By Rhiannon Bamford-Purchon
Walking Mannequins, Human Coat-Hangers and Blank Canvases – just some of the words to describe a models job description. When your livelihood is judged on your ability to chameleon into other people’s standards, how could you not lose your identity? This is the position of Anja Rubik. The 34-year-old model embarked on a career in the fashion business at the young age of 15 and has now revealed that she believes that budding catwalk icon’s desperate to do their “job right” are forced to change to suit the team they work with.
Becoming a model is a fantasy for most young girls. Anya reveals that her obsession with the fashion and modeling industry began after watching the late George Michael’s ‘Too Funky’ music video, which starred Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford.
“I wasn’t really ‘discovered’. When I was young, I was obsessed with George Michael videos, especially ‘Too Funky’. I would look at these women who were strong and sexy, with the world at their feet, and I thought, ‘I want to be one of those women.'”
Anja appeared to find it harder to break into the industry because she lived in a “tiny city” in Poland called Rzeszów. She said: “…my chances of being discovered were none, so I took things into my own hands and sent pictures to competitions.” Luckily for her she was signed immediately to Next Management after being spotted at a modeling competition.
However, although she was signed to an internationally recognized agency, her modeling career truly began in 2005 after working with Industry Legend Mario Testino. Since then she has been honored by Vogue Paris as one of the Top 30 Models of the 2000s, worked with designers such as Chanel, Saint Laurent, Versace and as of September 2012, she is ranked on Models.com as an ‘Icon’. Currently Anja is the editor in Chief of ’25 Magazine’, a magazine of her creation that discusses fashion, culture, feminism entertainment and art. Now Anja is speaking out about her experience in the fashion industry, and how difficult it is to retain confidence and personality.
Speaking to Net-A-Porter’s The Edit, the blonde-haired beauty said: “When you start young – I was 15 – you’re still developing. You enter a world where everyone is expecting something from you: the photographer tells you how to be, then the stylist, then you have feedback from casting directors. You want to do your job right, but you lose your identity.”
As for her take on the industry now? Anja hinted she thinks the industry is more cut throat nowadays, and she believes the key to success is feeling confident in your own skin: “There are a lot of young girls now, way more than before, and they come and go faster; people don’t really give them a chance to build a career. It’s quite sad. Also, since we have such an over-saturation of images and magazines and designers, what you do is not as important as it used to be.”
In an industry where models are constantly being molded to fit briefs (read here), Anja believes that confidence is the only way to retain your identity, and succeed. She says: “You can have the most beautiful girl walk into the room, wearing the most gorgeous dress, and if she doesn’t feel confident, you’re not attracted to her. I only started to feel really good in my skin when I was 27. Some people get there earlier, and I envy them. It took me quite some time. When you’re a tall, blond model, unfortunately you’re still very quickly identified as not very smart with not much to say. But that gives you a kick to break those stereotypes.”