Happiness, Health

Top-Secret Beauty Tips that Modelling Taught Me

One question I am quite regularly asked is,

“What beauty secrets have you learnt from modelling?”

Although I always seem to get on really well with MUA’s, I’m really not interested in make up at all. I usually sit in the chair, let them do their thing whilst day dreaming or chatting, and voila, there’s a much better looking girl staring back at me in the mirror.

I’m atrocious at my own make-up and don’t wear much at all when I’m not working. So I’m afraid I don’t have any make-up tips… Although Britney Spears did teach me to dab lipstick of my cheeks instead of blusher, when I was a 10 year old watching her “In The Zone” DVD.

The so called ‘tips’ that I have learned are simple and already well known:

  • Bioderma (once secret way before it became available to buy in every pharmacy in London)
  • Coconut oil erry’thing (face masks, hair masks, hand cream, sexy oils)
  • Enough water and sleep – I know it’s mega boring and seems like bullshit but it is 100% annoyingly true

I have replied with these answers, usually met with politely disappointed responses. But actually, the older I get and the more at one with myself I become, the more I realise what I have in fact learnt from my experience as a model.

So without further ado, here are my top 5 beauty secrets that no one will tell you.

1. No one is that beautiful.  

Some people ask if modelling makes you insecure. Sure, it can make you feel insecure for a number of reasons; rejection, not fitting into clothes, bitchy comments that get you right there and linger forever… But in some ways, modelling actually made me feel more secure. Because, I have seen up close, met and shared toilet cubicles with some of the most gorgeous models in the world… And not once have I been so overwhelmed by one’s beauty that I have felt disgustingly unattractive. Don’t get me wrong, they really are beautiful. But so is that girl that lives down the road from you. They’re still human. Some girls have very picturesque, doll like faces and the standard “perfect” body (yawn), yet suffer from bad B.O and even worse breath. Some move like ballerina’s yet sound like a burly truck driver. Some are simply dumb as shit.

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There’s usually two ways this scenario will pan out – I will either see a photo of a girl that makes me feel like the ugliest troll in the world, only to meet her and be shocked by her humanness… Or I will meet women who are sexy, beautiful, attractive and interesting, who’s character and aura is simply too intense to be captured in a 2d image.

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The Western world and particularly the fashion industry is far too entranced by beauty in a 2d image or a film clip that it mostly disregards the unexplainable beauty many people exude; the kind that you can’t bottle and sell, or even pin point. None of the most beautiful, attractive people I have ever met are models.

2. It. Is. Literally. All. About. Confidence. 

Not every model is an intimidatingly confident superwoman. It’s extremely human to be insecure and not entirely self assured. Many models are actually faking confidence, really really really well. And actually, that’s all anyone can do in terms of confidence and beauty; fake it until you make it.

Standing tall. Holding yourself with poise. Speaking with conviction. A smile. Easy and completely free things we can all do which make such a difference to how we feel about ourselves – as well as the less important – how others view us.

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3. Accept your body shape and focus on it’s health more than what it looks like. 

Hardly anyone is naturally that thin. I know that some girls are actually that thin even though they eat 5,000 calories a day and don’t exercise. Yeah, ok…

The majority of models’  – not the 1% of models that become super models but normal, nameless models – careers begin at 15 and end in their early twenties. A lot of them still have their childhood metabolism and prepubescent shape. Some have that typical prepubescent shape their whole lives. Plus the fact that they are taller than the average women, meaning their bodies are longer and someway stretched out. But many fashion consumers are more typical shaped women, who are a lot older than the girls they are bombarded with photos of. I don’t think a lot of people really consciously consider that.

That being said, a lot of women that do not have this natural, thin shape are ultra skinny regardless. They’ll tell you it’s from diet and exercise. But in the case of most of the models I’ve been in close contact with, it’s extreme, sometimes life debilitating: i.e no carbs, dairy or sugar EVER, no more than 500 calories for 5 days of the week, at least an hour of cardio a day, etc, etc.

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Others rely on an unhealthier life style to keep the pounds at bay. It’s a rarity to find a model in London that doesn’t smoke 20 cigarettes a day.

There is a dark side of modelling that I once thought only existed in cliche parodies. I have so many examples and anecdotes about this, but there is one so brutal it sticks out.

One of my closet model friends was working in New York for a few months signed to a top agency. During fashion week, they called her in between castings to have a “polite” word about her weight. She was “too big”. At that point she was eating under 500 calories a day (that’s a banana, two slices of bread and a few pieces of ham), exercising for two hours every morning, and at 5’11, was the skinniest she had ever been. Her Instagram feed scared me. She looked ill and a far cry from the bubbly, happy girl I love. Shocked, she told them that she didn’t know what else to do about it, since she was already fainting and crying herself to sleep. This is when they suggested she try cocaine.

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Of course, it was no secret to me that a lot of the more party loving models used cocaine and other drugs recreationally, and cocaine especially is known for it’s laxative and appetite suppressing qualities. My friend, completely without judgement, is personally against drugs and cigarettes and hardly drinks alcohol. For her to be pressured by the people that were supposed to be protecting her, so far from home, made me feel psychically sick.

I’m not judging anyone’s choices. But I do think it’s unfair that women are duped into thinking that all of these bodies were achieved in a healthy way. The majority of bodies in the fashion world are completely unobtainable for the average woman.

