We bet you could find tons of information about all the awesome things about modeling. However, real and practical information about the drawbacks of the modeling life is a different story.
Everyone wants to talk about the good stuff, the fun stuff, and the cool stuff…
But no one really wants to talk about the bad stuff, the hard stuff, and the stuff that drags you way way way down…
We wished someone would have told us about the challenges of being a model before we got into it. But no one did, so we pretty much experienced and learned about the industry first hand all by ourselves.
That’s why we are taking the time to share with you some of the drawbacks that you should expect from the modeling life. However, please do keep in mind that…
This page is not meant to discourage you.
We really want you to succeed and so are telling you the whole story- the good and bad so that you are prepared for what’s to come. Just like the benefits of modeling, there are too many drawbacks of the modeling life to list them all on this page. These are the highlights.
Are you ready?
Hold on to your seat because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
You spend time posting a cool photo of yourself on social media. Then after a few hours you found out that no one liked your photo.
What the hell?
We all need a certain amount of validation in our lives to remind us how special we are to the people we care about. We need a reminder now and then how important and irreplaceable we are to our colleagues and jobs.
This is the same with models… except it is amplified.
Models are performers who have learned to thrive from attention and recognition. They are so used to this way of life that they not only expect it, but depend on it.
What happens when you take someone who craves attention away from the spotlight?
One of the first projects that June worked on had him sitting in the middle of the room with an entire crew while he modeled a food product.
He was surprised by the amount of attention he was getting and felt proud and appreciated. However, that scene only took about 15 minutes and once the director got what he wanted, the entire crew packed up and moved to a new location to shoot a different scene. June was suddenly left by himself alone in the room and someone even closed the lights while he was still there!
The short term attention withdraw is no big deal. You brush away the feelings and move on.
But what if the market isn’t doing well and you receive little or no bookings? You’ll start to feel depressed because
You need a constant dose of projects to work on in order to feel validated.
Being validated allows you to feel attractive and talented. If not, insecurities start to slowly accumulate.
No one likes being rejected.
It stops us from our goals and hurts our pride in the process.
No one is rejected more than performers in entertainment and no one more than models.
Models are often rejected more than actors. Actors rely not only on looks but also their talent for acting. Models, you guessed it, are selected completely based on their looks alone.
What’s frustrating is how unfair models can be judged. We once knew someone who wasn’t selected for a project because she reminded the designer of his ex-girlfriend. How fair is that???
Since the modeling industry is as subjective as it gets, you will spend most of your time hearing “No.” than “Yes!”
When you are rejected often enough, especially on projects that you really want to work on, you’ll start to ask,
What’s wrong with me?
And that is a horrible question to ask yourself because there is nothing wrong with you! However, being stuck in this depression state of mind means you are unable to think logically. You will continue to ask yourself,
If there is nothing wrong with me… then why am I unable to book more jobs?
You have absolutely no control over who appreciates your look and who wants to book you.
Industry Standard Figure
Since their physical appearance is used to advertise a product or service, it comes as no surprise that models are expected to be in shape. This is especially true when it comes to fashion modeling and its stringent physical requirements.
Whether it’s because they need to model clothing that is tightly fitted or the fact that the camera adds 5 to 10 lbs. to their final image, fashion models are expected to be very skinny and lean.
It takes ambition to achieve the industry standard body and discipline to maintain it.
Have an agency meeting coming up? Better drop that burger because they will take body pics of you at the meeting.
Have a runway show coming up? Better eat only salads or someone else is going to book that job.
When June was gearing up to participate in an international modeling competition, he was faced with two problems. His body was not lean enough and there was not a gym or track nearby.
While staying at a 30 story hotel at the time, he created his own exercise regimen. One of which required that he use the stairs as exercise. People in the building couldn’t understand why June was doing this and probably thought he was weird or even crazy. But how could they understand what it takes to achieve your goals?
Being healthy is obviously important but what if you weren’t careful and caught the cold?
If you were in school, you’ll call in sick. The same could be said for work. Your boss would understand and tell you to take it easy.
But what if you have a model booking?
You’ll get up and go to the project regardless and the makeup artist will do her best to make you look okay.
Why do you have to go??? You are sick!!!
Because there is an entire team scheduled to work on this project today and you cannot miss it.
In the event that you do, not only will production have to find a possible replacement, they will notify your agent on how unreliable you are as a professional. Your agency will then have lost their reputation and would be extremely unhappy with you. In some cases, you might even have to pay for damages.
Being healthy is not only just having a sick-free health. If you partied hard the night before and went on set the next day with dark circles under your eyes, people will give you dirty looks. If you smoke and start to damage your teeth, you will no longer be able to do commercial modeling.
Each modeling job is a separate and individual project.
A project is a task that has a definite beginning, middle, and end. The unfortunate part is that there is an end. No matter how well you do, at the end of the workday, you will have to say goodbye to everyone and move on to the next project… if there is a next one.
Because it is a challenge to consistently book and have one job waiting after the next,
You shouldn’t rely solely on your modeling income to pay the bills.
There’s a phrase in the entertainment industry called FEAST OR FAMINE. When you have a project to work on, life is good and you can eat like a king. But during times when you are searching for your next project, it’s a good idea to be conservative with your finances.
You never know when you are going to need the money for a rainy day.
Criticism from Family and Friends
You may be able to brush off criticisms from strangers but when it’s coming from your family and friends, it can sure leave a dent.
