Life as a Glamour Model: Accepting your career is over.

Accepting your career is over is something you never want to have to face, not this early on in life anyway. All the long lusted ideals of what your life will be like, the high hopes that you’ve hung your dreams upon and the promised land in which you never got to travel disappear from your eyesight. It’s over. I am no longer a model.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially when you are still so in love with your craft. Of course, everyone knows that there is a time limit to this career path, no one stays young forever they say. But the problem is, I still am. Whilst a lot of things in my life felt uncertain, my career was not one of them. I knew exactly what job I wanted, and I was as determined as anyone could be for success. I fell in love with modelling, fuck I fell hard. I loved every single moment of it. From the 5am Megabus’ to London and the castings in office cupboards, to the dodgy locations (yes FRONT mag) and even dodgier styling. The good always outweighed the bad when it came to this profession, always. I knew I was never the prettiest, the tallest, the skinniest, but I was adamant that I could make up for this through my boldness and fortitude in my love affair for this role. I faced off time and time again with rejection, yet each battle played a collective part in my story, building up a beautifully tragic puzzle of euphoric dreams and delusion.

Image by Harris Nukem

Being booked for a photoshoot was my Apollo 11. I was being paid to live out my childhood fantasy. I could never quite believe my luck. Each job was a journey, navigating at different stops. The first station would be hair and make-up, boy I loved this one. I would carefully soak in the craftsmanship, absorbing as much detail as I could on how to create the perfect smokey-eye. Each time without fail my eyes would water, their glazing blue-ness too sensitive for all the poking and prodding. I would sit there apologising, all red-eyed and irritated, clenching my fists praying that the tears wouldn’t fall and ruin the masterpiece which had adorned my face. The next stop was wardrobe, which usually consisted of various items of clothing spread out on the floor. “I hope I get that one” I’d think, waiting patiently for my look to be pieced together. I very rarely got “that one”, but I didn’t mind. I observed the stylist’s moves, their precision and eye for detail. Pinning and tucking, clipping and steaming. They minded every tag and seam with such an air of responsibility. The last stop put me in front of the camera. The holy grail. This is what it all came down too, this is what it was all for. Stepping on set always set off a wave of imbalance within me, a convulsion of hysteria and a dreaded feeling of don’t fuck it up. It was always in the back of my mind that this one shoot, this one job, could get me noticed and lead to my big break. That was both utterly terrifying and wholly spine-tingling. The photographer embeds their knowledge within you; chin up, back curved, towards the light, mouth a tad open. Their ability to execute an image in their mind to a living, breathing artwork in front of them is a demonstration of pure excellence. Anyone can pick up a camera, but only these select few are artists. Stepping off-set I would feel excited and drained. What if the pictures aren’t good enough. But as always, the good outweighed the bad, and I would leave the shoot feeling as if my dopamine levels had burst out of my brain. I want to feel this happy at work forever. I wish I hadn’t taken those days for granted.

Image by Matt Comer

Your life begins to build up around this path you’ve chosen. Your best friends become girls that you model with. Your travelling buddies become the make-up artists and stylists. Your agent becomes your second mother. Your drinking companions become the photographers. You meet up outside of work just because you want too. These people know all your secrets and your stories, your desires and your ambitions. You’ve shared life-changing experiences and travelled the World alongside them. You’ve created this whole family dynamic around you, and then one day, it’s just sort of, gone.

No one really warns you when your World is about to come crashing down. It doesn’t all happen at once. Much like a cliff repeatedly battered by the ocean, it silently erodes away piece by piece until one day you look up and nothing is there. This final stage of rejection is not one that I can accept so freely. I never fell out of love with modelling, but it fell out of love with me. The glamour industry evaporated and the other sector’s turned their back. You don’t fit the bill anymore, your job does not exist. I wish I had done more. I wish I had put myself out there more instead of spending so long feeling shy and uncertain of who I was. I wish I had spoken up and shared with my colleagues how much I really loved this job, this role as their fellow companion. The one thing left behind from my modelling days are my social media followers. But unfortunately this means I have to face trolling and negative comments about my looks, whilst no longer reaping any of the benefits that come with the job. I imagine it to be much like the career of a sportsman, through injury or old age (if you can call it that!) their time abruptly stops and they’re thrown back into the deep-end to try and forge a new path. Except when you’re a model, your passage has become blocked. Companies and brands don’t want to work with ex-glamour girls, and you’re once again running against the wind, trying to catch a break.

