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The illusion of being a model

“Modelling is about beauty, but an also an energy. That’s not a size”

“It makes me sick.”

“I ended up feeling empty.”

“If you hate yourself and your body, it will only be getting worse and worse.”



These are the words from the famous Cara Delevingne about the modelling industry. One of the most influential and unique models dropped out of the industry back in 2015, after everything going so well for her, because she felt it was morally wrong to stay in a career that didn’t align with her personal values.


Cara was signed at the age of 17 and hastily shot to fame not long after. However, sometimes it seems as though even the most laid back people in the spotlight can only take so much. Cara left the modelling industry at 22, primarily because she was put under immense pressure about her weight. Being heavily scrutinized about your lifestyle choices can leave a person feeling empty. In a recent interview Cara said “I like to make people feel a certain way, make them laugh or cry, but not in a bad way” and she did not feel like she could achieve that whilst in the modelling industry. She also gave us a small insight regarding how much confidence and determination it takes to make it in the modelling industry and how much pressure women and men have to face: “it’s horrible living in a world where you’re straight up told you need to lose weight.”


Cara has also been standing up and looking out for younger women getting into the modelling industry “I am a bit of a feminist and it makes me feel sick,” she recalls. “It’s horrible and it’s disgusting. You start when you are really young and … you get subjected to … not great stuff” showing us she is willing to speak about the upsetting truth of the modelling industry which affects many women mentally and emotionally. All this pressure has lead Cara to develop a psoriasis outbreak as it affected her mental health immensely, which makes me wonder… do we only see the good side of modelling when it comes to our everyday lives? Are we really aware of what goes on behind the scenes? How much pressure these men and women are put under to portray the ‘perfect’ image? It is a very debatable question, however, I am aware of how difficult making it in the modelling industry is, tough competition and very high expectations can throw you off at times.


I spoke to a person who is quite successful for her age in the modelling industry, to find out her perspective on how it is to be a young woman in fashion. She described her experiences as bittersweet, saying “you go to castings, many many castings, not knowing if you will be picked, you look around and competition is everywhere. You get used to it but, sometimes you can’t take it and it kills your confidence which takes time to build up again. You need to be mentally strong and prepared to face the expectations set for you, if you’re not ready, you will crumble.”


Even though at the first glance modelling seems like an easy job that is a great source of money, honestly, it is not. I personally feel that people have a certain perception about modelling, thinking their job is frivolous and easy money, which is not the case. Men and women alike have to keep their bodies in shape by working out and dieting, as well as attend several castings, shoots, sometimes being picked sometimes not being picked, meeting expectations set for them, improving how they walk, improving their posture and more. All of this is an everyday routine for people in the modelling industry which to me just screams immense determination and work! So there are good and bad sides to the modelling industry, but seeing as one of the most successful ladies dropping out at only the age of 23 it has certainly made me realise that modelling is not easy and it affects people mentally. I am very happy Cara has stood up for herself and left what she didn’t feel was right to pursue an acting career which has been successful so far, and I also think this is eye opening hearing about the modelling industry from an immensely successful model herself, she isn’t the first and won’t be the last to raise awareness about the reality of the industry. Now it’s down to you what you think, is modelling still easy? A confidence booster? Or is it a mental and emotional career journey for most models?


Image credits – Sebastian Faema ,Vogue China and Eniz van Lamsweerde

Written by Hannah Akindi