The Dark Side of the Modelling Industry
So we’re all familiar with the glamorous aspects of the modelling industry. Such as the free clothes and make up, attending fabulous parties and soirees, networking with the whose who in every industry, the amazing locations you get to visit, as well as the crazy salaries and more then anything else, the powerful image that goes hand in hand with being a model! That feeling that when they enter the room, there’s someone special in your presence!
However what we don’t get to hear to often is about the darker and harsher side of it! Such as the body shaming, competitiveness, the constant need of approval and validation, and the feeling that you’re nothing without it. As well as long hours but also the internal prejudice and politics!
One celebrity who has openly voiced her opinion about the industry, is Cara Delevingne. Cara started modelling at the age of 16 until she was 23, and she states that, it made her loose who she was and “what it meant to be happy.”(bbc.co.uk)
(Cara Delevingne, image courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk)
She also added that, “Over time I came to realise that work and getting others’ approval isn’t the most important thing.” “Yes, your career is very important – but it’s not the most important. Of course I was proud of my accomplishments, but I wasn’t genuinely happy.” (bbc.co.uk)
It could be classified as a psychological need, where you as an individual are not enough for yourself! Hence you constantly seek the approval from hundreds and thousands of people, on how you look and feel, as well as the choices you make. Without this constant validation from people, you never feel happy! I guess this could be coined as a sense of co-dependency, where you are not enough on your own!
Other pitfalls of the industry are, designers using up and coming models without paying them. Instead of reimbursing them financially, they tell them things like, model for us for free and you’re guaranteed to get exposure through our brand! However this is definitely disrespectful of the work that the models are providing them with. Ultimately this is their ‘job,’ and no one should be working, regardless of what sector it is without financial compensation!
So guys if any of you are thinking of getting into the modelling industry, don’t expect it to be a breeze! It’s just like any other industry, and it takes a lot of hard work and drive, to be able to reap the benefits and earn a good image!
Cara Delevinge’s Open Letter
I started modeling when I was 16. The odds were against me. At 5’8″, I was shorter than most girls in the business. Still, I gave it a shot, and like with most things in my life, I never gave up.
It took a while before I had stability in the business. I worked hard to be accepted by the fashion community in ways beyond my physical appearance. In no time, though, I found myself surrendering to the industry’s approval process. I felt like I needed validation from everyone. As a result, I lost sight of myself and what it meant to be happy, what it meant to be successful. I think it all stemmed from a deep-down feeling of wanting people to like me and love me.
When you do everything you can to make people happy with your work but there are still people who aren’t happy, you start to think, “Well, I’ve worked my a** off. I’ve done everything. I’ve pushed myself into the ground.” You just feel like you’re constantly disappointing others, and there’s this moment when you’re like, “Wait, what am I trying to do? Who am I doing this for?”
Over time, I came to realise that work and getting others’ approval isn’t the most important thing. Yes, your career is very important—but it’s not the most important. Of course I was proud of my accomplishments, but I wasn’t genuinely happy.
I was nearly 20 and had been modeling for several years. My vantage point had changed…and I had changed. I knew I had to reevaluate my life and my goals for my future. I didn’t want to resent fashion or my success. The process didn’t happen overnight, but it was imperative for me to preserve my integrity.
It’s taken time, but now I realize that work isn’t everything and success comes in many forms. I’ve opened my mind, and now I embrace new things with a childlike curiosity. I’m spending more time doing the stuff I love. And I’ve been able to do better work because of it.
When you’re coming from a place of living just to work, it’s never as good as you want it to be. It’s never as authentic. When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfillment and gratitude and that’s when you can do your best…for yourself and for others.
I still have so much to learn, but I have realised that beating myself up, feeling guilty and regretting past mistakes will only hold me back.
After all, no matter how many people like you and your work, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like yourself.