By Jessica Frost
Every one, no matter who they are or what they do, seems to have advice to give to models. It can range from life changing, inspiring or useful to rude, derogatory or just plain insulting. Most models learn to filter out the haters but for younger models who are desperate for a career, it’s not so easy to tell the difference between someone advising you to do something that may be out of your comfort zone, but will get you what you want and someone telling you to do something that will completely shatter your morals.
The worst advice a model can get? “He’ll book you for more jobs if you just sleep with him”.
There can sometimes be an assumption of the beautiful people that work as models, who exude confidence and sex appeal, that they are just enviable bodies with little more substance. This assumption causes people to believe that the best tool a model has is their body and that they should use it to get whatever they want.
You don’t have to spend too long searching online to come across a myriad of stories from young girls who have been told that flirting with the stylist will get you this or sleeping with the photographer will get you that. There’s also a lot of stories from girls who, once young and naïve, took the advice to use their body for their benefit and were left in troubling situations.
A New York model recounted a story about a time when she was struggling to find work and couldn’t work out why her friend, another model in NYC, was flat out, booking jobs left right and centre. She shared her concerns- was her friend prettier than her? More edgy? Did she have a better body? She was with the same agency so what is it that she’s doing so different that is getting her all of the work?
It turns out that when this model asked her friend what her secret was and begged her for advice she simply replied “I’m fucking my agent”. Unfortunately, only a few weeks later when her friend started dating a new guy and decided to stop sleeping with her agent, she was dropped from the agency and lost any credibility she had worked to build in the industry.
Other stories share times that models have been told by their agents to flirt with casting directors. One more horrific situation detailed how a model, on the advice of a stylist she had worked with on a shoot, began flirting with the men she worked with to try and get ahead in her career only to have her whole world come crashing down when one of those men approached her at an after party for a show she’d worked on. He forced himself on her, expecting that she’d put out because of how she had acted toward him and “led him on” the whole time they worked together.
It’s kind of sickening to think that in this day and age, models, both male and female, are being led down questionable paths and being advised to sell themselves using their body. It seems ironic because sure, they are selling themselves, their look and their talent for face value but when their purpose becomes sexualised, it opens the door to completely different issues of immoral behaviour, harassment and potentially harmful actions.
Heidi Klum even issued a warning of such in an interview she did a few years back, “When you have a good body, photographers will often be like ‘Yeah, let’s take this off, and why don’t we lose this too,’ and you can quickly end up not wearing much clothing. You have to be careful and strong at saying no, especially when you’re [a] youngster and on your own. Not everyone is cool and has your best interest [at heart].”
So spare a thought the next time you assume that a model can get whatever they want by using their body. In the long run, what they may get is paid for with self-esteem and rewarded only with mental scarring.