By Natalia Zurowski
In overseas contract markets, some models end up working well and others do not. Whether it's because of the season, look of the moment, or luck, not everyone will work as much as they would like. As such, tensions arise, even among friends.
This business is competitive - it always has been and always will be. Models are judged predominantly on their looks and to also be compared to their peers can be a test of emotional strength. Feelings of frustration, angst, and jealousy are all normal. Nonetheless, it doesn't justify disrespecting those around you, especially those you consider your friends.
It is inconsiderate to make those around you feel uncomfortable. You don't know their circumstances. You may have an idea as to what that person is about but more likely than not, you are wrong about them. Everyone has their own story. The young Russian girl who is working tirelessly hours on end may have to send all her earnings to her family to help provide for them.
In contrast, maybe that model who isn't working well feels extra pressure because they have to provide for their loved ones and they're unable to do so. Or that other girl or guy who has had one unsuccessful contract after another - finally they hit their stride and they're doing well. Before you call them cocky, take a moment to consider their circumstances. In doing so, it becomes a lot easier to see that person's perspective, their emotions, and how to better communicate with them.
It's not up to you whether an individual is deserving of success or not. We never know what the other person has gone through. Assumptions are easy to make.
Some people like to be alone to process their thoughts. If this is the case, let the person be. Do not take their actions personally. However, if you're upset you're not working, understand that negativity isn't going to help you. If someone wants to help you or offers genuine advice, please know that not everyone in the world is out to get you. Some people, yes, including your model colleagues, do care about you. Remember, good friends will genuinely be happy for you if you do well. They may not be happy with their own work situation, but they won't allow it to affect your friendship. Just because you're going through a hard time now, don't let it cloud your better judgement or lead you to alienating others.
If you are working well, that's great! Share the news with family members and loved ones. But if there is a model in the van who is having a harder time, be considerate of their feelings. You're allowed to be tired and complain - modelling can be emotionally and mentally taxing - but it's important to be courteous to those around you.
Try to understand people's behaviour from not just a personal but a cultural standpoint. For example, some models from Eastern Europe and Russia tend to exhibit more cold or reserved behaviour, even if those around them are trying to be kind or helpful. In Eastern European and Russian cultures, smiling or outright kindness is typically reserved for close family members and friends. In a Smile in Russian Communicative Behaviour, author Igor Sternin explains how smiling at everyone actually conveys insincerity and ingenuity for Russian people. A smile and kindness is special and meant to be shared only amongst one's nearest. In contrast, models from Western or Latin countries tend to be more warm, open, and a smile is the norm.
Be considerate of others' backgrounds even if you don't necessarily agree with them. In What is the Self? It Depends, author Julian Baggini states how the point of this kind of cross cultural inquiry [or conversation] "is not to reach some kind of warm, ecumenical mutual understanding, rooted in profound respect for difference"; rather, the point is to consider others which in turn increases our cultural awareness and also allows us to "see our familiar intellectual territory in a different light." For example, models from Western or Latin countries should be more considerate of models from Russia or Eastern Europe and vice versa. Consideration of one another gives room for positive social discourse not just in respect to culture or morals but also in everyday conversation with those around us.
This is not to say however, as Henry Hardy put it best in Isaiah Berlin's Key Idea, that "all disputes and disagreements are between parties that are equally in the right: such a view would deny human fallibility and ill-nature." But adopting a more considerate approach can help to "defuse some kinds of conflict and revolutionise relationships at every level of social life, from the personal to the international."
In his recent book The China Model, author Daniel Bell discusses the value of Confucian harmony: "Harmony is found when our social relations are good, and to be good they require openness about disagreement and conflicts of interest. Harmony is not an aspiration for bland uniformity . . . persons should pursue harmony but not [necessarily] consensus (or uniformity)." You have your beliefs and behaviours, the other person has theirs, and it's important for personal and social growth to leave room to discuss both perspectives.
You do not need to agree with one another's behaviours, perspectives, or morals. You don't even have to like one another or be friends. But what you can do is have respect towards others, participate in conversations, and in turn, be considerate of one another's views and cultures. In doing so, you can gain valuable insight about other people's perspectives, further think about and expand upon your own views, and achieve a healthy relationship with your peers.