Modeling: Is It an Admirable Career?

Nina Franco, Editorial Writer

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Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevigne, Lily Aldridge, and Hayley Baldwin…we have seen their faces on TV, looked up at their billboards in big cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, and London, and read their ads in Vogue in the school library. So many of us envy their lifestyles; amazing wardrobes, private jet trips all over the world, drinking champagne in the clouds, meeting famous designers like Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger, and making six figures. But is that really their reality?
Jet planes and new clothes. Sure, that is part of it, but what about the endless hours of grueling fittings, intense fitness classes, and traveling without a minutes rest? Truth is while only a small percentage of models make millions, a large percentage make about $50,000 a year. Models are paid by the gig, so there is not a steady income for most. Gigs can range anywhere from $250 to $250,000 or more; in reality most models are just scraping by. Ashley Stetts, a model for the world famous Ford Models, recalls a start into the modeling world as a tough one, “In reality, most models spend their days schlepping to casting after casting, usually being rejected from each one. They live in model apartments with three other girls, and celery is for dinner only because they can’t afford much else”.
Also, modeling is not just a career option for some people, but rather a way out of poverty. Natalia Vodianova, known for her work with Calvin Klein, was born in the Soviet Union and grew up in the poor district of the city of Gorky with a single mother. Natalia was forced to drop out of school to help provide for her family, selling fruit on the street until she was discovered by a local modeling agency. Today, Natalia has a six-figure salary, and half of that is contributed to her family and many major charitable organizations such as the REDCampaign to help fight AIDS across the world. She is co-founder of the Naked Heart Foundation, which allows her to give back to her community by making sure every child in urban Russia grows up in a safe, loving, and educational environment. Natalia is the epitome of the American Dream, but she was not the only model who struggled with poverty before breaking out into the modeling world; Irina Shayks, Sofia Mechetner, the new 14 year old face of Dior, and world famous model and wife of Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen. Moreover, while many people argue that models are making too much money, there is no doubt that they worked for it. They are required to keep their fitness up, respond to an average of fifteen casting calls a day, and many work second jobs just to put food on the table for their families.

Many people argue that models are being paid too much and only need one skill, walking down the runway in heels. Truth be told, every time you watch a Dior Advertisment on television, buy a dress at Urban outfitters or Forever 21, or even use shampoo in your hair; you are contributing to the modeling industry. It is you who is putting the money in these models wallets, and you might not even realize it. Companies like Ralph Lauren, Dior, and St. Laurent average in millions of dollars in sales per year, and while most feeds into top executive salaries, models for these companies are not left with the bad end of the stick. Modeling is argued to be a worthless career by some, and subjects women every where into believing a good body is perfection, but business is business.

The truth is most men and women want to buy products they believe will look good on them, and if it does not look flattering on the model, they will not see it as flattering on them. Moreover, models are courageous because they are willing to put their faces and bodies up all over the world, and let people judge them. It takes a lot of confidence to walk down a runway, and many of these models through ads do more than just pose, they convey a story to consumers everywhere, a story that we most often want to be a part of. Models are not just models- they are marketers, sales people; but they don’t work behind desks, instead they show us why we should buy the product being advertised. Last time I checked, Sales and Marketing was considered an admirable career so, why isn’t modeling to most people?

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