By Michele Smith
Facebook – MicheleSmithMarketing
While the International modeling industry appears to be all glitz and glamorous from the outside, the view from the inside isn’t so pretty. There are several ugly truths that go on behind the scenes and typically the general public is not even remotely aware. The following are just a small sampling of facts and the truth of what models in the industry deal with as part of their careers.
Models typically start out very young and in some cases too young; despite industry regulations to enforce a minimum age requirement. The problem is that the modeling industry is self-regulated and many designers will employee models as young as age 13. In addition to starting out a young age, models starting out in the International modeling industry tend to be leaving home for the first time, are not accompanied by family or friends, and are simply emotionally unprepared to cope with the pressures from the industry. In a recent survey, the results showed that two-thirds of models were told to lose weight and 70% suffer from some type of depression. Daily weigh-ins resulting in eating disorders are prevalent and there are many fashion models who have died from anorexia. Even more disturbing are the models who take trips to the hospital as an alternative to eating. Many models use cocaine to make their cheeks look hollow and some even resorted to pulling teeth.
Other ugly truths pertain to career length and the overall financial picture. For a majority of models, their career length is typically only three seasons, as most new runway shows feature approximately 70% of new faces. The financial picture is not pretty either, as the median salary runs in the low 30K range. This is even bleaker for International models as they have to pay for airline flights, visas, lodging and expenses; making these models in debt even before their first casting call. Also, keep in mind that high profile glam jobs (i.e. Vogue) pay significantly less than their commercial counterparts. In simplistic terms, the higher profile the client, the less the model will make.
There is also a safety concern that comes into play. There are many modeling agencies that do not pay their models, they therefore cannot afford to eat and they encourage them to go out with older men. Many models engage in this occupational risk, because they are not eating and clubs are even offering free dinners in order to get older men patrons in the door. They simply do not have a lot of options.
On a positive note, the industry is making an effort to change after a former Australian Vogue editor’s tell-all story came out a couple of years ago. Kristie Clements, author of The Vogue Factor, shared a frightening sneak peek into the dangerous industry, where models were eating tissue to stay thin and others would have bruises from falling from fainting due to lack of nutrition. Both Conde Nast International (Vogue, Allure) and Council of Fashion Designers of America have enacted initiatives to curb the employment of underage models and those who are suspected of having an eating disorder.