unlike news of other fashion designer suicides such as Alexander McQueen’s, retrospects of her career and life were few.
Our treatment of L’Wren Scott’s death reveals not only an isolated failure, but a disease endemic to our society—the belief that a woman cannot be beautiful and successful without a male’s support. We still treat women’s success as an anomaly that needs to framed by the question “Who supported her?” and validated by a supportive male presence.
Even in death, sexism lives on.
Image via Telegraph.co.uk
Acknowledging that there’s an issue with our media’s treatment of L’Wren Scott’s suicide, promotes equality not only for the designer’s legacy, but for the legacies of all successful women. We are more than girlfriends, wives, and mothers–we are individuals with unique stories that should be told.