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The Pros and Cons Of A Modelling Career

Updated on February 13, 2008

Classic Catwalk

Models and Weight

Life In The Spotlight

Many young girls and guys dream of a modelling career. It is a profession that is tied to fame, glamor, money and travel to exotic locations. With these fantasy images in mind people spend thousands on portfolios, modelling classes and exercise regimes in the hopes of being signed by an agency that will catapult them to the pinnacle of success. This is the elusive 'carrot' that causes people to cross personal boundaries and ignore reality when it comes to their own particular situation. While there are many good things to be found in the world of modelling there is also a dark underside that everyone should be aware of before signing their life away.


If you sign with a reputable agency you will make a good income. There are a lot of options for models such as: catwalk work, magazine layouts, catalogues, advertisements and other opportunities. Height is not as much of an issue as people think. It is only relevant to the catwalk. Many models with smaller statures are generating a lot of work for themselves in other avenues. Not to mention there are such things as hand and feet models.

Travel is a normal part of this profession. Sometimes you get to stay in exotic locations and even live abroad. Usually you are housed with other models and so it is a very social life. Alternatively, you could choose to take jobs within your local area only and enjoy the benefits of being near home. You will probably not earn the big bucks this way (unless home is New York or Paris) but you will receive a nice sideline income with which to pay the bills.

Modelling can be a great boost to your confidence. Seeing finished photos within the covers of a magazine is an incredible experience. Most people don't realise how glamorous they can look until they've participated in a professional shoot.

Finally, of course, there is the fame factor. If you are one of the lucky few to reach the top of this profession everyone will know who you are. Your face will open many doors and opportunities to parlay your modelling work into other careers will abound. There are many examples of models starting fashion lines, hosting TV shows or investing in businesses that previously would have been difficult to attain.

These are the positive aspects of a career in modelling. Unfortunately there are also a lot of negatives associated with this profession.


There are many, many, many shady agencies. They are run by scam artists who are only interested in taking every last cent you have. They prey on the dreams of young people in order to make themselves rich and the victims are left with nothing. Worse still are the porn agencies who present themselves as legitimate modelling businesses. They sign girls up and then slowly brainwash them into thinking they have to be sexy to make it. Over time they use peer pressure to convince the girls that nudity is a part of the business and that this is the easy way to make lots of money. Of course there is nothing 'easy' about a life involved with porn. Not to mention, porn is NOT modelling.

As a model you are considered a product not a person. (Especially in the beginning when you are still an unknown.) As such people tend to talk AT you not TO you. Sometimes agents and photographers will talk about you as if you are not standing in the same room. For anyone lacking confidence in themselves this can be very disconcerting and upsetting. Usually there will be comments about your physical appearance. These can be quite harsh and demeaning which is why the industry has been plagued with issues related to eating disorders. Given the recent deaths of some prominent models views on weight and beauty are slowly starting to change and the introduction of BMI testing will help in this area. However, this is still an industry where unrealistic expectations of "beauty" abound. You have to be very grounded within yourself to allow these comments to pass by you and not to affect you.

Another dark side to the modelling business is the rampant drug use. Models are given and have free access to all manner of illicit substances. Sometimes these are used to keep weight off. Sometimes they are used to stay awake and alert for shoots or shows that occur at all times of the day and night. Sometimes it is the social pressure to party and fit in that causes young models to try these damaging narcotics. The official party line from the industry is that this kind of behavior is not tolerated. However, models who are currently working within this business consistently tell a different story.

Tips For Anyone Starting Out

Do not spend money on "professional modelling schools". If an agency sees potential in your look they will work with you in-house. Most modelling schools are simply etiquette training centers in disguise. They will not be able to launch your modelling career and a lot of them are under investigation for fraudulent practices with lawsuits pending.

Always investigate sudden opportunities to see if they are legitimate. If you are 'discovered' in a mall etc. research the company. If upon talking to the agent they require down payments of money then it is a scam. Reputable agencies represent YOU. They earn a commission of your bookings and take their cut from the clients payment not from the models.

Do not spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for professional photos. Most agencies only require one head shot and one body shot. Put on a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt and have a friend take a decent photo of you. If you decide you still want to create more professional looking photos then find a photographer who needs shots for their portfolio. This is called TFP (time for prints) and it's free. The photographer and the model donate their time for the shoot and each of them walk away with a professional portfolio. It is a win, win situation. Of course when working with a stranger always put your safety first. Meet them in advance to make sure you are comfortable with the photographer and ensure you have a chaperone for the day of the shoot. If the photographer doesn't want a chaperone present then something is wrong. Find another person to shoot you.

