Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Hidden Dangers of Male Modeling

The casting director, a Dutch man in his 50s with a large paunch, looked at me, his eyes darting around my body. “Take off your top and show me your torso,” he said. I was exhausted after 14 hours of castings, and so I did what I was told and removed my undershirt to reveal my rather pallid chest. After a quick glance, the casting director returned to his seat in the adjacent room and muttered to his stylist, “He’s beautiful, but he’s fat.” Sound travels easily in a hard-floored warehouse; I had moved to the changing room, but I heard his words clearly. I felt humiliated.
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When most people think of exploitation in modeling, they think of young women and girls walking the catwalk with alarmingly protruding hips and angular shoulders, or they remember the lurid tales of celebrity photographers manipulating or coercing young women into sex acts. Muscle-bound male models with perfect cheekbones and fat paychecks? They do not seem like obvious victims. But as I found during my short career as a male model, men and boys are increasingly at risk in the odd, unregulated workplace that is the fashion world. Being a man does not make you safe: Male models are often subject to sexual harassment but rarely report it. And, like their female counterparts, they are under intense pressure to have just the right kind of body.
Recent menswear trends have polarized male catwalk modeling, encouraging either extreme muscularity or waifish androgyny. Want to look like that? It will likely make you sick.
And there’s another factor that makes male models more vulnerable today: Emerging East Asian economies have created a demand for designer clothes and consequently for models. Growing numbers of young models, both men and women, are heading to Asia, far from their families and support networks, and working in poorly regulated conditions that leave them at risk of being overworked and underpaid. It turns out that being really, really, really good-looking—as Ben Stiller’s male model character Derek Zoolander describes himself—will not guarantee you wealth, health or security.
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Sara Ziff, founder of the Model Alliance, a New York City nonprofit labor organization advocating for greater protection of models, says male models face a uniquely difficult situation. “I definitely think that men have just as many labor-related concerns as women, if not more,” says Ziff, a longtime model. “The industry urgently needs reform. It’s an industry that has escaped any real regulation for decades.”
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Sam Thomas, founder of the U.K.-based charity Men Get Eating Disorders Too, is highly critical of recent shifts in the fashion industry. “There has certainly been a trend in which some male models are getting younger and definitely skinnier,” says Thomas. The industry seems “particularly polarized right now,” he says, with hypermuscular looks becoming increasingly popular at the same time as demand has surged for waifish male models.
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The models and insiders I spoke with for this story were often hesitant to talk for fear of reprisals, and many requested anonymity. Their insights reveal an industry struggling to safeguard some of its youngest employees—many of whom have very little employment protection, are ill-informed of their rights and suffer from a culture of silence that protects the abusers within the industry who are considered too powerful to confront.
At the age of 20, I fell for that world. It seemed to me like easy money and a shortcut to joining a glamorous elite. But after a year of dabbling in the industry, I realized it was making me miserable. Sure, I had become part of a rarefied world cordoned off from the public—and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t enjoyed that—but to remain part of that elite I was expected to work unpaid to gain a degree of celebrity that never came. I had to cope with relentless pressure to keep my weight down, and my agency bookers expected me to attend castings for up to 17 hours a day in the run-up to fashion week.
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And there was this: The money turned out to be lousy. While a male model might earn a few thousand dollars for a major show and maybe in the tens of thousands for an international campaign, many magazine shoots are unpaid, and small shows often pay only a few hundred. I felt exploited, as did many of my peers, and yet all of us felt we couldn’t speak out because getting a reputation as being “difficult” or “demanding” could kill your fledgling career. So we kept posing and we kept quiet.
I became a model in 2013, when I was in my third year of studying English and French literature at Oxford University. I had moved to Paris as part of my studies, and my teenage interest in fashion was reborn. I had always been excited by the pace of the industry and found the processes behind designing and creating these garments fascinating. But I had never considered working as a model.
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Three days after arriving in Paris in September 2013, I headed out to a gay club, exhausted (from the move) and a little drunk (from the vodka). A guy across the room with stubble and chiseled cheekbones caught my attention; when I ventured out into the street for a cigarette, he followed. He asked for a light and then asked if I was a model. I told him it was a terrible pickup line. He told me he was a casting director and invited me to his studio a few days later, took some photos and added me to his database.
