My Modelling Experience
There’s a lot of misleading conceptions about what the modeling life is like. In part that’s due to the nature of the job. It’s what is often referred to as a winner-take-all industry, meaning that there’s an extremely small handful of winners at the top of the hierarchy who are making very visible and very lucrative rewards, and the general public see them all the time as a result of their celebration in the popular press. We have given this modelling business one definition, one face, and haven’t bothered to look at the other infinitely more negative sides to it.
When we decenter these few “supermodels”, we are left with an enormous pile of invisible secondary models struggling daily to make ends meet, working grueling hours, and exhausting themselves until they run dry. When we close in on this, a drastically different picture comes to mind, one that is completely contrary to that of which is commonly associated with modelling.
Another aspect of modelling that constantly affects those involved with this business is the economic unreliability. This job is within the realm of informal economy, in which you don’t know when your next paycheck is coming. It’s uncertain work, it’s unpredictable, it’s insecure, and you don’t get benefits like healthcare or a retirement package. And not only does modelling not guarantee consistent pay, it also doesn’t guarantee consistent work. Some models go for unduly lengthy amounts of time, jeopardizing their career and as a result assume economic insecurity.
Recently, models have been starting their work at the tender ages of 13 and 14 years, dragged in to this void of a business whose sole object is publicity, superficial external validation for beauty. These particular ages (preteen/teen) are especially crucial for maximum intellectual growth and investing in the mind, creativity and self-expression should be the utter-most priority. Modelling is essentially the objectification of humans into clothes hangers and plastic mannequins, and it awes me that this business has become acceptable in our society when we are essentially stepping down from our pedestal as an individual and becoming just another thing within a category, devoid of personality, completely material. The people working in or about the fashion business will tell you that your physical appearance is “different” or “supermodel-like”, therefore putting you at some sort of advantage in the modelling world. If the only way a person is supposedly distinguished or put at an advantage in the industry is physical, or depends on a particular facial bone structure or “winning a genetic lottery”, I want no part of it, and it appalls me that there are those who are so blind to the fact that we have collectively come to accept this and support this state of mind.
Part of the model lifestyle is going to regular castings, and before fashion week, sometimes as much as twenty castings a day. A casting is when your agency sends you to a company (Vogue, Prada, Rag&Bone) to be potentially selected to do a modelling job for it. These castings usually take place in small cramped studios where varying groups of models wait to be observed or “tested” (for lack of better term) for the job. Usually these companies have a very specific image of the girl(s) they want and plan to select, so the notion that the chance that you will be selected is slim is quite the understatement. Models wait for their “turn” and will usually try on an outfit that represents the photo shoot, video, or catwalk and see if they think the model fits the look or style they are going for. However there’s a twist. Often times, the official(s) in charge of this model selection are completely unafraid of vocalizing the models’ flaws and deepest insecurities. In this sense, models are truly treated as inhuman, carcasses of bodies devoid of feeling. Models’ weights, skin, facial attributes, you name it, anything remotely weird in the official’s opinion is at risk of being pinpointed and commented on. And these girls endure this animalistic treatment consistently, trying their best to shield themselves from this mistreatment, but when it comes down to it, however “physically superior” they are, they are still humans like the rest of us, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be treated accordingly. In addition, models have no chance of retaliating or expressing discontentment for fear of acquiring a negative reputation. Modelling is just one of the infinite amount of great issues that rise from not only the the fashion world but many others I am not so knowledgeable in. I find modelling a strong representative of our society’s thirst for achieving physical perfection, which is widely known to be impossible.
I’d like to conclude my article with a quote by the Dalai Lama. All I ask of you is to reconsider and question the next time you kindle a desire to model or look like one. Dig deeper. Physical attributes aren’t everything, and we most definitely should not be determining our self worth based upon it. I suggest we collectively set aside our desires to meet unrealistic physical standards, and instead together as a society promote intellectual growth and developing the mind. We need to stop halting at the surface of our skins, and comparing ourselves to the digitally altered photos and surgically altered faces of what we consider aesthetically pleasing that clutter the media. And yes, my vision is ambitious, and there will undoubtedly be those who find it outrageous or unrealistic, but I beg you just to reconsider your original thinking.
“(Let us not) stay on the surface of the troubled sea, without ever knowing the calm that lies beneath.” - Dalai Lama
Luca Leung / my blog