Fashion industry: The ugly world of pretty people

Published: December 3, 2010
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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.