The following weekend, we shot a series of portraits. A few weeks later, he cast me in a music video. And a few months later, he sent me to one of Paris’s most prestigious modeling agencies. Its verdict? That I was “unsuitable.”
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A chance encounter with another casting director in early 2014 led to an invitation to visit a modeling agency. I posed for a few Polaroids, wrote down my measurements and awaited the decision. The booker—a kind, freckled man in his 30s—looked me up and down as I stood by the window of his fifth-floor studio, whispering to his assistant. “You could do with some exercise,” he said finally, as though I was an out-of-season racehorse, “but we’d love you to come on board.”
In spite of my reservations, I felt a flood of nervous euphoria. I couldn’t help but be seduced by the idea that I would be paid mountains of cash to lounge around and have my face splashed across billboards. And then I began working, and reality hit: To be a model is to accept that you are a product as well as a person. You are also a target for sexual predators.
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At first, I was relatively oblivious to the extent of the sexual harassment and abuse in the industry. Serious propositions and sexual advances are often framed as jokes, allowing the powerful figures who make them—photographers, editors and casting directors—to dismiss them as such should they be declined. In September 2013, while I was shooting a music video, a fashion consultant in his 60s spent the day making inappropriate comments and asking if what was “down there” was as “intoxicating” as my “handsome face.” I ignored him and moved away when he repeatedly brushed against me. As he slid past me, he stroked his hand across my lower back and slapped my backside.
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A few weeks later, an editor offered to shoot me for the cover of his magazine, with the caveat that I pose naked and join him for a “romantic” dinner that evening. I said I wasn’t interested, but he messaged me regularly throughout the year. His messages became increasingly graphic, including sending me links to porn videos and images of another model whose career he claimed to have launched. In June 2014, a photographer tried to make me commit to orgies while on a shoot, with the promise of getting me “exposure.” He also convinced me and the other male model I was shooting with to strip down to our underwear in the middle of the Bois de Vincennes, a southeast of Paris.
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At times, these powerful men behave with a remarkable sense of impunity: While I was conducting research for this article, one powerful fashion designer, high on cocaine, sent me unsolicited naked videos when I attempted to arrange an interview.
In some ways, I got off lightly. Matthew, a British model, signed up with his first agency while he settled into life in Paris (a few months later, he joined Elite, the world’s leading agency). He soon found himself in the studio of a photographer who overstepped the mark.
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“It was horrible,” says Matthew, which is his real first name. He has now quit modeling and is a student living in London. “He made me take all my clothes off, including my underwear. His rationale was that he needed to get me over the phase of being awkward and make me more comfortable in my own body.”
Exposing the photographer was impossible, Matthew says. “I couldn’t complain because he was part of my agency.” The man was one of the bookers working at the agency; he freelanced as a photographer on the side.
“In fashion, it is always older people controlling younger,” says René Habermacher, a Swiss-born photographer who works regularly for Japanese Vogue and other leading titles. Ziff, of the Model Alliance, says she has heard about countless situations that mirrored Matthew’s story. “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with a male model about the Model Alliance without them talking about sexual harassment,” she says.
Their age makes many models particularly vulnerable.
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“When starting out, models tend to be very young,” says Ziff, whose modeling career started at 14. “Their careers are short-lived and tenuous for the most part. If you know that you have a shelf life of maybe five years, you're much less likely to stick your neck out or complain, especially since it is so competitive.”
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‘Underage and Underfed’

I have found it hard to stick to my decision to quit modeling. I still take jobs now and then. I miss the excitement. Also, as a recent graduate, I could do with the cash. On certain jobs, I have been shocked by how young many of the models are. At my last show, the Andrea Crews collection shown in Paris in January 2016, I shared a cigarette with a boy backstage whose tousled hair, slender body, boyish features and full lips combined to make him look delicate and androgynous. “How old are you?” I asked him. “Fifteen,” he said, looking nervous. “I don’t really know what I’m doing here.”
Critics and commentators have long criticized the use of very young male models in the fashion industry, but the current trend for models with boyish or androgynous looks has intensified that criticism. The androgynous look pushes male models to lose muscle mass and women to lose their natural curves. One model, Jack—that’s a pseudonym—says that has increased competition between men and women for the same shows.
