High-fashion modeling has been around since 1970. Although in the media, modeling seems like a fast-paced fashion-filled life, there are things that the modeling industry needs to change. Through all the glamor and the money, what are the real effects this industry today has on models around the world?
Even though the modeling industry in recent years has started to become more inclusive for different sizes, skin textures, hair, and race, there are still agencies and companies out there looking for certain criteria in a model. Oftentimes, this will directly affect a person’s mental health.
As a model myself, I have experienced this firsthand. I have heard agents tell people around me, “You need to drop 10 pounds if you want to be taken more seriously.” I think this can be detrimental to one’s self-image and can hurt their confidence. I understand that the industry is hard and you have to look a certain way to make it, but there are kinder ways to approach someone on matters like weight or acne.
Mental health continues to be one of the leading causes of death for young adults and youth. So what does this mean for the modeling industry?
In 2021, 27.2% of women in the United States struggled with a mental health issue. As this is a recurring issue, and the statistics are only growing, it’s time to start acting on the matter at hand. A survey conducted in 2012 from the model alliance, showed that ⅔ of models struggled with eating disorders and had been told to lose weight. Backstage also surveyed models and showed that 54% of models were told they needed to lose weight or they would lose their jobs. Models are not only being pressured into changing their bodies but are also being threatened to lose their careers.
Eating disorders are very common in the modeling world. For fashion shows, you are expected to fit in only one or two sizes, so sometimes you have to lose weight fast. I think educating agents and designers in the fashion world on mental health is the first step. Models need support and resources to be mentally healthy and do the best work possible. In a way, having those resources available might make an agency more appealing to a model, which could benefit the agency at the end of the day.
My advice to aspiring models is to do your research on agencies. Make sure you are working with people you can trust and will support you. Finally, always put yourself and your mental health first. Modeling is a passion and a career. It is not something that can just pass as “just don’t do it if you can’t handle it.” There needs to be change in the industry so that people can be mentally healthy and continue to love what they are doing as a career. If you are a model and need help, reach out to the support line run by The Model Alliance.