Rejection and learning how to deal with it is critical to the success, happiness and health of any model or aspiring model. Whether every agency you’ve visited has passed on you or if you have an agency and the clients just aren’t booking you, realizing that rejection isn’t personal is key.
The clients aren’t booking me!
As someone who has seen the booking process from the agent’s perspective, even our most popular models were not successful with every client. Whom the client books is not based on beauty. Clients have certain standards when it comes to height, size, experience, strength of portfolio and polaroids, if the model has worked for a competitor, hair color, body proportions, season, if the model’s look fits the brand… The list can go on and on. Think of the process as being a little like dating – everyone has certain likes, dislikes, and characteristics they prefer in a mate and it’s no different when a client picks a model.
If you find you aren’t being booked as much as you’d like, please take some time to meet with your agent and ask if there is anything you can do to improve your success. Just be prepared to take the advice they give you! You may be asked to change your look, spend money on a test or new cards, or travel to another market to help build your book. Remember, your agent isn’t psychic and no advice is guaranteed.
I can’t find an agency to represent me!
If you’ve knocked on every door and are hearing “No thanks!” (or worse) at every turn, don’t give up. Maybe you need to drop/gain a size to be more desirable to clients, you might too closely resemble a model an agency already represents, your height might be an issue for their client base, or maybe you just don’t have the look that they are currently seeking. Take advice whenever you can get it and if you hear the word no, ask why.
Generally, if we felt an aspiring model had potential, but needed to make realistic changes (weight, skin, overall muscle tone), we would offer advice and have her come back when she was ready. However, sometimes there is just an overall sense of knowing that someone isn’t right for the agency and the best I could offer was that her look just wasn’t quite right for us.
Remember, modeling is a business. Agencies sign models they believe their clients will use. If you don’t make it as a model it isn’t because you are unattractive or unworthy. Many successful models have been turned down a few times before they finally find an agency to represent them.
Be persistent, but be smart. The reality is that if you are under 5’7″, your chances of making it as a model are slim to none. Don’t spend money unnecessarily because you think it will give you some magical way into the business. If you don’t meet the modeling standards and match what the market is looking for, classes, professional photography or conventions are not going to help.
If height seems to be the issue or you aren’t willing to change your size to become a model, commercial modeling may be right for you. Commercial models can be any shape or size. Rather than selling clothing, commercial models sell products. Probably the most commonly seen plus-size commercial models are in TV ads. Most commercial models are represented by agencies that handle actors rather than models.
Aaron Marcus has written a fantastic book about the commercial modeling business called How to Become a Successful Commercial Model: The Complete Commercial Modeling Handbook. It’s regarded as the “bible” of the industry.
Lastly, if you find that rejection is too difficult for you to manage, this might not be the industry for you. As mentioned above, every model faces constant rejection throughout her career – it’s just a part of the business. If you find the stress and self-esteem impact is wreaking havoc on your psyche, it’s probably time to move on.