Almost everyone wants to be a model. It’s not surprising because modeling is the one industry that celebrates the beauty of the human body, and of course everyone wants to be seen as beautiful.
Being a model probably looks like living life on a bed of roses. You’re always in the spotlight ; you get to wear the most expensive and beautiful designer clothes .Your photographs are on billboards , the television and on the covers of the most sought after magazines , hence handing you a taste of popularity . Everything seems blissful but if you take a closer look , you’ll find out that indeed not everything that glitters is gold. Like every other industry, modeling has its own disadvantages which at times outweigh the advantages.
Most models are hardly in control of their lives .They are under pressure to maintain certain body measurements and a certain look or personality. Modeling agencies put pressure on models to lose weight in certain areas of their bodies in order to get booked for jobs . Most international models have to be a size 6 or smaller because sample clothes are usually made in small sizes.
In one study,81 percent of models surveyed reported a body max index of less than 18.5, which is considered underweight by the World Health Organization.
The model alliance in conjunction with researchers from Harvard University and Northeastern University.
This is why a lot of models do the most in order to maintain a skinny figure . In the worst scenarios, they end up with mental health issues like depression and multiple eating disorders like Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa etc. These disorders are very dangerous to one’s health and can disrupt one’s development for life.
I personally recall a time I fell sick after my model agent told me to skip breakfast and workout in the morning. I took his advice and performed intensive cardio workouts on an empty stomach because he needed me to lose weight . A lot of models also buy and overdose on weight loss pills which of course are dangerous in the long run. I understand that it’s very necessary to be fit as a model but a lot of female models take unhealthy routes to end up being skinny but not fit.
“I was super excited when I joined my former modeling agency. The agency is a popular one so I thought I was definitely going to get a career breakthrough when I joined. However , the favoritism at castings were so bad. In Nigeria, the same old models are booked over and over again and there is hardly any opportunity for the newbies like me. There was also a lot of pressure to lose weight in my hip area and I took that way too far until I got diagnosed with Ulcer” Miss M.
Also, the modeling industry is infiltrated with so many scammers ,fake agents and people with ulterior motives . Young and inexperienced talents who fall into the hands of these type of people can be exploited, sexually assaulted and subsequently scarred for life. Such experiences destroy the dreams of new models that could easily have been superstars.
” An agency in Lagos reached out to me and promised to sign me. They asked me and 3 other girls to pay 10,000 for a 2 month training which we did . They only held lessons twice and they told me they weren’t holding lessons anymore. When i confronted them about my money and about signing me they ignored me ” Miss T.
“It was in the year 2016 and I was 17 years old. A ‘model manager’ texted me on Facebook and invited me for a runway show in Ogun state. I didn’t sleep the night before because I was so excited that I was finally going to do my first paid job. I left my house around 5am in the morning and got to the supposed venue of the show.It was a hotel. On getting there , a man who claimed to be the son of the manager took me into a hotel room and tried to persuade me to perform oral sex on him. He told me that if I agreed he would double my pay for the runway show and pay me 40,000 Naira instead of 20,000 Naira . I insisted that I wasn’t interested and luckily for me , the man let me leave the hotel room unhurt.
When we got outside, the same man snatched my purse and ran away with it. I shouted for help but the streets were literally empty and the thief was long gone before people came out to help me. I cried a lot and I had to trek home that day. When my mother asked me about how the show went , I lied to her that it was an amazing show and I was happy I went. I couldn’t tell her the truth because I knew that if she knew what I went through that day, she wouldn’t ever let me model again. There was no runway show and of course no money . I’m so grateful to God that I wasn’t hurt that day. I can never forget that experience ; hopefully it’s a story i’ll tell on an interview someday when I’m finally a supermodel” Miss J.
Being underpaid is another issue models in underdeveloped countries like Nigeria face. A lot of Nigerian models can’t boast of earning up to a million naira in a year , which is definitely not enough to pay bills and provide essential needs for oneself.
“I left my school in Osun state for a photoshoot in Oyo, Ibadan. The organisers of the shoot told me it was going to be a small photoshoot to promote a fashion show. They paid me 2,000 Naira for the shoot and that didn’t even cover my transportation not to talk of my feeding. Earlier this year my friend texted me to hail me because she thought ‘I had finally blown’ . The same organisers who paid me 2000 Naira for a shoot put me on a billboard in Ibadan” Miss A.
Sometimes it feels like nothing can be done about all of these problems, that the modeling industry is naturally wired this way ;to drain the most beautiful men and women of all their confidence in themselves . But just like every other problem , solutions can be put in place to make the modeling industry a better and safer one for every talent.
At this point , I believe organisations for models should be formed . Regulations should also be made in the modeling industry.
For example, countries like France and Israel have passed laws which ban agencies from using underweight models ( models with a low Body Mass Index).
Modeling industries have the role of protecting models’ interests when negotiating with clients on pay or working conditions but some agencies don’t take these roles seriously. Laws should be put in place to call such agencies to order and consequently punish them when the laws are flouted.
More industry laws and guidelines should be put in place to ensure the regulation of the modeling industry .