Sunday, August 2, 2009

Popularity Musings

Thanks to the fabulous work of tFS member candlebougie, we have the "most viewed model" ranks for the month of July and Freja is number one. For the first time since February she beat out Kate Moss for the top spot, and this got me thinking about a few things.

Warning: Essay ahead. I was in a contemplative mood and I just wanted to get these thoughts down so this mega post is more for me than anyone else. I know most people don't want to read a small novel but I thought I'd post it anyway. The following is definitely NOT for the tl;dr crowd.

How and why is Freja so popular on tFS? She's definitely an established model, but by no means is she the most abundant and consistent in her high profile work. Yet month after month Freja's popularity is validated by her ranking on the most viewed list. In fact, I can't remember the last time she wasn't in the top two.

Compare her to Kate Moss and it's an even more incredible achievement. Kate is extremely well-known and in the media spotlight all the time. Her every outfit and every move is scrutinized by the public and captured by the paparazzi. Her boyfriend is Jaime Hince of The Kills, and she's involved in a lot of high profile collaborations with high ranking people. My friends who know jack shit about fashion know who Kate Moss is for she is the last of the supermodels. Freja is practically the exact opposite and I would give you a hundred dollars if you found someone on the streets of Boise, Idaho who knows who Freja is.

So how can we explain her popularity? Is it because she has a strong and recognizable "personality" within the industry? Everyone knows her as the rebel girl, or the cool, laid-back girl that you'd want to kick it with on a lazy saturday afternoon. She's so unassuming and I think this makes her easy to identify with. Most other models have an air of inaccessibility and refined glamor. You admire them, but you wouldn't necessarily want to chill out with them. Can you picture yourself going to a concert with Snejana? Biking with Magdalena? Watching a movie with Vlada? If you come across this way, you're not going to be super popular. Yes, every model has fans, but I think Freja's personality in the industry garners her more fans who remain very loyal.

Another aspect of all this could be attributed to notions of sexuality. (Side note: There has never been any official comment on Freja's sexuality so everything regarding the topic is complete speculation and hearsay.) That being said, let's face it. We've all heard the rumors and whisperings. Even without official confirmation, many of us assume that Freja is gay and I think this plays a role in creating and sustaining her popularity.

Gays and lesbians have traditionally been marginalized in society and generally lack positive representation in the media. This has of course changed dramatically in the last decade but there is still a very long way to go. For lesbians it is particularly difficult to find other successful, visible, lesbians to identify with. There are shows like the L Word, but that is clearly glamorized fiction. As I write this the only real-life lesbian with recent media coverage I can think of is Chastity Bono. And no offense to her, but she doesn't exactly solicit a positive response from people. I don't see tons of women (lesbian, bi, straight) clamoring to be like her or forming fan groups for her.

Freja, on the other hand, is beautiful and extremely successful in her profession. There is no drama surrounding her and she is not involved in crazy public antics. By all accounts she is intelligent, polite and just a normal woman (not to say that Chastity Bono isn't, I was just using her as an example). I would argue that she is a rare role model for other lesbians to look up to. If this is indeed the case, these feelings of admiration and respect would breed extreme loyalty, which in turn could account for her popularity. As it stands there are so few lesbians to identify with that when there is one people will cling to her for dear life.

Another important factor in this is that Freja has kept mum on her sexuality. This allows both those who think she's gay and those who think she's straight to continue believing what they believe without tarnishing Freja's reputation in their eyes, one way or another. Was Amanda Moore as popular back during her hey day, as Freja is now? Does anyone know? I thought I read somewhere that she became less popular after she came out, but that also could have just been a symptom of timing and her career already ending organically since she did come out quite late.

Lastly, I really do think Freja's fans in Asia contribute considerably to her popularity numbers. I don't think we'll ever know how many fans she has over there but I do know there is a very strong Asian contingent on tFS and on her official site. They're fanatical in a way that could be off-putting to some, but I really think it's just a matter of cultural differences. There was discussion about this recently on Freja's tFS thread but at this point it's all just opinion. Much like this whole essay has merely been my opinion. If anyone has any thoughts to add or opinions of their own on the subject I'd love to hear them.

I still don't really know why Freja is so popular on tFS. It could be a combination of the things I mentioned, or none of them at all. Regardless, it's an interesting phenomenon to think about and if you've read this far, I thank you and give you multi-tasking Freja for your time:

Image Credits: Celebritycity


Anonymous said...

ahahaha i would've never thought Chastity...,er Chaz Bono would ever make an appearance in a blog dedicated to Freja. but yeah I liked your essay.

M3 said...

nice rant. it's most likely a combination of all your points. but most importantly i think is the fact that Freja is awesome!

Anonymous said...

who knows why freja is so popular,personally,she started becoming my fav when she did the ck ad,then when she cut her hair she just looked really just hope she doesn't get bored and stop modelling...cos wat would her fans in asia do?

nataluv said...

i guess it's just attractive to people to see her so normal. she's just like a girl next door, like she knows she's famous but seem not to care, really.
it's the way she walks, like she rarely adjusts, the others have to. the way she looks, such a great model can wear so casual and still look so sexy.
it's that she keeps her personal things only to herself. i guess it attracts attention more than anything else. and probably many more reasons

Anonymous said...

Freja Beha Erichsen is beautiful, different and mysterious.. She's a down to Earth Beauty Queen.