The Real Deal on Modeling
Designer clothing, amazing scenery, and extravagant salaries...these all describe what I envisioned the lifestyle of a model to be. And maybe those things are a reality for the amazingly successful few models who don the covers of magazines. But for the lesser known models, like myself, the situations I envisioned aren’t even close to reality. So while I have a passion for modeling, I have learned through experience that having any success at all in the industry is tough, and there are a few drawbacks to this career. If you’re just beginning or considering becoming a model, you’ll want to consider a few of the challenges you will face.
Most people know that making modeling a full-time job is not an easy proposition. Only a select few will make it their sole income coming from modeling contracts. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should give up the dream. I would, however, recommend finding a supplemental career to help you develop your brand. For me, I am combining my skills as a teacher, writer, fitness lover, and model while I create a brand that aspires to inspire others to pursue their dreams regardless of the situation. I have met many models who bring their own unique talents to the table, so to speak. I’ve met many models who are also hair and make-up artists. Some have other talents like dancing or singing. Just bring what you’ve got. If modeling can’t pay the bills, make it a supplemental income. But make sure you utilize your talents to complement each other as much as possible. And even if you make no money modeling, if it’s what you love to do, it’s worth it.
Be careful of some trade for print (TFP) opportunities as they will undoubtedly be solely learning experiences. When I first got back into modeling about a year ago, I was bombarded with TFP photo shoot offers. At first I didn’t even know what the acronym stood for, but as I soon learned TFP, trade for print, is a partnership between model and photographer where the model receives portfolio pictures in return for advertisements for the photographer. While this can be a seamless partnership, it doesn’t always end up that way. Let’s be honest, not all photographers have equal abilities, so your pictures may not turn out the way that you envisioned. I’ve also been on some TFP shoots where I received only a few or no edited pictures. And while these types of situations are rare, I consider them good learning experiences. They have helped me realize that all TFP shoots are created equal. I have to determine whether or not the shoot will benefit me. My great friend and photographer, Jason Arntz, points out to me every chance he gets, “if it’s not an asset to your brand, it’s a liability to your cause.” Keep in mind that there are lots of opportunities, so pick the ones that are best suited for your needs. And if it doesn’t end the way you anticipated, learn from the experience and keep pressing forward.
You will assuredly receive messages that are untrue and/or creepy. At least daily I receive a message that makes me shake my head. The first type is pretty easy to identify. They are the scams. These are modeling offers that are much too good to be true. You’ll get offers to make thousands of dollars for your modeling services. When you follow-up, however, you’ll find these claims to have no merit. I mean, I was going to make $250,000 with a modeling contract to be a boxing model in Chicago . As I asked more probing questions and asked to see a webpage or portfolio, the person stopped responding to me. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is. So, ask questions and do some investigating before becoming too involved with someone you don’t know. Trust your instincts, and make people earn your trust. The other type of message you’ll inevitably receive will include creepy messages. Some people use social media like a dating app. They look at your modeling pictures and then contact you. At first, the messages may seem fine, and it’s flattering to have people respond positively to your posts, but some people take it too far. They’ll continue messaging you, and the messages sometimes become inappropriate. I try diligently to be polite and respectful to people, and I do love feedback, but a select few cross the line, and I’ve had to block these individuals so they can no longer view my accounts. At first I felt a little guilty about this, but realize, if people are unwilling to accept boundaries, it is not your obligation to allow them to be a part of your community.
You will face criticism, ridicule, and judgment. Being a rather sensitive person by nature, it has been hard for me to accept the hard truth that people won’t always like me. In fact, some will hate me. And because modeling revolves around gaining people’s attention, there will inevitably be people who don’t like you. People who you believed were your friends will criticize you. People you have never met will make judgments about your character based on a picture they see. And you will undoubtedly receive comments that are negative. With the prevalence of social media, people have a platform to voice their opinions without any repercussions, so you need to be prepared to face the cruel reality that not everyone will appreciate what you are doing. Just this week I received an email from a made-up account saying that they would “cry if they were as ugly as me,” and referring to me as an “ultra-fit gump.” This individual, hiding behind a fake name, took the time to write me a hateful message...for what? I let the words sting for a moment, but this certainly isn’t my first day at the ballpark so to speak. I’ve endured enough of these experiences at this point to know what I need to do. This person disguised themselves so I wouldn’t know who they were. They obviously didn’t want to own up to their own words, and I need to put that in perspective. Then, I reach out to my network of people. The ones who have proven their loyalty to me time and time again. These are individuals who know my character and my intent. Their words of support and encouragement help me realize that regardless of what others say or do, I will continue with my purpose. All models, and people in general, need to have trusted people who ride alongside them through both good and bad times. And if you don’t have that yet, send me a message. I would be honored to serve you in that capacity.
So here’s the deal, it’s my hope that others can learn from my failings. I want every aspiring mode, and person for that matter,l to find success while avoiding discomfort as much possible. But, anything worthwhile will have uncomfortable, challenging moments. These are the moments that are haunted by hurt and grief, but once endured, can result in beautiful growth if channeled appropriately. They become what define us and ultimately mold us into who we are. So even when it hurts, and trust me it will, push harder and discover your infinite potential. I’d love to be part of your personal growth. As always, message me with your questions, concerns, comments, and successes. I’d love to hear from you @fitmodelmom and @fmm_thewolf.