When you open a fashion magazine and flip through the pages, chances are you don't think a lot about the lives of the models you're looking at. The demands to be thin, intense schedules, long hours, criticism, and lousy pay (if any pay at all) is all overshadowed by the glamour you see in front of you.
If you were to get on the internet and do a quick search on “how to be a model”, you’ll get tons of results on measurement & height requirements, diet tips, workout plans, and tips on how to walk a runway. What you won’t see though is how much actual work you’re required to put in to be a successful model.
With social media, it’s so easy for models to only show the picture-perfect part of model life. Daily glam done by industry professionals, traveling to a different county every week, parties with celebrities, and designer label clothes; all things new models aspire to be able to achieve. What many don’t want to do though (or even realize is required), is put in the hard work it takes to get to that point in your career.
While there are many amazing moments, modeling at a high level requires a ton of behind the scenes hustle. You to be in great shape, have perfect skin, great hair, THE LOOK of the moment, acting abilities, go to non-stop casting calls while sometimes also juggling a ‘regular’ job, extremely long workdays without any breaks, living out of a beat-up suitcase, and a lot of time far away from your friends and family. That all sounds super easy and glamorous, doesn’t it?
Modeling as a full-time career is quite a gamble. Because models are considered independent contractors, they lack many of the protections reserved for full-time employees. The industry’s demographic — often young, mostly female, and sometimes non-English-speaking — makes models particularly susceptible to exploitation, sexual harassment, and body shaming while on the job.
You also have little to no job security. Imagine that your job is going on a series of job interviews day after day. You can go to 20 castings and get all 20 jobs, or you could go to 20 castings and leave with zero bookings. It's unpredictable, it's insecure, and you don't get benefits like health care or a retirement package. For every Naomi who earns millions, dozens and dozens of others get paid in clothes or in free lunch, or just $200 for a 12-hour long shoot. This is why the majority of models also have other jobs outside of modeling to provide a more financial stability and benefits.
When a model posts a photo of themselves on a job lounging by an amazing pool or beach, don’t forget that they’re working. Yes, they may be in a luxurious location, but chances are there is no real relaxing involved. Instead, they’ve probably been laying there frying in the sun for quite some time while production works to get the desired lighting and angles. And as soon as the shoot is over, they have to pack up their things and head back home or to their hotel because the location is paid for by the hour.
In order to make it in such a cut-throat industry, models need to be confident in themselves and their abilities, and also develop a tremendously tough skin. Rejection and judgement is the name of the modeling game, and projecting your body and personality into the world while trying to make a name for yourself despite constantly being told “no”, is challenging. And on top of all of that, you have people constantly demeaning you and the hard work you’re putting in to be successful because they think you’re nothing more than a pretty face.
News flash- models do a hell of a lot more than just “stand there & look pretty”. They are extremely hardworking, confident, and smart businessmen & women. So, the next time you are flipping through a magazine and think of how anyone could be a model because it’s so easy- think again. And for all the aspiring models who follow supermodels on social media and want that life, please know that very few make it to that level, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.