Confessions of a male model

As a rising star in the modeling world, Wade had arrived and found he had nothing to look forward to. So what is work for, and what are people for?

September 11 th 2009

I met Wade in Toronto.

Height 6' 1 Inseam 33 Waist 32 Shirt 15 Suit 40r Shoe 10 Hair Brown Eyes Blue green.

We sat taping dozens of loaned Town Shoes before the night's fashion show. He was the token boy for the runway, and I was there helping a friend pull things together for Fashion Week.

Wade was discovered in the kitchen of a Calgary Milestones restaurant. Since then he'd traveled the world over. Cities placed: Milan. London. Hamburg. Tokyo. Sydney. Toronto. Montreal. New York. Los Angeles. Paris. Munich. Miami.

In his six years as a male model he'd booked shows with everyone from Armani and Burberry to Hugo Boss, but he confessed to me quietly that spring afternoon: he was bored.

Bored? How could somebody be tired of international travel, extravagant accommodations and all of the perks afforded the world's fashion elite?

Wade would rather sit with two of the less-pretty girls in the room, taping shoes, than make nice with the dozens of new faces/busts/waists/hips milling about the modeling agency that day.

While superstar model Heather Marks sat steps away getting her hair teased, Wade wanted to know more about my friend and me—about our average lives of chasing boys, completing classes and pursuing dreams. At the time Wade was planning his exit from fashion's front row.

Wade took the fantasy out of fashion for me. I've never thanked him for that.

Many of us have a similar story. Wade's journey took him from a restaurant kitchen in Cowtown to Missoni's Milan and back. Mine's taken me to the front lines of Canadian culture, working with CBC radio and television, and back to more simple pursuits. And yours?

The glamour of life drains from our dream the moment we step into it. Offices are less replete. Daily duties are more cumbersome. The pay is meagre.

Wendell Berry's essay "What are people for?" casts some light on our predicament.

He writes: "The great question that hovers over this issue is the question of what people are for. Is their greatest dignity in unemployment? Is the obsolescence of human beings now our social goal? One would conclude so from our attitude toward work, especially the manual work necessary to the long-term preservation of the land, and from our rush toward mechanization, automation, and computerization."

Berry is asking us whether we want to be finished working. He wonders whether idleness is the goal. Are we bored (in our cultural and intellectual pursuits as much as our manual work) due to our pursuit of the end of work? As a rising star in the modeling world, Wade had arrived and found he had nothing to look forward to. Staying put and treading water couldn't hold his interest. The reality is that, no matter where we find ourselves, there is always someone who'd love to be right where we are: at the start of something, stuck in the middle or coming to the completion of a career, life or project.

The satisfaction should be in the work, in the living. Otherwise it remains out of reach, just around the corner.

Topics: Vocation
 

Christina Crook's book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, has made her leading voice on technology and human flourishing. Through her writing and speaking she reveals how key shifts in our thinking can enable us to draw closer to one another, taking up the good burdens of local work and responsibilities. She writes about the value of focus, making space to create, and the meaning we find in more limited connections. She challenges the Western values of power, control, and success, revealing how wonder, trust, and discipline are central to the experience of being human and the keys to our joy.

Bio