Personal insecurity. When your job is linked to your looks, how do you detach the two?

Insecurity when modeling

So how could it be possible that you are insecure, when you are able to make money and build a career sheerly based on how you look? Ridiculous! Alright, ready for some online honesty? I am very insecure about how my body looks. Why? The true awareness and insecurity came with this job. I can imagine that you would expect this exactly the other way around, because apparently the way I look is nice enough that people pay to make pictures of it! I wish it would be that easy. Really. But think for a second to whom I compare my body on a daily bases. I work with some of the best looking men in the world, that have bodies that are stunning. And then there’s me. Of course, compared to them I don’t exactly look like a stud muffin.

Example of insecurity during a fashion shoot

Another example is the following circumstance (which has happened on several occasions in the past years): While working on a shoot they are considering having me in the picture shirtless. ‘Hey Marius, take your shirt off for a second? Ah, okay, you can put it back on now.’ This always brings me relief (I don’t like being photographed without a shirt on), but on the other hand, it hurts as well.  A last little example is the reaction of people that hear you are a model. I was reminded of a very funny incident a couple of years back. I was at a party of a dear friend, and a friend of his asked me what I do for a living. I responded by telling him I am a model. He looked me up and down, looked me straight in the eyes and told me ‘No you’re not.’  His theory was that I needed to be better looking, and dress super sharp to fit his idea of what a model should look like. Even though this example is a funny one, there is a hint of truth in it: once someone knows you are a model, you are looked at in a more critical way than others.

How insecurity works in the modeling World

I would like to elaborate a bit on the following illogical logic: booking big campaigns = I’m looking good, no work for a while = I’m looking lousy. When the big jobs are rolling in, you’re on top of the world. Besides the challenge to keep yourself grounded, these are amazing days! Doors are opening, bookers are friendlier, many new friends await (although I am quite sure not the permanent ones). But the challenge comes in when the phone stops ringing for a while.

We all feel insecure sometimes

A key point to remember is that insecurities are familiar to us all. Model, doctor, mailman or scientist, I think we all have our thoughts and insecurities, and as long as they do not become a problem and hinder you in your daily life and decisions, I think it’s fine to have them. Maybe it’s even good for me to have them, otherwise maybe I would consider myself quite the superstar by now. When you hit a dry spell though, as mentioned before almost all of us hit one here and there, it is very tough not to grab a mirror and start analyzing what got less nice. The tough character of insecurity lies in its self-fulfilling element: grab a mirror, be convinced something is not looking good, and you will find it. I try not to grab that mirror.

READ MORE: Modeling: Model Behavior

The fashion World is a fickle one

As a model, I think it is good to remember that the fashion and catalogue world is a fickle one. Sometimes, it’s just not about you. Maybe regular clients decided to go for a fresh face, maybe a client saw a polaroid that they didn’t like. Maybe they didn’t see you at the casting because they were noticing that there was too much sugar in their coffee. The point is, fashion many times is about small moments, small windows to impress, small chances to be taken or to miss. Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s hard work, and many times it is about factors that you just cannot influence. Don’t get me wrong, if you want the work, you have to put in the effort and time to look the way that is expected of you, but a dry spell does not always mean you are to blame.

READ MORE: Modeling: The Option

Don’t take it personal

What I learned to do is to not take comments made at work in a personal way. Let’s face it, a photoshoot is not about me. Modeling made me so nervous in the beginning, since I had the feeling that everyone was looking at me. But slowly I understood this was not the case. Let’s break that down: the stylist is checking if his clothes are looking good. The make-up artist is checking if his work is in order. The photographer is checking if the picture is coming out how he wants to. The art director is thinking if the picture fits in the story he is trying to tell. The client is checking if his product is coming out right. The assistants of the photographer are checking if the light is good and if there aren’t any funny shadows anywhere. Who there is really looking at me, Marius Hordijk? When you look at it like this, not that many people at all, even though you are in every picture. This realization helped me a lot to understand the role of the model, and to not shy away too much from the perceived attention. And when they tell me to put my shirt back on? I put it back on. It’s not about me.

Marius

First published by Marius Hordijk on December 11th 2011, updated in 2019