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Should I Try and Blow Up?


TalullahZ
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Some background about me: I'm a 21F college senior, about to graduate with a dual degree in Public Policy and Economics from a prestigious university, and looking for a life in academia. Recently I've solidified my goals of getting my Ph.D. and doing research and/or being a professor. I'm very satisfied with that, I just want to read, learn, and come up with mind-blowing theories to solve global issues. And I want to share that with others. My path won't be easy, like any college student I struggle with anxiety about my future and all of the uncertainty that comes with it.

 

Some more background: I've always been tall, slim, and pretty. I am ethnically mixed (Native American, West African, and North African) so I have a foreign type of look that a lot of people like. All my life I've gotten suggestions to go into modeling, but I've always dismissed them because not only do my interests lie elsewhere, but I also have little respect for the modeling industry. I know how horrible and demeaning it can be behind the glamor.

 

Recently however I supported my friend's new clothing brand launch by modeling for her website, and I got a lot of positive feedback. The photographer she hired happens to scout for an agency and asked if he could take my digitals before I was "snatched up" by another agency after the photos dropped. Also, I had much more fun than I thought I would have, and was less awkward in front of the camera than I expected. You could say it came naturally.

 

This may seem like a non-issue but I am seriously looking for advice. I am having a hard time reconciling my (extremely) introverted and academic nature with all that can come from modeling. I'm not sure I want that for myself. I am also fiercely critical of social media (I think it's evil), but I do have an Instagram account because that's where I can keep in contact with people I know, so my account is private and I don't have more than 300 followers. If I model, I don't want to have to deal with social media. I'm not fake and materialistic and those things are useful for a life in the public eye. But if I try to maintain my privacy, it might not even be worth trying because my demand might be low being that people don't know I exist.

 

And the people that follow me aren't very supportive either. I have some great pictures posted but I never get any positive feedback. Mostly, people just ignore me. As I said I'm sort of an introvert but I do have a solid group of friends. Maybe they got tired of telling me I should model because they will comment, like, and share for anyone but me. If you have an Instagram, you know that girls will gas each other up in the comments, and repost their friends. I've never experienced that. This is why I avoid social media because I don't want to measure my worth with those metrics. My mom says they're jealous and I need better friends. That may be true.

 

I think modeling could be fun. I'm no longer in the impressionable stage of life that most models are in when they start (at like 13 and 14 years old!), and I already have prospects for my future because of my education and career goals, so I can drop modeling anytime I change my mind. Additionally, I'm broke and come from a poor immigrant family. If I could make some easy cash for them why wouldn't I?? I knew a girl my freshman year of college who was a model, and she would be flown out to LA for a weekend and come back in time for class with $5,000. Plus, I'm significantly taller than she is, and I have the potential to do runway modeling which pays a lot more.

 

All this being said. I'm a quiet girl and very much a nerd. I feel like I would have to push some of my already established and healthy boundaries in order to do this when I could just continue straight into grad school and my career, and find much more fulfillment that way.

 

Just because I'm tall and pretty does not mean I have to model. But I'm only young once, and this could be fun. I come to you for help because this photographer is waiting for me and I don't want to turn down an opportunity for no good reason.

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I know someone who had an engineering degree who worked her way through college as a bikini model. She said it was easy and paid well. Plus, she has a VERY "healthy" self-image as far as her looks go, so it didn't bother her if other models were catty or whatever.

 

Remember, when you model you will be evaluated by booking agents and potential clients like you can't see or hear. They will say things like "she's too flat chested" or "her butt is the size of New York City" right in front of you. You will need to be able to let those words bounce right off of you or you won't make it.

 

That being said, it is a way to make some good money. Maybe just try a few bookings and see how you like it.

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My gut take on all this is: Why not just wade another toe or two into the modeling world, and see what comes?

 

Having the photographer take some shots of you, having the agency review those shots—that's a pretty small step, all in all. Doesn't mean you have to say goodbye to academia, turn into an Instagram thirst trap, and so on. Heck, doesn't even mean modeling will become a viable path. Just means you're exploring something that sounds kind of fun, while continuing to explore something else—academia—that you know is fun.

