Modeling may appear to be a glamorous profession, where models wear the latest designer fashions as they travel to exotic locations all over the world. In truth, only a small percentage of models reach the elite level where they have such advantages. Most models work locally in much less exciting locations. Regardless of where models work, however, the conditions are demanding and stressful, the hours are long, and the profession requires a commitment to looking your best at all times.
Whether you are a runway model or a catalog model, the work environment can be very stressful. The photographer asks for take after take of what may seem like the same poses. The client may be at the shoot too -- sometimes several client representatives attend a photo shoot -- and they offer their input too. Indoors, the lights are hot and the air can be stifling. Outside, it can be hot, freezing cold, rainy, windy -- and the photo shoot goes on and on. Runway models look cool and collected, but backstage they're throwing clothes on and off at breakneck speed with stylists, make-up artists and designers all wanting the model's attention.
Behind every magazine ad is hours of work for the model who is pictured in just a single pose. In addition to the hours spent at the photo shoot, she has spent hours on her hair and makeup, too, whether she does it herself or has stylists and makeup artists on set. She's also had a manicure and pedicure earlier, or perhaps even the day before, in anticipation of being photographed. Fashion shows require just as much -- or even more -- advanced preparation. Since the model will be seen in person, she wants to appear perfect from head to toe, no matter how much time it takes. A model's hours are unpredictable as well. She can be called for a job at a moment's notice, and if she wants to be known as being flexible, she happily accepts.
Models must spend time, effort and money on staying in shape and looking good. For most, this includes some form of dieting, whether a stringent weight-loss diet or a maintenance diet of consistently healthy eating. The modeling industry is showing signs of eschewing the stick-thin body type that often leads to dangerous conditions such as anorexia nervosa. However, designers still believe their clothes look best on long, lean frames. While "plus-sized" models also have a place in modeling today, many plus-sized models are sizes 10 and 12, which are sizes that still require attention to diet and exercise.
Famous super-models may make enviable salaries and travel to exotic locales. Most models, however, work locally and have salaries that are irregular and average. They must spend a portion of their time updating their portfolios, making appointments and seeing potential clients -- and other aspects of running a self-employed business -- all without payment. Due to the sporadic nature of the work, most models work part-time in modeling and have another job that helps pay the bills. The median hourly pay was 11-dollars in 2017. Models also must be wary of scams that waste their time, use their image and do not pay.