The modeling industry is one that captures the attention of the whole world. Its glamour and beauty is enough to mesmerize even someone who cares little of fashion, and it’s something that will be part of human society for the foreseeable future. But what really goes on inside the modeling industry. The majority of us can only wonder. But some female models have come forward to reveal what they’ve experienced, and it’s not as glamorous as you might think. Models are frequently treated like animals. They are beholden to a specific set of rules that often serve to dehumanize them and make them feel like pieces of meat. Once you hear about these rules, it’s hard not to feel utterly disgusted.
Sometimes it’s not the models themselves that provide us with this information, but high profile news reports that expose the inner workings of the fashion industry. These reports shed light into the strange and sick treatment of models, which sometimes may have even caused their deaths. In other cases, investigations are conducted that prove that models are dangerously unhealthy, and in some cases suffer from body disorders such as anorexia. If you’re thinking about becoming a model, you may want to read about these rules before you sign up with your local agency…
15. In China, You’re Not Allowed To Stop Until You Drop (Literally)
Many people might think that modeling is the easiest job in the world. After all, you just have to stand there and look good, right? Not quite. Working as a model can actually be extremely exhausting. There are long shoot days, often going 18, even 24 hours. And this is even more true in the Asian market. Many girls travel to Asia, as places like China and Japan have a high demand for western models, and offer good money. But they do things a little differently over there, and that has led to some pretty huge controversies lately.
Nearly all models who have worked in Asia say that the atmosphere there is much less relaxed, and much more insane. The days are longer, and the demands are much higher. One model says that she passed out and started to get convulsions after being forced to wear a winter jacket in 45 degree weather. Another more famous case involves a 14-year-old Russian model, who recently died while doing a shoot in Shanghai. Allegedly, she collapsed after being literally worked to death.
14. You’re Not Allowed To Build Muscle
Although there are a lot of crazy demands and rules that female models must follow, the most obvious and pertinent are those involving their bodies. After all, that is what they’re being paid for, and their bodies must look incredible to even be considered for a major photoshoot or fashion show. However, the fashion industry’s definition of beauty when it comes to female bodies is a little… unique. As it turns out, they want models to be skinny, but they also don’t want them to be too muscular.
Many models have admitted that building muscle is considered really bad, and they must maintain an near impossible balance between having zero fat and zero muscle, all the while looking healthy and youthful. They do this by exercising – but doing very specific things like walking and doing yoga. This is just enough to keep fat from forming, but not enough to build actual muscle.
13. They Have To Pay Up To 70% Of Their Income In Agency Fees
You probably think that models make tons of money. While this might be true, most people forget all about the agency fees. These agencies are famous for taking a huge portion out of the models paychecks. In certain areas of the world, it can be as high as 50%. But in Paris, for example, the agency takes a whopping 70% out of the model’s paychecks. Of course, this is offset a little by the fact that the model’s room and board is usually paid for, as well as their flights and travel expenses.
Still, there are some agencies that are famous for ripping girls off. For example, one agency put 8 girls into a single apartment, and told them they had to pay about $1800 each per month to pay their rent. This amounted to a total rent cost of almost $15,000 dollars. When the models looked into the cost of renting similar apartments, they found that they shouldn’t have been paying more than $3000 for the apartment. The agency was just pocketing the extra money, and ripping these girls off for no reason.
12. Models Now Have To Pass A Health Test Based On BMI
In an effort to combat anorexia and body issues in female modeling, new sets of rules have been introduced to the modeling world, especially in France. These rules state that a model must be a certain amount of weight and have a certain amount of fat on her, as determined by a standard BMI (body mass index) test – based on their height, age, and other factors. In addition, rules were introduced that state that a photo altered to make a model look skinnier must clearly be labeled “touched up.” This is to stop perpetuating false body ideals, and ensure that female models are healthy.
While these rules are definitely a step in the right direction, it’s yet another way in which female models are treated more like livestock or animals than actual human beings. As if they weren’t tested enough based on their body, now they have to submit to this as well. What if the model has just come from a country where this test doesn’t exist? What if the model is just naturally very skinny? This is yet another hurdle that models must overcome in order to get regular work.
