According to my family I’m going to be rich, according to my friends I’ll be famous. I look at them and smile as they say “Oh Jen, what a wonderful career,” if only I dared to correct them. I have spent the last few years hiding the truth about my job, where the glitz and the glam ain’t all that. As a model, I only tell the world of the positive things; the exciting international adventures and of course the dazzling glossy magazine publications, but never the secrets of the other side.
Ahh yes, the life of a model, the best job in the world…or is it?
Here are the first 10 things I wish I’d known. And now, here are 10 more.
11. They sometimes have to do their own hair and makeup as well as supplying their own clothes. It’s not uncommon for outsiders to presume models are styled, dressed and made up for every shoot. In actual fact, there’s often only two people on set – the model and the photographer. Not every shoot is a grand production and sometimes the best images come from more intimate shooting.
12. They aren’t all airheads and dimwits. Running your own business is extremely difficult, time consuming and demanding. There is no space for error so being dumb just isn’t an option. From start to finish a model has to have her head screwed on to be self employed, the accountant won’t accept “I was washing my hair” when there’s no annual tax books to produce. Checking out references, reading contracts and using their head to protect themselves is the most vital part of the job.
13. There is a life beyond the lens.
It isn’t unusual for models to use a fake name. This isn’t deceptive or deliberately false, it’s just girls and guys looking out for themselves. Much like any artist, modelling can create an alter ego and it’s always a good idea to separate work life from the real world for both safety and consistency in a brand.
14. They regularly travel but they don’t get to see much of their surroundings.
It’s normal for models fly out to a job, do the job and then come home. They don’t hang around because it’s costly and like everyone else, they have family and friends at home they wish to spend time with. It might sound glamourous to model in Paris, but what they actually see of the city and culture is another story. It’s up to the model themselves to make enough money to stay on for a holiday afterwards.
15. Models don’t really hate each other.
The competition between models is rife, but they are generally aware that they need to help each other out. Stories of good and bad experiences are shared amongst them and they try to help out others where they can. Be it a nudge in the right direction of a good portfolio builder, a negative reference passed on, a couch for the night for them to sleep on or a recommendation of each other to jobs they can’t make – models are there for each other.
16. They don’t get to keep the clothes.
Despite sometimes being offered product as payment, models would usually prefer to have the money. Why? Because clothes, accessories and make up won’t pay the bills. Working for trade in stock is not common practice but does work for some models requiring a wardrobe update. However, these are very very rarely freebies and are all in exchange for work.
17. Models need regular breaks just like anyone else.
I’m sure the general public assume posing for the camera is a job as easy as getting dressed and taking a selfie. However the pressure on the joints in a pose, feet in six inch heels and facial muscles constantly being used all takes its toll. Like anyone, models work a lot better having had regular breaks to loosen up their expressions and body. Often using music to create flow in posing and makeup touch ups to give the face a chance to relax. Working days in the fashion industry are often as long as twelve hours.
18. Reassurance works wonders, just as it would for anyone else.
When shooting on set, despite it being a model’s job to look good and play the part, when given encouragement and words of motivation, they are more likely to come to life. Helping models know when they’ve perfected a pose allows the shoot to flow more fluently.
19. Models come in all shapes and sizes.
You don’t have to be a size zero amazonian to be a model. Lifestyle and commercial models have a great smile with a relatable face, whereas fashion models have an unusual look and strong bone structure. Where glamour models are curvy, sexy and ooze sassiness, fashion models are more hunched, distinctive and with less shape. Plus size models are from a UK size twelve upwards and models of all ages from children through to elderly folk, are wanted for catalogues all year round.
20. Keeping on top of measurements is a tough game. Once a models are stats are submitted for a shoot, it is essential they stick to that size. If they are required to have a twenty six inch waist with thirty four inch hips for a specific look, they can’t over eat or diet too much, or indeed buff up in size at the gym. When hired for a job, a models body is her work. It’s a tough game trying to balance all the obstacles involved in being a model where work and life crossover regularly.