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When beauty is even more powerful than we realize 

The Amanda Rodriguez case

Living in LA for over 20 years, you get to meet all kinds of people. And you get to meet them again. And again. You witness people rising to their fame as well as their downfalls.

As an aspiring model in the early 2000s, I got to see how “things get done” in the modeling and fashion industry. I also started to understand why so many beautiful young women with great potential don’t make it big. And why some do. While networking is a natural part of any business, when it comes to beauty, it should be treated differently. In the delicate beauty world, there are many times when kindness and sweetness are misunderstood for attraction. That alone can lead to a very dangerous place. The reason is because men are wired differently than women and any sort of “weakness” in a beautiful woman can be immediately empowering and encouraging to a man’s inner hero. It could also be perceived as seeking attention from the woman. 

This week, there was a press conference organized by the Lisa Bloom law firm, which is currently representing four women (3 of them are models), led by our latest cover model and model-search winner, Amanda Rodriguez. On behalf of the four women, the firm has filed a lawsuit against one of the founders of the fashion empire Guess? Paul Marciano and some of its board members. In short, Paul Marciano is being sued for harassment and sexual assault, and some of the board members are being included in the suit for keeping him in power as it enables him to stay close to these models and assault them. Marciano stepped down from his position as CEO of the company in 2018 after being accused of sexual assault by multiple women but was quietly reinstated back as a chief creative officer shortly after. After the live stream of the press conference on Lisa Bloom’s Facebook page, Paul Marciano lashed back. 

In a statement to The Daily Beast, Shawn Holley, a lawyer representing Marciano, labeled the press conference “The latest publicity stunt by Ms. Bloom” and said it “presents a fabricated narrative, an incomplete version of the facts and omits significant exculpatory information. Simply put, Lisa Bloom is up to her old tricks, trying her case in the court of public opinion because she cannot prevail in a court of law.”

This poor statement reminded me of some of my own legal fights against men’s entertainment establishments which have stolen many of my professional modeling photos and used them for their own profit without my consent. During one of my mediations, it was suggested to me that I settle and accept the amount the defendant was offering. The laughable amount was $500. The reason for it was that if this case went into a trial, apparently the jury would not sympathize with me simply because I’m a model, and people don’t sympathize with models. Apparently models have it easy! Really?

The whole objective of the defendants, in these cases, is to devalue models, to make them feel worthless and stupid. It occurs to me that this is exactly what Shawn Holley is doing in the case “Models vs. Guess?”. The four women are beautiful, and so is their lawyer, Ms. Bloom!

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Amanda Rodriguez, Photo Deja Jordan

But going back to living in LA for over two decades, I, personally, met and talked to many individuals who have worked for Guess? Inc. There is a consistency in their stories that keeps repeating itself for years and years; a story I’ve heard before and hope to never hear again. It’s about Paul Marciano being obsessed with large breasts, groping models and making them very uncomfortable by pushing himself onto them. That’s it in short. 

The GUESS? brand has always been built on sex-appeal, just like many other brands. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just becomes bad when this type of business is run by a sexual predator. People who, within the company they work for, witness wrongdoings often choose to turn a blind eye simply because, in general, “you don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. Many people only care about “feeding” their own family and don’t care about other families suffering as a result of that misconduct. Models are mothers, wives, daughters, and they have families, too. I sympathize with them, and you should, too. 

I believe Amanda, as I got to know her character while working with her for VIVA GLAM. I saw her as a very professional model and a beautiful gem both inside and out. Her kindness with her undeniable beauty is a lethal combination and can easily turn her into prey.

It really takes a beautiful woman to stand up for another beautiful woman, or women. That’s when beauty is truly powerful! Just like in this case, Amanda Rodriguez stood up for many as she is opening the door for more beautiful girls and women to come forward. I still want to believe in justice and hope this case heals the wounds of these models and justifies many broken dreams about working as a model for GUESS? Inc. 

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VIVA GLAM TEAM (from left) Malorie Mackey, Katarina Van Derham, Candace Kita
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