Strike A Pose

by Alicja Łabądź


Shortlisted Charta Award 2023

The nineties and the early noughties bestowed on us the concept of the ‘ideal profession’, that is, instant fame, fortune and the high life. The glorification of long-legged supermodels seemingly endowed with the Midas touch, caused legions of girls who fitted the paradigm (5’9 or taller, proportional silhouette and a photogenic face) to want to be one of them.

Now, roughly twenty years since the supermodel era, the very same profession is even more tempting to an even greater number of young hopefuls. Lured by the promise of shiny magazine covers, top brand advertising campaigns and haute couture catwalks, the reality in fact falls far short of their dreams. The long road to seeing your face on the glossy cover of a magazine in Milan or a billboard in the centre of Paris meanders through countless auditions, design studios, photography backdrops and art schools. Unfortunately, it turns out not to be as easy as the agency told you it would. If you’re lucky, your first paycheck, after your second contract in Asia, will be just enough to mop up the tears of frustration, disillusionment and a longing for home.

But don’t forget to smile. And play nice! Clients don’t like grumpy models. Even when your agency reminds you on a daily basis that you have to work harder to achieve that perfect body, or one of your eight roommates is driving you up the wall. Oh, by the way, she’s sixteen.

To be honest you probably won’t get the job anyway. You see, there’s this other sixteen- year-old. She’s been in the industry two years longer than you. Her hips are narrower and her portfolio thicker than yours. But don’t give up. One day someone will give you a chance. And when that happens, the best thing you can do is strike a pose.

Strike a Pose was started in 2018 during my first modeling contract in South Korea. Since then I have worked in China, Japan and Europe documenting the everyday life of models earning a living, building a portfolio or simply trying to make it in the fashion world. Observing the industry from an insider’s perspective gives me the opportunity to depict the challenges young models face while trying to achieve the ideal of the 90’s supermodels or those they see daily on social media.

My goal is to debunk the myth of the “I don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day’ model. After all, most of us will never work for a famous fashion house.
I want to reveal the true face of this challenging and time consuming profession – a job that does not always bear fruit but often leaves its acolytes physically and mentally washed out, with body image disorders and loss of self-esteem. Strike a Pose tells the story of an average model whose daily life varies vastly from that one expects to see on Instagram.