Updated: Jul 13, 2021
"As long as we live in a society that rewards us for what we do rather than who we are, we will feel undervalued and unfulfilled." ~Jill Bolte Taylor, Whole Brain Living
It’s important to know your WHY for anything that you want to do, be, or have in life. Anything.
In this case, why do you want to be a model? I suggest writing a list. Be honest with yourself. No one has to see this list but you. Is it so that you can get attention? If so, are you really prepared for that kind of attention? Do you understand what that means? Is your self-esteem intact enough to handle the inevitable rejection that comes with this business, and the probability that it will take many months or years to make any money…if ever? Is it to make money? Is it because it looks easy and exciting?
Your reasons for wanting to be a model aren't necessarily ‘wrong’, but they deserve to be evaluated.
Interestingly, modeling appears to us as an option at a time in our lives when we want to be SEEN, and to stand out. We are typically in our late teens, and our adolescent bodies have begun developing into women’s bodies. Someone comes along and ‘discovers’ us, making us feel like we are special. But for what reasons, exactly?
When I was asked if I’d like to be a model when I was fifteen years old, my first question to the agency was whether or not I’d have to go to college for it. (Have I mentioned that I really, really, really did not want to go to college?) When they told me that there would be no schooling for it, and that they believed that I could make a living at it for many years, and that I’d get to travel the world doing it, I was all in. I especially loved the traveling-all-over-the-world part. That was my main ‘why’.
If your reasons for wanting to be a model include anything resembling these (be honest with yourself!) :
-because it’s always exciting
-because it’s easy
-because the bookings I get will make me look glamorous
-because I'm hot, and I want everyone to see that
-because I will make lots of money
-because I want to become famous
…then you’re in for a rude awakening, and you may want to look more deeply at what it is that you truly want in a career and in life.
Models who have had long-lasting, lucrative careers in modeling have viewed it, first and foremost, as a business, regardless of their degree of success. Don’t forget that that’s what it is: A BUSINESS – a tough one that never, ever guarantees any kind of success to you, even if you've signed a contract, and no matter how much attention you give to it, unlike many other careers you might want to pursue. Yes, keeping at it can increase your chances at getting more opportunities to succeed (just like playing the lottery does), but a lot of becoming successful as a model has to do with luck (again….lottery). Waiting around to see if that luck and good fortune come to you can cost you a lot of money, time, and peace of mind. In short, it’s a gamble.
Am I telling you that you shouldn’t want to be a model? No. I’m suggesting that you ask yourself why you truly, honestly want to be one. If your answers are empty and superficial like the examples above, dig deeper. Nothing good can grow if there's no real substance to it. Reframe your idea of this business as merely fun, easy, glamorous, and always lucrative. Think of it and treat it as what it is: A business.
Knowing why you want to do something, specifically in terms of a career, is so important that there are books written on the subject. My favorite one is Start With Why by Simon Sinek. He writes that it is only when you understand your ‘why’ that you will be more capable of pursuing the things that give you fulfillment, and it serves as your reference point for all of your actions and decisions. ...So, the deeper and more meaningful your reasons are for wanting to be a model, the more likely you will be able to continue pursuing the career with some degree of success.
Today, we typically can’t open our social media apps without seeing images of gorgeous bodies and faces with perfect-looking skin and hair and clothes and etc. It has become an exclusive club, of sorts, one in which so many people want to belong. Especially young women, young people who are coming-of-age. The message seems to be that if we look that gorgeous or that flawless or that way, our lives will run smoothly and be exciting and we will get people to think that we have it all, too. Who, at a young and impressionable age, wouldn’t want to belong to that club?
Speaking of belonging, in ‘Part 2: An Alternative Perspective’ of Sinek’s book Start With Why, he discusses the very powerful human desire to feel like we belong. Part 2 opens with an image from a Dr. Seuss story (see photo above). He writes:
“In his 1961 story about the Sneetches, Dr. Seuss introduced us to two groups of Sneetches, one with stars on their bellies and the other with none. The ones without the stars wanted desperately to get stars so that they could feel like they fit in. They were willing to go to extreme lengths and pay larger and larger sums of money simply to feel like they were part of a group. But ONLY Sylvester McMonkey McBean, the man whose machine puts “stars upon thars” profited from the Sneetches’ desire to fit in….As with so many things, Dr. Seuss explained it best. The Sneetches perfectly capture a very basic human need – the need to belong…it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures….When we feel like we belong we feel connected and safe. As humans we crave the feeling and we seek it out.”
Do you really want to pay the price of being in that star-on-your-belly club? If so, this is the reason you need to know your WHY. Will you profit from that, or will they? The odds that you will profit more than they do are stacked against you. No one tells models these things in the beginning of their careers, but it is so important for prospective models and their parents to know and consider.
I see many young women who want to be models. As a woman who’s been a model for decades and has the wisdom that comes from having been their age and all that comes with that, I see that most of them don’t truly understand why they might want to be in this business. That’s why I’m suggesting, ladies, that you examine your why. What do you really want…and why do you want it? Your answers are so significant that they will determine your future. Remember, it's not just about your "goddamned beautiful face". (see what I mean by that, here: https://www.themodelmatters.com/post/personality-professionalism-and-her-goddamned-beautiful-face )