The Life and Times of an Unemployed Model

My modelling career ended as soon as it began.

Yesterday a good friend and former mentor sent me some info about a job opportunity to earn a hundred bucks moving some furniture. I called the number she gave me and found out the job wasn’t just “moving furniture”; it was filming the interior decorating process of the venue in question. I wouldn’t be a mover; I’d be a model.

My heart raced with excitement as it occurred to me Id be like a handymen on HGTV.

So I sent her my pictures and she told me she’d get back with me.

That’s when it started.

I hadn’t worked out in the past few days, so I felt this nagging push in the back of my mind to go for a run, do some crunches, and end with a few sets of pushups.

I felt myself pulling my gut in, worried the pictures I sent caught me at a bad angle.

During dinner, I stared at the serving spoon. Did I really need that extra helping?

Today I stopped at a fast food place on the way home from an interview on campus (unrelated to the job). I haven’t had a milkshake or ice cream in a while, I thought, quickly followed by, but maybe a water would be better.

As I waited for my milkshake to be made, I checked my email and found out the position had already been filled by the time I got them my pictures. The “loss” of a hundred bucks stung a bit, but as I sat down to enjoy my shake a few minutes later, I felt relieved that I could enjoy something sweet without beating myself up over it.

Why, I asked myself, why?

Why did this job offer make me feel like I had? When did how others see me become more important than how I see myself? Where did it all begin?

My mind drifted back to the Disney films I watched a child. The animated physiques of every male lead was impeccable (and impossible). The live-action films were no better. Could they have infused any more sex appeal into any adult male character in any movie made in the last twenty years? Sure, there were always the outliers–but the skinny guys were portrayed as weak or wicked, and the plump guys were almost always villains.

Somehow virtue had gotten tied up in body shape and size.

Not to mention the value statements!

All the magazines in all the grocery stores at the checkout lines and in the bookstores under headings marked “health and fitness,” the men had zero percent body fat and one thousand percent musculature. These were the guys who were loved, celebrated, given market value with a price tag in the bottom right corner of the cover.

Yes, a body like these can be healthy, but it’s not the only measure of wellbeing–and it’s certainly not a measure of character or confidence.

Staying in shape (and continually getting into better shape) is one of my longstanding personal goals. Self-improvement is important to me. I like feeling healthy. I like being active. I even like looking better–or at least feeling better about my looks. But when I was told about this modeling gig, suddenly feeling good didn’t matter as much as looking good.

And that didn’t feel good at all.

It’s a shame I won’t have the job (I can think of a hundred good uses for a hundred dollars), but the pressure of not needing to worry about how I look is worth so much more.

2 thoughts on “The Life and Times of an Unemployed Model

  1. Congratulations! You’ve gotten a small look at the background radiation that permeates the lives and choices of basically all people designated female at birth/socialised female. And hey, at least guys get models of perfection that are quasi-attainable and don’t force utter starvation on you! (Seriously, I think it’s cool that you’re capable of recognising the marketing. Please think about how it effects women as well, next time you’re reflecting on body image marketing tactics. We get it younger and worse.)

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      I would like to you to read other posts of mine as well; I’m very aware about the media pressures that women face, and I speak about it from time to time even though they didn’t seem to fit with the intent of this post, in which my focus was limited to my own experiences. However, I don’t think as many people are aware of the pressures men face. This is not a battle to be fought by one sex and one sex alone; it’s important to recognize these forces affect everyone–regardless of gender, sex, or even sexual orientation, and expands exponentially when we consider their affects on racial and ethnic minorities. Only through recognizing the broad (and often unspoken) implications of these trends can we openly discuss and work toward solutions that benefit everybody.

      Additionally, in regards to starvation, I’d like to point out that a growing number of males are at risk for eating disorders. In 2007, Harvard found 25% of people suffering from anorexia and bulimia are male, and 40% of those suffering from binge eating were male. Believing that these are problems facing only women is ignorant to the forces that affect everyone, and won’t solve these problems.


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