No one has ever told me I should be a model. But the pandemic got me thinking. And it also got me pumping.
What happens when a year-old journalist tries his hand at a notoriously unforgiving industry?
Where once my energy would have been expended cycling and walking everywhere, now it was rooted to the spot like an obedient dog. Having bought a pair of 15kg dumbbells in January, I decided to put this restless energy to good if decidedly vain use: I heaved these around for five or six workouts a week and tried to eat more than I normally would.
For the first time in my life, my body was becoming a different shape. My biceps grew, my chest expanded. The skin between the buttons of my smaller shirts started saying hello. The other by-product of a catastrophic global pandemic was that it became harder to get work as a freelance journalist. So, I thought, why not use the first development to solve the second? Why not ditch the penury of freelance journalism and live my life as an underwear model, splayed out on skyscraper-tall yachts, being painted golden by the sun?
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I worked out almost every day as the weeks and months dragged on. I imagined that this giant of the industry would be more than happy to help out a budding model in the same position he once w—. The agencies had to know that there was a hot new prospect in town, ready to be ed. As you can see, my initial poses were somewhat limited in their ambition. Still, I sent them to Harvey James, a male model I know, for some feedback. And after I asked him what he was talking about, I set about working on it.
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In terms of poses, he told me to do whatever feels natural. I sent these and more to a range of modeling agencies — Elite, Body London, Storm, Wilhemina — despite plenty of them specifically requesting hehots, side shots and that male models be over six feet tall. I got one nice from a scout at Uno. This was encouraging, but it was a rejection nonetheless. Perhaps I ought to bring the bar down a little.
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Three days later, I received a voic from Asirah. But in order to take me on, she said, they would need me to go to their studio, where they would take photos of me, which I would pay for. This was the first that the company is a scam. I told her I would think about it. This was the second that the agency is a scam. The third that the agency is a scam was that they take no commission from any work they might one day find for you — because, having charged you for the photos they took, why would they bother trying to find you work?
After receiving a range of s and missed calls from other dubious-looking companies — The Models Kit, Amaze Models — I looked up the companies and the s. I found cheated customers and reports of scams wherever I looked. This in particular is a valuable insight. Was I just hapless fodder for frauds? No, I thought.
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I pictured the yachts and the underwear. There was still time for me to reel in the big fish. I needed Tyson Beckford to feel threatened. I had to to enter the big league. I was sure that this would modelling the agencies sit up. Perhaps I needed to boy a closer look at what modern male models looked like.
As I browsed the Asos website, I noticed one feature again and again on the male models: tattoos. They almost all had tattoos. The UK went into lockdown when I wanted to get a tattoo, so I drew that on and added a small black heart above my own. But the agencies would believe it was the real thing — they would see the secret handshake, and extend their hand to meet mine.
I reapplied with these photos, sure it was the edge I needed. I imagined the magazine covers, the yachts, the money ….
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Perhaps, I decided, my fate was simply not to be an underwear model. Maybe, at the age of 31, I was committed to freelance journalism for the next 80 years. It had spat me out without even chewing me. He also attached a photo to give me an indication of why I had been rejected.
I could have said it was like looking in a mirror, but the battle was lost.
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I was never going to make it. Maybe the real underwear model was the rejection s I received along the way. This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter.
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