Helau & Alaaf, my dears!
Well, if you don’t know what that means, probably you’re not from Germany and/or have never lived in areas where carnival a.k.a Fasching (in my area we call it Karneval) is celebrated.
No prob, it’s a great festivity before Lent, with a long tradition, where everybody dresses up as someone or something else and celebrates with parades and music (and a lot of booze).
It’s not comparable to the colourful carnival de Rio, obviously, as the weather mostly isn’t as spectacular, but many people across Germany get feverish for the 5th season, as it’s also called.
[if you want to know more about this tradition, which has its roots in Christianity, let me know or ask uncle Google or aunt Wiki :p ]
So, now, Gina, is modelling like a great carnival in front of the cam?
Do you feel like wearing a disguise or dressing up as someone else when you work as a model?
Well, for me personally, my work in front of the cam is not comparable to carnival.
Although I participated in photo projects in which I felt like wearing a disguise or rather like an actress playing a role and slipping into a different character.
But in my personal case, I have to say that modelling showed me rather more of my own facets than taking me away from my own character, I’d say.
I think, the fearful thoughts of a mother, when the kid says “Mum, I’m gonna become a model!” swirl around things like “Great, now they will get superficial, compare themselves constantly to other models, take their measurements three times a day and only eat cotton pads soaked with orange juice!”. Ergo: Panic!
And by no means do I intend to diminish or belittle these worries.
The age, in which many of the girls and boys start entering the model business, is a fragile one, one, in which the self-confidence and character is not yet as stable as to deal with the constant competition, the comparisons and the many rejections without taking it personally or connecting it to oneself and one’s body.
On the other hand, we could say that youngsters don’t have to enter the model biz for that, as peer dynamics and peer pressure do the same.
That’s what I know from my instagram-free youth. Nowadays the oh so social media just adds to it.
But what I’m aiming at, is that youngsters and young adults will end up searching for themselves and their uniqueness by trial and error anyway. One day they will run around like a hippie without a bra and the next day they’ll wear fake lashes looking like a femme fatale.
I am not denying that the pressure in the model industry, especially if pursued as a professional career and not a hobby, is another dimension!
Important note here: No matter, whether it’s normal peer dynamics or whether your children, friends, etc. decide to start modelling, let them try out things, but if you detect dangerous and harmful changes in their behaviour and thought patterns, please do talk to them! That’s my humble opinion.
Talking from my own experience, I can definitely say that there were moments in which I compared myself to other models concerning height, measurements, weight, outward appearance, hair, style, body and work ethic. But probably every employee and amateur pursuing a hobby does the same.
We compare each other and our work.
And probably that’s the biggest crux in this particular field of work: To make a distinction between your work and your body when it comes to modelling isn’t as easy as in other fields, let’s say a report, a product, a text.
If I wrote a text my client doesn’t like and they say “Gina, the text you produced does not fit my requirements.”, of course, I could take it personally, but there is the text and here I am. Although I produced the text, the text is not me.
But when a photographer says “Gina, your posture is a catastrophe and your body doesn’t look like the measurements on your profile, you seem more corpulent.”, to make this distinction between my work and my outward appearance, my body, the home of my soul, becomes far more complicated.
I think you get what I mean.
But it’s not impossible. It’s a lot of hard work, as is taking critique not too personal in general and to despair and doubt oneself directly, which probably everyone of you knows, be it professional, hobby wise or in personal matters.
Fortunately, in retrospect, I can say that modelling rather helped me see and understand my own facets than pushing me into crises.
To the contrary: On days, where work didn’t go as planned or when in personal situations things went wrong and I started doubting myself, my work and wondered what the eff I was doing, a look on my colourful portfolio often gave me a kick of “I am Miss fucking Laventura, I have been so many things already, a fairy, a nerd, a fashion model, an artificial being, the powerful rock girl, the delicate one, and so much more. Why the heck should I not be able to do it?!”
But, here’s a big BUT, that can also be related to the fact that first of all I didn’t pursue a professional model career, I didn’t run from casting to casting, and quite early on my focus was put on creative, artsy productions and later on on expressive pictures that I could combine with my texts. Maybe that helped me a bit to escape the pressure of the mainstream. (And I say that with all the love, I mean the popular fields of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, commercial).
By the way, I don’t mean to sugarcoat anything here. I received so many rejections that I can’t even put all the frustration, disappointment and doubts into words right here.
Agency after agency rejected me because they didn’t see good placement chances with their clients, because either my face was too special or not special enough.
So many jobs slipped through my fingers, although I fulfilled all the requirements, etc. etc. etc.
But through all this experimenting one can learn what feels natural and what doesn’t, where is the line between a facet of me and a role I play?
There were shootings in which I wore clothes and styles that couldn’t have felt more strange to me and I can say, it was a role I loved playing.
What counts then for me is: Did I play the role well? Does it come across as authentic?
Likewise, there were shootings that set out as a role, with which I couldn’t identify at all, and during the shooting itself I discovered that it was an unknown or even neglected facet of myself.
This playing and experimenting has the potential to teach you a lot about yourself, which can also contribute positively to self-confidence.
After a while, it becomes clear what feels natural and what feels like a role, which role is a role that I can identify with and which one goes completely against my natural disposition.
Likewise, it teaches you to reject projects that don’t fit you, no matter how versatile and flexible you are, because if it’s a role that you cannot bring across authentically, it doesn’t serve anyone.
And sometimes it’s just great fun to jump into a different character and to be someone you’re normally not.
Like on Karneval: You’re a princess, a king, a clown, a childhood hero.
The most important thing is that you always take the core of yourself with you.
And that means mostly and foremost to know yourself and to get to know yourself. Of course, laughing about and with yourself, too.
And in an ideal case it’s fun and enjoyable to be yourself.
With all the facets, crazy attitudes and quirks.
Did/do you celebrate carnival?
If so, what’s your disguise today? Who are you?
I’m sick, so I go as a bottle of cough sirup.