I’ve been meaning to add a section about my experiences in modeling for a while now. Finally, a place to link all the FAQs! Not that I mind repeating questions, but I feel like I have a lot to share that I haven’t posted publicly so here goes nothing! 🙂
I compiled a list of common questions I’ve been messaged on social media and asked in person by (mainly) new models/ girls looking to get into modeling. Feel free to message me if you think I’ve missed something! 💕
Q1: How did you get into it?
This is my favorite question because it was so random. I started about 2 years ago and I wasn’t really looking into modeling at all! I was in college and my friend told me he needed a girl for his short film. Of course, I said, “no I can’t act” (which I can’t as evidenced by the short film) but he somehow convinced me that he just needs someone for a very minor role. It was at that point I met a couple videographers/photographers who I guess saw something in me and asked me to a photoshoot. I made one of my pictures from my first shoot my profile picture on Facebook and shortly after, I was contacted by someone to walk in New York Fashion Week (which I thought was completely fake by the way). Well, it wasn’t fake and my very first gig was NYFW. I remember one of the coordinators asking me “you know how to walk right” before I walked out for the first time and I was like “no this is my first time” and he was like “oh god don’t ruin my name” 😂 Well I guess I didn’t do too horribly (even though I cringe looking at my old pictures/videos) since I got cast for NYFW again. And after that, I received several gigs/offers in NYC/NJ so I continued to model throughout my junior and senior year of college.
Q2: Are modeling schools worth it? Have you applied to an agency?
I’ve never attended one but I went to a casting for one once. And for me personally it wasn’t worth it. “If you do really well, you might be able to get a casting in NYFW!” When I told them I already did NYFW and wasn’t required to cast anymore, they just tried to find faults with me such as criticizing my walk and posture. They also tried to give me “credit” and “discounts” for my previous work and constantly kept calling me and lowering the price of their “tuition” every time they called. I didn’t have anything to benefit out of modeling school and I also didn’t think I needed it but connections are difficult to make in this industry so it’s not a bad place to start if you have zero connections and truly want to pursue modeling. Do I think it’s worth $1,200? No. But again, my situation is different. I wasn’t pursuing it professionally so I didn’t feel like it was worth investing in. Also, modeling schools are different from modeling agencies. Agencies don’t charge you to join them and make their money by taking a percentage of your commission. If an organization if charging you to join them, then they aren’t an agency. I have applied to a couple agencies and I was accepted to a few as a print model but unfortunately, I couldn’t commit to the contracts.
Q3: What do your parents/friends/significant other think?
Well here’s the thing; I don’t care what anyone else thinks. And I don’t mean that in a hateful way, I’m just saying that I’ve learned to do what makes me happy. I do enjoy modeling- it’s something I’m good at and I’ve learned a lot and made a lot of friends out of it. My parents initially were very much against it because they were worried about me. Thinking from a parent’s perspective and hearing horror stories about young women being kidnapped & sold into human trafficking is scary. I don’t think I would be okay with having my daughter’s image publicly available to xyzs and potential predators. There is a risk to it and for that reason, my parents were absolutely against it starting out. Even though you’re told to start young, I would not recommend anyone under 18 pursuing modeling- mainly because you’re still immature and you tend to easily trust people. Personally speaking, I don’t think I was mature enough at 16 or even 18 to handle modeling. I wanted attention and wanted people to think I was pretty etc and I might’ve easily gotten myself into a lot of trouble because of my immaturity. For that reason, it’s important to have a parent support you if you can. I didn’t have my parents support me in the beginning but I was mature enough to handle situations on my own. I really don’t know what my friends think- I’ve lost touch with a lot of my friends from high school and made new friends from the industry who are super supportive of my work. Even my friends in nursing school are beyond supportive and I’m so grateful to be surrounded by people who don’t judge me.
As with anything that puts you in the spotlight, modeling did have an effect on my personal relationships. Jealousy and frustration were prevalent but starting out, my boyfriend at the time was also very supportive and actually encouraged me a lot. Some girls had issues with boyfriends/husbands being overprotective/jealous and honestly I think it’s important to put yourself in your significant other’s shoes, respect their views and come to a common ground (ex: don’t do lingerie if your partner doesn’t like it).
Q4: Aren’t you worried that this will affect your career?
I’m not going to lie, I am a little worried. I don’t think I’ve done anything too terrible but I am a little tense about my past in lingerie/swimwear- not necessarily because it will affect my ability to get hired, but rather because I don’t want it to affect my image as a professional and competent nurse. Nurses already have a negative sexual image amongst the public and I don’t want to contribute to that negative image since there has been so much progress over the years to establish nursing as a serious profession.
