Outlander‘s Caitriona Balfe was a runway and fashion model a few years ago, working with brands including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Balenciaga.
Now, she’s speaking out about some of her experiences, and some of what she saw, being exposed to this industry at a young age.
“You’re supposed to automatically be this fun, interesting, edgy person that fashion people want to be around. But then at the same time you have to be so skinny and so androgynous,” Caitriona said on the “Thanks A Million” podcast. “There was always people doing better and constantly being compared to people. I think, as a young woman in your teens and 20s, it’s hard enough.”
“You know, there’s so many times where you would go into castings or even fittings for jobs that you already supposedly had and somebody in the room would just be annihilating how you look or your lack of personality or you talk too much,” she continued. “All in front of you. It’s really tough. I have so much admiration for girls who can come through that unscathed.”
She added, “I think everybody goes through a really wobbly phase afterwards trying to sort of find their footing or find what their next step is, because in one way, it opens up so many doors and it does open your mind to so many things and it does give you an incredible education in a certain way.
“But in another, it infantilizes you and it stunts you in so many other ways. I think it takes a while to sort of like rebalance all of that… There’s such a veneer of like ‘Everyone’s so cool in this industry,’” Caitriona continued.
“You know, don’t rock the boat, don’t be uncool, being uncool is defending yourself or questioning something… or not taking your top off,” she said. “‘Why wouldn’t you take a top off? It’s just t**s. Come on, like just be cool.’ I can’t tell you how many times that situation happened.”
Thankfully, Caitriona shared that she was lucky with who she worked with. “I was very lucky. I had some amazing bookers and had some amazing agencies, but I also had some absolute s**t agencies, and they’ve positioned themselves, I think, as they protect the girls.
“But because they’ve made themselves management companies, they also take zero responsibility. So all the girls are self-employed and, in fact, they employ the agents,” she added. “It’s such a weird balance of power because the people that you are supposedly employing are the people who are the gateway to all the jobs.
“[They dictate your earning power] but they also dictate everything… The worst thing, I think, if you talk to any model, used to be the days you’d have to go into the agency and you walk in and literally everybody is scanning you head to toe,” she added.
You can see some of Caitriona‘s modeling photos from 2002-2003 right here. Caitriona joined over 100 models earlier this year to demand change from one major brand.
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