11. They Have To Pose Intimately With Male Models (Even If They Don’t Want To)
One thing that a lot of women probably can’t picture themselves doing is posing sexually with a male model. Or perhaps for some women it’s their biggest fantasy. Either way, many female models are disgusted by this, especially when the male model thinks “it’s real.” There have been numerous models who say that they’ve been hit on by male models after a particularly sexual shoot, and that can be unsettling. Just because a female model is acting in a certain way for the photo shoot, doesn’t mean those are her actual feelings.
If that wasn’t bad enough, female models are sometimes not even informed about nude shots until the last minute. Most of the time, the only thing they know about a shoot is that it’s a “fashion shoot,” which could actually mean anything. And photographers are famous for having sudden changes of heart when it comes to what kind of pictures they want. Even though these pictures are tastefully done, it can be really uncomfortable, especially with a bunch of random people standing around watching.
10. You Can Actually LOSE Money Being A Model
Some models can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, even million when they’re at the top of their game. The medium-level models can still make hundreds of thousands of dollars. But at the bottom of the food chain are those models who are really struggling. As it turns out, these models don’t just make a few thousand, or even zero. They can actually make negative amounts of money. As in, they lose money while modeling. While this can come as a shock, veteran models know all about this, and some have even experienced it first hand.
This can happen in a variety of ways, although the most common is when agencies give models cash advances. This can happen when a model first moves to a new city, and they need some money to pay the bills. But what happens if the model then fails to book anything? Then the model not only makes no money, but they owe money to their agency. This is a situation no model wants to be in.
9. Vogue’s Models Are Now Forced To Eat During Shoots
Vogue is a giant in the fashion industry, and definitely one of the biggest names. It’s every female model’s dream to pose for Vogue one day, and very few of them actually get the opportunity. But those who do will find themselves weighed down by a series of new rules introduced by the Vogue, specifically targeting female models. These rules were intended to change the fashion industry for the better, and in many ways they’re a great sign that things are changing. One rule specifies that work days cannot exceed 10 hours, which ensures that female models will not be overworked.
But another rule is making a lot of people scratch their heads. It states that models MUST eat during the shoot, no matter what. Presumably this rule is an effort to combat anorexia and other body issues. It’s also important that models eat so they retain energy. But what if they’re just not hungry? Or what if they’re so nervous that they’ve lost their appetite? Again, this rule seems to encourage treating models like animals that need to be fed, rather than actual human beings.
8. The Casting Director Actually Goes Up to The Girls and Pinches Their Body Where Fat Accumilates
There are tons of rumors about how the fashion industry treats its female models, and some of them are quite disgusting. After you learn more about what really happens in this industry, you begin to realize that the majority of female models are treated not like human beings, but like cattle or livestock. Casting sessions are particularly bad. These are situations where female models are lined up and examined like slaves before they are either given the thumbs up or told to leave immediately.
One of the first things they do, according to rumors, is the “pinch test.” The casting director actually goes up to the girl and pinches their body in places where fat is prone to accumulate. If the female model wants to succeed, the casting director should not be able to pull any skin away from the body. There must be zero fat whatsoever, and their bodies must be very, very tight.
7. Models Don’t Dress Themselves – They Just Have To Stand There While A Team Dresses Them Up
If you know anything about the modeling industry, you probably know all about this strange but necessary rule. During fashion shows, it can get pretty crazy. On the catwalk, there is the appearance of grace and perfection, while behind the scenes it’s very different. In the dressing rooms, models are swarmed by fashionistas the moment they get off the catwalk. At this point, models are expected to stand still while the professionals dress and undress them with none of the niceties typically associated with the intimate act.
To top it off, outfits are prone to rip and tear, and the model is again expected to just stand there, even if she’s completely exposed to everyone walking around. There have also been numerous reports of hidden cameras being placed in dressing rooms, as well as creeps hiding inside trying to get a peek at the perfect bodies on display.
6. They’re Not Allowed To Get Tattoos
Here’s another rule that you might have expected, but it will be disheartening to many women who have already got tattoos. Because so much of the body is constantly on display, tattoos are seen as a liability and women in the modeling world are strongly discouraged from getting them. If they do get them, they might just find themselves fired by their agency or management, or unable to book new work. This rule might be a little outdated these days though, seeing as the vast majority of the young population has tattoos. One clear example is Cara Delevingne, who has a clear love for getting inked.
Many models actually have tattoos, but manage to keep it a secret with the clever use of makeup and other techniques. Others go one step further and get their tattoos removed with laser treatment. This might not seem like too big of a deal, but it’s important to remember that many people have tattoos of strong sentimental value.
