Feb 19th, 2019, 01:23 PM

Modeling: Life of Glamour or Life of Debt?

By Liza Cameron
Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner
Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid leaving Milan. Photo Credits: Instagram/@gigihadid
Exploring how famous supermodels have shaped a false depiction of the modeling industry.

Famous models, including icons such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, have been known to hand-pick which shows — and even which seasons — they decide to walk in. While this concept is up for debate in itself, the lifestyles of celebrity models have created unrealistic depictions of what the industry looks like for most up-and-coming models. A BBC article out last month shed a small light on this issue and forced a look at the bigger picture. 

These celebrity models have faced hot water with their practices and seemingly simple rises to success in the industry since the boom began. In August 2018, Kendall Jenner told LOVE Magazine, “I was never one of those girls who would do like 30 shows a season or whatever the f*ck those girls do.” This created huge controversy within the modeling industry; many fellow models spoke out against Jenner’s statement. This upset was caused primarily by the disrespect that models who had faced a more difficult financial path to supermodel status felt her comments implied. Cosmopolitan reported that model Daria Strokous posted on her Instagram, "'Whatever the f*ck those girls do' is their very best to make their way up AND try to make some money so that they can provide for themselves and their families.” It appears that Strokous is not alone in her distaste for the sentiment of Kendall, as in the same Cosmo, article 71% of readers agreed that the statement was insensitive. 

The problem, however, goes further than just the image of celebrity supermodels with their peers. BBC recently reported that many aspiring models are in extreme debt to their agencies. This is even more surprising when you read that these indebted models have walked shows like Prada and Mulberry, yet cannot make ends meet because agencies demand money for travel and even test photos. Fashion United UK stated that, though up and coming models make mere “pocket-money,” they have to keep a successful facade in order to book more work because of the taboo nature of debt in the industry. 

The juxtaposition of celebrity models who seem to rise up the ranks often through their previous fame, compared to models like those quoted in the BBC article, is creating a confusing image of the industry for aspiring models. A young girl might believe what they see on the Instagram pages of celebrity models like Bella Hadid or E! Network’s “Model Squad” and be unaware of the financial and personal struggles that can come with the job. 


Time to get packing. @luggageforward getting us to that Aus summer 💥☀️

A post shared by All My Friends Are Models (@allmyfriendsaremodels) on

"The debate around model rights is nothing new and has shifted merely from age to pay," according to fashion journalist Madeleine Czigler. However, it is still important to educate and facilitate open discussions about the debt that comes with modeling for many young people. The rise of celebrity models does not seem to be slowing, and it is the responsibility of everyone in the industry to ensure honest communication of what life as an aspiring model can look like, rather than rely on celebrity supermodels to show only one narrative.