I’ve built up a plethora of knowledge through my experiences in this industry. I can, and have executed entire projects for brands from on-set shoot management, sourcing and casting, to client liaison, styling and production (you can check out some of my work here btw). But gaging respect from others as an ex-model is still something I struggle to find. The support network does not exist whilst the judgement unfortunately does. Life sometimes feels like an uphill battle and facing that your career is over as a 25 year-old, whilst feeling like you have so much left to give, is a hard wound to heal. I wrote this blog whilst tearing up, this really was my world. To many this may seem a bit silly, but starting from the bottom when you were so close to the top is a scary thing to face. I hope that I can be the exception and break away from the mould that us ex-models are forced into and forge a career behind the camera. But until then, I’ll continue to blog about my experiences through a new series I’ll be featuring called ‘THE MODEL DIARIES.’ Keep an eye out!

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18 thoughts on “Life as a Glamour Model: Accepting your career is over.

  1. It’s tough to imagine that the career of such a lovely person is already over at 25. It really sucks that the industry works like that, that feels really dumb and unfair too.

    On the plus side one thing ending just means tons of new possibilities to do something else.
    I hope you’ll manage to find some new thing that you enjoy doing as much as you enjoyed your modelling career. It’s easier said than done but gotta stay positive ! I’m sure you’ll rock it in any career you chose and I seriously wish you all the best 🙂

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    1. I’ll be writing all about stuff like this in the “model diaries” posts, but as you can imagine FRONT shot in quirky places for their look, which meant we would occasionally find dirty pants in the beds of not-so-posh rented locations 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was a very interesting read after flicking through your instagram. Not what I was expecting if I’m being honest. But, it does show so much insight into how we see all the glamour models and a bit more into how the job (likely not the same for all) forms and moulds you into the person you are now. I follow a lot of the women that used to feature inside FRONT, FHM, Loaded etc some 8-10 years ago. I’ve seen others from that time make their mark and then dissipate, names that seemed very large at the time. Those that have seemed to branch out with clothes modelling or with their own clothes/lingerie lines etc seem to still be strong in a modelling aspect. It’s very sad to see that you feel like your career is over, i have always thought of you as being a name that would always remain, as I always thought you were exceptionally memorable. Regardless, i hope you manage to find something else you love to do if a new avenue presents itself. But, always remember that there are people out there who thought you were brilliant, would love to see you carrying on doing what you love as it’s clear you enjoyed it, even when it came hand in hand with pressure. But if you don’t feel the pressure, you don’t care enough about that thing. Maybe that will help guide you to your next venture. Never give up on what you enjoy though, as it’s clear you enjoy it, and speaking as a fan myself, you were extremely good at it. Cheers

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  3. I love reading your blogs, hearing about your life. I suppose I was the “right” age when all these “lads mags” were around. It’s funny to think that Front mags locations were dodgy, but yet they were some of my fav shoots that you did. If I was to be honest you were my fav glamour model. Your natural beauty really made you stand out from all the rest. It’s hard to think how you could receive any negative comments from anybody, but I suppose those people exist and their not going anywhere (unfortunately).
    Could you maybe not take a different career path and use the extra skills you gained to go into make up or fashion design?
    Keep your head up, keep the people who love you and make you happy close to you and don’t give the negative people the attention that they so desperately crave.

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  4. Harsh reality. I never understood why people would object to glamoir modelling to the point of wanting to see it end. I’d rather see an end to domestic violence, racism, political corruption etc. But beautiful women having fun showing their beautiful bodies? It may be no consolidation, but in my opinion you were one of the best there ever was!!! The glamour career may be over, but you can do whatever you dream.

    Also I haven’t seen all of the Haris Nukem set (if there was one) but that image of you in this blog is one of the best shots ever. I love it.

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  5. I have been following you since 2011. It’s kind of sad when I knew you decided to stop modelling. You are really beautiful (the most beautiful in my opinion) and thoughtful, quite rare combination of traits. I am about your age, and only just start my career. Maybe your glamour modeling career is over, but there are mamy more other opportunities. I hope you the best in the future.

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  6. Jess I’ll start by saying that, from the first moment that I saw your face on those glossy glamorous pages, you’ve been, and will forever remain, my favourite model – in my opinion THE most glamorous girl!
    (that Harris Nukem set was my absolute favourite)

    Having twice in my own short career had a job seemingly evaporate underneath me, I have some idea what you’re going through right now – AND IT SUCKS!

    But, it will get better!

    Having read this piece it’s evident that you dearly love the industry you work in, and that passion, coupled with everything you’ve done and learned, and the work ethic you clearly have, mean that I’m certain that you will uncover new opportunities and go on to even greater success!

    This isn’t the end, it’s merely the beginning!

    Good luck and, as those photographers used to say, keep
    your “chin up… towards the light”!

    Like

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