 

Win-win, from these seats.

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@ bluecastle

 

For some reason, it's causing an existential crisis. It's making me think about my life purpose and the reason I wake up in the morning. Maybe that's because I'm about to graduate. It's also making me think about identity politics. I may already be ignored in academia because I'm a woman of color, but a model too? Will anyone take me seriously?

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@ boltnrun

 

Yes, I figured it was easy and wouldn't take up a lot of my time. In the past, I have struggled with my self-image so maybe I'm scared that this could tip the beautiful balance that I finally found after years of low self-esteem issues. Probably no one cares but I had an "ugly duckling phase" and in school, people would not let me forget how skinny I was. Now that my skin is clear and I've filled out a little bit, I still haven't let go of some of the fear.

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For some reason, it's causing an existential crisis.

 

Well, you seem to have a good grip on the "some reason," or reasons, here. You don't want to be reduced to a cliche, while modeling kind of does that, to some degree. You don't want to spiral into a vortex of shallow self-hate, which just means you're a healthy person. My impression is, like many attractive people, you get a certain level of sincere confidence from the lucky numbers you drew from the genetic lottery while also dealing with a certain degree of self-consciousness, heightened insecurity, and so on—the exhaust fumes of vanity, generally more potent when we're young. Understandable that the potential of modeling would fan them all a bit. It's modeling!

 

Here's a story, for what it's worth:

 

When I was a bit younger than you, all I wanted from life was one thing: a certain creative pursuit, achieving something very specific. This thing I wanted veers a bit into academia, you could say, in that those who do this thing are generally respected as intellectuals, taught in schools, invited to teach in schools, all that jazz. At the same time, this pursuit veers into all sorts of other worlds: celebrity, media, attention from strangers, saucy stuff.

 

At 19, I had an opportunity to do some of the saucier stuff for money. Like you, this triggered a bit of an existential crisis. Was I "selling out"? Questions like that ate me up. Alas, I was also broke, didn't come from money, liked the idea of no longer waiting tables. I took the job. It was a blast! I fretted plenty about what it "meant," but along with all that fretting? I stayed focused on the Big Thing I wanted to make, and do, and found something curious happened over time: I was able to do both, carving out something singular—me!—in the process. I'm 41 today, and still do both, without the dread. Turns out most people do a version of both to get by.

 

Moral of the story? Whatever choice you make right now is not going to define you. Inhale, exhale, feel it out. You clearly have a solid head on your shoulders, so trust it. If a few steps into the hot sauce of modeling makes you feel icky—well, then you step away. Good lesson there, and one that will serve you well in all fields: friendships, romance, the hallowed halls of academia.

 

My few cents, at least.

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Sorry but I think you are getting way carried away on dreams of modeling greatness and runways in Paris.

 

In reality....every tall skinny girl gets told the same thing - you should be a model. It's the most shallow, cliche compliment you can get and means nothing. There is a big difference between helping out a friend and actually breaking into the professional modeling world with all its problems, especially when at 21 you would already be considered borderline too old for the industry. The less glorious reality is a few hundred dollars for some garbage catalog shoot...IF you ever even get hired for that.

 

You say that you have your low self esteem in check, however, it took nothing but a little flattery to get you all riled up and having a crisis. Might want to work on that self esteem some more. If people don't respect you, it won't be because of your looks, but rather because you have a chip on your shoulder about it. Being attractive is an advantage if you also bring confidence and intelligence to the table. That makes you a powerful person to reckon with and not someone who will be ignored by colleagues....even when sometimes you do wish to be ignored.

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Continue going with your studies. Once your looks fade, you'll have something to fall back on. I'm mixed also like you so have always had the usual comments. "Pretty", "beautiful", "doll like", "exotic", oh and my favourite... "striking" etc blah blah blah.

 

Enjoy your youth, make use of your brains. Enjoy life. That's all there is to it. Don't worry so much about others. If you choose to go the modeling route, see what options you can come up with and negotiate the use of your time without sacrificing your degrees. Good luck.

