“I’m a Part-time Model,” by Elfy Scott
Elfy Scott takes us into the world of a part time model, which is less Paris, New York or Milan glamour and more chasing that Google Maps blue dot around inner city streets:
Speaking with the authority of a person that has frequented Tumblr in the past, occasionally reads magazines in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices and has several friends on Facebook that are more than willing to post photos of these women with mildly sexually aggressive captions to accompany, I would consider myself rather knowledgeable on the faces currently at the forefront of the modeling industry. I have noticed within the past year or so, my familiarity with names such as Cara Delevigne, Karlie Kloss, Lindsey Wixson and Daphne Groenveld has grown significantly; it seems the more you know about these models, the more you are to recognise their abundant appearance across all forms of media, particularly the social form of it, whereby photographs are plastered across my newsfeed by envious women and a minority of hankering men that find genuine sexual attraction in such figures. Brief glimpses of the personalities and lifestyles of these models are infinitely accessible as the fashion world thrives largely, not merely on capturing the catwalk anymore, but rather the backstage preparation, models-off-duty and party scene for the preponderance of its images. The latest example of this being Cara Delevigne’s intoxicated appearance at an event recently hosted by Kate Moss, which has been splashed liberally across the internet due to (horror of horrors), her eye shadow being slightly smudged. How fucking dare she? However, within the expansive, international billion-dollar market that is the modeling industry, faces such as these are a lucrative minority of celebrity perpetuation- the army of Victoria’s Secrets models, past and present, need not even be mentioned as the collective royalty of this game.
A distinct hierarchy exists that is determined predominantly by the agency one is accepted by and the city a model is transferred to; however, I seek to avoid discussion of IMG and Elite model management, the farfetched fantasy of New York, Paris or Tokyo; instead I turn to examine the models working upon a lot of false hope, poorly-run agencies and diets involving little to no chia seeds – in other words, the bottom rung part-time career of local models. This is the mediocre sect of attractive people required to plug the larger fraction of advertising dedicated to average brands that is denied the appealing stigma of those four words, “I am a model”, which one can employ in order to successfully seduce the larger percentage of attractive people in bars and provides a crucial marketing approach of the substantial ability to relate to the faces in posters – of which I would thoroughly consider myself included.
For the elite 5”10’ coursing the streets of New York, portfolio in hand, striding to castings for high-profile brands, the competition for contracts with names such as Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel or Miu Miu are fiercely contested and realistically within grasp by those signed to one of the dominating and internationally-recognised agencies. For the 5”7’ aimlessly wandering the Sydney metropolis, or for that matter, any other major city in which countless amounts of minor modeling agencies exist, a KFC contract is immensely appreciated and opportunity for castings is rarely presented. Every year, these smaller local agencies will agree to representation of hundreds of girls whose appearance places them in the line of incredibly mediocre work, as far as the modeling industry is concerned. These are girls whose cheekbones do not necessarily look as though they were carved with an angle grinder, whose thighs do not always separate at a 60 degree angle from one another and may well be considered slim by everyday standards and yet, are shunned by larger labels due to the fact that their clavicles do not have the definition and resemblance of a coat-hanger; the possibility exists that they may well actually fill out the clothes they are supposed to be displaying. These are the pretty girls who are bartered incessantly by naïve, doting relations and supportive friends to pursue modeling. Girls that have other jobs, dodgy portfolios, are asked to do a lot of unpaid work with the assurance of expanding said dodgy portfolios and once a year, get a $1000 contract for an insurance company, which ensures a fleeting notion of success and a solid rotation of Instagram uploads.
The annual Sydney Hair Expo is a primary example of the processes of this modeling hierarchy played out locally whereby hairdressing companies will seek out two categories of models to employ, the first being a local select chosen from one of the four leading agencies of Sydney; Chadwick’s, Vivien’s, Priscilla’s and Chic for the couture showcase. The second being a group of whoever-the-fuck that are treated in a particularly lovely fashion due to the reality that neither their contracts nor agencies have any stipulation over the dramatic changing of the model’s hairstyle; this fact is exploited and it is incredibly easy to find yourself parting with ten inches and a head of fire-engine red hair for the week-long period of preparation leading up to the event.
Castings for jobs such as these involve texts or emails sent ludicrously close to the time one is required to attend and usually in inner city suburbs accessible only by sprinting maniacally from stations, directed by the faltering blip of blue on Google maps, attending a fifteen minute meeting with an uninterested employee who has drawn the short straw and being sent on your way back to normal routine and a whole bunch of not receiving a subsequent phone call. Castings such as these, particularly for catalogue work, are overrun by conventionally striking blonde girls who clearly place a lot of pride in their bodies and fitness, wear a large amount of make-up, high heels and would achieve just as much success in any given popular Sydney nightclub as they do with the casting directors. As a naturally muscular Eurasian with a nose ring who is rarely witnessed outside of jeans, days being sent to these assessments are an utter dead end and upon receiving the call for a Demir leather casting sometime earlier this year, envisioning the scene as dominated by a surplus of lengthy Italian women, I simply stopped turning up.
Of course, there is really very little to complain about as far as this kind of employment is concerned, there are paid hours spent in green rooms eating Doritos provided by organisers, extremely little pressure to maintain one’s body through any type of exercise or dietary regime and constant contact with other girls of the same agency who have the same lax tendencies and flippant approach to the work as I do. However, as much as the Internet may well break due to Cara Delevigne’s being photographed in a Macdonald’s, modeling of this lowly degree is an entirely separate world where $10000 contracts are only displayed by agencies throughout the signing period as a “you may look but never touch” enticement and a failure to shave your legs before a shoot generally goes unnoticed. Money is money, $500 for sitting in a park for two hours at 5am is an indisputably good deal, particularly in acknowledging that this comes from somebody who once ate a raw cow cornea for $20; part-time modeling provides income rapidly with little to no hassle involved. However, in considering the supremacy one would generally associate with a career built upon looking sexually attractive, there are blatant reasons that when men in bars are to ask what I do for a living, I will unfalteringly tell them, “I’m a waitress”.
Words by Elfy Scott