Modeling is a topic I wasn’t particularly planning on covering just yet but after getting a ton of messages from you guys asking me if I could and after years of being questioned about it, I figured, why the hell not.
Somebody recently asked me: For how long have you been in the modeling industry?
And it absolutely blew my mind that it’s been a whole 7 YEARS since I first stood in front of a camera in a professional matter. Even though this much time has passed, I still cringe everytime someone calls me a “model”. That’s because I never felt it’s something I do full-time, nor that I’m experienced enough to carry such a title. Without defining my position and/or professionality in this field, I can say with definity that I have learned a thing or two.
Before I get into that – why and how did I even start in the first place?
Ever since I was a kid, I had been motivated by family members and even strangers on the street to start modeling. I was always pretty tall for my age, had long legs and was told that’s all I need to make it (it’s not). I never took it to heart until I was 15 years old. That’s when an old friend and I had decided to organize a mini “photoshoot” for eachother, so we’d have ~cool~ content to post on Facebook. We broke into our friend’s building’s rooftop and snapped a few shots:
(I’m cringing so hard looking at myself in these photos now but we all start somewhere, right?)
And that’s when I realized, hey, I really like doing this. I had been involved in acting since elementary school and I saw modeling as a different version of it, allowing me to put on a mask and play a different character behind the camera each time- and that’s how I got sucked in.
A few weeks after our “scandalous” break in, a different friend motivated me to send these shots to a few agencies. Looking at myself in these photos now, I still have no idea how I received an answer from any agency at all, but I did. A few were too far away for me to visit in person for a casting, but there was one in the town I was living in and that’s the one I was associated with for the next few years. I didn’t get signed immediately, I was told to gain experience and come back. They helped me gain this experience by organizing a few shoots for me in the beginning and once the photos went public, I started getting more and more offers from different photographers all over the country. After a few months, I had enough material to actually fill a portfolio and that’s when I officially got signed.
Even though I can’t complain too much about my experience with being exclusive with an agency, I had enough after two years and I decided to go into freelancing. Although opinions are mixed on freelance modeling and “real”- through agency – modeling, this worked out greatly for me and benefited me much more than being signed. I was working a lot more, earning a ton of more money and I was my own boss. Triple win! This is how it’s been for the past few years and I’ve been loving it. I’ve also done a ton of TFP shoots and still do to today when I find a specific idea interesting because I love gaining the experience. TFP basically means – Trade For Print. In other words, you don’t get paid for modeling and you don’t pay the photographer for taking photos of you – your pay is the experience you both gain.
Now into the more brutal side – why I had to take breaks, ended up avoiding a ton of gigs and eventually basic quit the industry.
Going into modeling, you have to be strong and confident as hell. The beginning is usually the worst because you’ll most likely get turned down time and time again and you’ll have to learn to be okay with that. I’ve sent out my portfolio a bunch of times only to receive a polite “no thank you” or a less polite “come back when you’re thinner” message in response. It’s hard to pretend it doesn’t effect you because in the end, you’re only human, and rejection hurts. But my motivation in the beginning was the fact that Gisele Bündchen, one of the most famous models in the world, got rejected by a whooping 42 agencies before she got signed. Now, she’s one of the highest paid models in the entire WORLD. So at first, I learned to just not care when I’m turned down and us it as motivation to work harder.
Rejection I was okay with, but constant comments about my imperfections or my weight started to leave a mental scar on me, that I’m still battling with to today.
Your ass is as big as Kim Kardashian’s… no wait! Nicki Minaj is your twin!
You’re too fat to model, you might be skinny to normal people, but in this industry – you’re obese.
OMG! Your skin is absolutely TERRIBLE!
How dare you have acne? You’re a model, you should take better care of yourself.
These are just a few things I’ve heard from photographers/make-up artists in the past. I lost respect for them the second those words came out of their mouths and never took up working with them again. Not because I can’t take criticism, but because… how disrespectful and unprofessional do you have to be to have the guts to say something like that to a teenager? Having issues with my weight since middle school and incredibly low self-esteem when it came to my skin, I was crushed because I really was trying my damn best to get rid of it and to lose the few extra pounds. My weight-loss habits became very unhealthy as I was already underweight but I stopped seeing it that way.
That’s me getting measured before a casting above. I was wearing a scarf as you can see and huge oversize sweater (that I had to take off) to cover my body, because I was so insecure with how “fat” I was. At the time of this photo, I weighed 48kg (105 lbs) while being 172cm tall (5’6).
If you’ve ever had acne you probably know how annoying it can be when you’re giving it your all and it still won’t go away. I was extremely insecure because of my skin for most of my teenage years, I would avoid leaving the house because of it, so those words probably hurt me the most.
I felt embarassed for wanting to run but I realized there is no shame in being human. So I took the much needed breaks every once in a while (from one week of freedom, up to one year) and thanks to this, I didn’t end up hating modeling completely. I highly recommend giving yourself some space to breathe and refresh whenever you’re feeling exhausted (in any field of work or life, really).
After all this time, I still love what I do and when I get the chance and I’m feeling up for it – I’m all in! I do technically consider myself “retired” in the field but every once in a while, I’ll stand in front of a camera and enjoy it. One thing I can say without hesitation – I highly recommend modeling to anyone interested. It’s a hell of a ride, filled with pain, joy, frustration and satisfaction, but you get to meet the most amazing people and create unique art that’s yours to keep forever, so in the long run- it’s definitely worth it. As long as you’re careful and don’t get sucked in too much and lost in this world, you’ll cherish it forever.
I’ve learned how to be a stronger individual thanks to modeling and I’m more confident in my own body than ever. Of course I still struggle with it sometimes, but in the majority – I no longer care for others people’s opinions on my looks and it’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.
Other than that, I’ve learned so many other things from this journey but I think that calls for a seperate post. Stay tuned!