Reflections on Gia

Wendy Porter-Ouellet By Wendy Porter-Ouellet, 1st Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Film & TV>Drama

Gia was a beautiful, young woman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when she was first discovered by a modelling scout. She left home, going to NYC to pursue a career as a supermodel, rising to stardom quickly. Unfortunately she also was introduced to drugs that would ultimately destroy her. This sad story is true.

A Girl named Gia

Eye-opening, disturbing, real. These three words merely touch the tip of the iceberg where the story of Gia is concerned. This movie, based on the true story of 1970s supermodel Gia Marie Carangi, is an in-depth look into the world of drug use and abuse and how easy it is to succumb to its deadly lure and power.

When we get our first glimpse of Gia she appears to be around twelve years old. She lives in Philadelphia with her parents and two brothers, a seemingly normal, happy family at first glance, but then the truth is unveiled. Domestic abuse rears its ugly head in the form of her father beating her mother, with whom Gia appears to have a very close relationship. Gia's mother ends up abandoning her children, fleeing her husband's abuse and cruelty to start a new life on her own. It is shortly after this that we see the emergence of a completely altered Gia.

Fast Forward To The Teenage Years

The next time we lay eyes on Gia she is seventeen years old and working in her family's diner. She is no longer the sweet, innocent, pig-tailed child we first saw, instead, Gia is a combination of rough-around-the-edges tomboy who smokes and is quite brazen and potty-mouthed. It is at this point that T.J enters Gia's world, where he would remain for many years as a close friend and confidante. It is actually with T.J that Gia heads to New York City after being "discovered" by a photographer on the streets of Philly.

Entering Another World

Without meaning to stereotype drug addicts, I can see how Gia's personality and life experiences helped to create all the necessary components and ripe conditions for falling prey to the dark world of illicit drugs. Gia seemed to possess no boundaries, zero inhibitions. Anything and everything was allowable in her world, whether anyone approved or agreed with what she was doing or not, it made no difference to her. As long as Gia had at least one person to latch onto she seemed happy, content, but on her own she tended to crumble. It becomes quite apparent early in the movie that Gia does not handle abandonment or rejection well.

Catapulted into the world of fashion and glamour, despite her lack of experience or preparedness, Gia rises to the top of the industry extremely fast. Along with her quick elevation to stardom and all it brought to her, like money, fame and power, came a rather hasty escalation in her drug use and abuse. Life was filled with excess and she loved it, all of it, with no thought of changing any of it because she couldn't see anything wrong with the way she was living. Gia was unable to see past her next drink or drug, could not possibly imagine any consequences to her present behaviour. It was all about the here and now for her.

Change is in The Air

When Gia falls in love with a woman, Linda, she finds happiness for a while. Upon witnessing the effects that her lifestyle was having on her, Linda suggests that Gia seek help to get clean and sober. Perhaps not at first, but in a short period of time Gia realizes she must make a choice, it was either Linda and their life together or the drugs. When she decides that it's Linda she wants, she stops using and attempts to lead a different kind of life, one that is free of drugs. Gia really seems to want to change her life, including walking away from the modelling world, which she does, for a short time.

Thinking Linda has resumed her former relationship with a man from her past hurtles Gia right back into her old life, her old ways, only this time she opts for the needle instead of the pipe. This is short-lived as Linda intervenes by taking her in, then persuading Gia to go to a rehab facility to detox. After suffering through a brutal withdrawl from the drugs Gia then enters the treatment program, completing it and succeeding at getting clean for a second time. It is at this point that Gia seems to really grasp, and even welcome sobriety, embracing and working a 12-step program. Calling Linda to tell her about her program, explaining that she needs to ask for forgiveness from all those she's hurt through her drug use (step nine). We also see Gia in a conversation with her mother, assuring her about the life changes she's made, that things will keep getting better. I truly sensed a positive, more committed change in Gia at this juncture, that she would have made it out of the miserable world of drugs which had held her in bondage for such a long time, had she not become sick.


It was profoundly sad and disheartening to discover that Gia was not merely ill but dying of AIDS. Gia was actually one of the very first women in North America to contract AIDS (probably from a contaminated needle) and die from the disease. She died in 1986, in the early years of this horrible disease, when very little was known about it. Gia Marie Carangi was only 26 years old when she died.

Drugs are lethal. Drugs are evil. Drugs do not discriminate, killing young and old, men and women, black, white and every other skin colour. Drugs lie to everyone and those who buy into these lies are Gia.


Drug Abuse, Drug Addiction, Dysfunctional Families, Dysfunctional Relationships

Meet the author

author avatar Wendy Porter-Ouellet
Introducing, Wendy Ouellet, a young-at-heart woman who is a wife, a mother of four incredible kids, a former education assistant and now a stay-at-home writer. Many interests, skills and expertise.

Share this page

moderator Steve Kinsman moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


Add a comment
Can't login?