Although we've heard the rags-to-riches stories and know of those in the industry who rake in the millions, it is debatable whether modeling is a career path worth pursuing. After all, the successes are the exception, and the process can be more than enough to mess with anyone's self-worth and self-esteem. Still, there exists within many people a fascination for beauty, glamour, glitz and dreams of making it big.
Before fashion models graced magazine covers and posed seductively in advertisements, there were fine art models. At least as far back as ancient Greece, artists have been using the human form as inspiration for artwork that appears lifelike and accurate. What came to be known as the "supermodel," however, began with Lisa Fonssagrives. Reportedly appearing on more "Vogue" magazine covers than any other person, Fonssagrives' image was also featured in such publications as "Time," "Town and Country" and "Life" from the 1930s through the 1950s.
In a formal setting, fine art models are typically paid a fee to pose in art schools to help students perfect their craft of reproducing the human figure in a chosen medium. The environment can be informal as well, where the model is a friend of the artist's; however, in a professional set-up, institutions and artists may go to great lengths to procure a model. Apparently, training is available for those who take posing for fine art seriously. After all, to hold a pose for a lengthy period of time without readjusting, as required by some artists, is a skill not possessed by everyone. Matching artists with models in the United States since 1946, the Bay Area Models Guild is the oldest such organization in the country. The work of models who appear on television, in print work and on the runway consists of essentially painting the picture or presenting the image their client requires.
Despite strict height and body mass index requirements--which depend on the standards of the era--for fashion models in general, many more types can pursue modeling as a career or at least as a hobby in contemporary times. Individuals with petite and plus-size measurements, as well as members of the alternative punk and goth crowd, are needed for an ever growing market. Also, those who possess particularly attractive body parts are hired for hand, leg and foot modeling. Of course, the more traditional varieties of modeling, such as catwalk, editorial, glamour and showroom, remain available options.
The few who have reached supermodel status can earn yearly salaries equivalent to millions of U.S. dollars (see Resources). Even if a model does not attain worldwide fame but has steady full-time work, the amount she pulls in is not to be scoffed at. The exact fee differs depending on factors like the assignment and the location, yet the nonfinancial compensation is rewarding nonetheless. The people met, locations visited, gifts received and recognition are some of the reasons someone might consider modeling.
Those who aspire toward high-fashion modeling should first consider the number of documented deaths related to the stresses and pressures in this field (see Resources). If your figure is not naturally slender even when you are at your healthiest and you need to starve yourself in order to fit the required measurements, you should look into other types of modeling. It may also be challenging to find reliably consistent work at first, so you should have another means of income to ensure your needs are met before your modeling career takes off. Once successful, keep in mind that you could be expected to travel constantly and leave your comfort zone behind.
Lea WhiteFeather writes to share her colorful experiences with all who can benefit. She enjoys traveling as well, and has worked and resided in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Philippines, where she received her undergraduate education in art history.