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Modeling Tip: How to Cope With Rejection

Rejection is unavoidable in the modeling world. Every model will be told “No, thanks”—by agents, by photographers, by casting directors. And often they won’t get the courtesy of the “thanks” part. The first thing I taught my son when he started going on acting auditions was to forget about the audition after it’s over. You walk out the door and don’t think about it again unless you get a call from your agent saying you’ve booked it (which is rare, that’s just the way the odds are stacked). Castings are part of a model’s job; every job has the monotonous, tedious tasks that must get done, and the bookings are the payoff for tenacity and discipline.

Supermodel Joan Smalls

Joan Smalls, the first Latina face of Estee Lauder

I don’t think all this rejection is a bad thing. In the real world, everyone is not the Most Valuable Player on the team and feelings are not protected by a fabricated culture of ultra fairness, as is the case often in school these days. What a model must recognize is that the rejection is not personal. By and large modeling is about superficial characteristics: your figure, your hair color, your petite nose, your symmetrical face. Aside from taking care of yourself—working out, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, plucking your brows, maintaining your highlights, dressing in flattering clothes—you have little control over how much you will work. Personality plays a part. It can help to be cheery, agreeable, funny, and interesting, but those qualities alone will not make you a supermodel. The genetic lottery will.

Lauren Hutton

Lauren Hutton, one of the most enduring models

The hardest part is determining when to believe the naysayers and perhaps pursue a different career, and when to soldier on and keep chasing the dream. Plenty of models have defied the odds and proven that determination pays off: gap-toothed 5’7″ Lauren Hutton (she lived on pot pies while spending months trying to get an agent in New York), Kate Moss (a midget next to the supermodels on the scene when she started modeling), Puerto Rican supermodel Joan Smalls (rejected at first in New York for being too “dark,” until IMG’s Ivan Bart accompanied her to castings as her cheerleader. Now rated the #1 model in the world on models.com). Heidi Klum was originally relegated to catalog modeling at Metropolitan until Elite reinvented her as an editorial girl.

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum, hardly the catalog girl she was originally labelled

The bottom line: Models need to have a thick skin. The great news is, the color of their skin doesn’t matter so much anymore.

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