The untold truth of the modeling world

For many people, the life of a model seems to be an ideal one. You get to travel the world, wear designer clothes, all while making a lot of money. But the lifestyle of a model is not all glitz and glamour. There is a lot that goes on when the cameras aren't flashing that might shock anyone who isn't familiar with the modeling world. Here are some things you may not know about the modeling world.

It can be incredibly boring

While it may look like models are living the high life, it's not always as exciting and fast-paced as you would expect. Rachel Woods, a model and the author of The Model's Guide, told Marie Claire that models need to have a lot of patience. A lot of time is spent "waiting around." There's a lot of downtime, she said, "whether that's waiting to get your hair or makeup done, waiting for the photographer to set up, waiting to get your photos back, waiting for runway shows to start or waiting to be seen at castings."

The pay isn't great

If you're looking to break into modeling so you can earn big bucks, you'll likely be disappointed. Jessica Schiffer, a former model and a contributing editor at Who What Wear said that the income of most models is meager.

According to Schiffer, "The only models who truly make money are the supermodels — otherwise you're in debt to your agency, who fronts the fees for test shoots, clothes for castings, model apartments, and daily spending money, and then deducts it from whatever laughable income you make."

CNNMoney reports that wages in this "cutthroat industry" often are not enough to make ends meet and that "many aspiring and working models earn unlivable pay and end up indebted to their agencies." One model interviewed, Emily Fox, has modeled internationally but still reports making less than $20,000 a year most years.

Women earn more money than men

If you're a man trying to make it big in the modeling world, your prospects are even worse. Modeling is one of the few industries where women earn more money than men, on average. Elizabeth Rose, a modeling agent, told BBC that the pay gap between men and women is huge and "unfair." According to Rose, male models earn just a fraction of what women make, making up to 75 percent less.

"The top ten female models all make millions," said Rose. "Only the top three male models make over a million." She says that this trend is starting to change, but that it has persisted for so long because advertisers claim "women spend more money on female products," making the industry more lucrative for female models.

Breaking into the industry can be expensive

Not only is it difficult to earn good money as a model, but getting into the industry often requires a lot of cash in start-up costs. Model Melinda Parrish wrote in HuffPost that building up your portfolio with test shoots can cost a pretty penny, with each one costing "anywhere from $200 to upwards of $1,000." While some agencies might front the money for these test shoots, you'll still be required to pay them back once you start booking paying gigs. She recommends that prospective models should save up at least $10,000 before launching their careers.

Most models have a side hustle

Because of the difficulties in earning steady money as a model, many models have other jobs. Parrish says that "most models...don't actually pay all of their bills through modeling" and that many of these people "have their living expenses covered in other ways but also model."

She advises those who are about to embark on a career as a model to make sure "that you're set up to take care of yourself financially before you begin."

The less prestigious gigs tend to be more lucrative

Ashley Mears, an assistant sociology professor at Boston University and the author of Pricing Beauty: The Making of a Fashion Model is a former model who told NPR what the life of a working model is actually like. While "high-end" work, such as "fashion week catwalks," and "editorial spreads in...a high-end magazine," might be prestigious, the pay is better doing what she calls "low prestige kind of work."

This sort of work often involves modeling for catalogs and doing "showroom work," modeling directly for designers "who use their bodies to mold garments upon them." While "showroom models really don't get any visibility," they can earn from $200 to $500 an hour. Contrast this with "the more editorial end of the market" such as "shooting for a high-end editorial magazine" which may only pay $150 for a day's work or nothing at all.

Modeling agencies often charge huge fees

Models are typically considered to be independent contractors, according to CNNMoney, which means that "they usually aren't guaranteed to receive minimum wage, overtime, lunch breaks, prompt paychecks or many other protections that are common in the workplace." Modeling agencies typically earn commissions of 20 percent or more, which further diminishes what can can already be a small paycheck. Models also "have to foot the bill for business expenses," which can include plane tickets, housing, and promotional materials.

The fees charged by modeling agencies mean that many models are living in near-poverty. One model claims that he only pocketed $15 after a $500 shoot. This is standard in the modeling industry and can "make it..difficult—and in some cases, impossible—to get ahead."

There's a lack of diversity

There is a staggering lack of diversity in the modeling industry, although this is slowly improving. According to The Fashion Spot, models featured in 2016's spring ad campaigns were overwhelmingly white, with non-white models accounting for just 21.8 percent of models cast in the 236 fashion campaigns surveyed. Statistics are even worse for plus-size models. Out of 440 models, just seven were over a size 12, and all of them were white.

Many scouts find models on Instagram

While breaking into the modeling industry can be a grueling process, modern technology is slowly starting to change how new models are discovered. Modeling scouts are finding that Instagram can be a great place to find new talent "from the comfort of their couch," reports Forbes.

Instagram has proven to be a game-changer for the modeling industry. IMG Models launched a campaign to scout models from Instagram, and signed 55 models from 16 different countries. Ivan Bart, President of IMG Models, offered tips for those looking to be discovered on Instagram. "Take the most natural, effortless beauty pictures...just be yourself."

Computer avatars could replace human models in the future

We might see computer avatars slowly taking over the runways in the not-so-distant future. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University are working on "hybrid avatars" that could one day "replace...models altogether." These "near-faultless copies of people" will likely change the future of the modeling industry and "can be digitally dressed in the latest haute couture and their movements recorded, ready to instantly appear in Milan or Paris."

While the research is fascinating, models should not worry that they will be out of a job...yet. One of the researchers, Andrew Brownridge, told i-D that the technology will more likely just make the jobs of models easier. Models wearing motion capture suits would "perform the motion" which would then be shown to the audience by the avatar. "Therefore, the model would not need to change outfits between walks, only the character or outfit would need to be changed within the virtual environment," said Brownridge.

Modeling is a lot of hard work

Like any job, the modeling industry has its pros and cons. There are some great things about modeling, but don't be mistaken in thinking that the job doesn't require a lot of hard work. Those who make it big in the modeling world are few and far between, but that doesn't mean that there aren't success stories. As with any other career, it takes hard work and dedication to make it to the top.