By Maia Cotton

While in New York I sat down with Cameron Russell, (supermodel and activist) for a model exclusive discussion about all that models are, and can be. After 3 years of working in this industry, I have almost come to terms with this amazing, unique, terrifying job I have.

First things first, models have minds too. I am a model, yes. But I am not only a model. I also have thoughts and ideas I want to contribute. And at times I’ll admit, I often battle with what my job adds to the world, will it make a profound difference? This was a topic widely discussed at the talk with Cameron, which was comforting to hear others felt the same.

Like any job, there are its’ downsides. And that is one I often battle with. I want to make sure I am more than a face, more than a clothes hanger. That I lift people up, not bring them down. There is a common conception about the fashion industry being it sets negative and unrealistic standards for women to aspire to. And as a model, I hear this and often feel ashamed. I don’t want to be the reason for another women’s insecurities! Many find this hard to believe, because of course, it is so many girls dream to be a model, correct? But what many don’t realize is that we as models feel insecure often too. It’s important to note that there is no difference between the women you see in the magazine or the one reading it, we are all equal. 

maia cotton
maia cotton

I think many have this warped idea that all models are paid these crazy salaries for little to no work. Which I’ll admit can be a little frustrating, because I can tell you now models work hard. Although in saying this, I can understand where the confusion lies. How is it really work when you get to be dressed up and put in front of the camera?

Well that’s the thing, a models work goes beyond the standard shoot. It starts with the 6am call times, the hair pulling, the feeling of being exposed as you stand naked waiting to be dressed, and then the obvious constant working out and eating well. Now, I’m not complaining, because I truly do adore my job. But it does change a person.

I was fourteen when I was scouted, a baby. I was willing to do anything to be successful because I was overwhelmed with this bright new opportunity. Innocent and afraid, and looked to my Mother to speak for me. Now at 17 years old, I still am determined to reach my goals, although I am different. It’s interesting for me to compare myself to my peers, they, still at high school, carrying out “normal” lives. Me, traveling from country to country working for a living. Do I ever miss that lifestyle? Yes I do. But now I am more independent than ever. Headstrong with a thick skin, and very different to the young girl that I was when I started. maia cotton

So far in my time in the industry I have come across the most inspiring, creative, talented minds that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to if it wasn’t for this position I’m in. Which is a position I have managed to get to through a combination of luck, perseverance, privilege and curiosity. Being a model is more than being sexy and pretty to sell clothes.

For me, I grew up in a very creative household with my Father an Artist and my Mother an architect with an eye for detail. I like to believe that my philosophy for Beauty is down to the way I was brought up. From the fittings, to the final image, a models role allows her to contribute to a creative process. And that is what I love about my work. I play a role that’s no more important than the stylist assistant who steams the clothes, because we are all there to create and contribute. And that’s something I’m proud of. 

maia cotton