The Dark Side of Modelling

If you’re a model in the modern digital landscape, or an aspiring model attempting to get noticed, changes are you will encounter some very challenging obstacles, the path to success is not always as clear-cut as you might imagine –there are a multitude of pitfalls to navigate along the way.There are some hazards that always seems to come with the territory. Welcome to “the dark side of modeling’’.

One of the common rites of passage for aspiring model is to participate in competitions, pageants and similar. They are a way to obtain some notoriety (for the winner mainly) a few image, some experiences and the opportunity to network. However, in today’s  world of social media being involved in a competition can come with the associated hassle of being asked to get ‘’likes’’and running a campaign for popularity and support online. Such an undertaken is time consuming at best at worth, it requires the hustling skill of a Grade A spammer. Be prepared for some ‘’unfriending’’in the process.

This forms just one of the less than desirable aspects of participating in a modelling competition. Common contests for cash prize (those on the hunt of a miss this or that and hosted in nightclub and pub venue) have been known to be unsavory. It’obvious that their main purposes is to provide free entertainment in the form of “eye candy” for patrons of the venue.

Bias is a common issue with the selection of the winners of these competitions. Its not that they are always rigged but its that there is always that distinct opportunity. Among the judging panel you will usually find some sponsors of the event. And, among the competitors it’s often the case that you will find girls who are already employed by that aforesaid sponsors or who have done a lot of promoting of the sponsor’s brand etc. In the case of swim wear, if a contestant is wearing the judge’s label it’s surely not going to hurt their chances of scoring,more points. There are usually girls who are tried and trusted faces on the pageant circuit. It can certainly take some jumping through hoops for a newbie.

Sarah* is one such individual who chose to boost her photographic modelling career via a competition held on the Sunshine Coast, QLD. The competition was to find the quintessential beach loving bikini girl with a sunny personality to match. While Sarah made some contacts via the event  mainly via social media) she never expected just how dark her experience would become. Here is a tale of sexual harassment and unfair dealings. She never received any prize money ( endless excuses were made) and was told to deal with the lewd behaviour of a sponsor “because he was rich”.

It seems easy for people to make assumptions about models (and particularly about those who participate in bikini competitions). Assumptions about morality often come in the form of offers and invitations that skew the between being a model and being an escort. It’s a situation akin to the proverbial casting couch. Trying to get your foot in the door in the modelling world should never come at the cost of feeling uncomfortable and feeling that you have been taken advantage of.

There are other ways that a model can feel compromised- particularly in relation to where photographic images are used. The standard advice is always to read and sign a model release form. However, its not that difficult for images to fall in the wrong hands. Once they are used in social media it is possible they can be copied and used without permissions. Example include usage by people setting up fake profiles and on sites for adult entertainment or similar.

Provided you are not an adult performer (you would likely have less qualms but this does not mean to say that adult performers don’t have an equal right to privacy) the general rule of thumb is to ask, “Would my mother be happy is she saw this?” Once you have crossed into territory beyond this line there can be no going back. You don’t know and control where the images can turn up in the future . The alarming truth is that there are plenty of underground online communities and forums where users request nudes of girls and similar materials- an incredibly violating scenario where the users actually appear obsessed with women that they have seen in person or encountered online.

It’s enough to make you shiver. Being a model today’s world means traversing a veritable minefield of potential pitfalls. Building a portfolio and gaining exposure is as much about careful decision- making and awareness as it is about talent and ambition. The digital world makes it so easy for images to proliferate. Reputation is such a valuable ,yet fragile commodity. Be aware that it can be easier that you might image to stumble along the way and take due care to ensure your well-being, sense of self and integrity at all times.

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