The closest people in your life are not necessary the people who will truly understand and appreciate what you are going through.
What happens when times are tough?
During times when you really need support, you may feel alone. Because a common question you receive from family and friends during that time is:
“Why don’t you get a real job?”
When everyone tells you to quit, what will you do?
Do you believe long distance relationships work?
If so, how long does it take for the fire you feel for each other to cool down?
It is difficult to sustain a stable relationship with someone if you are constantly moving.
An aspect that contribute to models’ success is their ability to be flexible. They are expected to attend a casting, a meeting, and a job, at the drop of a hat. Since most opportunities in entertainment is last minute, it’s also not uncommon to be notified of prospects outside of the state or country, a month or a week away.
It’s at that moment when you have to decide which option is the best for you: Stay and develop your relationship? Or leave and develop your career?
One thing for sure is that:
The same opportunity rarely knocks twice.
We learn at a young age that the more we want something, the harder we have to work for it. This is especially true if others want the same thing you do.
If you were to walk outside and stop anyone on the street and randomly ask, “Do you want to be in a magazine, runway show, or billboard?” How many “Yes” would you receive? You probably wouldn’t be surprised that most will be willing to do it even for free.
You now have an idea the amount of competition you can expect while working in entertainment. Actually, the competition may be even fiercer than you may initially realize because the level of their portfolio, skill, connection, etc. of the other models would not be beneath yours.
See this line? This is a casting session in New York City. They actually ran out of space for people to sit! Yes, it is very common to have all these people try out for just one role.
Attending a high-end runway show casting may reinforce the idea that not all tryouts are fun and games, as you are often required to walk in front of your competitors.
At high profile fashion show castings, the designer may have all the models stand up and create two single file lines. Each model is then expected to walk down in between the two lines showcasing their style. We can tell you it’s intimidating to walk while every pair of eyes from both sides are following and judging you.
In an industry that evaluates your worth based on your current popularity, you are only as good as your latest project.
At social gatherings like a cocktail party, people in the industry may size you up by inquiring about your recent accomplishments.
“Which agency are you with now? Oh! I heard they aren’t doing that well. Too bad.”
“Yes, I know you were in the issue of that magazine, but what are you doing now? Nothing big? Too bad.”
“Where was your billboard again? Oh! I was there just last week. They must have replaced it with someone else. Too bad.”
Hard Work Does Not Always Pay Off
A most frustrating concept to swallow is that hard work does not always pay off in this industry.
We have always been taught by parents, teachers, and employers that hard work will pay off. All you need to do is to put in the effort and you will get what you wanted.
Let’s say there’s a tough exam coming up at the end of the month in school and you really want to get an A on it. It’s going to be difficult because this subject is not one of your favorites.
So what do you do?
You spend a lot of your time this month studying.
Your friends call you up and invite you to a party over the weekend where you know you’ll have tons of fun. Clutching your teeth, you decline because you know it will eat into your studying time.
In fact, just by saying “No!”, you have proven to yourself how strong your resolve is and you become even more determined. You can totally picture yourself holding on to the completed exam paper with a big FAT A+ on it.
The exam day has finally arrived and not only did you finish the exam with confidence, but was also one of the first to hand it in. You receive the test paper back a few days later and raise it in the air as a trophy.
Congrats! You deserved it!
Now let’s say you have your eye on a top model agency in New York.
Leveraging your connections, you were able to schedule an appointment with the director of the board.
After looking over your portfolio, he tells you that you have potential but need to lose some weight. Not too much, just a few pounds. Come back in a month when you have done this.
So what do you do?
You spend the next month strict dieting and exercising every day.
Your friends invite you to a back yard barbecue where you know you’ll have plenty of authentic home cooked foods waiting for you. Come on! Why right now? Why couldn’t it have been last month or next month? You can almost picture the nicely set tables and your big fat plate.
Suddenly, images of you signing with the top agency flashes in your mind. The taste of a few ribs pales in comparison from the taste of glory. Clutching your teeth, you decline.
In fact, just by saying “No!”, you are magically able to exercise for longer periods of time without feeling tired.
The agency meeting day has finally arrived. After waiting a few minutes in the lobby, the director brings you up to the roof of the building and starts taking pictures of you himself- even though that’s the assistant’s job. Commenting how nicely lit the roof is for taking pictures, he starts to compliment you on your new figure and even asks you to go through 2 wardrobe changes. A smile spreads over your face and you pat yourself on the back. [In your mind] 😉
He leads you back into the lobby and tells you to wait while he downloads the images and prints them out. After a half an hour of waiting, he calls you into his office and tells you sorry, but you are not a good fit for the agency.
You explain how hard you worked this month and ask why you are not a good fit???
He refuses to answer your question and tells you to leave.
You walk on to the street filled with emotions.
That was June years ago.
Feeling betrayed, he went to his contacts, one of which is very close to the director, to ask what happened. After a week later, the contact explained that the director didn’t like his facial features.
That does not make sense. Losing a few pounds does not drastically alter the face, especially the features. His face and bone structure has always been the same. What was the point of telling him to lose weight if the director didn’t like his face to begin with?
There’s no point in arguing.
This is the modeling industry. There is no such thing as fair treatment.
Now that the Drawbacks are out of the way…
Don’t let the cons of modeling drag you down. If we gave up when things got tough, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.
In fact, if we didn’t figure out tips and tricks to deal with the drawbacks, you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
So don’t worry. We got your back.
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