A recent story broke in the daily Guide news paper titles ‘Sex Is Killing The Modeling Industry’ following an interview with Ghanaian model Aisha Med and NewsONE. The interview followed her experience in Romania where she recently signed a contract with MRA, a Romanian based modelling agency.
Her comments stated “Sex for job exists in our industry. It does. It is everywhere. Because if you won’t do it, other girls will do it. It does exist in the modelling industry, not just some other industries.”
“What I want to tell our Ghana industry is, the models should stop selling themselves cheap. That one, I will repeat it ten thousand times, because some models would just open their legs wide for anybody to sleep with them just to get a job and make it. But it is not done like that. Some will also do free jobs and it is not good,” she added.
So the question is ‘is she right?’ and the answer is ‘Ofcourse!’. But let’s not confuse or assume there is much difference with sex in the modelling industry in Romania compared to Ghana. So let’s look at the difference.
First, there is close to no money in the Ghana fashion industry, which means there is a high level of desperation amongst a very competitive set of models who believe they can be successful, battling amongst each other with a few opportunities for them. In this case, something as simply as a photoshoot is an opportunity. Where abroad one can simply network on a model network site and arrange multiple shoots in a week.
There is technically a few fashion shows here and there, but about 5 public shows a year that actually pay models, and of that number, some which didn’t do so this year. The eagerness of models is so strong and built off the amount of money and time they already spent that they refuse to review their status as a model. And due to competition and peer pressure to prove to colleagues they are not wasting their time, some are prepared to give up sex for the boost in their careers.
But make no mistake, the same culture exists amongst that of any country, from USA to UK, to Europe! The only difference is there is a higher level of success before severe competition kicks in. Here, we are not talking about a photoshoot, we are talking about $10,000 contracts, overseas jobs, runway shows with some of the biggest international brands and more, And most times, such behavior proves nothing to such individuals capable of providing such model opportunities because their access to women attracted to wealth is not limited. it is at this point you will see such characteristics as opposed to the stages you see it in the Ghana fashion industry.
Another element where no money in our industry fuels this behavior is that of the clients intent. No money means less competitors fighting for your role position, and that means means less enthusiasm to ensure what you do is perfectly executed, at which point models used are not vetted based according to essential professionalism but simply other favors or relationship statuses which at times includes sex.
For example, a man who is being paid a good salary to execute an amazing fashion show, for a boss who has esteemed clients to impress, will be very precise with his decision of models and not allow room for error despite his admiration for the models. On another hand, a man who is organizing a show for little to nothing, and is obliged to pick models that would be paid very little, couldn’t really care less about pushing the boundaries as he doesn’t have much to lose, and at which point he is flexible to chose any out of the desperate young women to walk on the runway.
However, some girls will also need to get a hint. If much of the time you are being asked for sex in order to propel in your career, and this goes for both modelling and everything else, in all honesty it only means two things. 1/ You are either so amazingly sexy and adorable that you can not even walk to the kitchen without being harassed, or 2/ It is very likely most of the sleazy male counter parts you engage with don’t feel you are deserving of the job and are only willing to give it to you in exchange for sexual favors.
Yes, there are very big grey areas in that statement, As insulting as that sounds, there is a strong truth, that if you professionalism and your capability to do the job shines through, it is less likely you will be encountered by such individuals. Not saying you wouldn’t, but it won’t be the prime key of your success.
However, I would like to end it on one note for the Ghanaian parents who might be scared after reading this. Even though it exists it is not as bad as it seems. Afterall, anytime a girl is asked to do so, she also has the ability to refuse depending on how well you have taught them. So as much as it exists, it is only a small percentage, but it is a percentage enough to get people discussing. If your daughter chooses to be a model, don’t cast her out, get involved and be a part of her modeling story.
Also What happens in the Ghana modelling world, is actually no different from all industries. I recently heard from a colleague of mine who works at a bank that his branch manager has literally slept with all female employees in his branch. And don’t get me started with the movie industry, where a lady can be asked upfront to sleep with the casting director. And there is the music industry where a singer I advice can hardly find beats to sing on because she won’t give any sexual favors in return.
If you would like to stop it, stop buying foreign imports and start buying more African fashion from our designers so they will have money to pay models, and then the real successful designers who can build a career will be able to be distinguished from the sleazy designers and clients who are in the industry to exploit young models.
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