All the potential in the world means nothing without desire
It all started in a crowded mall, in my hometown. My long limbs caught the attention of a man, who happened to be a model scout. As soon as he told me I could be a model, I was hooked. Whatever I had to do, I would make it happen. Digitals, those were first. Bikini digitals? Eh, that’s kind of uncomfortable but I want this. I’ll do whatever it takes.
LA was the launching pad. I was signed immediately. But there was a catch: “You gotta tone up,” I was told. Tone up? What the hell did that mean? I thought I looked great. Despite my stubbornness, I did as I was told. It was a roller coaster ride for a while. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but it was what I “had to do.”
Still being high school age, I had to take intervals from time in LA. My first time out there, I worked like crazy. Test shoots every day for two weeks straight. I felt great. I had more confidence than ever. I knew this was what I was meant to do. Clients were responding so well! They all wanted me and it was an amazing experience. My skin was glowing, my hair was perfect, and I was slimming out. All was right in my world.
After a quick return home, I was back in LA for the summer. This time around, things were different. I was alone. I didn’t have my parents to lean on, and it was really scary. I was continually reminded to keep working on my body and it really started to get into my head. I stopped thinking I looked good, despite all of the amazing jobs I was booking. I was depressed.
A lot of the time, outsiders don’t know the full story behind modeling. They see it as a glamorous job 24/7, where you just smile for the camera and then get a big fat paycheck.
This isn’t the case. You literally need to work your ass off in the gym, to keep up with the competition. You must constantly watch what you’re eating and make sure your skin is flawless, and much more. You are a product that your agency owns and controls.
If you want to change your hair, you need to ask permission. Basically anything to do with changing your appearance, you need to ask first. Personally, I don’t like being controlled. I want to do what I want, when I want. I don’t want to be an object. Yes, my agents care about me and I have nothing against them but that’s not the point. It’s not my agency, it’s the industry.
Getting back to skin care; I’ve struggled with acne since I was about 14 years old. It’s embarrassing and no one wants to deal with it. Of course, if I had the choice, I would have perfect skin, never feel self conscious or need to cover it with makeup. Unfortunately, I’m not that blessed.
If you walk into a casting and look around, almost 100% of the models will be make-up free. They don’t need it. This is where the competition is the worst. Castings are my least favorite part of modeling. They’re a place for intense scrutiny and judgement. There’s no way to hide insecurities. I bet, if you spoke to any model, they would agree with me: they just aren’t fun…
You sit in a room for however long it takes, while everyone stares at one another, wishing they were as pretty as the girl sitting next to them. Your name gets called and you meet with the client for max ten minutes. They take a picture of you and you leave, keeping your fingers crossed that they book you. It’s one big lottery.
In my short time modeling, I’ve probably attended more than 100 castings and NEVER got a single job out of it. All of my jobs were direct bookings – which in my case was awesome – but I wasted SO much gas and time.
Modeling requires time, money, and lots of it.
You have an online portfolio, a hard copy portfolio, which include large prints of your images, and composition cards containing your measurements. This stuff isn’t free. And that isn’t even the half of it.
Aside from paying your agency, the fees seem to rack up everywhere. I’ve spent countless dollars on my appearance: from body contouring procedures, to invisalign.
Everything has its ups and downs.
While modeling, I experienced many things I would’ve never had the opportunity to do otherwise. I went to nightclubs with beautiful people, despite being underage. I’d just walk in, no questions asked. I had everything catered to me. Free food, free drinks. It was great. But then I started to feel weird about it. I didn’t understand how I could get all this free stuff… Who was paying for it? Did I owe them something? It was all very confusing at first, and then I figured it out. Promoters are cool, some of them are good friends of mine but it’s not the life I want to live. On a good day, I’d prefer to be asleep before 12 and up before eight.
It’s hard, in this industry, to know who your real friends are. Everyone wants something from you. If you can offer them something people usually gravitate towards you. I’d rather have genuine friends, who like me despite my career and connections.
I started to really soak in what I was doing. And how much I’d changed since I started to model. I didn’t even recognize myself. I was hanging with people whose morals were the opposite of mine, and I didn’t like it. I hated my body. I hated myself. I felt so lost.
I started to catch myself looking at other girls and judging the way they looked, because they didn’t look like models. I hated myself for it. I started to develop an eating disorder. I would constantly look at my stomach in the mirror and wish it was smaller – even though I was a size 2. Nothing was enough. I felt like I couldn’t win. And then I crumbled. I felt damaged. Would I ever be happy with my body? How could anybody else love me, if I didn’t love myself? This career caused me so much damage – I had to get out.
I envy those girls with a thick skin, who can sustain long, successful careers in modeling. It’s not a secret that you make bank, but I’d rather make a living off something that brings me genuine happiness. I guess I’m just one of the unlucky ones… or maybe the lucky ones, depending on how you look at it.