Modeling is said to have started in 1853 when the father of ‘haute couture’, Charles Frederick Worth, asked his wife, Marie Vernet Worth, to model his designs. I wonder if she asked him whether she looked fat in the bloomer suit.
Since then, with help from the invention of the camera, modeling has become an entire industry in and of itself. By the 1960’s, modeling agencies began to form, and by the 1970’s modeling was not only becoming synonymous with major designers and fashion but models themselves started to become household names. Some became so celebrated that they created the phenomena we now know as the ‘supermodel’.
Today, social media has made it possible for anyone with a camera phone and internet access to attempt their own ascension in the world of modeling. This subcategory of social media modeling – because of its roots in Instagram in particular – is often referred to as ‘Instagram Modeling’. It’s not uncommon to hear of people whose occupation is that of an Instagram Model.
It may have once been true that these self ascribed models weren’t worth the same praise or respect as established models such as Cara Delevingne or the Hadid sisters, but the lines between “Instagram” models and traditional runway and catwalk models – are beginning to become fuzzy. Delevingne and the Hadid sisters, despite being signed to an agency, still use Instagram as a platform to promote their careers and many of today’s established models started their careers after being discovered on social media by probing agents.
In pop culture, the job of a model is painted as one that hardly seems difficult. To those on the outside, the modeling industry is that of shallow, scatterbrained, late-night-partying, cocaine-snorting, bulimics and dense, chiselled, bad boys lounging around squinting into the distance for flicks – express ticket to fame stuffed in their pocket.
Well, if it were so easy then you’d imagine that anyone could do it, so… Fuck it. Armed with a camera phone and the university wifi, I decided I wanted to see what it really takes to become an Instagram Model.
The first step is of course to attempt some sort of work on the physical within control, so the obvious destination was the gym. After asking for the forgiveness and assistance of my trainers Emma and Zahi, I began back on a programme of diet and exercise towards #fitspo but also towards #igmodel.
The thing about physical exercise is that it’s an active pursuit. That’s to say that if you don’t do it regularly then it is difficult to start again. How fucking true?! Going about my first routine, red-faced and panting, Emma spotted me. “Hard?”, she queried. The tone in her voice implied that this was my own fault for abandoning it in the first place. She was right, I deserved this. Moreover, if I wanted to live the life of an aspiring model then I understood that modeling is fashion and, well we all know, fashion is pain.
Unfortunately, if you don’t exercise often, that pain apparently lasts at least a week after your workout.
For me it’s been 3. And I’m yet to see any improvement in physical attractiveness, strength or interest for exercise. This feels like all stick and no carrot. However, the quest for the perfect look is a long one and the gym actually doesn’t seem as bad when compared to lengths that others have gone to in order to maintain a particular aesthetic.
It’s supposed to be true that when Victoire Dauxerre first started modeling, she ate three apples a day for eight months in order to take 22 pounds off her 126 pound frame.
Former model Louise Pedersen would speak of how she would survive on a diet of cigarettes and coffee. That’s right. Literally smoke and liquid. Apparently it caused her pain to sit as there was no “cushioning.”
One of the most notorious tales are those of models chewing ice. The chewing action allegedly burns calories and ice lacks calories so this act of chewing ice is essentially exercise.
Unfortunately, the stories don’t stop there. Some clever bugger figured “well why not just give up ingestion all together?” It’s supposed to be a fairly common practice for models to aim at dehydrating themselves so as to shed water weight. Fuuuuuck thaaat.
And all I have to do is go to the gym.
Follow Saia’s modeling journey on Instagram: @saiahalatanu_official and behind the scenes @bts_saiahalatanu_official