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(At Gucci’s menswear show in January 2015, for example, boyish female models walked alongside waifish men.)
In stark contrast to the androgynous male models on the catwalks in Asia are the muscle-bound male models typified by the perfectly sculpted British model David Gandy. But beneath those hypermuscular builds are often serious health problems. “The big, muscular guys are no better off,” says a British photographer, whose work is regularly featured in American Vogue and GQ France and who requested anonymity. “Men who are that big, who go to the gym that often and have 2 percent body fat—they are starving themselves too.” Researchers and mental health experts have coined the term bigorexia to describe muscle dysmorphia, a distorted perception of the body as too weak and lacking muscle that fuels obsessive workouts even among the most toned men and bodybuilders.
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The pressure to lose weight is common among male models. In December 2013, Jack, who had trained as a dancer and had muscular legs, was told by his agents to lose 3 kilograms (about 6.5 pounds) from his legs for a Saint Laurent fitting. “It was a huge pressure.” He prioritized reaching his target weight over his health. “It pushed me towards an eating disorder. All the guilt, constantly—it was like pre-bulimia.”
Almost every one of the 15 insiders who agreed to speak to Newsweek said Saint Laurent’s recently departed creative director, Hedi Slimane, spearheaded the rise of the ultra-skinny male model. Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel and one of fashion’s most powerful designers, wrote in The Telegraph in 2004 that “Slimane’s fashions, modelled by very, very slim boys, required me to lose at six of my 16 stone.”
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Slimane defended his preference for super skinny young men in an interview with Yahoo Style last year, explaining that he was bullied as a teenager for not having a traditionally masculine build: “I was precisely just like any of these guys I photograph or that walk my shows. Jackets were always a little too big for me. Many in high school, or in my family, were attempting to make me feel I was half a man because I was lean.” Slimane says later in the interview that there was a derogatory and homophobic undertone to the idea that skinny was “queer.”
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For many fashion insiders, the reasons for his casting choices are hardly relevant; what matters is the impact Slimane had on models—and even men outside the fashion world. The British photographer who worked for American Vogue is highly critical of the male body type promoted by the designer. “Hedi idolizes emaciated boys,” he says. Slimane created an aesthetic that he sums up as “underage and underfed.” Saint Laurent and Slimane declined repeated requests for comment when approached by Newsweek.
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Thin in Japan

Nowhere has super skinny become more prevalent than in East Asia. Japan has long been a major player in the fashion world, but the rise of China and South Korea has cemented the importance of East Asia. But Asia doesn’t just present new opportunities; it also brings new threats. The market is known in the fashion world for its preference for ultra-skinny male models. “In Japan, you have a strong desire for younger, sweet-looking male models, and to the extent that you must represent the market, they’re simply smaller sized,” says Valerie Steele, an American fashion historian, curator and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Combined with culture shock, long work hours and isolation from their families and friends, young male models often enter these new markets unaware of their labor rights and the dangers they might face.
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In the summer of 2014, Habermacher joked that I should head to East Asia if I wanted my career to really take off. “They’d love you over there,” the photographer told me, “and the pay is crazy: You can make up to 10,000, maybe 20,000, [euros] a month if you’re busy, but you can be shooting back-to-back for up to 16 or 18 hours a day.” But Habermacher was not actually recommending I make the move because he knew what I would have to do to succeed in Asia. “They like small boys over there, I mean really small,” he said. “You’d have to lose about 10 kilos to really make it.”

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The idea of starting a new, thrilling life in Tokyo, Seoul or Shanghai was tempting. Losing 15 percent of my body weight was not. Shedding 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds) would have sent my body mass index (BMI), a scale using height and weight measurements to judge whether somebody is overweight or underweight, down to 16.9, a level the World Health Organization defines as “severely malnourished.”
But I was tempted, in spite of my concerns over my health. Asia offers male models financial opportunities that seem ever scarcer in saturated Western markets and in an industry where men earn far less than their female counterparts. According to a Forbes report, from June 2012 to June 2013, the top 10 highest-earning female models made a combined $83.3 million; from September 2012 to September 2013, the top 10 men made $8 million. The best-paid female model, Gisele Bundchen, made $42 million between June 2012 and June 2013; Sean O’Pry, the highest-earning man, made $1.5 million in the year ending in September 2013.
