In case I haven’t stressed this enough, the pandemic is changing every aspect of our lives. While I used to run out of my house for basic errands without a second thought, now I find myself questioning if going into a public place is even worth it. Masks are now the must-have accessory, and while we may all be getting a little bored and fed up with social distancing, it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. In addition to now matching our masks with our outfits, the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting my work. As a runway model, I rely on groups of people to make a living, but clearly, social distancing protocols mean runway shows aren’t safe.
Before the start of COVID-19, I would work at least three jobs every month. As a full-time college student, this was the perfect amount, allowing me to be both a college student and earn a living. But since we all started donning masks, every job I booked was either rescheduled for a later date or canceled altogether. Productions like Miami Fashion Week, a show I worked for three consecutive years, was canceled, and I was surprised to find out how much I missed it. Runway shows are more than just a way to work. It combines the art of fashion and design, makeup to tell a story, music to express a theme, and a great group of men and women to wear the beautiful garments designers spend countless hours crafting.
While productions like Miami Swim Week, New York Fashion Week, Fashion Week Brooklyn, and DC Swim Week did a good job converting shows to virtual platforms, especially given the safety protocols they need to follow, the magic isn’t there. As a model, I thrive off the audience’s engagement and excitement. Their smiles, claps, and photos are the feedback to know I am doing a good job.
Although I am sure established models like Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Kelly Gale, Grace Elizabeth, and big-name models miss their work, for smaller name models, like the people mentioned in this article, these runway shows are their livelihood. What makes it worse, since models are considered independent contractors, we technically couldn’t qualify for unemployment.
As casting slowly start popping up and jobs begin resuming, there is a fear in the air for us models. All we can hope for is a brighter future when we can finally give our fellow models the hugs we all need.