This is an open letter to all the predators, model coordinators and casting agents.
Recently, a model coordinator signed me up for a photo shoot. He explained to me the concept (it was a body shoot with another female model) and asked me politely, if I am okay with the format of the shoot. I said, yes. He wanted to see my pictures, I sent him a few.
He said we would first have a video call to see if I am ‘fit’. I agreed because I ‘understand’ how this field functions. On the video call, I was asked to undress, I obeyed. I was asked to take off my pants, I complied. And then, he asked me if I could take off my underwear. I freaked out. I said, NO. He clarified, “I just want to see if you are comfortable around people while shooting.” I told him politely, “Look, this is not something new for me. I know the job and I know where to draw the line. So, stop!”
He didn’t insist further, and said, “Okay your audition is done, I will send you the details of the shoot, soon.” He never sent them, and I understood why.
Here’s the thing. We work hard on our bodies to get casted. Every day, we think of how we can improve our acting skills to get featured in advertisements or movies. We get rejected, almost on a daily basis, and are told apathetically, ‘You do not fit’. Yet, we muster the courage and passionately apply everywhere, because of the hope, “If I do not fit here, somewhere else I will.”
We starve, only to stay in shape. I don’t propagate what we do, but we diet rigorously, we spend a lot of money to be called ‘upmarket’, we spend extensively on shoes, clothes, protein powder, gym and what not. We make multiple sacrifices, we put up a facade of happiness, even when we are struggling emotionally. Some of us have a full-time job to survive, and still, we do not give up on pursuing our dreams.
Our personal lives suck. If we date a non-model/actor, we are branded ‘playboys’ and ‘men who cannot be trusted’. If we are seen with other female models, it’s just assumed we are ‘sleeping with each other’.
We cry when we are rejected and deal with all kind of criticism. At times, we do not even speak of those rejections to anyone, because it hurts to exhibit ‘our flaws’, and there is hardly anyone around us to hear us out and understand what we envision and go through.
We upload a bare-body picture and receive messages from all kind of creeps, as if, we are certified sexual objects. We upload such images to get work, to be fit, to tell the circle that we are fit and not to attract your pervertedness.
We also, at times, stoop to a level we are ashamed of. We are objectified and laughed at, frequently. Yet, we live with the dream. So, if you are trying to exploit a model/actor in lieu of work, please stop! Draw a line. It’s just not fair.
A struggling, exploited model/actor