THE REALITY OF BEING A MODEL IN ASIA-THE STRUGGLE TO BE THIN ENOUGH
When I tell people I used to live in Asia for modelling, often I get asked why I chose to go there.. Well, I didn't really, at least at the time I didn't think I had any other options if I wanted to be a model. Since I'm "only" 5'8 tall, I'm considered to be quite short to be a model in Europe. Therefor I was offered to go to Asia, since the average hight is shorter there compared to here, and I was the perfect hight for the Asian industry.
My first trip was to Istanbul, to start nice and close to home, it was just for a month or so to build up my Portfolio. I've been told since I'm "curvier", It would be the perfect destination for me, since Turkish clients like their models to have curves. - Me liky btw ;)
I've got booked on a lot of magazine shoots, which was great for my portfolio - not so good for my wallet tho', magazine shoots pay very little money, so I returned to Hungary with a strong book, but with an empty bank account... So I had to be quick to decide where to go next, since I had no savings, and my parents couldn't really help out with funds. My boyfriend at the time spoke Japanese, so we had the idea to go to Japan, so we could spend some time there together, both of us working - me as a model, and him as a translator. So I went to my agency and told them our idea. This is when I realised it's not going to be an easy ride. I've been told I had to lose weight to be a model in Asia, that they liked models to be much thinner than I was, and if I wanted to make it there I had to lose quite a lot of weight.
So I panicked. I didn't know any better -back those days there was next to no information available, as I was from a small town, internet was kind of popular, but clearly not as it is right now, and my agency never sat me down to give me a proper education on how to lose weight in a healthy way- so I starved myself, only ate about a small bowl of steamed vegetables a day. I've been told that the agency in Osaka liked me and they would give me a month to lose the weight, and we would have to send them new polaroids of me in bikini so they can make sure I'm the right size. I've been told they sent girls back the same day they arrived because of the measurements that have been stated in the modelling contract were different to what they got when the model got there. Aaaaannnyway, long story short, I starved myself to a silly state, when I went to see my mother agency a month later, they were super impressed and proud, and when I got to Osaka the first thing my agency did was measuring me, made me watch a VIDEO TAPE on how to pose the way they like it (yes, seriously), then they told me if it was possible they'd love me to lose some more weight, but only from my thighs. I went straight to McDonald's and had a double cheese burger. :)
That's where this crazy ride of diets and the constant hunger started. And I was almost never the right size for them, but they liked my face for beauty shoots, so they took me on board. I literally always got asked to try and lose weight, I always tried my best, worked out, and ate very little, or almost no carbs, but it's just not the way my body naturally is, and I always ended up putting the weight back on very quickly once I spent just about a week eating what I would normally have growing up..
So how does it work being a model in the ASIAN MARKET?
First, your mother agency in your home country recommends a couple of places to you that they think would work for you and your type the most. Then you pick, they send your polaroids to the ones you chose, and from the ones that are interested you choose the best one to go with and the agencies start sorting things out for you. Good thing is, you don't need to have money to start travelling, normally the agency in your chosen destination will take care of flights, the driver once you get there, that will take all their models to all the castings to make sure they turn up, the model apartment, that you share with 3-8 people, weekly pocket money and their portfolio with your cards that you carry with you to castings.
Don't get too excited, they won't forget about a penny, they'll deduct it all (and more) once your contract ends from all the shoots you did. I'll get into more details about this system in my next post and explain you more about it.. So! Because of all this power they have over you, they can decide to tell you you won't get pocket money until you lose the weight they demand you to lose for example.
When you go to pick your pocket money up at the agency every week, they start with measuring everyone to see if you are still the right size, bust, waist, hips, thighs, then they put you on the scale just in case.. If you put on weight, you get no pocket money until the next time they measure you in a weeks time. I also once got my contract terminated because I wasn't able to lose the weight they required fast enough, and they sent me back to where I flew there from, which was Hong Kong. Nice, ha? :) Luckily I had two Hungarian girlfriends of mine living there still, so I had somewhere to stay until I found my next destination, but seeing Hong Kong isn't famous for their large, spacious apartments, the best we could do is have me sleeping on the floor on a yoga mat. Fab model life right there... :)
Oh, and I have also been told that I should never take my high heels off because they make my legs look longer and thinner. Sure thing... :))
Models would constantly be on crazy diets, there was a very few fortunate people I knew that was naturally very skinny, and they could eat whatever they pleased. Good for them, their trips must have been so much easier than mine, haha.
SOME OF THE VERY FEW SKINNY SHOTS I FOUND :)
To be honest, I'm struggling to find pictures that shows my body off, as I didn't have my own camera or laptop back in those days 10-11 years ago, so I have next to no pictures left from Osaka, where I was about 12 kg less than I am right now.. but the pictures above will give you a good idea..
I'd really like to mention tho', that I've been told I would never make it as a model in Europe due to my hight, which is why I never even tried. I came to London to celebrate New Years Eve with my ex boyfriend's family, and since we stayed for about two weeks for a short holiday before I had to fly to Istanbul for my next contract, I thought I'd ask around to see if I can contact any "Commercial agencies". These agencies focus on booking you on anything other than high fashion jobs really, TV commercials, clothing catalogues, beauty product shoots, book covers etc.
I've been recommended MOT MODELS, I thought it'd be a good idea to have them in case they have a direct booking for me while I'm in Europe, so even if I was in Istanbul, they could fly me to London just for a photoshoot. They NEVER ONCE told me I needed to lose weight, NEVER made me feel bad about myself, they told me clients really liked me and asked me to stay. This was over 6 years ago, and I couldn't be happier I made the decision to stay.
I am a larger size now compared to what I was before, and I'm VERY comfortable in my skin, I don't starve myself, I try and eat healthy as much as I can, but even if I have few days or even weeks - whoopsie ;)- when I eat all the carbs I want, I'm still ok with it, because I know it's all about balance, and if I'm careful, in a week or two I can always get back to my healthy, non bloated state.
Hope you enjoyed this post, and to the girls struggling out there I'd like to say YOU DON'T NEED TO, there is a market for EVERY BODY TYPE in London!
In my next post I'll get into a bit more details on life in general as a model in Asia, both good and bad, stay tuned! :)