Myths Vs. Facts In The Modelling Industry

What are the myths that exist in the modelling industry? And what are the facts behind those myths? Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? Well, you’ve stumbled upon the perfect article! The image that comes into mind when we hear the word ‘fashion’ is the glamour, the spotlights and of course, tall models sashaying down the catwalk. However, the glamorous world of modelling isn’t what it seems on the surface. Strip away the spotlights and the glamour, the modelling industry has progressed to become a cut-throat business. Before we start, it is important to note that modelling isn’t all about the fashion industry.

Runway modelling has set very high requirements for models. Because of that, designers design their clothes according to those precise measurements. Most times, the models are made to fit into the designers' creations instead.
I’m certain this is the image that comes to mind when one hears the word ‘fashion’. A tall model walking down a runway wearing a glamorous dress to display the designer’s latest creation.
Image by James C Santiago from Wikimedia Commons

The Myths Of The Modelling Industry In Reality Shows

Newsflash, probably only a quarter of reality shows such as Asia’s Next Top Model reflects the reality of the industry. Think about it, there is always a particular segment of the show which contains the heart of the drama, the climax of what the show really is about. And in shows like this, the whole process of completing a challenge, receiving heart wrenching comments or getting thrown out of the competition. At this point, you must be wondering what actually goes on behind this “glamorous” profession? Which part of the show truly reflects reality? With that said, let’s get to the bottom of these myths and misconceptions about the modelling industry! (and maybe some tips on how to break through into the modelling scene!)

Myth #1: Your Height Is The Only Thing That Matters

As mentioned, runway or high-fashion modelling doesn’t define what modelling is about. There are many types of modelling. To mention a few: commercial modelling, glamour modelling and in more recent years: petite and plus-size modelling, which have broken the stereotypes in the industry. There is always the unwritten rule that models must be of a certain height. While this may still be true, the industry has generally relaxed these requirements and have shifted towards the complete package of a model. So aspiring models, don’t be discouraged! Remember that runway isn’t the only type of modelling there is. There are ways around it, especially if you are vertically challenged! Petite modelling, parts modelling and catalogue modelling are ways you could break through into the industry.

Modelling has various branches and usually, parts modelling could open up the door to a modelling career. There are certain body parts that are in demand for advertisements such as lips, teeth, legs, feet or even earlobes!
Hand models do all sorts of work which includes wearing pieces of jewellery such as rings, or display cosmetics such as nail polish or nail art. Hand modelling usually also involves shoots for editorial and advertising campaigns.
Image by halayalex from Freepik

Myth #2: It’s All Glitz, Glamour And Nothing Else

It is often misconstrued that being a model is an easy profession. It’s all about posing for some glamorous photoshoots. But, what most people miss is, with all that glamour comes hard work, determination, and staying true to yourself. If you’re starting out, you would find yourself doing small gigs before going on to bigger gigs. You will realise how competitive the industry can be. Hence, any sort of experience is crucial as it gives you a chance to prove yourself in the industry. Also since the modelling industry is niche, it’s important to establish connections with people related to the industry. Doing so might even help launch your career. It’s surprising to know that although the models are always in the limelight, it is almost never about them. On the contrary, the harsh truth is that models are there to put a ‘face’ to a company’s brand identity.

Myth #3: Modelling Industry – Just Fluff Or A Business?

In the past, the modelling industry was perceived as all things Hollywood. However as times progresses, the industry has become highly commercialised. Because of that, there are higher expectations placed on the models. They should see themselves as a business entity and learn to acquire good, practical business sense. With experience, they will be able to negotiate with clients or even choose the potential clients they want to work with. A model should be knowledgeable about the industry and also be streetwise. Like any other business, a model should know their worth in the market so as not to set a low benchmark for their peers. Most models are usually their own bosses so the grind never stops for them!

Myth #4: Being Pretty Will Get You Everywhere

Modelling nowadays doesn’t only revolve around physical appearances or your height. As surprising as it is, scouts have turned their head to focusing on the ‘inner beauties’ (personality, attitude and energy). The basics of being a model includes taking care of your appearances well and to eat right. It doesn’t necessarily translate to having the prettiest face or the fittest body. It’s essential for models to realise their strengths as it would be easier to break into a particular scene (i.e. commercial modelling). For example, if you have flawless skin, you could consider trying commercial modelling for cosmetics and capitalise on that. Doing that could give you a certain leverage and even almost an advantage over other models. If you’re a new talent looking to be scouted, read on for more information…

Support Our Local Modelling Industry Talent!

The Malaysian modelling scene has started to pick up with many talent agencies and model agencies available for aspiring models. It requires a lot of determination, self-confidence and a down-to-earth personality to make it in this competitive industry. However, that didn’t deter our own local Malaysian model, Nicole Erza Lau. Nicole realised she had a passion for modelling after she finished college and decided to try out for a shoot. She first started out acting in small roles for commercials and eventually built up her portfolio to break into the industry. Pushing through and making a name for herself in the short span of three years, Nicole went against the discrimination of not being an ‘ideal’ model (i.e. tall, skinny, etc). Her breakthrough encourages her peers to re-evaluate the ideals of what a model should be. Nicole’s three fortes are commercial modelling, petite modelling and editorial modelling.

Nicole realised she was gifted with flawless skin and decided to capitalise on that. Although she faced many discriminations about her height and her appearances, she managed to break the stereotype of an 'ideal' model and made it in the industry.
Gifted with flawless skin prompted Nicole to venture into commercial modelling, where she can take on jobs for facial product brands.
Image source: Nicole Erza Lau
Nicole reminds us again, that modelling is not all about appearances or height. As long as you have something to bring to the table, anyone can be a model with the right skills.
Being born short isn’t a death sentence in the modelling world, as Nicole here shows how having a proportional body and a good photographer can “elongate” the upper body.
Image Source: Nicole Erza Lau
Nicole has an oriental look that is sought-after in Westerns but is usually mistaken as against the 'ideal' beauty standards in Asian countries. (i.e big eyes)
With a natural glowing complexion, one doesn’t need dramatic make-up. And her characteristically oriental look is also an asset, as clients seeking exotic looking models will not be able to resist hiring her to represent their brands.
Image Source: Nicole Erza Lau

Looking For A Face To Represent Your Brand? Or Perhaps A Talent Looking To Break Into The Modelling Industry?

If you’d like to enquire about Nicole’s services, or perhaps just curious to know more about the industry, she can be contacted through her Facebook and Instagram profiles.

Also do you know that there’s a difference between fashion runway modelling and fashion photo modelling? Come back for the next chapter where we will explore the differences, and see how it can make or break a fashion brand’s success.

Pro tips: Keen to know how to style yourself better? Click here to get started! And if you’re interested in traditional wear, here is an article about the songket.

About Kimberly WONG

Communications major, with a passion for reading, Kimberly (Kim for short) has a knack for learning new languages. Having worked in various industries helped her to further polish her linguistics skills too. Loves a healthy discussion about anything under the sun.

4 Replies to “Myths Vs. Facts In The Modelling Industry”

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