5. You’re Only Allowed To Wear Tampax – And You Can’t Change Them During Castings
While being forced to wear a thong and no bra might be somewhat expected for female models, something that might be a little more unexpected is the rule about tampons. In the world of female modeling, there is no option to where anything but tampons. Pads are a no go because they show through underwear and tight clothing, so it’s tampons or nothing. This can lead to some pretty major inconveniences, especially when it comes to casting sessions.
As we’ve already mentioned, casting sessions can be a major ordeal because of all the waiting. But they’re also a pain because you can’t leave to go to the bathroom – or do anything else for that matter. So if you need to change your tampon, you can’t leave your spot in line. This can lead to some seriously embarrassing situations, especially when you consider that you’ll be wearing clothes that don’t even belong to you. You definitely don’t want any leakage when you’re wearing an outfit worth thousands of dollars…
4. Their Agencies Often Pressure Them Into Getting Cosmetic Surgeries
This is definitely one of the darker sides of the fashion industry. Many people have commented on what’s probably the modeling industry’s biggest contradiction: The most beautiful women in the world are often the most physically insecure. They are chosen out of millions of potential women because they make clothes look better than anyone else, and they look the coolest. And yet, these are the women who struggle the most with self-confidence issues. But it’s really not surprising when you consider how much pressure these women are under.
As it turns out, many of these women are under immense pressure not only to look good, but to do so under artificial means. Many models have admitted that their agencies have strongly encouraged them to get all manner of cosmetic surgeries. One swimwear model was told that she should get liposuction to make her thighs thinner. Another was told that she needed a nose job if she wanted to book more work.
3. You Have To Wear A Thong And No Bra On The Catwalk – No Matter What You’re Wearing
For women on the catwalk, a very strict dress code is enforced. Obviously, they have no control over what they actually wear on the outside, but you would think that their choice of underwear would be one of the few things they actually have control over. But even that is regulated by some very strict rules. First of all, all female models MUST wear thongs on the catwalk, no matter what they’re wearing. This is to make sure that no pantylines are showing. Second, they usually don’t wear bras. Even high profile models like Gigi Hadid must grit their teeth and walk out onto the catwalk wearing fully transparent tops with no bra to save their modesty.
In addition, many girls wear lingerie on the catwalk, most notably in the case of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. In this case, their outfits are even more revealing, as many of these lingerie sets are fully sheer and transparent. Some models wear pasties on their nipples. Others can sometimes get away with wearing nude-colored thongs underneath their outfits to provide some protection from prying eyes.
2. You Can’t Visit The Bathroom During Castings
Castings are some of the most nightmarish ordeals that a model must go through. At least that’s what it seems like to people on the outside. Some refer to it as a “cattle-call,” a name that refers to the herds of people made to line up one after the other while a few casting directors sit at a desk and choose the few girls that will make it to the next stage of selection. And these are massive events with potentially thousands of girls all lining up for hours to get their chance at selection.
The harsh truth is that these girls have very little chance of actually getting chosen. But to add insult to injury, no one is allowed to leave their place in line – or else they’ll lose their opportunity altogether. That means that it’s impossible to go to the bathroom during casting sessions, and this can lead to some serious discomfort.
1. Certain Countries Can Send Models To Jail For Posing Nude
Sometimes the rules that models encounter are not a result of the fashion industry itself, but the nations which the models visit. Being a model means that you have to travel all over the world. This includes nations that might not be as “forward-thinking” as those we live in. Marisa Papen is a Belgian model who travels the world doing various shoots. But when she traveled to Egypt, she was given a rude awakening that not all nations have the same point of view when it comes to nudity. She was in the middle of a nude photo shoot in the famed temples of Giza when she was arrested and jailed by the Egyptian authorities.
Papen said: “We tried to explain them that we were making art with the highest respect for Egyptian culture, but they could not see a connection between nudity and art. In their eyes it was porn, or something like that.”
Speaking of her experiences in jail, she stated: “The first cell we encountered was packed with at least 20 men, some were passed out on the floor, some were squeezing their hands through the rails, some were bleeding and yelling. I had never seen something like this before in real life. Jesse kept telling me, “Marisa don’t look” but there was no way not to look.”
Luckily, the model was released with just a warning soon after her imprisonment.
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