In an event that might have escaped the notice of many who have no connection to the Wichita, Kansas area, a former male supermodel, Trace Riff, who once posed with some of the most glamourous female models in the business, is accused of physically attacking a black American toddler while yelling the “n” word.
The incident took place Dec. 23, 2018. According to reports, the toddler escaped injury because of a thick coat he was wearing. However, representatives of the NAACP and the boy’s family, are all concerned about the psychological damage that might have been done to the toddler and his older sister.
Trace Riff’s meteoric fall
Either of Riff’s trajectories has the potential to be the stuff of movies or novels. His rise to the top in the world of modeling would be a feel-good story that depicts a handsome, small town boy making his way onto the glossy pages of popular magazines like Harper’s Bazaar in the early years of the 21st century, beginning in roughly 2005.
Famous spreads exist of Riff posing with Gisele Bundchen, and a number of other models in scenes designed to make the clothes they wore perfect for those wishing to evince a certain level of cool.
The tragic part is, Riff appeared to be good at what he did. His skin is flawless, his jaw is clean cut and squared, his hair is thick and well-cut. He is like so many male models – – faces whose names are never known until they earn the title “super” or who do some heinous act and gain notoriety. Riff, unfortunately, appears to have taken the latter track.
According to the Wichita Eagle, Riff repeatedly kicked a one-year-old toddler in the back, yelled the “N” word, and announced that he was a “white supremacist.” The toddler and Riff were at a chain grocery store called Dillons. The toddler had been accompanied by his 11-year-old sister.
According to the Wichita Eagle article, Riff’s downward spiral has been exacerbated by substance abuse and mental illness. The former model’s grandmother and brother were interviewed. Neither made excuses for his behavior. The family members offer insights into the troubled young man’s behavior. Still, knowing Riff’s background does not help outsiders to understand what motivates someone to behave in a way that so defies human decency.
The incident is troubling for a number of reasons: one, the attack must have been unprovoked; two, the apparent racial motivation, and the idea of an adult attacking a child in general. The former model’s behavior is too complex to have a simple reason.
Trace Riff and the price of fame?
It almost isn’t fair to say that Riff’s downfall is because of his fame. According to his grandmother, as quoted in the Wichita Eagle, he still thinks he is going to Hollywood to be an actor. A thought process referred to as “delusional.”
It isn’t surprising that Riff, as reports state, had a difficult time re-adjusting to life in Oklahoma, where he is from. The story seems a typical one. What kind of charms can a small town hold for someone who has worked with super models? Not that such expectations excuses anything that Riff is alleged to have done.
Even though Riff had connections to the modeling industry and all the stereotypical trappings that attend a career in that realm, it is erroneous to state that his previous career and aspirations are “why” he committed what seems to be a hate crime. The public can only speculate that Riff would have devolved eventually, no matter what career he had chosen. Larger questions remain that involve mental healthcare and substance abuse issues.
The story is so strange and awful, it is difficult to know what to do with the information.