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There’s a gender gap lower down in the market too, with salary data company PayScale reporting that female models can expect an average yearly income of $41,300, compared with the Forbes estimate of male earnings around $28,000 in recent years, approximately $2,000 short of the New York living wage as calculated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One model from Models 1, Europe’s largest agency, took up his booker’s offer of a summer in the Far East. He agreed to speak to Newsweek on the condition of anonymity. “I came because I wanted to make some money before starting university,” says the model, a 19-year-old British student. Yet in retrospect, he says, specifics were missing from his conversation with his booker. “Money was not discussed,” he says.
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He signed a contract to head to Tokyo in the winter of 2015 with little knowledge of the small print. He felt honored to be offered the opportunity and assumed the terms and conditions would be reasonable and lucrative. But when he showed his mother the contract, she was appalled at the conditions he had agreed to. “She basically said that I’m going to come back with nothing and that, at best, I’ll break even.”
His travel and accommodations were to be covered by the agency, but under the terms of the contract the money had to be paid back. He would start receiving payment for jobs only after this debt was cleared. Until then, he would have to live on an allowance of about $87 a week, an amount he could not survive on, so he needed his mother to supplement.
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Certain clauses felt particularly exploitative, he says. If he did not book enough jobs, he would have been sent home at his own expense, owing his agency a four-figure sum. If he breached any other terms, including cutting his hair without permission, getting a suntan or putting on any weight, he could have faced the same forfeit.
But the model decided to go regardless, thinking that the experience of living abroad would be worthwhile and that there was always a chance of getting his big break. “I just feel so lucky,” he says, talking via FaceTime from his small Tokyo apartment.
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Trust Us

France, Spain, Italy and Israel have all passed legislation within the past decade requiring all models working in those countries to possess a medical certificate that declares them fit to work. The French law stipulates that models’ health must be "assessed in particular in terms of body mass index” but with a nod to more holistic methods of assessment, including body shape and well-being. An agency booker who fails to adhere to the law risks a fine of 75,000 euros (about $83,623) and up to six months in prison. The law also requires agencies to signal when modeling photos have been retouched to alter body shape. Fines of up to 10,000 euros (about $11,150) and one year in prison can await individuals “provoking people to excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged dietary restrictions that could expose them to a danger of death or directly impair their health.”
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In the fashion world, these laws have few fans—even among the models. The three male models interviewed for this story all expressed support for the idea of limiting the weight pressures they faced but questioned the accuracy of the BMI scale as a measure. Industry insiders also attacked the inaccuracy of the BMI when applied to those under 25 and the idea that it might penalize models afflicted by eating disorders. And then there’s this: The majority of the countries in the world where models work have no legislation protecting these young people.

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The fashion industry is so sprawling and decentralized that many industry insiders believe that the only way it can protect its young is if it decides to take on that responsibility itself. Many powerful figures in the industry say they are already acting responsibly. Storm Models, a leading agency, says it abides by minimum BMI rules. “Ultimately, we’re just a supply chain,” says Cat Trathen, head of the men’s division at Storm. “We only provide what our clients are asking for.” She says that any potential problems lie with the editors and brands booking the models she represents. And she was adamant that she and her team already do their utmost to safeguard the models signed to their agency: “We do not have and we have never had one model—male or female—on this board who is underweight.” Trathen says it’s not in the economic interests of an agency to promote models who are too thin: “A model who’s underweight is going to be ill. Ultimately, they’re a commodity, and you have to look after them. If someone is ill or too thin, they're not going to work because they're not going to look their best or have the energy to model.”
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One prominent casting director, Noah Shelley of AM Casting, says he bears some responsibility for the pressure to be skinny. “If we were to sit down and round table and say there’s blame to be had, then I would definitely deserve some,” says Shelley. “Nonetheless, I don’t feel on a daily basis that I’m responsible for unhealthy body ideals, but I’m not naïve enough to suggest that couldn’t be happening without my intention, and I have to take responsibility for that.”
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Yet Sebastien Meunier, creative director of the Paris-based cult fashion house Ann Demeulemeester, denies that designers are doing anything wrong. “We are not doing anything shocking: We’re making clothes that are perfectly decent and acceptable,” he tells Newsweek. “At the end of the day, [models] are adults. There’s no problem here.”
