As my last blog post on Kendall Jenner being bullied highlighted, models are burdened with misconceptions of bitchiness, backstabbing and hunger-induced nastiness.
Well let me tell you what my experience has been: nothing could be further from that misguided, clichéd misrepresentation. I have met some of the most wonderful, supportive and fascinating people in my job. Granted, many of them are fruitloops, but if you become a model you will find that the solitariness and peripatetic lifestyle of modelling encourages you to instantly bond with people.
However – and it is a big however – you need to remember that, though people are genuine, the friendships are rarely going to stay that intense forever. You’ll get used to going on trips, on which you’ll share your innermost secrets, feeling like you’re having the best time of your life…only to walk away from everyone at the airport, while the next model comes in for her few days of shooting. You may never see any of them again. It seems fake for those not accustomed to the lifestyle – but it’s not, and I’ve learnt to embrace it.
I call the relationships I form with people on shoots ‘genuine acquaintances’ – you really do like each other, it’s just that it’s impossible to stay best buddies with every single person you meet through this job, forever.
I didn’t really realise any of this until I went to University. I thought I’d made dozens of great friends in my fellow models, bookers and photographers. But when I headed off to Bristol to study…I didn’t hear from any of them. None of them came to visit me like my school friends did. And when I came back, they were happy to see me but most didn’t even realise I’d been away!
Apart from Joe Moreline, of course…
It wasn’t through malevolence – it’s just that everyone is moving around so much, working in different countries or off to Uni themselves, they’re used to not seeing one another for a year or more. I learnt my lesson: though you have a great time with people, making great mates and some really wonderful friends in the fashion industry…
…In most cases, no one will compare to your original friends from your original hometown, who saw you through your ‘embarrassing Goth phase’ or saw you naked and drunk on holiday, trying to put a bag on over your head, and helped you put your nightie on instead and tucked you in for a nice sleep with water by your bed (thanks Christine!)
So my best advice for modelling is embrace the brilliant people you meet. Talk to them, learn from them, party with them and totally make great friendships. It’s not about bitchiness or fakery in this industry, no matter what the media says!
I have model friends in New York who I’ve never met (Hi Hartje!) as well as my officially hashtagged #bookingsfamily – my agency has a bevy of lovely girls and bookers who all get on, encourage and support one another. I’ve even had some of them round for my famous blueberry cheesecake!
Winning friends and influencing people via a crumbly biscuit base. Feng, Rudie, Caroline and Emily are all at my agency, Bookings.
I love the variety of people who I’ve met, bonded with and who have supported and entertained me throughout the years! But never, ever, ever stop nurturing your friendships with your original bestest friends, no matter where in the world you’re shooting. If there’s one thing you need in modelling, it’s to stay grounded – and your best friends probably don’t care about who opened for Balmain this season and prefer heading out to Wetherspoons than whatever shiny club that promoter’s inviting you out to tonight. Your best friends will keep tagging you in embarrassing photos of your Goth phase, and continue to tease you about boys you’ve regrettably snogged, and that’s great – because in modelling, you never ever want to lose sight of where you came from (Morden, in my case).