Makeup, hair, cameras, lights, fashion … this is the world of modeling. A world of beauty, style and perfection on the runway for the world to admire. A world of faultless, size 0 bikini models in magazines ... or is it?
How much do you actually know about modeling, and what does it take to be a professional? NeXt talked to some local models, both male and female, from high schoolers to moms, to see what they had to say.
First of all, what is modeling? What does the average model do?
There are two different kinds of modeling – print and runway. Print models pose for magazine advertisements while runway models wear a designer's clothing and strut their stuff down a runway.
Courtney White moved to California with her mother after graduating in 2010 from Williamsville North High School to pursue her interest in modeling. She attends San Diego Miramar College while also focusing on modeling.
"The difference in runway and print modeling is time, effort and the look," Courtney said. "With runway, everything is moving very fast, as where in print work, you have as much time as you need to get the look right. Your hair and makeup don't have to be quite as perfect [on the runway], unlike in print where every single little detail will be noticed in a photo. In runway, it's all about what you do in 15 seconds. The walk is the most important thing. A bad walk can ruin a look, a good walk can save a look."
So how does one become a model? Modeling is an extremely hard business to break into, and Western New York is not exactly a modeling hot spot. Courtney moved to California because she couldn't find any jobs in Western New York.
Shannon Lee, a young mom from Lackawanna who began modeling as a teenager and continues to model professionally, commutes to New York City at least four times a month. In Buffalo, she says, she might be able to earn $25 per hour, but in New York City, she can earn anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per hour, but she still has another job at a restaurant because modeling doesn't bring in enough money.
But not everyone is cut out for the job.
Models have to have the "fresh, young look," says Shannon.
"People sometimes do get turned down due to their size, but it really depends on the type of modeling," says Tiffany Rodriquez, a senior at Williamsville North who models in her spare time.
Print models can be any size and shape, but runway models usually have to be at least 5-foot-10 and between the sizes of 0 and 4 if they want to model professionally.
Society puts a lot of pressure on models to be extremely thin.
"I've always been really tall and skinny my whole life," says Shannon, who doesn't follow any special diet. "Even for girls who don't model we look in magazines or watch TV and even going shopping, all the girls in ads have waists the size of my leg. Even though we know it isn't healthy, it's like we still strive to be like those models."
Allison Chertak, a junior at Williamsville North who has done some modeling, agrees. "The pressure is everywhere," she says.
Paul Fix III, a model and senior at Park School says: "As a guy, it's assumed that we are strong and well-groomed, and some people who don't fit stereotypes aren't chosen because they don't have ‘the look'.
"It's a very competitive and rewarding business, but it can be extremely hard for women, because they're expected to look ‘perfect.' "
Allison doesn't let the stress get to her though.
"Personally I try to exercise regularly and eat healthy," she says. "If you feel good about how you look and what your size is, then you are golden. Don't worry about what some girl in a magazine looks like or what some other person said to you. I think it's important to feel good inside your own body. We only get one of them, so try to get out and enjoy it. I get rid of the pressure by going for a run. It keeps me in shape and gets rid of lots of stress."
Modeling doesn't have to be a pressure-filled job; plenty of high schoolers do it just for fun.
"To be a model, really you just have to be comfortable with yourself and be able to put yourself out there, and be able to handle good and bad criticism without letting it get to you or stopping you," Tiffany said. "And always try new things, and challenge your comfort zone."
"Modeling doesn't have to be skinny girls who eat celery," agrees Allison. "It can be a great way to learn about fashion and just have fun strutting down the runway."
A lot of designers will tell young models, "You're from Buffalo – you're not gonna make it," said Shannon. "Don't let anyone tell you you can't … if you want it that bad, go for it and fight for it. It's honestly a dream come true."
Naomi Soman is a senior at Williamsville North High School.?