And I haven’t even touched upon eating disorders…

4. Be aware of the fakery. 

A lot of models were not born exactly the way you see them. Although a lot of them had lovely faces already, a good 50% of the girls I know have had nose jobs, sometimes multiple, and even more of the less high-fashion girls have had boob jobs. A few of the ‘celebrity’ models of the moment and countless ‘Instagram models’ have had undeniable face surgery, which for fashion models a few years ago was near unthinkable. I’m ashamed to say I have, more than once, found myself in a black hole of girls’ social feeds, chronicling their changing faces and attempting to pin point exactly what they’ve ‘had done’ and when. It kind of fascinates me…

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Plus, it’s important to remember that you only see models photoshopped to within an inch of their life, with Heaven-like lighting and even better angles. A lot of girls, including myself, have or still do suffer from break outs and adult acne, but you’ll never see that.

I truly believe that the next generation will grow up feeling weirdly human because of their natural human features, surrounded by alien ‘perfect’ features in the media. But that’s for another article.

5. Imperfections really are what make you beautiful. 

Picture your favourite model; Cara’s eyebrows, Cindy’s beauty mark, Iman’s neck, Lara’s gap, Erin’s nose, Lily’s hair… a lot of the most recognisable faces have something unusual about them that makes them stand out from the other hundreds of models wanting to book that gig.

Sculptor Marc Quinn described this perfectly while discussing Kate Moss.

“I think she’s got a very symmetrical face and yet when she opens her mouth she’s got slightly elongated teeth on the top row, so there is a tiny element of threateningness within her beauty, and there’s a kind of balance between seduction and repulsion going on. That’s one thing, she’s not completely flawless. It’s the flaws that make her. In all people, it’s the flaws that make you interesting.”

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It’s a lot easier to say than to do, but accepting and growing to love and appreciate your flaws in probably the best thing anyone can learn from the modelling industry. You begin to see how changeable and fluid our ideas of beauty are and how manipulated we are within societies perceptions. Once a feature or trait is confirmed as attractive and desirable, there’s an uncontrollable domino effect. However, as soon as we start to become aware of just how mindless the trends of what is considered beautiful really are, we can begin to unsubscribe from this forced ideal and truly learn to accept and appreciate our own so called flaws.

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Happiness

FUCK YOU, FASHION

Fashion – 

noun: a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.

verb: make into a particular form.

As a non celebrity, when you post tweet or a Facebook status, the last thing you expect is an industry uproar.

If you exist within or are at least acquainted with the London fashion universe, you’ll have heard the name ‘Charli Howard’ one hundred times this past fortnight. Her Facebook open letter to the fashion industry – specifically to her now ex-agency – has so far been shared 968 times, garnering so much attention that only days later she appeared on Channel 4 News and the BBC.

On Monday, vogue.com published an interview with her. Now THAT’S a fuck you to her ex agency.

Even the most loyal fashion worshipper is well aware of that this long time controversy within the fashion industry regarding the health of models. I remember an uproar in the mid noughties when the term “size zero” was massively talked about in the news and media after runway models literally starved themselves to death. A decade before that, a teenage Kate Moss was the poster girl for fashion movement “heroin chic”. And even with the seeming rise of plus size agencies, positive body image advocates and models like Cara Delevigne becoming known for their ‘personaltiy’, this issue is now so deep rooted that it has spread way beyond the realm of high fashion runway shows and magazines.

Fashion is arguably the most powerfully influencing industry in modern society. For all the positive, creative and, I suppose, entertaining outcomes, the negatives are terrifyingly dangerous. This is an industry that does not encourage liking yourself, whether you are a model or a consumer. It breeds a sense of genetic hierarchy based on looks alone, no matter how they try to sugarcoat it. It is the romanticism of a one dimensional way of life, that leaves many of us feeling subconsciously empty and not good enough. It is a race in which no one will ever will, because what we are aspiring to achieve is literally impossible.

When I began modelling, I was horrendously naive. I had what I thought was a sturdy high sense of self worth, so that when others around me discussed the negatives on the job, I shrugged them off with such classics as, “It won’t affect me”, “I won’t let myself be pressured into changing”, and “if I get told I’m not good enough, I’ll chuckle and dance and leave, head held high.” I never once considered how something I saw purely as a sweet money maker, could completely transform my self esteem and self perception.

Thankfully, I have never received complaints about measurements from an agency. But I have lost count the amount of times I have been upset by team members and casting managers’ comments about me. Me, a human being. Not a product or a 2d cardboard cut out. When it’s you they’re talking about, it suddenly becomes very personal. But at the same time, there is an underlying sense that it’s your fault, because no one forced you to be a model. You chose this job. You pay your rent because of this job. So, you shrug off all the little looks, whispers, tuts and scribbles, and they quietly store themselves into your subconscious until you start seeing a product when you look in the mirror, instead of a human being with emotions and thoughts.

I am someone that continues to model, albeit very carefully, even though I have recognised this. Maybe because for all it’s faults, being a model can still be fun, rewarding and almost addictive. But I am upset with fashion. I am sick of seeing beautiful, kind, intelligent girls slowly being churned through a factory system and left with broken self esteems and robotic falsities.

I am sick of the thought of normal little girls idolising, thinking that models bodies, features, hair and skin are normal and effortless, and therefore wrecking their minds and bodies striving for something so unattainable.

Since Charli’s honest and down right brave* admission, fresh stories of mistreatment, pressure and negativity continue to surface from current and retired models.

In an ideal world, this negative attention will see this domino effect continue to show ball into gigantic proportion, transforming the industry as a whole. For Vogue, the largest influencer of fashion worldwide, to support Charli, speaks volumes.

*”Brave” is often used lightly in feminist rants. A lot of the time, I disagree with the use of the word. My idea of a brave woman, for right use of the word, is Malala Yousafzai. But if you are too a model, you will agree that Charli’s out pouring was potentially detrimental to her career, so it was indeed brave of her to be so honest on such an open and accessible platform.

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