Book Review: Thing of Beauty-The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia
Thing of Beauty is a biography of Gia Carangi, considered by some to be America’s first supermodel. This book inspired the 1998 biopic Gia, which stars Angelina Jolie as the title role.
The research on this book is very well done. Gia’s family, friends, lovers and the people who worked with her were interviewed for this book. In addition, the front and middle of the book features photographs of Gia from her modeling days and various “chapters” in her life. An interesting aspect of the research is excerpts from Gia’s journal as well as a psychoanalysis of herself that Gia did for a magazine. A poignant quote from Gia is “When I look in the mirror, I want to like myself… And if I like myself, then I look good.”
While the research done is very good, it is also overdone at times. In addition to finding information about Gia, the author found more than enough info about the world Gia lived in. Sometimes, it was interesting. Other times, pages were skipped.
Gia Carangi’s life is very sad. As a child, her parents never gave her enough attention. I was particularly disgusted at Gia’s mother Kathleen, who not only abandoned Gia when she was eleven, but manipulated Gia into modeling in order to live through her. Furthermore, Gia dying young the way she did was awful. I found myself mourning for her a little when I finished the book.
With Gia herself, I felt many emotions. When Gia was getting into David Bowie as a teen, I thought she was cool. When her mentor Wilhelmina Cooper died and Gia turned to heroin for comfort for the first time, I felt sad and empathetic. When Gia was using heroin after the first time and being wild, I alternated between disgust and pity.
Even though she was beautiful, Gia was a lost and lonely person who feared abandonment. In today’s age where looking good and sexy is everything, it is easy to forget how vulnerable people can be. Gia’s story is a good warning for anyone wanting to be a model and a wakeup call for celebrity worshipers.