What is it like to be a model? Do you get free stuff? Have you met anyone famous? Are you allowed to eat that?
Numerous questions about what it is like to be a model and what the lifestyle entails, have been thrown my way over the last seven years. Honestly, I never really know what to say or at least I struggle to articulate it in a way that does the job – and your efforts made within the job – justice. No matter how many times I feel like I finally understand what to expect and how to explain modelling, life always seems to send me back a note saying, ‘try again’. Try again to define the life of a model.
Nevertheless, I am going to try. The best way for me to explain my life as a model is by comparing it to playing a game; a game where the odds are your level of success. Modelling should not be seen as a deceitful game or in that case a fun game, but it is a game where you win or lose over and over again, based on luck and how well you play your cards. This is the hand I like to play:
A game of strategy and persistence
As with any other creative job, you need to be able to work hard and believe that at some point, someone is going to see that what you do is special and worth investing in. You need a style, an image and confidence, all something your agent should be able to help you with. I don’t know if I should consider myself lucky to have had great agents, because it should be something everyone has, but I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have been as successful as I’ve been, without them. If your agent does not support you or you don’t get along, I suggest you change – it is a crucial relationship to keep healthy, both for your career but also for your own mental health.
Moreover, you need to accept that everything is last minute, and that the right opportunity could present itself anytime, so you need to be willing to sacrifice holidays, social events and other normal things you may need to plan for. You need to be resistant and be able to use the large amount of rejection and criticism you will face, as a tool to build your strategy, rather than taking it personally. Trust me, this is easier said than done… The whole industry is unpredictable, but that is part of the world and part of the game. You need persistence, patience and continue to form your strategy until it bites.
“If your agent does not support you or you don’t get along, I suggest you change”
A gambler’s game
Contrary to popular beliefs you don’t roll off the plane onto the catwalk and then jump on a motorbike off to the next job, without having put blood, sweat, time and money into it. As matter of fact, you may never experience anything like this, but that does not mean you won’t try to achieve it by investing non-stop. You need to pay constant expenses for travel, accommodation, clothes, you name it, to meet and establish relationships all over the world. This can be a really positive experience if you love to travel, but as you are investing time and energy trying to get jobs it can be hard and draining, especially as you most likely will be doing it on your own. More often than not you will be spending money and time that you don’t really have, giving up other things that also are important to you.
The dangerous bit here is that you are in control of so little when it comes to modelling, that the few things you do control you can get obsessive over – such as the way you look and how you behave in front of others. I know that both myself and others have tried to change weight, look and attitude in order to fit into the industry, and trust me when I say that this is in no way necessary! As a model, you do need to look after yourself and stay fit, but there is a really fine line between an unhealthy and healthy attitude to your looks, which should not be crossed. Constantly being in limbo over whether you are pretty enough, cool enough or skinny enough is not going to land you many jobs; Confidence is in the end always the most attractive feature which clients look for.
“There is a really fine line between an unhealthy and healthy attitude to your looks, which should not be crossed. “
A waiting game
This part is by far the most prominent of them all… You spend hours on hours waiting, I think you probably spend 70% of your modelling career just waiting by yourself. Waiting at castings, waiting in airports, waiting in transport and waiting at home. If you do not wait you will lose out, so you wait no matter how long if you want the job. It is boring, but you deal with the wait and you learn how to fill the time – I managed to study a BSc in Psychology while waiting for planes and clients. Even when you don’t have any work scheduled, you never know if a job or casting may come up, so you are always waiting even if you are doing something else. Leaving it up to other people to manage your time is tough and I have personally found it extremely challenging. You are nearly always on your own, so being able to handle this can be easier said than done, as the loneliness can be really anxiety-provoking. I found that filling the time doing things that make you happy when you are on your own, like reading, studying, making phone calls or writing, makes it easier to manage.
The feelings that all this provokes includes excitement, adrenaline rushes, joy, boredom, frustration and anxiety. It is such a spectrum of emotions, where a lot of the time you can be feeling perfectly content and happy and within an hour you are close to having a panic attack, because of the last-minute changes and your inability to predict and control anything. It is a beautiful job that may create many opportunities, adventure and money. But it may also leave you with a pocket full of bad experiences and loss of money. Often, It’s both. Long story short – whether you are in the modelling industry, looking to join or simply watching from the outside, you ought to level your judgement, attitude and expectations.
There is no real definition of a model’s life, so just play your best hand and expect the unexpected!