Valerie Steele, of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, believes the industry is unlikely to self-regulate in a meaningful way. “Everyone says they’re not the ones at fault, that they’re just following orders,” she says. “I suspect there’s a lot of blame to be shared. The casting directors and designers and members of the audience want to see thin, white, young models. They’re all at fault."
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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Are All Male Models Gay?!

Heterosexual men in many instances do not need all of these qualities to attract women (as well as many lesbians.)  Additionally, "straight" couples have social pressures to pair off with a mate earlier, progressing to getting married and having kids.  Generalizing, but once you're taken especially in a marriage people often have numerous priorities over keeping up an appearance.  Where as gay men even once in a relationship continue to have fitness and looks meshed into their social groups creating a feeling of keeping up with the Jones.
Many gay men tend to be image-conscious in a similar way that heterosexual women are because typically their objects of affection are stimulated visually.  As a gay man I see several variables that come into play.  Going to the gym, keeping up with youthful appearances and dressing for the affair is constantly discussed in our social circles.  The dating scene requires a "model" type look to attract the cream of the crop. 
Getting off topic a bit, but back to your question... The modeling world is somewhat more accepting of stereotypical gay tendencies and gay lifestyle therefore a gay individual may feel more comfortable working as a model and making that a goal.
There are plenty of straight male models, the gay ones just don't have to closet themselves (because the industry as a whole is not generally homophobic), so you notice "more" gay men than you do in the everyday world.
 The industry as a whole is more open to varying sexual orientation than many other industries.
  1. There are a number of gay males already in the industry and starting out as a model you will work with a lot of different photographers and other models and many straight males are intimidated about working with gay males especially in a situation where everyone is looking at you so natural selection keeps a number of straight males from continuing in the profession.
  2. As many have already mentioned gay men tend to care more about their appearance and don't underestimate the amount of work that goes into maintaining you body image as a male model. 


  1. Many gay men tend to have creative and dramatic flair which draws them to careers such as acting, dancing, ice skating, modeling, hair styling, interior design, fashion design, etc.

Ugly truth of fashion's model behaviour

Interviewed a Fashion Model in NYC that doesn't want his/her name printed in my blog...
This is the kind of remark I often hear about my efforts to establish fair labor standards for models working in the American fashion industry. Modeling is a seemingly glamorous profession, and models are certainly not the people you picture when you think of bad working conditions. But wipe off the sheen and another reality emerges.
At 29, I have worked as a model for over half my life, and I'm the first to admit that I've been lucky in my career. I have worked with some of fashion's most talented, creative people as the face of some of the industry's most recognized brands. I enjoy modeling, a job that not only paid my bills, but also allowed me to put myself through school. I have no reason to speak negatively about an industry that has given me so much. And, yet, I can no longer stay silent about rampant abuses that I have experienced firsthand.
The modeling business today is unregulated and relies on a compliant labor force of children.
Sexual abuse and systematic theft occur at the highest levels of the industry, and because models are considered to be "independent contractors", the rule of law in terms of workplace standards does not exist. Sadly, the notion that fashion is frivolous encourages a dismissive, misogynistic attitude toward the industry's young workers, and it is precisely this sentiment that allows the abuse of vulnerable young people to persist.
When I entered the business as a 14-year-old schoolgirl, I was routinely asked to do topless shoots and pose seductively. To this day, in an industry dominated by minors, there is no policy of informed consent for jobs involving full or partial nudity. A recent survey shows that 86.8% of models have been asked to pose nude at a casting or job without advance notice.
Sexual abuse is a pervasive problem. Consider just the last few years: in 2008, fashion designer Anand Jon was found guilty of rape  and multiple counts assault on aspiring models, who ranged from 14 to 21 years old.
Last year, models began to speak out in numbers against Terry Richardson, one of the industry's most powerful photographers,  who has been accused of pressuring models to disrobe at castings and conducting shoots that involve what he claims are consensual sex acts performed on him by models. (Among Richardson's regular clients are H&M, Vogue, and GQ.)
What is worse, in an industry where the majority of models start their careers before age 16, most working unchaperoned and far from home, the incentive to say nothing in order to keep your job creates an unconscionable environment of coercion.
Lack of financial transparency is also a significant problem. Last year, three models brougt a lawsuit against their New York agency Next for allegedly withholding $750,000 of their earnings. 
Like the plaintiffs, I also left Next after becoming increasingly wary of their opaque bookkeeping, and I was paid the outstanding earnings they owed me only after my lawyer threatened legal action. As a model, simply getting paid can be a major issue, and, of the models who achieve a coveted spot walking in New York fashion week, many, in fact, are never paid at all; instead, working for free or for clothes. Needless to say, a tank top doesn't pay the rent.
To combat this systemic abuse, I recently formed the Model Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims to give models in the American fashion business a voice. With the support of other top models (Coco Rocha, Doutzen Kroes, Crystal Renn, Shalom Harlow), industry leaders, and the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, we produced a draft models' bill of rights to demand fair treatment from modeling agencies and clients.
 Our backstage privacy policy, endorsed by Diane von Furstenberg and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), aims to protect models from invasive photography while they are naked and changing backstage at New York Fashion Week. The Model Alliance has also partnered with Actors' Equity and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), members of the AFL-CIO, America's largest federation of trade unions, to establish Model Alliance Support, a confidential grievance service to members who have experienced any kind of abuse.
Our glossy industry often provokes superficial criticism of models' weight and body image, but the fact is that most models' clout in their workplace is as tiny as their size-zero frames. It is time to delve beneath the surface and consider models' concerns from a labor and public health standpoint. Photographs of models pervade our culture, and we cannot promote healthy images without taking steps to protect the faces of this business. This effort starts with giving the faces of this business a voice. Correcting these abuses starts with seeing models through a different lens: not as dehumanized images, but as human beings who deserve the same rights and protections as all workers.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Wanna be a Male Model?!

Being a male model doesn't mean getting a free ride to the best parties in town. It takes hard work to be a male model, as well as long hours, and sometimes, little payoff. That being said, breaking into the modeling industry as a male is a bit easier than it is for women, because male models don't have to meet the same rigid physical requirements all the time and can work for many years -- some of them working well into their fifties. If you want to get into male modeling, learn how to get exposure within the modeling industry, sign with an agent, and start looking for work while staying in top physical and mental shape.
Meet the industry standards. Though male models have a bit more flexibility in terms of their looks than female models, there are still some general standards that you should meet if you want to be a male model. But if you don't meet all of these standards, don't be too discouraged; if you've really got "the look," then you may be able to find work even if you're below the average height or above the average weight for male models. 
Here are some points to consider as you decide whether or not you should get in to male modeling:
  • Industry standards are between 5’11” and 6’2” in height.
  • Unlike female models, who are mostly out of work by the age of 25, male models can find work well into their 50s.
  • Men from 15 to 25 make up the “young men’s” market.
  • Men from 25 to 35 are the “adult men’s” market.
  • A typical weight for men is between 140 and 165, but this will depend on your Body Mass Index.
  • Average measurements are 40 regular to 42 long. 
  • Typically, the modeling industry doesn't go for overly hairy men in the chest and arm region. Be prepared to do some waxing before you pursue your career.
  • Decide what kind of modeling you are interested in pursuing. The type of modeling you do can influence the way you look for work, the type of photos you take to get work, and the approach you take as you start off in your modeling career. For example, you will have to meet different standards to look like a runway model instead of a catalogue model, who is supposed to offer a more realistic view of men. Here are the types of modeling that you may pursue:
    • Fashion models promote clothing and apparel.
    • High fashion models work with the famous fashion houses or designers.
    • Editorial models only work for certain publications.
    • Runway models work at fashion shows.
    • Showroom models display clothing at fashion parties or boutiques.
    • Commercial print models are photographed for magazines, newspapers, billboards and other print ad materials.
    • Catalogue models are hired to appear in catalogues.
    • Promotional models work in conventions or trade shows.
    • Specialty models specialize one part of their body such as hands, legs, neck, hair or feet.
    • Character models are used to portray ordinary people.
    • Glamour modeling focuses more on the model than the actual product.
    •  Get some exposure. Though you can skip this step and move right on to trying to sign with an agent, it couldn't hurt to have your face out there and to have some modeling experience so you have something to point to when you approach agencies. Try to appear in local newspaper ads, TV shows, magazines, or even fashion shows. You might get the attention of the right people without even appealing to an agent directly.
  • However, this does not mean that you should get absolutely any work you can. Remember that you're trying to build and maintain your image, so don't do something that is completely below your dignity, not taken by a real photographer, or which doesn't represent who you are at all.
  • Do not shoot in anything less than your underwear unless you're getting paid. You may be told that you should shoot nude or an implied nude to get some free photos, but you should avoid these kinds of offers like the plague. Don't shoot nude unless it's for a professional, reputable, and established company that pays you for your work. If you take nudes with sketchy photographers, who knows where they will end up.
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Get some professional photos taken. Though you'll be able to develop your portfolio after you sign with an agency, getting some professional photos taken beforehand will make you look professional and will give you something to point to if you catch the eye of someone in the industry. Don't just get your photo taken by someone with a cheap camera who only has experience taking yearbook photos; get your photo snapped by an above-average photographer so that you look, well, above average.
  • Make sure you get a Model Release form signed by every photographer you work with. This will ensure that you know exactly what happens to the photos that are taken of you.
  • Don't waste your time with a "portrait" photographer. You want to take modeling shots, not your senior year photo.
  • Make sure that you have a standard headshot and multiple full body shots.
  • Because people needing your services will probably want to see what your body type looks like, include a full body shot in shorts or underwear and a tank top.
  • Include an additional shot in casual clothing, and a third shot in business casual or a full suit.
  • Get black-and-white and color photos.
Avoid scams. Unfortunately, scams are all too present in the modeling agency. You can get scammed during pretty much any step along the way, from being tricked into taking expensive photos from a shady photographer or getting "signed" with a fake or disreputable agent. Here are some things to be wary about as you move forward:
  • Photographers who charge ridiculous rates for getting your portfolio together. Once you sign up with an agency, you'll be able to fully develop your portfolio, so avoid the pushy photographers who offer to sell you a portfolio for thousands of dollars, claiming it's the only way for you to approach an agent.
  • Agencies who charge exorbitant up-front fees. If an agent asks you for a large registration or portfolio fee, run for the hills. Agents shouldn't profit until they get you a gig and get a cut of your profit. These untrustworthy agencies will typically not have many clients, be new in the industry, and won't have the connections necessary to get you work.
  • Expensive modeling schools. Keep in mind that there are no certified schools for modeling. Sure, they can help you learn how to walk, pose, and manage your facial expressions, but you may be better off learning these skills online or from reading a book. These schools may claim to get you work, but don't get sucked in to them unless they can really prove that they have helped other models get work.
  • People who approach you out of the blue. Sure, the occasional model has a story about being randomly approached at an event or even at a nightclub being told that he has "the look," but most of the time, this is done by shady characters who think they can get money just by stroking your ego. If these men ask for shady methods of payment, this is even more of an indicator that you should stop contact with them. Of course, if these men prove to have real connections, then you just got lucky.
  • People who offer you money for your personal information online. Avoid any online sites, such as Model Mayhem, where people may offer you money in exchange for your credit card information and other personal information. This makes you a target for identity theft.
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 Consider moving to a big city. If you're really serious about being a male model, then you can't live in a town with only two traffic lights forever. You should move to one of the big modeling cities, such as New York City, Los Angeles, London, Milan or Paris. You might also find regional work in other cities such as Chicago or Miami. Don't feel like you can't be a model if you can't afford the move right away; try looking up model searches in your area or contact agencies directly from home (more on that later). 
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 Attend an open call. An open call is when a modeling agency lets anyone come in to their office to audition. You'll have to wait in line with many other models until you're called into a room individually to have the agents take a look at you and see if you've got what they're looking for. Often, you can wait for hours just to be seen for less than a minute. This may be a bit nerve-wracking, but hey, it's what you're signing up for.
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 Go to a model search. A model search is like an open call except it is held by agencies that travel to small towns searching for models. Since they do make the effort to travel to your location, you will have to pay a small fee to be seen, which should cost somewhere around $25 dollars. This is a great option if you live in a smaller town where there are less modeling opportunities. Just like a modeling call, your chances of getting selected aren't high, but you could make some valuable connections.
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Enter a modeling competition. Though these are hard to win, if you do manage to win a modeling competition, it really can jump start your modeling career. Make sure it's a reputable contest run by a reputable establishment, and that you don't have to pay a ridiculous entry fee. Many of these competitions will even get you signed with an agency if you win. And even if you don't win, it'll be another way to put yourself out there.
  • Make sure you look in to the specific requirements necessary for entering a modeling competition. It's likely that you'll need to be prepared with a set of pictures.
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Go to modeling conventions. This is a perfect way to get some exposure as well as to meet other professional models and agents. Unfortunately, it can get pretty expensive to attend one of these conventions (typically around $200 - $4000) so if you do, you have to make the most of it by acting professional and meeting as many people as possible. 
 Do it yourself. That's right. Another way to get signed by an agency is to get in touch with them yourself. Search the Internet for lists of reputable modeling agencies, such as Elite or Major Management, and get their email addresses. Then, send them a professional email with some professional photos of yourself in a variety of poses. Though this will require you to build a portfolio beforehand, it can pay off. 
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 Sign up with a scouting company. This is a good and relatively cheap way of putting yourself out there and not having to do all of the advertising work yourself. Find a reputable company, such as and, and pay them from between $60 - $150 dollars to help you find work. You'll have to submit your profile to them and they will forward your information to major agencies. 
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Sign up with an agent. Once you've jumped through the hoops and found an agent who likes your look, it'll be time to sign your contract. Again, make sure the agent doesn't ask for any money up front. A real agent should only make money after he or she makes you money. And even if the agent seems legitimate, make sure you have an attorney go over the contract with you to ensure that you're making a fair agreement.
  • When you're speaking with the agent, you can ask about any unions you're allowed to join and also ask if you can take modeling jobs on the side.
  • If you've signed with a top agent and have a chance of making some serious money, you can also think about meeting with an accountant to talk about how you will track your earnings.
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Start looking for work. Once you've signed with an agent, you will build your portfolio, which will help you get hired. The agencies will help you get the chance to go to modeling interviews, which are also known as go-sees. So, start going to the go-sees, act professional, and don't get frustrated if you don't get a gig right away.
  • The agency can't guarantee you work; but a good agent wouldn't take you on if he or she didn't think you had a solid chance at finding some great work.
  • Have perseverance. You won't get a gig with Calvin Klein on your first go-see, despite what you may hear.
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Stay professional. Whether you've made it big or are just starting out, you don't want to develop a reputation for being ungrateful, rude, or even late. If you want to last in the industry, here are some things you'll have to do to meet the standards of the profession, just as you would with any other career:
  • Be prompt to appointments.
  • Be courteous and professional to everyone you come in contact with.
  • Consider investing in a personal trainer to help you stay on a balanced diet and to attain exercise goals for optimal muscle tone.
  • Take a meticulous approach to your grooming and skin care regimen.
  • Retire for the evenings early on the nights before you have to work. Plenty of sleep will help you avoid dark circles under your eyes and give you a more rested and healthier appearance to those you are working for.
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Keep your day job. Though everyone hears the story about the male model who was discovered on a Russian cargo ship or just when he was hanging out at a bar in Vegas at three in the morning, the fact of the matter is that most male models don't just instantly get discovered and have to keep working hard even after they sign with an agent. This means that unless you are among the very few lucky male models who can solely survive on their modeling income, you'll need to keep your day job or find another source of income to keep you going.
  • If your day job is too much work, just find another source of income that works for you. Many male models are part-time waiters or bartenders.
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Stay physically and mentally healthy. Though the male modeling industry is slightly less grueling than the female modeling industries, male models fall victim to the same problems that plague female models, such as having a low self-esteem, feeling deeply insecure, or worse, having an eating disorder. Here are some things to keep in mind as you try to stay healthy during your career as a male model: 
  • Make sure you continue to eat healthy, get exercise, and remind yourself that you're a worthy person; don't let the modeling lifestyle get you down.
  • Rejection is part of the game and if you're already prone to insecurity and self-loathing, then male modeling may not be the best path for you.
  • Though part of the modeling lifestyle may require you to go to parties and schmooze with lots of people, don't become addicted to drugs or alcohol. Not only will this cause great pain for you mentally and physically, but it will have a negative effect on your physical appearance.