Become a model is daunting and the journey is not as glamorous as perceived by society. It is a lot of hard work in which many moments in life is filled with doubt and fear. When I was a teenager I was approached by a casting agent at the mall. After a long talk with my parents, we agreed and decided to go. We found out the price of headshots were too high and could not go forth. I could not imagine the price to pay as a model. After leaving the agency, my parents and I got in a small car accident and I knew at the time it was not the time for me to do this. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was a coincidence, but I did not want to go through with it.
Fast track to a summer internship at VideoFashion News in NoHo NYC, I spent countless hours watching VHS tapes of fashion shows across Milan, London, NY to find the perfect clips for video editors. Some of my tasks were, find all the models wearing red shoes from a designer or look for interviews with Emilio Pucci, Alexander McQueen, Mark Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld and the names go on. I would have to note every timestamp for edits to cut the videos and make a video for television. All those days watching the videos I became consumed by the luxury, exclusivity, femininity and beauty of fashion. I also saw a lot of the behind the scene footages and had the opportunity to go on-site. While excited and nervous, the models looked jet-lagged, surrounded by hundreds while invoking an emptiness. I thought about my family and loved ones. I thought about how much they must miss everyone and how short-lived. As models they are often blended into the background, wearing a one-size fits all models global sample size, all to fit an image by a designer and make a name for themselves for future bookings.
During my college years, I met a young female entrepreneur who was incredibly talented. She would host henna events in our college campus, she did make-up, graphic design, photo shoots and more. She needed a model to shoot a Pakistani bride (I am Algerian but have similar features). She invited me over to meet her family in a grand house with a fountain inside and exotic birds. Her room looked like Arabian Knights set, with decorative pillows, hanging ceiling drapes, dim lights. I was comfortable with her, it felt as though I was getting ready for my own wedding. We spent hours getting to know one another. I thought about all my experience in the fashion world and I was drawn into this experience.
When I was a young girl my mother would dress my sisters up in similar attires and play music while we danced all night. This was in my element! My pictures ended up in a bridal magazine sold in Barnes and Nobles which was unreal for a college student. This experience was totally different from what I felt with runway models. I did not have to prepare before the shoot and go on a diet, I didn’t have to do fittings or casting calls. It was simple, fun and I was myself. There was no pressure from my dear entrepreneur and I was grateful to be myself during the shoot. I am sharing this photoshoot because I want to show I am not a model nor did I feel any pressure to do this. If you want to have a moment like this, find an independent photographer and express yourself or be your own creative director.
During college, I was also a resident advisor and co-chair of the International Club. I had the privilege to host events on campus and partner with external vendors as well as college initiative program called Fit & Fab. One evening, we hosted a runway with college students who wore what they wanted and walked the stage as they wanted. During the event, we asked them about their beauty and I was glad to hear it was not superficial. To be honest with ourselves and love ourselves, we must know our essence even if it is as small as I love that I help my community every Friday by cleaning up trash. I never thought I would have an opportunity to gather young ladies and show to the rest of the campus that we can be ourselves, freely. as college students, we are often going through an identity crisis and the love for oneself gets lost with all the distractions. What was even more beautiful was during the event we had a mix of females and men and we distributed self-care, health and beauty products for all. This was not an event made for women but for all to love themselves. So often we think of fashion and beauty stigmas are about women but they are for all humans. Beauty standards impact all ages, sexes, races in this planet. I wanted to spread love and happiness into our campus even if it was for one small evening. That is all it takes to make a large impact.
“Once we stop fixing ourselves, we become free to invent lives that inspire and excite us” – Lamia
Why am I bringing this story up in my life? I have encountered more and more articles about virtual models and AI creating images of “Instagram Models” and I am honestly scared for our population. A startup announced the first 100% computer generated female model to sign to a major international agency. Why is this needed? What is wrong with humans? I understand AI is now this realm of unknown and a fun science experiment but it is very quickly destroying us. AI and social media coupled will destroy our youth who hold the key to our future.
How can an algorithm determine beauty? AI learns from its surroundings that it has access to. Being that social media has dictated what beauty means, AI does not have the empathy to understand reality and emotional intelligence. I remind myself to not let social media ruin my perception of reality. Soon enough AI will make it even more difficult to discern what is real, so please do you research. I recently posted a tweet : In school, we are taught to reference credible source. With the
#tech climate, it is getting harder to distinguish what is real. Just like reading published articles, videos and images need questioning.
From my experiences in life with fashion and beauty, I have seen the behind the scene and have known models who have spoken truth about the reality of the industry. I have done my research, instilled love within myself and spoken to others about it. Even you, as my reader may not have experienced what I have or may have experienced more, I will leave you with this, love yourself and do not let an image of beauty and fashion distort who you are. We are individualistic. We are beautiful, complex species in our universe!
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