How to Handle Rejection as a Model

By: Ivana West

Allow Yourself to Sulk In the Rejection

Rejection as any sort of artist is always more personal than a rejection of other forms.  This could not be truer than for the art of modeling, in which your body, your face, likeness and being are literally the art. This is why it is so important to process the pain before it submerges itself in your subconscious, impregnate your childhood traumas, and creates a monster of a self-defeating psyche.  So journal, talk your best friend’s head off, and watch all of the Oprah Super Soul Sunday that you need to repair your self-image.

“Competence Creates Confidence”

Rejection crushes our confidence, and understandably so, but we must ask ourselves—was said confidence built on a solid foundation to start with?  Did we simply build sandcastles and get upset when the waves came? Models are paid to exude confidence and luxury.  You are there to be aspirational. But even the Cristy Turlington caliber beauties of the world must practice and hone this craft if they are to feel truly confident walking onto the set. You must become disciplined and competent to have a firm, foundational career confidence.


Yep, this is the get your shit together and step your game up commandment. In life, most of the factors are actually largely beyond our control: our face shape, our nose length, the socioeconomic status and family we were born into, much of our childhood experiences.   However, learn to frolic in the margins and space where you do have control:  your style, your health, your knowledge, your range, etc., then you will not only learn from rejection but gradually experience less of it. Remember, so much more becomes available to you when you’re ready—so stay ready!


  1. Don’t Ignore the Pain—Put it to Use!

Don’t beat yourself up.  Be gentle with yourself.  But also don’t delude yourself into thinking the pain is not there when it is indeed very real.  Though we all wish to be resilient and as untouchable as Teflon, the truth is that we are human.  It’s actually easier to just accept ourselves and our emotional state where it is at.  No matter how tormented and angry we become, this too shall pass.  In the essay, “Uses of Anger” by Audre Lorde, she asserts “Anger expressed and translated into action and in service of our vision and future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification.”

Anger, resentment, and the sadness that comes from feeling underestimated, overlooked or disrespected is such a powerful emotion.  Allow yourself to use it.  You can get a lot done with it.  Use it to clarify what you do not wish to feel and to be.  Allow this contrast to marinate and be used to mold your desired future. Rejection should not be wasted, as it holds the gift of genuine grit.

2: Know Thyself, Know Thy Industry

Fashion is fun and fashion is fantasy, but it is financial first and foremost.  What does that mean for us models?  We aren’t just some beautiful, ethereal mannequins come to life (contrary to Tyra Banks in Life Size), but we are businesswomen and men.  Similar to any other industry, in fashion you must constantly study its economic landscape, meaning: knowing which designers are booking models of your type, knowing which looks are on trend, knowing how to dress at go-sees to best market your brand, and knowing how to build your platform professionally on your social media platforms, your website, and in person.  A lot of unnecessary rejection can be better understood and even avoided if we just do our homework.  Maybe it’s your look, maybe it’s that you’re a London gal trying to force it into a Miami market.  Not every model is for every booking.

3: Develop Risk Resilience

Above all, one of the most dangerous effects of rejection is that it can paralyze us, keeping us in our comfort zones. The wisdom to take risks that are within our best interest is built over time, like an emotional muscle.  We must be willing to risk reoccurring embarrassment for reward.  It is those spaces in life that hold the greatest probability for embarrassment which also hold the greatest possibility for reward.  If we can learn to relish in these spaces, uninhibited by public opinion, then there is no way we can truly lose.  Don’t be afraid of being seen at the bottom, because as the cliché goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Submitted by

Ivana West (@ivanawest)