I also didn’t realize how many younger girls tell me I’m their role model and look up to me. I don’t want to give them the idea that you need to show off your body to feel valued. I feel like I’ve been completely misrepresenting my values and what I actually believe in by posting pictures in lingerie/swim so I’m currently trying to avoid publicizing it.
I actually really did enjoy working in lingerie/swim. Everyone in the non-South Asian industry is very professional, timely and your work is under contract. If you don’t want something published, it’s legally under an agreement to not be published. But of course, rule #1, don’t pose/do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable with or you don’t want to haunt you 10 years down the line. Contracts are great but they aren’t a safeguard- your image can still be shared without your knowledge.
Q5: Is there sexual harassment? And how do you avoid it?
Yes there is and I hate to admit it, but you can’t avoid it. Even when I was strictly a bridal model, I was still harassed. It’s unavoidable. The funny thing is that you would assume the South Asian industry is safer than the traditional American industry but that is a huge misconception. I have never been harassed in person in my non-South Asian gigs. I honestly felt safer doing lingerie than bridal. My worst experiences are from South Asian modeling. I’ve been put into uncomfortable situations and asked/expected to do things I was absolutely not comfortable with. My best advice would be to respect yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions and say no. Bring someone with you if you can and don’t get into anyone’s car. Even if they say that they’re just going to drop you home or they’re just taking you out for a post-shoot dinner, absolutely do not get into anyone’s car. This is where one of my experiences went badly so please, take it from me personally, do not trust anyone blindly. As for harassment on social media, yes you get a lot of messages from various people because you’re putting yourself out there. I used to look into the profiles of the men who sent me interesting messages and I would message them back “do you mind if I forward this to your wife/girlfriend?” 😂 But for the most part, I just ignore or delete sexual harassment on social media. It’s not that easy in person but just keep your boundaries. Don’t let people pick you up/drop you off, don’t go anywhere alone, verify the person’s credentials through various sources, don’t go anywhere alone at night or stay over. Your safety should be your biggest priority.
Q6: How much do you get paid?
I get this question a lot. I’m freelance, so I determine how much I charge for a shoot. Of course, there are a lot of factors involved but my general “formula” is:
Number of hours x Standard Rate (up to you but should be higher than min wage) + Travel = Payment
And, I generally don’t charge when it’s a collaboration between just me and another individual (photographer/MUA). Doing this has helped me establish relations with photographers/MUAs who have in turn recommended me to other individuals for a higher paying/bigger gig.
Q7: How do you deal with hate mail?
At this point, I’ve gotten so much hate mail, that I’m completely unaffected by it. I know it’s hard to say “just ignore it” but that’s what I do. There will always be people who are jealous and their words are just reflections of their own insecurities. Most of my “haters” are actually dudes who are very insecure. I’m sure there are females as well who don’t like me but they just don’t outwardly say anything the way males do so I just notice them less and whenever I do get a hateful message, it’s usually females who also defend and support me.
Q8: What are your stats and what is your fitness/diet plan?
Stats: 32C/31″/37″, US Dress Size 0-2 & 5’6″
I’m going to be very honest- I currently do not have a fitness or diet plan and I’m blessed with a fast metabolism. I really don’t work out that much anymore, maybe 2x a week at most and I don’t do cardio either. I used to be super into fitness at one point in college to the extent where I was going to the gym 6x a week and religiously counting macros. I even tried a no carb diet for a week and I was so incredibly miserable. But I was into fitness for the wrong reasons at the time and what I was doing wasn’t healthy. Now my motivation to work out is more just to clear my head and for the sake of being healthy. I want to be able to be a nurse for a long time and be physically able to do so as well, so that is my motivation. It’s not to impress an xyz dude or for aesthetics anymore. And I personally feel like my new reason is so much bigger and more motivating than trying to impress someone. I’m all for fitness goals, but I think it’s also super important to have a healthy motivation behind your goals as well.
As for my diet, well I love fast food 😂 Like I really LOVE fast food. I love it to the point where I was told to lay off it because my LDL is borderline high. I’ve been getting better since I started nursing school, but during exam week, I somehow find myself at a Taco Bell Drive-Through. I’m really not the person to ask for “diet tips” since I literally eat whatever I want but no, not all models eat salad and starve themselves.
I’m probably going to end up updating this page more when I find more questions but I hope I’m able to provide some insight from my experiences! 🙂