Don’t forget to smize…

Howdy 🙂 Here’s my seventh article for the College Tribune, published on January 29th 2013. It’s a piece on the world of modelling; the good, the bad and the ugly (figuratively speaking, of course).

The exclusive world of fashion modelling appears to be one of the most glamorous and exotic careers one could ever dream of. If you follow huge names in the modelling game on Instagram, such as Cara Delevingne, Miranda Kerr and Bar Refaeli, you’d be forgiven for thinking that a modelling career involves being dressed by the industry’s most renowned designers, photo-shoots in far-flung locations, raucous partying with the glitterati, teams of hairdressers and make-up artists endlessly primping and preening you, and, finally, relaxing holidays in the Caribbean to help you recharge after all that hard work. And for the luckiest and most beautiful, this is the sort of hedonistic lifestyle one could lead. After all, what’s a few hours spent walking down a runway if it delivers the kind of pay packet that could buy a wardrobe full of Louboutins?

      However, for each of the world’s Irina Shayks and Kate Mosses, there are hundreds of young women and men who never reach those dizzying heights of success, despite putting in just as much of the grunt work. And there is an incredible amount of grunt work involved in fashion modelling if one hopes to get one’s face known; in fact, the experiences of some are just plain seedy. In June 2013, Alexa Chung, spotted at the age of fourteen, opened up about her early modelling days; ‘You had lots of castings where they were like, ‘This is for swimwear’, and in hindsight, I look back and think, ‘Did you really need an 18-year-old girl to strip in your front room?’. But Chung was one of the lucky ones, who has since built a successful career within the fashion and entertainment industries.

      Some models are not as lucky. For some time there has been considerable disquiet over the weight of fashion models, with many fearing not only the effects of intense pressure on models to remain thin and the risk this poses to their health, but also that the proliferation of images of thin models may have a negative impact on young readers of fashion magazines and websites. In 2006, Uruguyan model Luisel Ramos collapsed and died during Montevideo Fashion Week. At 22 she had suffered heart failure due to anorexia nervosa, having subsisted on Diet Coke and lettuce in the weeks preceding her death. In light of this tragedy, a month later it was announced that all models working during Madrid Fashion Week needed to have a minimum BMI of 18. Italian designers subsequently banned size zero models from their catwalks. While this has been hailed as a step forward, it is a shame that it has taken the death of at least one young woman to bring models’ welfare back into significance.

      Fashion modelling is a career of light and shade; where the ultimate goals of fame and fortune are juxtaposed with images of protruding bones and cocaine diets. Rarely one hears about the moderately successful model who is neither rubbing shoulders with fashion’s darlings nor attending questionable castings with dubious motives. And perhaps the fear of mediocrity is what drives those models whose careers skyrocket, making them household names and earning them the kind of riches and influence that inspire the next generation to follow them down that precarious path. 


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