Fashion industry: The ugly world of pretty people

Published: December 3, 2010

The fashion industry may look glamorous from the outside but it has some serious loopholes.

The fashion industry may look glamorous from the outside but it has some serious loopholes. It’s refreshing to see superstars air kissing at award shows and interviewing each other on morning TV shows and it may lead someone to think that this is the only industry in Pakistan where people actually get along. But this friendliness can turn pretty ugly if one knows the right amount of dirty secrets that surround this industry. What are some of these dirty secrets of the fashion industry?

Primarily, there is a lot of nepotism and corruption in showbiz.

I scratch your back

In the Pakistani fashion industry as well as internationally, the crucial “networking” culture exists. Models who are starting out have to pay a heavy cost for their career at times and these costs can vary. Getting ahead in the industry requires less talent and more friendly “introductions” at parties and soirees.

Corruption in the glamour world

We may talk about corruption in different industries, but never talk about under-the-table deals that take place in the glitzy world of show biz. One common complaint has been that models are made to pay photographers, or talent “gurus”, for their first few photo shoots and thought this was unfair.

Getting the skinny

Aside from paying for the first shoot, eating disorders form another negative aspect of this glamourous world. Models are human; they can gain weight too! Some famous models have complained that they have to lose weight when they are switching between TV and modeling because TV producers want them to look healthy, while the fashion world demands they be thin. The criteria changes for them and fluctuating weight to get modeling assignments become hard for them.

Frenemies with benefits

There is lot of hypocrisy in this field, and while hypocrisy exists in other fields of work too, the kind that prevails here is strange. For instance, a famous photographer and model may be close friends but the photographer will deny their friendship in public. The photographer will exploit the model and also keep spreading rumors about him or her.

Strike a pose (for free)

Another dirty secret of the modeling world is the non-professional behaviour of paying models. Most new models complain that they are not paid on time. A female publicist once complained about how people ask her to find “new talent” and she is promised 25 per cent of the commission. She complained that receiving her payment was painful. The truth is that new models have to work for free or for peanuts.

Vulnerable until proven successful

The last and ugliest hallmark of the fashion industry is when young and fairly new models fall prey to sexual predators. Most models are abused by them and the models who want to begin their career and earn a good name in the modeling world often fall prey to gay photographers, artists, stylists and even designers at times. Another male model complained that he never got paid for his shoots.

A straight model complained to a publicist about the male photographer who was constantly harassing him during a photo shoot.  While on the other hand, an event manager pointed out that “homophobia is a hallmark of the fashion industry.”

So this is how the beautiful world of fashion transforms into an ugly one. These are some of the high costs that models pay to build their careers- surviving in this industry is no piece of cake.

Sadaf Fayyaz

Sadaf Fayyaz

A freelance journalist, photographer, blogger and writer's take on life, culture, media and everything else.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mahvesh

    ‘Homophobia is a hallmark of the fashion industry’? Really? Which industry? Internationally, it doesn’t exactly matter. Nationally, it’s not a ‘hallmark’ of the industry, it’s the hallmark of your whole society! Do you belong to the said industry? This wasn’t penned after watching Devil Wears Prada or the various Next Top Model versions was it? Recommend

  • Huma Iqbal

    I didn’t understand your point here Saddaf. Either you give a few details (naming or not would have been your choice) and hence a bit of an analysis or simply add some thought-provoking links or thread as we call. This piece of yours, unlike the good ones in the past, seems to be nothing but a thin wafer in thin air. No substance, no matter. Recommend

  • Muhammad Sarfraz Abbasi

    so the movie “fashion” helped you in writing this :)Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    Sadaf i must honestly this is a terrible piece, you havent illustrated things to fully make your point. For some reason it feels like copied from a tv show where everyone is just dam bitchy, political and manipulative. While i admit some of the industry stereotypes might be true, you have regular people jumping into showbiz also, without naming anyone you could have given examples instead of dragging the dog eat dog world theory.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Waste of blog space, you wrote well in the past, but seriously what was this? Im sorry but awful blog.Recommend

  • Shahbaz

    above mentioned term “homophobia” you’r expressing it viably while its been happening through out the country not even a single field of life safe from it. Recommend

  • Waleed khan

    ‘fashionistas’ clearly felt the pinch. Evident from the comments. Maybe they came here to find some juicy gossips and names.Recommend

  • Taha Kehar

    I understand that citing sources would have been particularly risky, but perhaps this could have been overcome had you focused on both sides of the story. Your piece mainly explores the perspective of the models. A more conclusive strategy would have been to provide the point of view of various fashion designers/owners of modelling agencies. That would have made your piece a bit more cohesive.

    This is not to say that this is an ”awful” blog post with contents derived from movies.More importantly, this was certainly not a waste of time or space. It was actually a very creative attempt at highlighting a very different form of corruption.

    Excellent work!Recommend

  • Nojeba

    I completely agree with you on this one. Our fashion industry is full of hypocrites. they have made certain groups and to establish your name in the market you have to join that group i.e; suck up to them.

    I know a few people in the fashion industry, they call models/ designers insulting names and bad mouth them then 5 minutes later write compliments on their wall on facebook. Recommend

  • Piscean

    stop blaming LGBT community .They are not the hallmarks of fashion industry.There are gays in banking sector,agriculture and etc.Its just a sexual orientation not a degree to pursue fashion/art career.