Research which agencies are legitimate! This is the best use of your time before committing to this career. Find out who represents the models that are working. Try to talk to other models to see how they are treated within their agency. Look at the agencies submission policies. What do they require to evaluate your potential as a model? Research, research, research. This cannot be stressed enough as there are just so many fraudulent companies within this industry.

Lastly, underage models should always have a chaperone with them. Reputable agencies take no issue with this request and it is definitely the best thing for the model. It is easy to be lead astray when you are young and impressionable. Everything seems so glamorous that soon anything goes. Having a stable adult presence to keep you grounded will pay off for you in the long term. After all, this is about work and a career, a chaperone will remind you of these things and ensure that the money you make stays with you!

Modelling can certainly be a rewarding experience in many ways. As long as you avoid the darker side to this profession and insist on putting your personal values first (before profit) then you can enjoy quite an interesting career path. It is also good to remember that this is a job and you will work HARD to earn your money. Long hours, jet lag, heavy makeup, weird haircuts and standing forever in awkward poses are all part of this exciting profession.


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    • profile image

      Prachi Rana 19 months ago

      Thank you for this information.

    • Artsy Lover profile image

      Artsy Lover 23 months ago

      Thought you might be interested to know that someone is claiming your work.

    • profile image

      wtf 4 years ago

      wtf Danish Hussain...

    • profile image

      Fidelia E. 5 years ago

      Becomin a model has bn part of my passion since childhood. while i m currently pursuing my college education, what cn i b doing rigt nw 2 kip me goin in dat line? and wen i m fully redy 2 take off, what shd i do?

    • profile image

      danish hussain 5 years ago

      sir i m simple and very very poor boy.i m creazy about make my carear in modling line,will u help me out ,,i will do anything what ever u say plz help me to make a gud model.i don't have face and body,i need a good father will u my good father plzzzzzzz i will do any any any thing for u plzzz

    • profile image

      teshanity 6 years ago

      where could i find a model agents that are not a scam

    • profile image

      mimi 7 years ago

      omg i really want to be a model but i don't know how to start

    • profile image

      meme 7 years ago

      hey my name is meme and i would like to know what is the best modelling agency to go to in Lexington Kentucky????? And do you think that is a scam???? Thank you so very much.

    • profile image

      julian 7 years ago

      Am grateful for that information am interested in modelling but not porn modelling as most agenciec do today,because am a bornagain christian who wouldn't want to destroy my image, for any decent modelling agency recruiting am me on 256772976728.

    • profile image

      Friday 7 years ago

      for a while now, i been thinking about going to Ford Modeling agency in chicago but i am a bit scared. I'm only 5'5, do i stand a chance with this height?

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 7 years ago


      I actually disagree with your comments about Beauty Pageants. They are counterproductive to the fashion modeling industry and being in them will not get you noticed by any fashion modeling agencies.

      In fact there is a stigma attached to beauty pageant queens which is why you don't see many (if any) of them having successful modeling careers in the fashion industry. Also the 'walking' techniques and photography in pageants is the opposite of what a reputable modeling agency is looking for. As I said the whole process is counterproductive to someone who wishes to pursue a career as a fashion model.

      Anyone who wants to get into modeling needs to approach a reputable "modeling agency" not enroll in pageants. Many reputable agencies have open houses for new models. If you have the look they want and can translate that to photos and/or catwalk then they will sign you. Period.

    • profile image

      issah 7 years ago

      i would like to know how much is the range of a new model's talent fee??? i was requested to be a model of a certain product and they're asking for my talent fee.. but i don't know how much since i'm really not a model... could u pls help me on this,... thanks

    • profile image

      Allwell  7 years ago

      I think it is better to link up/work with a reputable modelling agency with clearly defined agreement.Who is reputable remains a big question that must be approached with caution as well.However, if you think you got what it takes,it is easier and safer to launch yourself to limelight through a beauty pageant.If you succeed, you have become a supermodel and no one can stop you.Moreover geniune beauty pageants are organized by geniune modelling agencies.Most supermodels started this way.You have nothing to loose even if you don't win and the training gained is free of charge.I am a pageant director and I know what am talking about.

