With their beautiful faces made up and lithe bodies clad in the most expensive brands, it’s easy to buy into the belief that models lead an easy glamorous life. Having already won the genetic pool, they merely need to pout and strike a pose, as the glossy pages of fashion magazines and sky-high billboards seem to portray.
But behind the camera and off the runway, is an intense dedication and fierce competition in a notoriously fickle industry. Models train and fine-tune their walk, bodies and poses as if it were an Olympic sport, but unlike athletes, they rarely receive the same respect and recognition. We spoke to three working models, known simply by their stage names, Soo Xuze, Vika and Eleen Y, to get a look behind the perfect pout and the surprising double lives they lead.
Describe what a typical day is like for you.
Vika (V): Sometimes it is slow and relaxing. Other times it can be pretty hectic with back to back shoots and shows.
Eleen (E): I always start my day with a shower and a good breakfast. Sometimes I also do some stretches and exercise in the morning. If I’m free at night, I will go to a hotel lounge or good coffee places with a relaxing live jazz band, and read some books before I go to bed. On the occasion I have to standby for the whole day, I have a habit of using my phone to check the stock market, currency, gold price and property market.
How do you seek to promote and further improve yourself?
S: I promote myself through social media and improve myself by researching and practicing before jobs. I also try to learn from every job I’ve done. V: The main thing in our business is to be seen. To promote myself, I have to go to fashion events and meet people. Photographers and makeup artists have to remember models for future jobs.
E: I promote myself through social media as I believe it is a platform where I can reach many people personally. I also build quality relationships through networking. I try to read a book, when I have difficulties in certain area. Regardless if it’s a matter of emotion or skill, I can easily get advice from books.
What are some of the challenges you face?
S: Figuring out different ways to socialise and deal with different clients.
E: For me, modeling is a very challenging career and the life span of a model is limited. First, I need to plan my finances well because it’s not everyday there are jobs as some periods are very quiet in the fashion industry. Therefore, it trains me to prioritise and save my expenditure. I also learned how to invest my money so that I can have some passive income. Second, I need to keep my body and skin healthy, slim and young. Sometimes it can be stressful because I need to think twice before I eat or drink something, and I also need to exercise regularly.
What motivates you in your career?
S: I enjoy new challenges from different jobs.
V: Competition and money motivates me. Haha! I am passionate about my job and that generally motivates me, as well as the strive to achieve success in whatever I do.
E: I like to push myself to become stronger and better so that I am able to give and help more people. I believe that everyone has their own value in life, and paired with purpose and human force, it is something very powerful.
Do you have other jobs on the side?
S: Besides modeling and acting, I also help my parents with the family business.
V: No. At the moment, I’m focused just on modeling work. But I’m also very fond of sports.
E: Yes, I teach catwalk and I have my own health and beauty business.