  • parvez

    Fashion, hand bags and such flakey stuff is just not your cup of tea.Recommend

  • Gold Coast Photographers

    Not sure about some of your comments. You mentioned some new models have to work for peanuts. Why is that different to any other industry. The newest and most inexperienced earn less money. As you become more popular and more experienced and more sought after, you get paid more. Its called supply & demand and has been the cornerstone of any society for many hundreds of years. I do agree that there are some unscrupulous characters in the industry but again, is that any different to any other industry. The movie industry, how do people get a start in that ?Recommend

  • Zarab

    I m Agree. Mam! U have done a good job.

    Pakistan’s Corporation Under World.
    No Laws But Greed.
    Destroying our Cotton by Propagating Sex.Recommend

  • Salman Shah

    Ummmm..a letdown Sadaf. Keeping in view your previous ones, this one is a downer. Much better is expected from you.Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    Had I written this piece, it would have been dirtier. The author has tried to work on very very safe lines. I know a few people from the industry too and it is governed by less morals than it appears. Good job, Sadaf. You write the best stuff.Recommend

  • http://-- Liaqat Ali Khaskheli Advocate

    On 4th December 2010 Sindh Cultural Day
    Today all Sindhi celebrating their cultural day everywhere in Sindh, other cities of the country and all over the world wherever they are residing. At this occasion other nations Balouch, Punjabi, Pakhtoon, Siraiki of the country and at the moment representatives of other countries in Pakistan are also participating and enjoying this cultural day with Sindhi Brothers. I appreciate their contribution and role play with Sindh for today. Sindhi People have started to presents of AJRAK AND TOPI to their friends of other nations. Off course Sindh and Sindhi Culture having five thousand years back ground history since Moen-jo-Daro, from time to time encouraged by residents of Sindh and also introduced Sindhi culture in all over the world by AJRAK, TOPI, PATKO, RILHI INCLUDING OTHER HANDICRAFTS and FURNITURE OF HALLA. AJRAK (piece of cloth) was liked by Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and also visitors from all over the world. The renowned poet Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai of Sindh prays for all humankind including Sindh and says in his poetry.
    ” Saeem Sadeen Kareen Matay Sindh Sukar,
    Dost Tu Dildar Alam Sabh Abaad Kareen”.
    Liaqat Ali Khaskheli AdvocateRecommend

  • Asad

    True but this is something not new and we all know what type of characteristics such people possess. This time it was bit dry but not bad at all. Keep up the good work

    @ Liaquat Ali Khashkheli – Saeen or kahan kahan copy paste mara hay aap nay ye paragraph…Ab Ajrak or Topi say bahir niklo or kuch kaam karo.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    @Liaqat Ali Khaskheli Advocate: Can’t find the connection to this blogpost :SRecommend

  • Humanity

    Interesting! Those who make good money in the fashion industry can most likely make a decent living in other professions as well. The question is that besides making good money, what else is the underlying motive that attracts people to work for the fashion industry? Would like to hear on hat people think about this question :)Recommend

  • zaigham

    well this time you stopped short of being a “ghairat brigadier”… ROFL…

    the industry is rotten to the core… but this is not limited to Pakistani fashion industry, its the norm world over…

    “So this is how the beautiful world
    of fashion
    transforms into an ugly


  • Hi

    You didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. This topic has been written about, discussed, filmed, etc so many times that if you’re going to continue with this discussion you should bring something new to the table.Recommend

  • Pheycel Ecber

    Well the writer has expressed her view point quiet sweetly. Yes all this is more or less very known and accepted too. Things need to be redefined. Our culture has helped groom this society secretly, as we were and are not allowed to put debate on such topics and sexuality gay and lesbian sex. So things kept growing under, and now they have started showing up. I would like to add up, its the bravery or limitation of this industry that it comes in to the spot like what relations which have. Otherwise, no one feels comfortable in it. I think one cannot stop these things. Corruption and mafia is every where in every society and world.
    Glamorous world has always more audience than presidential speech by Obama. So you cant hide yourself. Now I have found that most of celebrities have started enjoying the state of contravorality they are in.
    To be beautiful is God gifted, and to express as glamorous need work and that’s truly hard. If models do think of all these mishaps why they come into it. I dont think any photographer or media person can force a girl or guy to be a model. Recommend

  • Yousaf

    There was no need to writing this all, instead recommend everyone to watch the movie “Fashion”Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Jalwa, fashion ka hai yeh jalwa :p.Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    @Liaqat Ali Khaskheli Advocate: Are you sleepwalking?Recommend

  • Obaid

    as opposed to the religious industry shipping arms & warriors overseas? :PRecommend

  • Numair A. Abbasi

    Im sorry but what is your credibility over this issue? Are you an insider?Recommend


    what ever you said is right.i know you might have experienced it all and got this information because you have seen it yourself.and i agree this happen in pak.people in pak are ugly and want to harass women and sexually torture in anyway.our society had made this ,our people .i hope everything get well soon hereRecommend

  • FS

    Good work Sadaf Fayyaz !!! =) and the people who said “Waste of blog space…or There was no need to writing this all” then I must say, you’ve just said the TRUTH that what our so called Fashion Fraternity is all about…keep it up!Recommend

  • OKT

    None of this is news. Did you copy this from Wikipedia?Recommend