Over my many years in the modeling industry, I’ve probably heard almost every stereotype about models and modeling that are out there. While some may be loosely based on fact, the majority of these misconceptions are just plain nonsense.
Below, I explore some common modeling myths and the reality behind them.
Models are Dumb Models are just a bunch of “pretty clothing hangers”. This one I hear all the time, and it’s really quite annoying. Models are business women & men, who also often juggle other careers and go to school while working as a model. Most models have very high-level degrees and move on to incredibly successful careers after they are done with the modeling industry. Many models also travel all over the world for work, so have knowledge of a variety of different cultures and are often bilingual. Sounds like more than just a pretty face to me.
Anyone Can Model Thanks to social media and the age of the Influencer, more and more people have this idea that modeling just involves standing there and looking pretty. The reality is, this is not the case at all. You have to know your body and face and all of its angles, and know how to move and pose it. It requires a lot of work, hustle, and business sense to be successful as a model. Even if you’re a natural on camera, it takes commitment and dedication, and even those who seem born to it don’t always make it.
Models are Mean
Decades of media coverage of catwalk catfights and supermodel feuds have done nothing but fuel the fire that models are catty and mean, especially towards each other. Undeniably you get your divas here and there and the industry is very competitive, but in my experience, most are thoughtful, hardworking and humble. Models frequently collaborate on projects and are quick to help one another out and cheer each other on, even when competing for the same bookings.
You Get to Keep the Clothes
How I so wish this was true. I’d have a pretty fabulous wardrobe! However, models almost never get to keep the clothes they wear on the runway or in photoshoots. The garments are usually one-of-a-kind samples that haven’t yet gone into production, so there’s literally just one of that item in existence. Clothing in shoots is often borrowed from stores or samples from the runway that the stylists have to return literally as soon as you’re finished shooting.
Once a model is established and starts attending events or even getting photographed by paparazzi, they might receive gifted items from designers since that can mean more publicity for the brand, but the typical working model is far from that status. I have occasionally been given a sample piece that never made it to production or had been slightly damaged, but usually models only receive clothing pieces in lieu of monetary compensation, not as gifts.
Models Don’t Eat
Eating disorders are real, and they do affect the modeling industry. The pressure for models to stay stick thin is intense, and many models cave under that pressure and resort to dangerous measures to stay unnaturally thin. As sad and real as this issue is, the majority of models are not resorting to extreme or unhealthy means to keep their physique- they are simply naturally thin.
Yes, most models do maintain healthy lifestyles (it’s literally part of their job), but they also enjoy food just as much as anyone else. At various points in my career, I’ve been called too thin and too fat. A few times both in the same day. So yes, please pass the cupcake.
You Have to Get Naked to Model While you do have to be comfortable with your body in the sense that you have to know how to pose, you never have to get naked to make it as a model. You can say no to any lingerie, swimwear, and implied nudity if you want to. Set your boundaries and make it clear to agents and photographers what you will and won’t do, and stick to your guns. It may lose you a job here and there, but working with people who don’t respect your morals isn’t worth it anyway.
Models are Always Late
This is another one that I feel is completely unfounded. There have been so many instances where I’ve been the first one on set, and as everyone else trickles in they comment “oh wow look, the model beat us here!”. There was even a time where literally everyone was 2 hours late, and I was calling around trying to see if the shoot had been cancelled or postponed. Turned out the team had gone to happy hour the night before and it turned into a happy all-nighter, so they were all hungover that morning.
Many other models I’ve spoken to also have had similar experiences. Most professional models run on the rule that “early = on time, on time = late” and hare very rarely (if ever) late for any bookings.
Models Make a Lot of Money
Between the yearly lists of the world’s highest-paid supermodels and the infamous “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day,” quote form supermodel Linda Evangelista in a 1990 Vogue, it gives the impression that models are rolling in cash.
While Linda probably didn’t wake up for less than $10K a day (when I say supermodel, I mean SUPERmodel), the average working model only makes a small fraction of that, sometimes not even in a full year. Even at fashion’s main event- New York Fashion Week, most models will barely make enough to cover what they spent on travel and accommodations to get Fashion Week. Some runway hopefuls won’t walk in any shows at all, and others will end up in the red even after walking in several shows.
To add salt to the wound, some designers pay their models in clothes instead of cash. While outsiders think this is a great deal, the reality is the clothing item a model might receive could be several seasons old, or even damaged. Clothing also doesn’t help pay for your hotel room or plane tickets.
You Have to Be a Teenager to Get Started
While most agencies prefer younger models so they get a longer career run out of them, there is still a great market for middle-aged and mature models. Many brands and companies have an adult audience they’re traying to capture, so they need a mature model in their campaigns to be able to relate to them. This creates a whole market for the above 30-year-old model to excel in.
I hope dispelling some of these myths and stereotypes has given you a better perspective of the modeling industry, or maybe made you laugh as you remembered a similar situation you as a model have also experienced!