The Business of Looking Good

One of the clients I’m working with right now used to be a runway model. You’ve never heard of her and probably never saw much of her work unless you were a player in the fashion industry around the late 90’s. She wasn’t in a lot of print ads or on the cover of Sports Illustrated. This woman never found the success of a Cindy Crawford or Heidi Klum or by today’s standards, Kate Upton.

No this very beautiful woman was one of those girls who didn’t quite make it. She never reached that next level of super-stardom around the world. When she contacted me about hiring me for a gig, I immediately recognized who she was, but I had never worked with her before.

Most people have a very skewed perception of what the modeling industry is really like for someone trying to progress and become successful. It’s like any other industry, you have to work hard to get ahead and it takes total devotion to your goals. But it’s also a job that can become very precarious. I’m not even talking about the predatory individuals who like to prey on young girls, the fresh faces who don’t know any better and are often victimized in some way, but there are plenty of those.

I’m talking about the nature of the business itself. You don’t get the cover of Vogue or become the face of Victoria’s Secret overnight. Those women have been struggling for years to make it to those prestigious positions. For every Adriana Lima there are hundreds of other girls who are grinding it out, often in obscurity, just to make ends meet. Modeling is not a great job. It doesn’t really pay the bills and at it’s heart it’s a bad business model (no pun intended). You never know when or where your next paycheck is coming from, it’s risky work where that’s concerned and entirely unpredictable. You certainly don’t get any health benefits.

You’re always going out on castings, your job basically consists of you going on repeated job interviews over and over again everyday. It’s like that movie Groundhog Day. The jobs are different and all the same at the same time. Print or commercial, it’s pretty much the same process. Like any business there is a certain amount of financial investment required as well. You have to buy a lot of stuff to get started as a model. I’m not even talking about headshots, although those are your first mandatory expenditure. They’re not cheap either and if you’re even thinking about trying to save a few bucks on those, then you’re destined for failure from the outset. Don’t expect someone will be doing your hair and makeup all the time. The first few jobs you get might require you to do your own, so you’ll need to buy the right gear, including make-up and hair products. Do not overlook the importance of a good hair dryer. It’s one of the many important essentials you’ll need in your bag. Here is where you can find some ways to save a little money. Go online, look up sites like where you can find the best kind of hair dryer for your budget. A hair dryer is so important to the life and career of a model and when you are starting out you want one that is going to work when you do. The hair dryer is the perfect example of the sort of investment you’ll need to make in your career. Sounds simple but it’s so very important. When you have the right tools, you can succeed. A fresh face is a great start but showing that you are prepared for any job, anywhere…means they will hire you again and again.

Some girls burn out, some hit a hot streak and even then it’s no guarantee that they’re going to make a career out of it. When you are working, you’re not always paid in cash. Sometimes you get free clothing and makeup, or free swag from the company that’s hired you to model for them. That sounds great at first but when the rent’s due, your landlord isn’t going to accept a $400 evening gown. He wants money instead, money you don’t always have available.

I know this might sound like sour grapes or bitterness, but it’s not. I’m certainly not trying to discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams of being a model either. Some people are cut out for that kind of ambition. But it wasn’t for me and I have no regrets about the time I spent doing it either. I enjoyed many aspects of it, but ultimately I realized my fate lie elsewhere.

But it’s certainly not as glamorous a world that many believe it to be.

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