why modeling is poison
or The Emperor’s New Models
I can only talk about what I know, so I’m going stick to how things are where I live. I work as a runway, catalog, commercial, promotional, and fitness model in the two-bit modeling field of a rapidly-developing city in a sort of post-third world Mexico.
While the jobs I do may range from catwalks to videos to expositions to clubs to photos, here, the field is divided into two major categories: promotions and modeling. In promotions, you spend the hours on your feet smiling at, speaking with, and taking photos with passers-by. In modeling, you show off clothing, shoes, hairstyles, or some other product either on film or on a runway.
For either, you usually have to start by being selected in a casting.
Castings tend to lend way too much value to the ones of us who get the jobs. We let a silly thing like a client’s whims direct what we, the socially/economically compatible section of an entire generation in our city, consider attractive.
Maybe today, the catwalk needed bearded guys to go with the designer’s look, so all of a sudden, the guys who happened to have gone with stubble are in the newspapers. Or maybe white skin went with the client’s colors, so all the pale girls are on the front pages, regardless of how they actually look, how healthy they are, or what kind of people they are.
Then, no one gives a second thought to the question of whether we deserve their attention or not. We’re automatically cool, and our peers and society-at-large take a giant leap of a shortcut through things such as our personality and (more surprisingly) even what we actually look like. We must be cool because everyone else thinks we are.
In this fairy tale, the emperor’s clothes are real but the emperors are actually paupers.
Promotions need to turn heads to sell products. These take the strategy of dressing up their paper dolls in the hottest paper push-up bras, paper lipstick, paper high heels, and paper miniskirts that could make the most crumpled piece of paper look smoking hot. True, most of us men at least have to work on our bodies (which means we’re either persistent or just vain with a lot of time on our hands), but even some of us men are less good-looking and more just good at talking ourselves up.
Just like in the real world, in the promotional world, talking counts for a lot. I don’t know if all the things talkers say accurately reflect reality though.
So there we are, the kings of the hill, the belles of the ball, the center of the universe toward which everyone else is pulled gravitationally. And we begin to think, although by no (or very little) merit of our own, that we are pretty fucking awesome. After all, everyone else thinks we are, and maybe-just-maybe they’re all onto something.
Just One Bite
Pretty soon, many of us have so much perceived value that we begin to treat poorly those that we see as having less value. It’s not that we’ve suddenly turned into bad or mean people. We just have so much fucking value – that all you people gave to us in the first place by being attracted to the clothes, makeup, and hair spray we had on – that we have to start being careful with whom we share it.
You would do the same thing.
If people were catcalling at you all day, taking photos with you, and telling you how goddamn sabroso you were nonstop, you’d begin to get tired of it. You’d probably begin to seek out other people who felt the same way about the attention and shun, sometimes politely and sometimes not so politely, the people who threw their attention at you.
Real vs. Provisional Value
This kind of thing usually only happens with people who lend actual value to the world. It usually can’t be helped that people are drawn to and eventually shunned by exceptionally smart, athletic, or talented people. It’s generally considered fair exchange for gifted people’s moving contributions to their audiences.
But for those of us whose only contribution to our audience is in a client’s whim, a push-up bra, a simple exercise routine, and the clothes put on our backs, it seems to be a case of misplaced value. It’s not that we’ve actually reached any sort of real pinnacle of human achievement or even begun to approach any kind of frontier of accomplishment at all. Aside from our makeup-enhanced looks, models’ only industry-related talent is that we’ve learned how to walk pretty much straight.
Other than that, we just happened to look the right way at the right time.
It’s no one’s fault, which is why modeling is the poison, not the models, the fans, or even the clients. The poison is a by-product of an industry that does some good, is mostly unnecessary for human survival, but is fun, and makes life more interesting. -An accidental evil that makes a lot of good people act bad, makes other good people feel bad, and makes both of those good people feel sad sometimes.
So the moral of the story is that I guess even third-world (okay, developing) countries have first-world problems.
Also, I think that people lend far too much trust to a man or woman who is comparatively tall, when maybe they shouldn’t.