HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around masculinity in the 21st Century, and the pressures men face around identity. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, from bringing up young boys to the importance of mentors, the challenges between speaking out and 'manning up' as well as a look at male violence, body image, LGBT identity, lad culture, sports, male friendship and mental illness.
Interesting title right? Maybe even laughable! I can understand why. On shoots, us models are often referred to as "The Talent". I often try to justify this and I have come up with a few possibilities... Because we can smile with our eyes? Because we have learnt what kind of poses look good on camera? Because we have a type of look and the correct measurements of what's required to be a model in the industry? Well in that case thank my mum and dad for the genes that they have given me because I have sod all to do with my looks! Okay, maybe I moisturise on a daily basis. If moisturising is a talent then fuck me I am one talented bastard!
All jokes aside, I scratch my head and I can't think of one acceptable reason for being referred to as "The Talent". However, there are certain aspects of male modelling that aren't for everyone and not just anyone can do.
The other day I was having a chinwag with my old man at our local restaurant. I said I was tired and in his usual macho piss taking way asked something like "how can I be tired from trying on clothes all day?". Please bear in mind my dad has been a roofer for over 30 years. And believe me, roofing is a very, very tough job. I did it for longer than six years.
While I tucked into my healthy grilled salmon and veg I explained that I had been up since 6am, then after a day's work been to the gym and now I feel knackered. He had a giggle so I put him to the test. "Okay, how about I set up a photoshoot with you. I'll pay you £1,000 for the day. We will get you out in the public and you can bust out blue steel and have your picture taken, let's see how you get on mate!". He replied back dead serious saying "Bill, I wouldn't do it for 10 grand."
Why?? Ten grand is a huge sum of money for one day. My dad, a man who has worked his bollocks off his whole entire life on dirty roofs, shit weather and the heavy duty labour that has caused harm to his body wouldn't model for a chunk of money that is extremely hard to come by in one day. I think it's because male modelling is not as easy as some people think.
Physically - a walk in the park. Mentally - not so. To be under the microscope and judged as part of your job is by no means a walk in the park and that makes a great breeding ground for insecurities. Nobody is perfect, that's the truth of it. But as a male model, essentially we are a product and its ourselves we are selling... In a non-prostitute kind of way of course! If male modelling is your only source of income then you want to do your best to make yourself as marketable as possible. Striving for perfection is a lose-lose situation and that can be a mental battle in itself. Should I have had that pizza yesterday? Necked those beers over the weekend? Had that trip to the barbers? Gone to LA and partied with a bunch of transvestites and ordered far too many bottles of vodka and rubber ducks at the pool party.
Okay, maybe not the last one but what I'm saying is modelling is definitely a big lifestyle change for me that has taken time to adjust. The most normal things in life like a haircut can make you basically unemployed. Living life with a pinch of salt is also no easy task. The plans I make in my social circle are never concrete. I don't know what I'm doing from one day to the next or where the next pound note is coming from, it's all apart of being self employed I suppose. The difference is, is that we have a short shelf like and my look maybe in today but out tomorrow.. and then what?
"Dad, you still got my old steel toe caps mate?".
Please don't get me wrong there are many many perks of modelling and I do love my job dearly. I can do things with my life that I couldn't as a roofer. It has opened many doors. The headfuck that the fashion industry can be is a small price to pay. I am extremely grateful for the position that I am in and I do know that I'm a lucky bloke.
So, is male modelling an art form? Is it a talent? I strongly feel that it is not! Does male modelling warrant some sort of merit? Yes I think it does, but then again so does every other job. Male models are not above or below anybody else. We are seen as aesthetically pleasing to the eye and that is the reason why we get put on to a pedestal.
To blog on the site as part of Building Modern Men, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to read our features focused around men, click here, and for more about our partnership with Southbank Centre's Being A Man festival, click here.