What could be more glamorous than the life of a jet-setting model? From getting to wear luxurious fashions to travelling the world, it seems like the perfect life. But, there is much more to being a model than many would have it seem. There are dark secrets in the modeling industry, and anyone considering modeling as a career choice should take the time to do their research. From exploiting underage children, to pretty dangerous working conditions, these are 10 things you didn’t know about the modeling industry.
It is a common misconception that models get to keep the clothes they model. Just because models get to wear the gorgeous clothes at runway shows and photo shoots doesn’t mean they get to keep them. Most of the time the companies that hire them own the clothes that models wear, and they are kept in special inventory closets. There are some special circumstances when models do actually keep the clothes, but these are very rare. If a model isn’t being paid, they may be working for a trade. This means, the model is working and getting paid in clothes, and in return the brand can use the images the model appears in. In other situations, it may be in a contract, usually with well-known or famous models, that they get to keep the clothes they like from the job.
Touching back on models working for clothes, this is an example of how many models aren’t actually paid for their work. Many times when a model is starting out, an agency will put them in a model apartment. This may seem like free housing, but the agency actually keeps a tab on the model, and they end up having to pay it their tab when they start booking jobs. Many agencies will also book their models on shoots solely for the sake of exposure. Like many other creative industries, models are expected to train and be at the top of their game, and only a handful will make it to the top.
Even if a model has made it to the top, there is one trend that threatens their job, and it stems from the rise of social media. Many brands have started hiring people with large social media presence to model their clothes. Many models have started taking notice that their livelihoods are in jeopardy, so they have begun to devote 4-5 hours a day to their social media sites. The whole trend is pretty worrisome, as it’s hard to tell if these social media influencers have actual followers or not. There are many programs on the Internet where people can buy followers, and likes, so just because someone seems like they have a large following; this may not be the case.
There is also a dark side to the modeling industry when it comes to exploitation of underage models. Many agencies recruit models as young as 13, and 54% of working models claim they began modeling before they were 16 years old. Agencies often promise parents that their child will always be in the presence of an adult, but sadly this is not the case. In return, this means many underage models are subject to inappropriate sexual situations, and career guidance without proper guidance. They are also prone to illegal child labor practices by working 14-hour days in horrible physical conditions.
The physical conditions of being a model are another thing that may be misleading about the modeling industry. What looks like an easy job that anyone can do, is actually pretty demanding. From walking runway shows to holding poses for 14 hour long photo shoots, modeling is a physical job. Many models during fashion week can be seen with bruises and blisters on their feet from walking so many shows in shoes that are outrageous or too small for them. One model, Kate May, even suffered a neck injury at photo shoot when she fell while posing. At the time she thought it was a pinched nerve, but she ended up suffering from a stroke a few days later. Sadly, Kate May, passed away due to a second stroke that rendered her brain dead.