By Dania Denise
Modeling 101 – A Model’s Diary

I used to jokingly say, “Common sense is a superpower.” Truth be told, I don’t really joke about it anymore because it’s true.

On almost every shoot I’ve been on this year I’ve heard at least one “WTH” type of story about a model.

I believe in signs so the fact that I keep hearing about all these ridiculous happenings that really shouldn’t even be an issue is what motivated me to write this post.

If you’ve been guilty of this, I’m hoping that you learn why the matters touched on in this post are not okay to make a part of your career, not to mention your reputation.

Newbies and those just getting into modeling will be much better off reading this post sooner than later to avoid the following pitfalls and ensure that clients won’t end up telling someone like me how they couldn’t believe so-and-so did this or so-and-so did that.

To be honest, I wish I didn’t have to list the following common sense tips for female and male models because it should be obvious but like my first sentence said, “Common sense is a superpower.” Fingers crossed that I can help inspire and influence a wave of superhero models with common sense as their ultimate talent!

***These tips apply to both shoots and fashion shows so to save myself from sounding repetitive, I’m going to use the word “work” to cover both descriptions of modeling gigs.

COMMON SENSE TIP #1: Groom Yourself–You Know How (I hope)

It is crucial to understand that when you get booked for work as a model, you’re supposed to come prepared…as in “groomed.” Unless instructed to arrive “camera ready” with your hair and makeup already done, you will have a makeup artist and hair stylist onset to get you picture perfect or runway ready.

BUT that does not mean it is a day spa where you’re going to have everything waxed, tweezed and shaved. That should already be done before you get to work!

I wish there was a camera to capture my expression when photographers, designers and other clients tell me they’ve had models show up for shoots with armpit stubble, hairy legs, wild eyebrows or other unsightly types of facial and body hair.

When these issues have to be dealt with onsite, it eats into prep time, sours the mood of everyone involved and just makes for a terrible first impression in a professional setting. For things that can’t be dealt with onset for shoots, the photographer ends up getting saddled with more retouching work than he/she originally signed on for.

How can models who are guilty of this not be embarrassed or just not care??? It is beyond my understanding.

The bottom line: BEFORE you get to work (either that morning or the day/evening before), make it your mission to wax, shave, pluck, tweeze and whatever else you need to do in order to look amazing and feel amazing when you arrive.

The team in charge of putting you together in terms of hair and makeup will transform you but they weren’t hired to do all that extra grooming.

COMMON SENSE TIP #2: “Dirty” Hair : Good. “Duuurrrty” Hair: Bad

Hair that hasn’t been washed in a few days holds hair products and certain styles better. That’s common knowledge in the modeling world. When hair is freshly washed it tends to be harder to work with, especially for those who have straight hair or use heated styling tools to straighten their tresses. It can be limp, flat and nearly impossible to hold volume. But with a few days’ worth of natural oils, hair stylists can easily whip up an awesome hairstyle for both female and male models.

However, having hair that is super dirty and unwashed could be an icky experience for the person that has to deal with your hair. Ethnic hair (I fall under this category most certainly) oftentimes cannot be washed frequently and it is not unusual for models of color to wash their hair once or twice a week.

That fact does not–I repeat–does not apply to this particular issue I’m addressing. There’s a difference between working on hair that hasn’t been washed in a week and hair that hasn’t been washed in WEEKS or even MONTHS.

I kid you not, I’ve had 2-3 hair stylists (and that’s 2-3 hair stylists too many in my opinion) tell me horror stories about models who admitted they hadn’t washed their hair in a really long time but expected the hair stylist to work miracles. Not only was their hair too dirty to work on with styling tools, it smelled awful.

Again, why is this happening and why do models think this is okay??? It’s not. Make the time to get your hair together so that it is dirty enough to be styled properly but not so dirty that the hair stylist has to suppress a gag reflex while working on you.

Oh, and on a similar note: if you wear hair extensions, please make sure they look good and are presentable. Having roots that don’t match the rest of the hair you’re sporting is not a good look when you have to be on camera or on the runway. 

