Why you need to stop comparing yourself to fashion models

Can’t help feeling ugly when you flick through fashion magazines? Find out just how much work goes into a shoot – and why you should stop comparing yourself to models!

Fashion Week is upon us again. And with it comes another round of perfect-looking women staring out from the pages of fashion magazines – reminding us of how we still haven’t lost that baby weight, and that we really need to get our roots done some time soon.

But before you beat yourself up too much, or compare yourself too harshly with images of models, I need to let you into a not-so-secret secret: models don’t look like that either! Instead, what you’re looking at is a carefully crafted, artificial creation.

To explain why, let me take you behind the scenes of a fashion shoot.

Fashion shoots are more about logistics than glamour

I own a fashion label. So far, so glamorous. But this is where the fallacy begins. Most people think the fashion industry consists of endless flamboyance and dazzlingly beautiful people. And never more so than during a fashion shoot or catwalk show, where we’re given the impression that it’s a world of wonder.

But actually, it’s rather ordinary. Fashion shoots are more about logistics than glamour. They are carefully curated and meticulously managed. The message, conveyed through images, needs to be tightly controlled.

An integral part of the process is the choice of model. For anyone who aspires to be a model, I would like them to know that models spend more time being rejected than accepted for jobs.

Most models won’t make the cut of a casting

Most models won’t even make the cut of a casting, which is when a model is measured, asked to try on various pieces and to pose – and all in front of a critical audience who may or may not voice their critique in earshot of their subject. So if you want to be a model, you need a thick skin.

Once chosen, the model is the blank canvas upon which the message will be painted and exhibited. When I say ‘blank canvas’ it’s important to remember the care and attention a model gives to their looks. After all, their appearance is their livelihood.

The commitment to exercise, the food and drink discipline, the hair and skincare regimes – models need to work to maintain their appearance. Having a pizza and a glass of wine may be something we take for granted, but for a model it would have to be seriously thought through. Beauty comes with sacrifice.

A team of professionals work hard to make models beautiful

Photo shoots involve a set or a location, about which everything is precisely selected, sometimes at great cost, and all to project just the right message. And know that there is a team of professionals working carefully to create the illusion of perfection.

The photographer will be experienced and equipped with vast technical knowledge, as well as an abundance of sophisticated apparatus. They will know how to get the best shot.

The hair and make-up artist has a seemingly incessant supply of brushes, palettes and pots. A model will spend around two hours having their hair styled and their make-up applied by an expert. They will also be helped to dress.

So consider the investment that has taken place before a single photograph has even been snapped. And when the model steps out on to the set, the team will remain at the ready to tidy away a loose strand, smooth out creases, and fold down collars.

It can take hours to get just one great shot

It’s a process that will be repeated throughout. On a shoot a model is constantly attended to. Their job is to know how to follow direction and to tell the story through poses. To do this well they need to be perfectly comfortable in front of a camera and an audience. They are not themselves, they are playing a part.

The day is often a long one, and the chosen photographs will be a select few of the very many that are taken.

To give you an idea of what’s involved in getting just one great shot, the iconic scene of Marilyn Monroe fighting down the skirt of a white dress over a subway grate took 14 takes and three hours to shoot – and then had to be re-shot because it still wasn’t right.

Then the retouching begins

When the shoot is over and the shortlist has been made, the retouching begins. This is a powerful software tool that can eradicate skin blemishes, brighten a complexion, taper in a waist, increase height and much more.

(And remember, this is after professional hair and make-up, perfect lighting, a skilful photographer and an attentive team of personal assistants.)

Stop comparing yourself to beautiful models

Is it any wonder then that the result of a fashion shoot, the images we see in magazines and on websites, look as perfect was they do?

So the next time you feel ugly, or in any way lacking next to the images of women presented in fashion magazines, remember this. And imagine how amazing you too would look after such a regimen.

Heidy Rehman is Founder & CEO of fashion label Rose & Willard.