Today, I’m going to explain misconceptions about the modeling industry that I have heard or had myself. Some people may argue that the models did this to themselves or they chose that line of work, but it doesn’t excuse the poor treatment they receive. Yes, there are many models who live the great life and get paid in millions, but the reality is, the majority are not living it up. I could make my character’s life super easy, but my job isn’t to appeal to the accepted image, but to show people what is behind the veil. My readers will get a glimpse of a model’s real life. Something that reflects the hidden reality of modeling. This isn’t to bash the industry, but to shed light on how it is. Nothing is simple and we shouldn’t assume any job is “easy”. Every job has its difficulties, its costs and benefits. It may not compare to other occupations, and that’s okay. The world isn’t black and white. In fact, there are so many gray areas, it resembles a dark storm cloud more than anything else.
Many models take on second jobs because they cannot live on that income either because it is not enough to pay their bills or because of the inconsistency. A model can work on a runway show for example, and not get paid for months. Sometimes they will receive clothes as a trade instead of payment. This may not happen to ALL models though. Of course, for more famous models (which there are few) they probably get their money. Some end up taking retail or fast food jobs. Some people with a loyal following on social media, may receive sponsorships from different companies to promote their products. It’s very difficult to live only on the model salary for a lot of people, especially if you are just starting out and do not get any financial support from anyone. Some people move to different countries, states, and cities. They start all over from scratch. Even if you saved money beforehand, it may not last long.
I never realized how much more complex everything was. There are models who live in expensive cities and cannot afford the rent. They spend countless hours working every week, but that effort is not reciprocated on their paychecks. “Models typically aren't treated as employees, so they usually aren't guaranteed to receive minimum wage… instead, they are often considered independent contractors. And this means that even after paying their agencies fat commissions of 20% or more, models often have to foot the bill for business expenses.” Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, The Outrageous Cost of Being a Model. For example, a model expects a fifteen-thousand-dollar check for the work done, but instead receives a three-thousand-dollar check. Even after the twenty percent cut, the government takes taxes out of that. They are not left with much to pay rent, buy groceries, or pay for transportation. This would infuriate anyone. It’s a very lackadaisical industry. There aren’t many laws or enforced laws to protect the models and ensure better treatment.
I’d like to thank Brandon Llovet (a real model) for clarifying and answering questions I had. Follow him on Instagram @brandonllovet and @BBLovet.
Next week’s topics are robots and artificial wombs for my book The Future. The title is a work in progress, don’t judge.
*All my photos are from https://freephotos.cc/ except the one from Wednesday.
Happy August everyone! I am writing a story about a woman navigating her way through the modeling industry. Mai Jenkins just moved to New York City from small town Venolia, Texas, and is ready to hit the runway. She doesn’t anticipate running into complications on the way, making her adjustment a lot more difficult than she thought. Mai expects lavish clothing, limos, thousands of dollars in her bank account, and her face on a billboard. Instead, what she receives is a dinghy apartment with four other girls and barely enough jobs to pay her expensive rent. In other words, a pretty crappy lifestyle. There is a lot of research going into this because I don’t know anything about modeling. That’s the beauty of being a writer, you get to create a fascinating story while also learning something new. Now I can share it with everyone. There are many things I learned that shocked me as well. I think we all have a very manipulated view about models. In this blog, I am specifically referring to signed fashion models.
The world of modeling is a complex place with no guarantees and a lot of uncertainty. It’s like you are constantly free-falling through the air, momentarily catching a cloud to rest on until you drop right through. Despite this, the glamour continues to bring young women into the industry. It’s not easy at all, and this is coming from someone who has no experience in that life. I couldn’t walk even a few feet in their heels. What I discovered was more than a bunch of pretty girls walking down a runway. I read about women who just like everyone else, worked hard to make their dreams come true. It’s not as simple as standing in front of a camera. Every struggle is a struggle.
Models spend a lot of their days going to casting calls and doing photo shoots. Some models are lucky enough to fly to different states and countries for photo shoots or runways. These casting calls are not paid and can last for several hours. A model will walk for the judges and give them their portfolios which consist of head shots and other photos they have. The judges are usually composed of the fashion designer, a make-up artist, and the photographer. If the judges choose them for a show, they move on to the fitting. This can go up to several hours as well and they still do not pay them. However, even if a model moves on to the fitting, she still may not be chosen for the show. This may contribute to the reason why they are not compensated for that time. During a fitting, the models try on the garments and practice walking in them for the designer to inspect. Fun fact, the models must find their own way to fittings, something Mai did not know (neither did I). I thought whoever managed the fittings and show picked up their models, but no. Some people take buses or walk. It's not that far-fetched to find your own transportation to work. Anyway, once a model passes through the fitting phase, they begin rehearsals for the show.
It was fun watching casting videos and photo shoots for this. I really admire the art of it. The background, the outfits, and mostly, the model’s confidence pouring through the camera lenses. That is something. Their expressions are captured in time, whether they’re in mid-laugh, or glaring at the camera. Every part comes together to make a scene and create a story. It seemed weird at first when I scrolled through pictures. The way the models positioned themselves was awkward to me. After a while, I began to see the beauty of it.
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