Posted at 9:40 PM Aug 05, 2008
By Sharon Steel
The third installment in Melissa Walker's Y.A. series, Violet in Private, is out today! Fans of Violet on the Runway or Violet by Design won't be disappointed in the denouement to our sensitive heroine's escapades as a wallflower turned international fashion model. She's now a freshman at Vassar, and an intern -- at Teen Fashionista. Oh yes.
The Brooklyn-based Walker was an editor at ELLEGirl and Seventeen , and currently freelances for a number of teen mags, so she's had ample opportunity to peek behind the scenes of the fashion industry and spin it back into her novels. There is, deliciously, some major dirt to dish. But Violet's journey isn't an empty one. If you recall what went down last Paris Fashion Week, when rising star Ali Michael was promptly blocked from a number of high-profile shows because her legs were "too fat," you'll get a sense of the kind of issues Walker weaves into her story:
"I think all day about Kurt saying I have a muffin top. I even turn sideways in my full-length mirrror and pinch the skin at my hips. I guess I have put on a few pounds again, but now that I'm not under constant scrutiny from bookers and my agent, I just want to let go a little. When will being normal be okay?"
Despite the fact that Violet is over six feet and thin as a rail, she's still just a girl growing up in a society -- and, in her particular case, a million-dollar, mind-controlling industry -- that simply doesn't allow for a few extra pounds. Which is why what Walker brings to light through Violet's journey is something special: there are no hidden messages, just important questions raised. While it's true that few young women are plucked from insecure obscurity and catapulted into fame, the overwhelming majority of us have been forced to second-guess our image, to wonder whether we will ever measure up, to look just right no matter what the consequences, to feel uncomfortable in our own skin. It can take years to fight off those messages. Sometimes, they're never fully squelched.
Violet, for one, understands that she might not be able to conquer the negativity all at once. She makes some bad, self-destructive, unhealthy choices, and she isn't always fully aware of what the correct next step might be. Of course, this makes it that much easier to adore her for striving. It also helps that Walker sprinkles in just the right amount of designer-label porn in between the glorious self-discovery and crippling adolescent angst.