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Life is full of opportunities and experiences. I would take this one. If you don't like it, you can move onto doing something else. Modelling isn't glitz and glamour, it hard work, long hours, takes dedication, being on time, keeping yourself healthy and ready to do whatever. Hard work reaps rewards. Enjoy the experience....plus you will meet some interesting people.

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Moral of the story? Whatever choice you make right now is not going to define you. My few cents, at least.

 

Yes, this is what I needed reminding of. It's hard to be this age, there's a lot of pressure to have your whole life figured out. Mistakes hurt even more than they should.

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Aaah Talullah. We'd never learn anything if we didn't make mistakes. No one is all-seeing, and there is no way one can figure out one's entire life! It can't be done, unless you are maybe a fortune-teller lol.

Life has a habit of dishing out shocks and obstacles along the way. Always.

 

A quote:

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

― Albert Einstein

 

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So, give the modelling business a try, if you feel it is an experience you would like to have. It's a rough, tough business.

 

Stacks of articles have been written on the topic.

 

https://www.out.com/fashion/2019/9/26/colorism-still-law-land-fashion

 

Check everything out very thoroughly. See how it goes.

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I hear a few seperate things going on here and being bundled into one.

 

Your concern about *being taken seriously.

Serious as in being a legitimate model? Or being taken seriously on a personal level, because of your choices?

You can model and be sized up how marketable you are, but people will/should judge you on your character.

You can ultimately become a doctor and not be a very successful one.

 

I wouldn't let what other people thought of you determine your vocation. You can be the best at whatever you decide and earn respect based on how well you live your life and your character.

 

You are young. Say yes to every opportunity. Don't get stuck on titles and other people's opinions.

 

Don't get swayed into believing you have to be on social media to be a model. The photographer didn't find you there, right?

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Plenty of people change their opinion on an ongoing basis based on season, trends and so on. Are you going to continuously make decisions based on what others think? I encourage you to reflect on who you are living your life for.

 

Actress, Mayim Bialik (from Big Bang Theory) earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA. Boxer Wladimir Klitschko obtained a doctorate degree in Sports Science. One word: respect!

 

If you want to be a model whilst pursuing a career in academia, well... why not?! :D

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Things are never guaranteed.... you may not book a lot of jobs as a model, you may not like being a professor... but you might like and achieve success in both these things.

 

My point is, you never know until you try. labels and their absolute values are all in your mind. Having been a student most of your life, so far, things might seem pretty cut and dry. but as you live and experience many more things, you may find your original thoughts and opinions change.

 

And that's a great thing... because you're a lot more free than you realize.

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It's great that you've discovered an option. Why not just pursue as much of it as you enjoy or would support you through school, and if that leads to bigger choices, you can cross that bridge when you get there?

 

As long as you don't pose for anything you'd be ashamed of, what's the down side?

 

I wouldn't attribute not being taken seriously by seniors in any field as anything beyond having not yet earned it. I've worked in a male dominated field for most of my adult life, and performance tends to speak for itself. So? Keep on performing and see where it leads you. Breaking a single-minded focus by taking on more modeling work can actually be healthy and prevent you from going myopic.

 

EnjOy!

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Yes, this is what I needed reminding of. It's hard to be this age, there's a lot of pressure to have your whole life figured out. Mistakes hurt even more than they should.

 

It is hard when you feel pressure to make the, "right," choice... :friendly_wink: I think a lot of this pressure though is coming from yourself. In other words, it's ok if modeling doesn't work out, and it's ok if it does and you find a way to fulfill both your modeling and academic goals simultaneously.

 

And I knew an African American model who did very well and was happy with it, I don't think you'd be ignored at all right now. Many places are scouting for models that fit your description, it's becoming very popular to advance social awareness of minority beauties, so I don't think you'd feel passed over.

 

BUT, that said, the modeling world is extremely harsh and no matter how pretty or beautiful you are, you will often be harshly criticized - that's usually the rule of the day. You have to have a strong sense of separation of what people may say, and what you believe about yourself in order to survive.

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