BENGALURU: Think showbiz, think glitter, glamour, and spotlights. But behind all this is anxiety, rejection and fear of failure. While much has been talked about the pressure of maintaining that size-zero figure, mental issues that plague models is rarely brought up. The fashion industry is slowly limping back but the new normal has brought on new worries. Loss of a fixed income and scarce opportunities has put popular models in a vulnerable space.
While competition is not new in the industry, Sangeetha Ramesh, a model for the last five years, points to the insecurity the pandemic has brought with it. “There is scarcity of opportunities. Models are worried about their source of income,” she says, adding, “Our industry is not very different from the film industry. You will probably find the prettiest faces here, but there’s rejection that has to be faced on a daily basis. And this manifests into self doubt.”
Ramesh, who has been the face of many prominent brands goes on to add that rejection is not always about lack of talent. “Many e-commerce sites prefer foreign models even for their Indian attire. There is an underlying discrimination. The current situation is such that even though many models have gone back to their home countries, the ones who have stayed back are flooded with opportunities while brown-skinned models are left without any work,” says Ramesh who fears that ‘free shots’, something the industry is known for, will only become rampant among new-comers.
Just a year into the industry Maanya Girish was set for the new projects that she had signed on. But the pandemic played spoil sport, and now Girish wonders what the future holds. “All my three shows were cancelled. I am now doing some friendly shoots to network,” says the 18-year-old.
While opportunities are diminishing, maintenance costs which form a large chunk for models, continue to rise. Twenty-one-year-old Leeannah Alexander, who has walking the ramp for three years, goes through a painstaking process to keep herself fit and groomed. “As models we have maintain ourselves in every way- skin, hair, body. But due to the lockdown, many outings to spas and salons have come to a halt so I have been following home workouts and a DIY skin care routine,” she says.
With times being uncertain, industry veterans find themselves in an evolving space. Fashion Guru Prasad Bidapa has been working on a virtual fashion show, which could be the way forward, offering a ray of hope to models. “There are no shows or gatherings. It was time for fashion to go virtual too. It’s a tough time for the industry, but hopefully, a platform like this will help showcase talent,” he says.