Kate Moss, Anna Wintour, And Shy Fashionistas


“Is shyness fashion’s dark secret?” demands the Guardian. Um, no.

Why should it still surprise anyone that people who live their lives in the limelight should be shy? Sure, some situations can force a person to overcome it to a degree, but if anything, wouldn’t the constant scrutiny of strangers just make you feel more ill-at-ease? The Kate Moss/Wintour “bombshell” comes at the hands of photographer Mario Testino, who tells the press,

Believe it or not, [Kate] is shy. I go to events with her and I am, like, what’s the matter with you?’ and she is, like, shaking, nervous. I’m, like: ‘You’re a freak, because I am not shy at all.’… Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, is, you imagine, the most secure person, but she is shy, too. Often people mistake her shyness for coldness.

While I’d wager most people – Mr. Testino aside – suffer from some form of shyness, those of us who’ve dealt with the chronic kind know it’s no joke. The pounding heart, the wet palms, the sense of panic, the urge – and sometimes compulsion – to just cut and run can’t just be laughed off with a little reassurance. (When you find yourself jealous of the little kids who can hide behind their parents and not look freakish, you know it’s an issue.) The website “Shake Your Shyness” says that “shyness is on the increase—approximately 10% over the last decade or so.” Maybe as face-to-face interaction is minimized? However it’s defined clinically, anyone who has it, knows.

Of course, tips for overcoming the condition abound, and success stories are rife: I remember being encouraged as a kid when I read that Eleanor Roosevelt was famously shy and overcame it with persistent effort, ultimately able to speak in public with ease and meet strangers with poise. Most of us are happy to address someone at a party, let alone the U.N. General Assembly.

My dad gave me the best tips I know for overcoming what, as a child, was crippling. All common-sense stuff, but still worthwhile: Think of the song “Whistle a Happy Tune,”; always think of other people and find the person who needs friendliness; remember that people aren’t focused on you. He also gave me an autographed letter of Eleanor Rooselvelt’s one Christmas to keep on my desk. These – and in extreme situations a stiff drink (not to be confused with getting wasted) – are still the best methods I know.

I would give these tips to Misses Wintour and Moss, but am strongly under the impression that they’re both in professions where the appearance of aloofness is not a disadvantage. (At a certain point, doesn’t treating people aloofly – even if it comes from shyness – just make someone aloof?) Although those whose careers don’t benefit from never talking can apparently take comfort in the fact that they’re totally in style.

Is Shyness Fashion’s Dark Secret?

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