What It Means to Be A Model

For years and years, I dreamed to grace the front pages of magazines or walk by a picture of myself in a window at the mall. In January 2014, I  thought I had that dream. Signing with the largest print agency in the Southeast to me seemed to be the right path, and the only one that would lead me where I wanted to go. The dream is going away. Slowly, but surely, I’m learning what it means to be a model.

My first photoshoot was the best day of my life. It was exhilarating. Overwhelming. And one of the times I have felt my most beautiful. But the excitement died down after the waiting game began, and I discovered a lot about the fashion industry that is harsh and disappointing.

  1. You wait. You wait for a really long time. An agency is chock full of models – brunette and blonde, boy and girl, blue eyes and green. The list goes on. You wait because the agency chock full of models does not have the time. They do not have the time to reach out to their employees. It’s a hard truth I have just recently accepted.
  2. That being said, if you don’t stay under your agent’s radar, you basically don’t exist. What does it mean to stay under the radar? Constant emails and check-ins, reminders that you are in fact a model for the agency, and visits to the office. Know the agency staff, and know them well.
  3. There actually is money involved. And lots of it. Test shoots are (I would say) required in order to build experience and show agency clients that you have variety and the uniqueness they need to create a fantastic product. Test shoots, if the photographer is good, start at around $200.00 per look. This means $200.00 for one outfit on camera. To really up the quality and professionalism, you need professional hair and makeup. That’s $200.00, too. So – $400.00 minimum to build experience. If your portfolio is not constantly updated, you look out of date and too green – too unexperienced. This industry is for those who can afford at least one test shoot every month or every other month. This industry is for those who already have the cash.
  4. The girls are not nice. Sure, Victoria’s Secret models are best friends, yes. But when you’re climbing to the top, there are no best friends. There are girls competing for the same position, or a job with a limited number. When I went to my first casting for a large New York agency – the most famous in the world – I was in a white, empty room with about 20 girls, and all they did was talk. And talk. And talk. It was petty and it was distracting. “How long have you been modeling?” or “Have you done this before?” or “Have you ever gone to New York?” was all I heard. I got sick of answering questions for the sole purpose of the proposer’s self-gratification. Noses were turned up, backs were straight, and claws were out. When pursuing the modeling industry, I learned that it is a very independent business. Keep to yourself if you want to succeed.

In summary, the industry isn’t all its cracked up to be. I am left conscious and wondering, with no emails from my agents and no potential jobs solely because I am not willing to drop a payment on a car equivalent every month to be noticed. I am constantly asking myself: is it worth it?

(More questions about modeling? Feel free to comment and I’ll respond ASAP)

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