Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The not so glamorous life of a model

Modeling has always struck me as a downright awful profession, if for no other reason that you have to be skinny to do it.(“I’ll have the bouillon for my main course, with the carrot stick chaser, please.”) And from what I read about modeling (admittedly, precious little), there’s a whole lot of eating disorder going on out there.

Then, if you’re in haute couture, you have to wear some really outré outfits that make even the world’s most beautiful people look ridiculous. Meanwhile, if you’re on the lower end of the fashion spectrum, you have to pretend that you’re having a great time sporting that pair of orthopedic pumps while making a visit to the Terra Haute aquarium. The haute couture models always look pained; the shoe catalog models, on the other hand, always seem to be wearing phony smiles.

Modeling’s also a career that doesn’t age especially well. There are only so many ads for Centrum Silver out there.

Not that modeling was anything I ever had to worry about career-wise. Not quite tall enough, not quite pretty enough, and, even back in the day, not quite thin enough. I never even played pretend model. When I vamped in front of the bathroom mirror, it was while wearing my cheesy fake doctor pajamas (white top with the three button shoulder closing, and chartreuse bottoms), pulling my hair back, sucking my cheeks in and pretending that my fellow Blair General Hospital doctor Jim Kildare (played by total heart-throb Richard Chamberlain) was my boyfriend.

Another drawback with respect to a career in modeling was that I was never in the least interested in makeup or fashion.

Not to mention that there just didn’t seem to be as many models floating around way back then – maybe a couple per decade (Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton).But that was about it. Yet another thing to thank the Internet and People Magazine for. Whenever I find myself asking ‘who is this famous person’, chances are they’re a model I’ve never heard of. (That or someone on The Bachelorette and/or Dancing With the Stars.)

So, no, I don’t give the modeling profession much thought. But it turns out that, beyond the bulimia and general nastiness (sex, drugs,alcohol and occasional rock ‘n roll),unless you’re at the top, it’s a really bad way to try to make a living. Or so I read in Money Magazine.

Models allege that labor abuses like these run rampant in the , modeling industry -- leaving many workers feeling more like indentured servants than the glamorous high fashion icons young girls around the world dream of becoming. (Source: Money)

Most of the complaints detailed in the article were about less than stellar agencies taking advantage of young (mostly) women – taking an exorbitant chunk out of their checks, making their lives difficult immigration-wise, and sometimes pimping them out for porn.

But what I largely took away was that most models just can’t make a living at it. Period. Even if you’ve appeared in Italian Vogue, as one Emily Fox has, you’re lucky if you break $20K a year before taxes. Even if you’ve been in the SI Swimsuit Issue, as one model cited in the article said, you may have to ask dad “a blue collar worker in Ohio to pay for groceries.”

It strikes me that going into modeling is somewhat like deciding to become a poet (although with more upside). Most likely you’re not going to get rich, and you’ll only be able to keep writing poetry or modeling if dad pays for the groceries, or you grow up to have a spouse who can support you. But poets can keep writing poetry until they die. Modeling’s a short timer, career-wise.

In this sense, deciding to become a model is more like having your heart set on becoming a professional athlete. You’ll be doing something you love, and, for models, you only see the glam, the riches, the makeup ads, the runway walks, the snaps in People. You don’t see trying to live on $20K or cadging grocery money from Dad. It seems quite a bit like what you hear about so many young athletes. They see the Super Bowl rings, the snaps in People, the over the top adulation and hero worship, the flash cars. So many don’t seem to plan around getting cut from the practice squad after one season and regretting that they forgot to go to class during their four years at Football Factory U.

And there you have the perfect combo, Boston’s own “it” couple, Super Model Gisele Bundchen and Football Hero Tom Brady – beautiful, glamorous, rich beyond imagining… Unbeatable.

But most of those setting out to become football heroes don’t end up being Tom Brady. Or even a backup player in the NFL. Better have a career backup in mind.

And most of those setting out to be models don’t end up being Gisele Bundchen. Or even make a living wage. However nasty the modeling world is, however rotten some of those modeling agencies might well be – probably not a lot worse, morality-wise, than some of those football factory “universities” that sucker “student-athletes” in because they need a supporting cast to showcase the star quarterback – anyone considering a career in modeling would be well-advised to figure out what they want to do if their dream-career doesn’t pan out.

No comments: