Fast forward 20 years, and it's not just incredibly beautiful women who are making a dime off their pretty faces and lithe bodies, but men as well. Before you dismiss this piece as a an homage to symmetrical bone structure and a well-used gym membership, let me disclose to you my reasons for investigating the world of male models. (Disclaimer: I'm not going to lie, I did enjoy my "research," which consisted of interviews with a dozen New York-based male models, leading me to discover that one becomes more beautiful by association, but that is another article
Are they faced with the same pressures of being a "product"? How do they internalize the demand to be "picture-perfect"? And what about the stereotype that they are brainless mannequins? What toll do these notions take on their self-esteem? In an anecdotal fashion, I answer the above queries and delve into how these male models respond to on-the-job sexual pressures, how it feels to be objectified, how they process anxiety, how modeling has affected their ability to be intimate with others and how they relate to women.
1. Even the most handsome men can be insecure about their looks. "Not every day you're going to feel confident," says Charlie Himmelstein , 23, who has modeled for a variety of agencies, campaigns, is the face of Unruly Heir, and is currently making the transition into full-time photographer at Chaos Magazine.
Things like skin, mood and outfits can make you feel bad. The trick is to have clothes that you like, have a good shower and make yourself super clean. Shampoo your hair twice, shave, brush your teeth -- put a conscious effort into making yourself look good. Then have a conversation early in your day with someone you don't know; this gets you ready to socialize with anyone. You can also talk to someone you know admires you. The secret to being confident is being confident.
As for other models, Lukianov hits the gym twice a day for a minimum of two hours, five times a week, doing tons of cardio. As for his diet, he eats small meals every three hours and excludes sweets, carbs and alcohol. A model who did not want to be identified admitted to using Adderall on a daily basis, especially during Fashion Week when he attends up to 10 castings per day. "I don't like the way it makes me feel, jittery and high, but it curbs my appetite so I don't even think about food." On a less extreme scale, Ballard admits to beauty tricks to give the illusion of a more aesthetically pleasing body. "I find if I shave my chest," he says, "it looks more defined."
For the most part, the biggest pressure I felt was ever being taken seriously. I think there's a bigger comparison to draw between male models and the way women are viewed in society when it comes to this. Anytime I would try to talk about my ideas or ambitions (outside of the modeling industry or party world) I was treated with a proverbial pat on the head and a patronizing smirk. There's such a huge stereotype of male models being brainless, and without question, I've met several that definitely ARE brainless, that I guess after a while people begin to act like you're just a silly little boy.
Sometimes castings, go-sees and jobs combined with your regular day can be really stressful. Sometimes you have to be in three places at once or have only minutes to get from one end of the city to the other. Then add in the pressure to perform and make the client happy and it all can be too much at times. Fashion week is that pressure on steroids! Personally I have found a way of using this pressure and stress as an extra motivation by adapting certain rituals like listening to music, tuning out all the other noise and just focusing on what I my ultimate goals. I also stay in the moment by challenging myself to do better and keep smiling! I think in this industry, regardless of male or female, you have to find a way to make stress and pressure work in your favor, almost embrace it.
7. Male models may relate better to women than non-models. We all know that even the girl in the magazine doesn't look like the girl in the magazine, but still, women seem to kowtow to the pressures these idealized images create. Who better to understand the illusion than a male model? Says a male model who prefers to remain anonymous, "I look one way when I wake up, and a totally different way when I'm shooting something. It's really messed with my head because I don't really feel like I'm selling 'me,' but the client's or photographer's image of me." Johnson credits his experiences modeling for opening his eyes to how "women are objectified [more so than men] in normal life."