Most people think about the physical aspects of being a model, but your mental health is just as important. In an industry that is competitive, harsh and sometimes cruel, having a positive mindset is vital not only for your success but for your wellbeing, too.
Negativity in the Fashion World
Modelling is, unfortunately, one of the most notoriously difficult industries around. This is down to a number of factors:
There are so many people who dream of becoming models. That means, to succeed, you have to stand out from a huge crowd – and that pressure can be a lot to handle.
Modelling requires attending castings (or interviews) and being physically judged against many other people. It can be hard not to compare oneself to others – and it can be even harder not to take critique personally.
It’s not just other people that models are competing with. Models have the tendency to constantly want to be better. This is not necessarily a bad thing – we should all strive to do better – but in some circumstances, it can be taken too far. Models have been known to under-eat and over-exercise to lose weight. This can be damaging both physically and mentally.
It can be difficult to remain level-headed and calm when you are constantly in competition with others.
The fashion industry has a rather large (and somewhat unhealthy) focus on size. Unfortunately, many agencies do have measurement requirements and will often turn people away who do not fit their strict guidelines.
There are many stories in the press about models receiving harsh and often offensive critique about their bodies. This is usually about weight. Runway models in particular are usually very slim and some agencies give their models little leeway when it comes to their size.
The modelling industry is rife with rejection and this is something all models have to come to terms with. Each job will more than likely require a casting call and this can put hundreds of models up for a single job.
And it’s not just job interviews – models have to compete just to get signed to an agency.
Many top models get turned away before becoming successful. This is the life of a model – no model in the world will have gotten every modelling job they went for, because no single model will represent every brands separate campaign ideals and visions.
Social Media Trolls
In an age where social media reigns, dealing with negativity online is a very real part of being in the public eye. If you want to be a well-known model, having social media pages is one of the key ways to interact with fans and get you noticed. Unfortunately, that leaves you open to bullies – also known as ‘trolls’ – who may target you, usually via anonymous pages.
Dealing with bullying can be mentally taxing, particularly if it is often. Many celebrities have spoken out about the negative impact social media has had on their lives.
Modelling can be a tiring job. There is a lot of travelling and waiting around, and top models must regularly work with no rest for months at a time.
As well as that, modelling can be a lonely career as models usually have to travel and work away from family and friends.
Models must also eat well all the time to ensure their bodies are in great condition, and they work out to keep toned and fit. Leading up to certain shows, models are known to amp up the workouts and this can result in muscular fatigue and a lack of energy, particularly if they are cutting out fat and carbs to lose weight.
Combine all of this with a lack of sleep due to early flights or photoshoots and late-night shows, and it can lead to some serious physical exhaustion. Modelling can be a hugely demanding career.
How to Have a Positive Mindset
It’s important to be conscious of your mental health so you are able to stay on top of it and prevent any unwanted health incidents from occurring. It’s not just more severe issues like depression or insomnia that you need to protect yourself from – it’s also things you might not know can lead to issues, like burnouts, exhaustion, anxiety and mood swings.
Competing in a Healthy Way
The first thing to remember is that every model is unique and everyone has a different look. That means that, while you may be the perfect model for some shoots and campaigns, for others you won’t fit the bill. There’s nothing wrong with that – every model will face rejection at some point in their career.
It’s important to stay balanced mentally in order to be able to compete without mental repercussions. While it’s ok to feel upset at missing out on an opportunity, it’s not ok to dwell or obsess over it – allow yourself the time to grieve the loss, then move on.
Stay positive by keeping a diary – this helps some people get the negativity out their system – or by meditating. Meditating and yoga are both excellent ways to calm your mind and train yourself to focus on the positives.
If it all gets too much, it might be worth attending a few therapy sessions to improve your mindset and give you the tools to avoid feeling badly about competing again in the future.
Being judged over and over is incredibly difficult, and if this is something you will always take personally, modelling may not be the best career for you. You have got to be confident and self-assured in order to make it.
Remaining positive about body image is vital in this line of work as it is an industry that tends to attack it constantly.
As a model, you need to feel comfortable in your own skin. Know your limits and understand what it is that makes you healthy. It might be worth talking to your doctor and a nutritionist to ensure you are physically at your healthiest.
Do not listen to brands or agencies you tell you you are “too fat”, particularly if you are already on the slender side. Remember, they do not care about your health – it is your responsibility to have the strength to say no to such requests. They do not know your limitations like you do and it is never worth putting your health at risk for a single job.
Never force your body to do something that is unhealthy or damaging for it. If you struggle to fit the sizes requested by multiple agencies or brands, there are many other forms of modelling you can do such as plus-size, catalogue or body part modelling.
Remember that most people do not fit the unrealistic standards set out by the fashion industry. Many top models have spoken out about being told they were “too big” for certain jobs despite being tiny in size. It is always best to reject such jobs – your health is never worth jeopardizing.
Unfortunately, rejection is part and parcel of being a model. Every model will get turned away at some point for not fitting an agency or brand’s requirements. It is important you don’t take it personally. Remember, a model is essentially a mannequin – it doesn’t matter how “perfect” your measurements or looks, you will not suit every brands vision.
A tall, leggy model will never be chosen to work for a clothing brand that caters to short people. A model without tattoos will likely not be chosen to work for an alternative punk brand. Each brand is different and each has different requirements. While you won’t be perfect for all of them, focus on the positives – its means your look may be the ideal thing one brand is looking for.
Beating the Trolls
Keeping positive in the face of bullying can feel like a mammoth task, but it isn’t impossible. Taking regular social media breaks and even avoiding the comments section can be ways to help protect yourself from bullies.
It is also worth reporting and blocking people who seem to comment negative things regularly. Unfortunately, no one can avoid bullying when they are in the public eye, but there are steps you can take to minimise your exposure to it and help protect your mental wellbeing.
If things get too much, you can “pause” some social media accounts and come back to them later. Many celebrities and models like to take “social media holidays” to distance themselves from the online critique and give themselves a well-earned break.
There is also the possibility of hiring a social media manager to manage your social media accounts. These paid employees can manage your posts as well as go through comments, allowing you to avoid any negativity.
Time management is key to staying physically well. Your physical wellbeing has a huge impact on your mental health, so keeping on top of your diet, exercise and sleep habits will give your brain the power it needs to stay well.
Ensure you are getting enough rest. If you can’t catch enough z’s at night, take power naps or sleep whilst travelling if you are able. When you have time off, put aside some time to focus on yourself and give yourself some TLC.
Don’t skip meals. Try to maintain a healthy diet even if you are rushed off your feet or travelling. Many top models like to pre-pack their meals so they can eat well even when away from home.
Exercise can be difficult to squeeze in when travelling. Don’t over-do it if you are tired, but do try to put something simple in – like a light walk or a yoga session – just to keep your body active.