I recently asked friends and colleges the question, how do Models today compare to Models of 20 years ago?
As this was done on a public social media platform, many decided to refrain from answering my question. Others decided to respond with humour. We are all older now responded Emily. Yes true, however, I work behind the scenes of the Industry and if I was a spy, I could say, “I work in the shadows and have minimum dealings with Models today”. A far cry from my days as an Agent and yet, as that may be, I too have noticed a difference.
A booker from a Model Agency in Cape Town was quick to respond: “Technology has changed things so much. Social Media, Internet, Cell phones, Digital portfolios and Uber. All these have made Models lives so much easier”.
Another Johannesburg based Agent feels that, Models nowadays are much younger, far less mature and very reliant on their Agents – as everything is done for them. Twenty years ago Models had to do things for themselves.
Amanda, once a top Model herself said that technology, including “photo shop”, has made modelling more accessible to those who are not naturally blessed with immaculate skin, teeth, hair and a good physique, which Models 20 years ago had to have and worked very hard to maintain.
Angela looked at it differently. “Marketing to consumers and thus the choice in Models, has changed and will continue to change as society changes. Note I did not say as society progresses. Social Media has currently taken over, rewarding Models for their self – projected social image and access to what used to be 20 years ago, private and intimate moments of their lives. Do Models today have it better? Budgets are tight, there are not as many opportunities to travel on editorial shoots and the fees resemble those of 20 years ago”.
I have to agree with Angela. Social Media has been a game changer. Some Clients will book a Model for a major campaign based on the amount of Instagram followers he or she has. The higher your Social Media presence, the more lucrative your career can be.
Cindy, a veteran in the Industry responded: “We did not work digitally. We worked on rolls of film that consisted of 12 to 36 frames. A good Model got the shot in one roll of film. It was more focused in that way. There does not seem to be much glamour to it all anymore. Models today are not as memorable as the Models of yester year. They come and go so fast”.
Zara agrees with Cindy. “The glamour is gone” she said and added “I feel that the Industry has conformed to what society exhumes “.
David also agreed with Cindy. “I would like to add to what Cindy said. You cannot train to be a Model. You have the X-Factor or you don’t. Nowadays everybody is a Model. Think of male Models of the past……. they were masculine, well built, tall men that exuded health and vitality. Today the trend seems to be skinny, gaunt, heroin addicted looking men”.
Jo – Ann, a make–up Artist raised another question, “What happened to the Model Bag?”
Models arrive on sets with hairy Po – Po’s and legs, and this for a lingerie shoot. Coloured gel nails, the list is endless. What happened to grooming? When I modelled, you were fined back in the day. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a Model say: “Oh, I am sure they can fix it in post”.
Emily decided to put her jokes aside. “In my day we respected the older and more experienced Models as we had something to learn coming into the Industry. We had work ethic. Always be on time, be well groomed and have a positive attitude. Respect for our peers and Clients was important. We were always prepared. Model Bag with necessities with us. We adhered to call times. I do not recall a single instance where my Agent had to enquire about my whereabouts. We had respect for our Agents, Clients, each other and most importantly, for ourselves”.
Wendy, also an ex – Model and today a successful Agent laughed, “I remember the Model Bag. Heaven help you if you did not take it along. We had to phone into the Agency 3 times a day. First thing in the morning to get your go – sees and castings, lunch time for the afternoon lot and then a check in before close of business in case of bookings the following day”.
John said: “You had to have a map book. Do not think for one minute that you could call your Agent or the Client and ask for directions. They would simply put the phone down in your ear. The young guns today, they have it easy. They have GPS. I cannot tell you how many times I got lost. In a way it made me more independent and self reliant. Models today, they are spoilt and with GPS still ask for directions.
My personal thoughts on this subject are that the youth of today, not just Models, have an overdeveloped sense of self entitlement. Yes, I said it. We live in a Society that puts want over need. We live in a Society that has very little respect, respect for institutions, respect for the law, respect for protocol, respect for our elders, respect for each other and in many cases respect for one self. We live in a Society that does not know or understand the meaning of decorum. Everything has to be fast. Fast food, fast fashion, fast social media responses, fast marketing and advertising and thus, sadly fast Models. Here today, gone tomorrow.
So, I will leave you with this thought…… Models no longer have the “live expectancy” they once had. If you want to ensure a lasting and memorable career as a Model, then learn to read between the lines……