The Not So Glamorous Aspects of Being a Model


Photo: Will G. MacNeil / MUA: Fara Conley / Hair: Shideh

You know the feeling. You sit at the makeup chair, excited to be at a shoot and doing what you love. You love getting in front of the camera and doing your magic. You know the client booked you because they liked your work, but it still feels even better when they are looking at the photos through the screen and commenting on how much they like them. It's an amazing feeling, a great high, walking away from a photo shoot, excited about the photos, the pay, the fun, everything about it. Well, almost everything.

As you get home though and a day or two passes, you start to feel the excitement of that shoot wear off and you're already thinking about the next one. Sometimes it's the next day, sometimes it might not be for a week or two. Unfortunately this is one of the struggles models have to endure. Inconsistency. While it is great to be able to manage our own schedules and be our own bosses, inconsistency is an aspect models have to deal with in their careers. One week might be great - you booked not just one, but two or three big campaigns, have castings, have to travel to three cities within four days, and the following week, it could be a total bust.

And of course, there's a stress factor that comes with it. Because you never know when your next job is going to come. With that, it could be difficult managing personal lives. You're unsure about booking a week long vacation because what if someone wants to book you for something big? So you don't take a break - your brain is always on and working, and hustling to get to the next level. While you can manage your own schedule, it still depends on the client on what specific days they want to book you. So it can be hard to manage social outings even for simple things with family and friends.

Another thing with inconsistency, is the emotions. Modeling is an emotional roller coaster. You get buzzed shooting for a client and you feel great about yourself, but once the shoot is over, you crash. You might not have another shoot going on for a couple days, but you see everyone else working in that time - suddenly you're left questioning yourself, "What am I doing wrong? Why aren't I working more?" Although you forget to tell yourself you've been shooting 4-5 days in a row, and it's okay to take a break.

But still you beat yourself up. You still don't feel good enough because you don't believe you are working enough.

Let's not forget to mention the "feeling good enough" about ourselves aspect. As models, we have to look a certain way (obviously), and it's a lot harder to maintain a certain look when a lot of things are out of our control. For one, the industry is "ageist" - to get signed by a major agency, your chances decline significantly after the age of 21. Of course, things are (slowly) changing, and exceptions are always made, but if things weren't hard enough, now it's only harder when the one thing that is completely beyond our control, us getting older, is pitted against us. We could look 19, but once they hear the number, it hurts our chances.

Height is another thing many, including myself, worry about. I'm right on the very edge, 5'8, and would be considered to be on the taller side for the average girl, but in this industry, I'm considered shorter and I am denied jobs, some that have even nothing to do with my height, for that reason. However, the hardest thing, body-wise, that models struggle with is size. Many are pressured to diet, some to extreme levels, and exercise to look as thin as possible. I don't think I have to go into too much detail with this one, as you all know. And everyone has their "problem" area, that they think isn't small enough, whether it be their waist, hips, butt, thighs, etc. Mine is my waist - I fluctuate between a 24" in waist (where my agencies want me to be) and all the way up to a 26" in waist on a bad day. However, even though I struggle with this, I don't diet to any extreme. I try to be more aware of what I am putting in my body and not eating late at night (my biggest flaw).

Another big thing in today's world is the influence of social media in the world, and the impact it's been having in the job world. A few weeks ago, I went in for a casting for a big makeup company in NYC, and one of the first things they asked me was my following on Instagram. It's as if these major companies that literally EVERYONE knows, don't have enough followers on their own? I immediately knew I wasn't even a contender for this job for that reason alone. A number (that you can easily buy, no less) shouldn't define my talent, my look, and my qualifications for a job. These days, models are expected to have at a minimum 10k followers, and working on gaining an organic following on Instagram is a whole full-time job on its own. But it's become such an integral part of our career that we have to devote time to.

These are just a few things we as models have to deal with, but one of the struggles that I personally feel is the biggest and that every model (and freelancer) deals with consistently in their careers, is times when they don't feel they are getting anywhere in their creative career. Trust me, we ALL have these days. We wonder what the next level is and more importantly, how do we get there? Why aren't we as successful as our peers, when we started the same time? Why didn't the client book me? Why did they book them instead of me? What am I doing wrong?

You're having a crash - you don't know when your next gig is, you feel like you're making the wrong choices, you're not booking, you don't have enough followers, you've been getting a string of "no's" from agencies, castings, auditions, photographers for tests, etc. You are ready to throw in the towel. Seriously, I can't tell you how many times I've thought this to myself and told this to others. And worst of all, you start comparing yourself to others, and their success with yours. Honestly, this is one of the worst things you could do to yourself, because you're only going to make yourself feel worse, so here's what someone told me that has really resonated with me. They told me this when I was going through one of my crashes.

Your success has nothing to do with someone else's success, and their success has nothing to do with you.

This really stuck with me, because I think a lot of times our brains associate ourselves with other people we've never met, and we think that if they made it to the top using a method that didn't work for us, we for some reason can't and won't make it. And that's not true. Different things work for different people. And there is plenty of room at the top!

We usually are told to not dwell on the past too much and look more towards the future, but sometimes it's okay to sit down when you're feeling stuck, and think about everything you've accomplished so far in your career. Think of the milestones you've hit! How far your portfolio has progressed, which clients you've already had, which magazines you've been in, and other things you've done. You're already past your starting point. A modeling career (or any creative career!) isn't an straight uphill slope. It looks more like a roller coaster - with maybe a few gaps in the tracks in between. And remember that you aren't alone when you feel this way. Everyone does, some more than they care to admit. It's just a part of our job.

And while there are some cons that come with our jobs, I'm sure we can think of more really great pros we just love about it that outweigh the cons! Even if it's not always glamorous as everyone thinks it to be.

Like studio cats. Photo by Nina Wellstein / HMUA by Larissa Spears


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