The glamorous world of modelling – a blessed life filled with fame, fortune and free clothes, right? Wrong. I was reminded of this the other day when my mundane 9 – 5 working week was interrupted by a day shooting for a fashion magazine. Prior to my current life as an office drone, photo shoots, runway shows and castings used to occupy my days as a fulltime model. Sounds cool, right? Well, I’ll let you make up your mind after giving you a rundown of a typical day as a model on set at a photo shoot:
• Wake up at 6am to workout.
• Prepare for shoot – shower, exfoliate, shave legs, wash hair, paint nails with clear polish and moisturise face and body. Wear a nude g-string, nude bra and numerous layers of clothing as the location is unfamiliar and temperatures are unpredictable.
Hair and Makeup:
• Arrive at an unfamiliar location at 7am with a group of strangers.
• Have an obscene amount of makeup applied by a makeup artist for an hour while being asked to pull awkward facial expressions. This typically includes having a (chemical) eyeliner applied to the inner rims of your eyelashes whilst praying for a pain-free lash curl, mascara and/or false lash application…(I’ve had my eyelids glued together on multiple occasions, contracted severe eye infections from unhygienic applicators and seen models have all of their eyelashes cut off).
• Have your nails painted and told not to move or touch anything.
• Endure 10 minutes of having lipstick/gloss applied (why does it take so long when makeup artists do it?) and subsequently being told not to eat or drink anything from then on.
• Have your hair fried by straighteners and/or curling wands which is followed by mandatory backcombing and ozone-destroying quantities of hairspray.
• Be told to undress down to your g-string in front of a room full of strangers and wait until you are handed your first look (outfit). This process can take a while, so you will be exposed for extended periods of time. Be wary of smudging your freshly polished nails on the expensive clothes.
• When dressed, the styling team alters various elements until the outfit ‘works’. Be prepared to hear various statements and questions such as:
– “Are you on your period?”
– “That’s a bit tight. Are you sure she’s sample size?”
– “That looks terrible on her.”
• You must also contend with regularly being pinched and occasionally having your skin ripped by zippers and being scratched by nails – then being questioned, “what on earth is that big red mark on you? We’ll have to photoshop that out.” (It’s your blood from being scratched).
• You are placed in front of bright lights while the photographer and their assistants adjust the settings for a few minutes. You are now requested to put on the shoes to be used in the shoot, being careful not to bend so that you avoid creasing the outfit.
• You will then have your hair and makeup touched up – achievable only by assuming a deep squatting position so that the team can reach you (as their height is usually closer to 5 feet while your height is closer to 6 feet plus heels).
• The back of your outfit will then be clamped for a more tailored aesthetic in the shots – which greatly restricts your movement. You will also be asked to take minimum steps to protect the extremely high and uncomfortable shoes. Your feet will go numb and you will get blisters.
• You will then pose in various positions while the photographer snaps away. The team of sometimes ten people will watch, in addition to any nosy passerbyers. You will often be positioned into the equivalent of advanced yoga poses which look absurd in real life. Even seasoned pro’s and experienced yogis will be in pain and suffer from muscle cramps and shakes.
• You will be constantly interrupted as makeup artists, hairdressers and stylists adjust various elements on your hair, face and clothes, in addition to having to wait while the lighting is adjusted at regular intervals.
This entire process is repeated anywhere between three to twenty times in a day – and you can only leave when all looks have been captured on film. If this takes longer than anticipated (which it ALWAYS does), it is quite difficult to be renumerated for your time. Once the shoot is over, your face is left plastered with socially unacceptable quantities of makeup and dirty, matted hair. Your eyes will be red and sore from repeated makeup applications, camera flashes, wind machines and attempting to not blink while shooting.
It usually takes a couple of makeup remover wipes in addition to a couple of cleanser applications to rid your face of all traces of makeup, at which point your face will feel raw and battered. Often, as your hair has been teased, sprayed and styled beyond recognition, conditioner and gentle combing for ten minutes is the only solution for the resulting heavy matting. Expect handfuls of damaged hair that have been snapped off. The next morning, you will feel sore and tired from the full day of physical exertion, in addition to feeling a little dehumanised.
True, there are positives to the job as well – meeting new people, travel, unique experiences, decent pay (depending on your regularity of bookings and geographical location), nice photos of yourself for keepsakes, the rush from being on stage and the competitive sport of scoring bookings. As with any job, there are positive and negative aspects – both of which must be taken into consideration. So, does modelling still seem like a glamorous occupation?