    • profile image

      isha 7 years ago

      amazingly gud n helpful tips

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      Mikalah 8 years ago

      I have just recently been contacted to be intereviewed by an agent. My mom was a model and she thinks it would be good for me. I have wonderful confidence and absolutely no desire to change my appearance. I don't give in often to peer pressure and I can take criticism well. On the other hand, my dad and my boyfriend, whom I have been with for some time, don't think this would be a very good idea. I listed my own set of pros and cons, then I researched some. Can you please give me some advice on what your opinion is of what I should do?

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 8 years ago

      For em: Hard to say if it's a con or not as I do not know the studio but something I would ask is: Did they say you had talent and they wanted to shoot you and then after you came in tell you they would charge 50/pic?

      Or did you contact them first for their services and they were upfront with you about pricing?

      They may just be doing a hard sell to promote their product. They may even produce great portrait shots for your portfolio. The question is whether they are saying you NEED this to be a model. Whether they say "without this you can't get signed". If that's the case I would walk away on principle, however, if they aren't saying those things then you have to decide whether you want to spend the money for some fun (potentially great) photos or not?

      You have to look at it in a realistic way. Lots of women choose to get great fashion shots done by expensive studios for themselves or for fun and there is nothing wrong with that. They make great gifts for family and friends. The difference is whether that is what you're wanting or not.

      The reputable agencies only NEED to see a shot of you in a white t-shirt and jeans looking natural. For most that's all they'll want to see. It's not the expensive photos they are looking at when they choose a model, it's the way you are naturally.

      If they like your natural look then they will invite you in to see how you do in front of a camera.

      Some agencies might want to see a Comp Card. This is a postcard size card usually with your headshot on the front and then 4 images with your stats on the back. Again, when you're first starting out you don't have to outlay a lot of money. Google Comp Cards on the internet and there are a number of services that will help you produce them yourself using your own images.

      Eventually you will need a professional portfolio but if you have raw talent an agency will help you with that. Remember, a model is a product. If they are a reputable agency they will promote you and take their payment from the jobs they book for you.

      If you want to create a pro portfolio right away then I would suggest finding the right photographer and studio yourself.

      The best resource for young models starting out is to go to your nearest University and find a talented photography student. The photography students need a portfolio of shots just like you and they will usually do it for free. In Canada it's called TFP (time for prints). Remember, professional models charge for their services as do professional photographers. Student photographers need models and models need photographers. It's the perfect arrangement and honestly some of the top student photographers are more talented than some of the working portrait photographers. Every big name started at the bottom first. You each donate your time and walk away with portfolio images. What can be better than that?

      So that's my advice. Good luck!

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      em 8 years ago

      i have been asked recently to make a portfolio with pure space studios.

      my mum is worried incase it is a con.

      i am only 16

      they are charging us £50 a picture.

      do you think this is a con? xx

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 8 years ago

      sweetkundy: I may not have written in the text that this information is from personal experience and that of friends in the modeling industry.


    • profile image

      sweetkundy 8 years ago

      I have a question. Would you mind telling me how you know about this information? Did i miss that in your text above?

      Thanks =)

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 8 years ago

      sweetkundy: glad I could be of help! Thanks for stopping by.

      ilovehubbing: Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image

      sweetkundy 8 years ago

      Thanks! This really helped my research paper. And I do really want to try out to be a model. I hope it's okay...

    • ilovehubbing profile image

      ilovehubbing 9 years ago


    • RFox profile image

      RFox 10 years ago

      m.j. Thank you for your comments. I did discuss weight issues in the Cons section. I also provided a u-tube video targeting that topic. I am in agreement with you.

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      m.j 10 years ago

      what about the pros and cons of their weight? I think that is MOST important rather than the photographs of the models and the people that scam you for evry last cent of your fortune. Modles are too skinny!!!!!!

    • MrMarmalade profile image

      MrMarmalade 10 years ago from Sydney

      I liked you hub, I have the reputation of tripping on a matchstick, I think I would fail on the catwalk.

      Great hub thank you.

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 10 years ago

      Thank you Kenny! I try my best.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you for answering my request with a well thoughtout, thorough hub. You also included very sensible tips, which, I'm sure, will be a welcome bonus to those desirous of pursuing a modelling career. Good show, RFox!