COMMON SENSE TIP #3: Bring Extra Stuff Even if You Haven’t Been Told To

Typically the client will tell models if additional stuff needs to be brought to work, such as several types of underwear, bras, shoes, etc. But even if you aren’t instructed to do so, bring these types of items anyway. The “Model Bag” exists for a reason (I plan on doing a post to break down what this item is so don’t stress if you’re unfamiliar).

The types of additional stuff you may need to bring will vary based on the theme of the shoot, the types of outfits you’ll be wearing, location, etc. As the date for your gig gets closer, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and that will determine what you’ll need to pack.

Ladies, bringing thong underwear in nude, white and black, strapless bras in nude, black and white and a few pairs of heels in nude and black should be the most basic supplemental items you should automatically pack. Notice I used the word “and” and not “or” when I listed the colors of the undergarments? That’s because you should have all those colors. Don’t have them? Go buy them. Now.

Male models don’t technically have to worry about this aspect of things like the ladies do. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take the initiative and inquire about what supplemental wardrobe options or items to bring. This not only makes you look professional, it gives the client assurance that you’ll arrive ready.

COMMON SENSE TIP #4: Put Your F@$%*# Phone Away

I get it. Social media and branding now dictates that we document everything we do, including being onset for modeling work. However, there is a time and place to whip out your phone. Here are the times when it is not okay:

– While getting your hair and makeup done. If you want to look like a clown, have your eyeball poked or get burned with the curling iron, interact with your phone more than the hair and makeup artist. They need your attention and that means putting the phone away so you can sit up, face forward and be the canvas they need to transform.

– During work. By this, I mean running to check your phone in between posing sets during a shoot or after stepping off the runway during a show. The client and crew are not on your time. You are on their time. The BTS photos and other candids you want to take and share with the world will happen but do what you’re supposed to do first and then get as snap happy as you want once you have a break that is long enough to do so. Or ask someone onset who isn’t busy to take pictures of you with your phone.

COMMON SENSE TIP #5: Don’t Mess Up the Clothes You’re Wearing–They’re Not Yours

Whether it’s a fashion show or a shoot, if you’re wearing clothing that doesn’t belong to you, make sure you’re being extra careful with whatever you’re doing.

To avoid a disaster, you shouldn’t eat or drink while wearing an outfit. Wait until you’re changed or if you absolutely have to eat/drink, take all precautions with extra napkins, eat over a trash bin and/or stick your neck out far so that you’re not holding the food/beverage right over the clothes, etc.

Ladies, if you’re wearing a gown or other long dress and have to use the bathroom, take a note from the brides out there and grab a lady friend to give you assistance so that you don’t end up potentially ruining the garment (no need to be embarrassed by the situation, many helpers/dressers/assistants have done this before or are aware of this possibly happening).

Believe me, it’s better to be embarrassed and come away from the restroom with your outfit intact instead of getting cussed out, blacklisted or possibly even responsible for the cost of cleaning the garment if it gets messed up because you thought you could teeter-totter over the toilet with precision while wearing a gown with a train.

If you know you’re a tad disaster prone or clumsy, err on the side of caution and bring some comfy and easy to change into clothing so that if you need to do something that could possibly ruin an outfit, you can switch things up and do what you gotta do with no worries.

COMMON SENSE TIP #7: Taking a Shower is Enough.

It may seem counter intuitive but don’t wear deodorant. I don’t care what the newest television commercials say. Don’t chance it. Deodorant can streak, stain and mess up certain fabrics. If you’re one for sweating, a common practice many models use (myself included) is to take tissues or paper towels and place them under your arms whenever you’re not in front of the camera or on the runway. This will create an absorbent barrier between your pits and the fabric. It may look silly but it’s part of the territory and people onset will understand and even be ready with a roll of paper towels or box of tissues once you request it.

The same goes for perfumes, colognes and body sprays. They can stain the clothing and may linger on the fabric after you’ve long gone. Designers oftentimes don’t want their clothes coming back to them smelling like random people, not to mention being considerate of people’s potential allergies or sensitivity to certain scents.