By: Hayley Forsblom
It seems that a day does not pass where yet another woman or man in the modeling, fashion, or entertainment industry does not come forward with alarming allegations about another professional. Male models, female models, young models, older models, fashion models, curvy models, and everyone in between have expressed some type of issue regarding sexual harassment, inappropriate treatment, or downright unprofessionalism on the job.
Not long ago, model and activist Cameron Russell started a powerful movement #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse. Over Instagram, she lent an open heart and hand to models who wanted to share their story anonymously. Suddenly, nearly every model with followers in the hundreds of thousands, even millions, were standing together in support of ending the undiscussed abuses that hide behind the glamour of their career.
From a legislative end, former model Sara Ziff has been working diligently on her organization, Model Alliance, that is in pursuit of ending mistreatment of models. They have a focus on handling sexual harassment and abuse from agencies, photographers, and casting directors, as well as on the mental and physical health of those in the industry. For example, one goal of theirs is to pass legislation in NY and CA to hold agencies responsible for their models, so that they have someone to turn to if abuse occurs on the job. Up until recently when these horrible incidents took place, the men and women involved had no courage to speak up because it often meant sabotaging the career of very powerful figures in the business.
As a model who has worked in the New York City, Boston, and Providence industries, I can honestly say that I have been blessed to have mostly positive experiences; nothing that can compare to the extreme negativity and hardship others have undeservingly faced. With all of these claims appearing, I felt it important that I share some smart model tricks to staying safe, happy, and healthy on and off the job.
1. Make sure someone always knows about your job. Sometimes models may do freelance work from Instagram requests. If your agency does not require that you inform them of these side jobs or you are not a signed model, be positive someone knows where the shoot is, what time you should be home, and the parties involved. Whenever I get a call sheet I immediately forward her the email and keep her updated on my arrival there and my trip home.
2. Trust your agents. I cannot stress how important it is to feel comfortable with your agency and bookers. If something were to happen, a good agent would make sure you are taken care of and the situation is handled appropriately. Your agents would never send you to a job that isn’t safe or reputable.
3. Say NO. If anything is making you uncomfortable- the photographer is touching you, the shoot director is pushing you to go nude, the team members are making inappropriate comments. If you have to, ask to go to the restroom and call someone who can advise you on how to deal with the situation you’re in. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed of saying no. They do not tolerate harassment in the medical, law, business, and any other fields- why should fashion be any different?
4. On set, it can be very easy to get lost in the chaos. You’re getting hair, makeup, and wardrobe and then you have to get to work. Do not neglect your needs during this time. Drink water and ask to take a break to eat. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve left shoots exhausted, dehydrated, and starving because I did not stress my personal health to the team. The photos will only look better if you are feeling your best.
5. Reward yourself. After a job, I have a tradition of getting Shake Shack. I typically work out the day of and prior to a shoot and eat my healthiest. When all is said and done I make it a point to order a Shack Burger, Cheese Fries, and a coffee shake. It makes me feel good and my body happy. It is also so important to take care of your skin and hair after that face and hair beat from the look. I always choose a soothing and moisturizing face mask and some argan oil for my hair after a long, hot shower. Modeling isn’t as easy as it looks, you have to, have to, take care of yourself.
I share this knowledge with you, not to turn anyone away from becoming a model, but rather to address that it certainly does have an ugly side. Of course, these situations can strike in the most unexpected of times, but it is my goal to help in any small way that I can, so another model does not have to go home after a photo shoot with a traumatizing experience. Always remember to stay safe, smart, remember your worth, and treat yourself.