As I arrived to a specific kosher café in Tel-Aviv, one of the few that still exist there, my interviewee had a noisey approach to the set location of the meeting. She didn’t scream or trip over her own feet, she just dismantled her Honda CBR. A month ago I interviewed the up and coming model Michal Idan whom is represented for D.A.L Model Management. We chatted about off-runway modeling, body image and religion.
One of the most detached from reality locations in Israel, border lining Tel-Aviv is the city of Bnei Barak. This city covers up women in advertisements, closes down streets on weekends and has no bacon or pepperonis on its Pizzas. Ben Barak is an orthodox city that its inhabitants are composed dominantly of Israel’s Jewish Orthodox community. They live a fundamentally primitive life in midst of the technological thriving country known as Israel. Yet there are surprises.
“I consider myself religious even though I mainly model bikinis and lingerie,” states Idan with a firm facial composure from the other side of our coffee table when asked about her religious identity. She has eleven brothers and sisters and even her older sister like her, modeled.
Idan’s measurements (88-59-89, 171cm) aren’t runway minimum but she isn’t running after anything in high-heels. She has modeled as a actor since she was around 12 or so and in the recent years, with the sprout of her womanly figure, moved into lingerie and swimwear.
So what got a religious girl to start modeling? “My sister used to be a model and was the starting point in the modeling scene for me”. Kind of like a bat mitzvah in the Jewish culture, just with a little less clothes nowadays.
Recently she traveled to Turkey and had her first international campaign. Another milestone under her belt is being a presenter for the lingerie company Bonita de Mas with three other Israeli girls (not Dafy Hagai’s). With Idan’s work being mainly seductive and skin baring it does come at a cost with her views about life and ethics.“It’s against everything I believe in, but I love it dearly. It does contradict the values of a religious lifestyle and I [chose] let go off these values because modeling is a major role in my life.”
It’s crystal clear that Idan knows what her strong sides are and she combines a religious lifestyle with lingerie and bikini modeling. She keeps sabbath and every other value your neighborhood religious woman does, just unlike the latter, she does it in style not looking like a Jewish woman from the 20th century. But what’s truly thought provoking about Idan’s character is that she knows she’s sinning or leaping over these rules for her career, but that’s between her and the man upstairs, not for the general public to judge.
Editorials that aren’t of the standard fashion oddities can be a fun experience for everyone involved. Recently she modeled for a website that sells gun parts by an Israeli company named Agilebits. She was in full kevlar and had a loaded Tavor (an innovative Israeli develop full auto weapon) with a bunch of accessories. Even models in Israel hold guns, not only its soldiers and settlers.
It was unclear to me why she cancelled our interview a night before its initial date but she was supposed to board a flight to Israel’s Survivor show filmed abroad. As a scholar of communications and being Israeli, I could tell you that the show’s production would have tokenized her for being religious and having her body in a bikini and not focusing on who she is, the Israeli media doesn’t have objectivity in its lexicon. Michal and her agent (Gai Tzurr) made the right move, for whatever the reason might be but demarcated the Kardashian role out of her narrative. What’s bold about Idan isn’t only her figure nor eyebrows its her capability to leap over the stupid mistakes sophomore models make in their first years of participating in the fashion industry.