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Blue Steel Undervalued? Male Models and the Gender Pay Gap

It might not surprise you to hear that there’s inequality in professional modeling, but did you think it was going to be in male modeling? In a recent BBC article, a top British modeling agent remarks on how pay inequity plagues men in the modeling world. In a career where your value is based on your looks, how do you ask for fair pay?
Zoolander looks
Are you ridiculously good looking? (Image courtesy of Giphy)

Sure, there are female models who pull down millions of dollars every year (just look at Forbes’ list of the highest paid lady models). But modeling agent Elizabeth Rose says that male models can actually make 75 percent less than their female counterparts on average. And it’s a hard system of inequality to shift.

Why Are Male Models Paid Less?

“[One] reason why women get paid more is that [advertisers] say women spend more money on female products, but I think it’s one of those things that’s changing,” Rose said.

runway walk
Male models walk the runway just like their female counterparts. (Image courtesy of Giphy)

Male models are able to work longer (meaning, as they age) than female models, but even they will have an unfortunately short “shelf life” on the runway. Where male models are making some inroads is in the growing industry of male hair care products, Rose remarked. But really, how much Dapper Dan is a guy going to sell with his pretty mug? Rose works with those hiring her modeling clients for work to try and shift the dollars so they’re more even, but it rarely works out 50/50.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

old and lame
Do male models get to work longer than female models? (Image courtesy of Giphy)

“The first thing is I’ll go, ‘Can you bring up the budget to more like the women’s?’ and the client will probably say, ‘Yes, we can give you this much for the men,’ but it’ll never be quite as much. I had a brief today that came in and it was ‘male model, [pay] ?1,500’, and the female model was ?5,000, for the same usage,” she told the BBC.

In Almost Every Other Industry, Women Are Paid Less Than Men

So, should we be crying a river for underpaid male models? After all, women still make 74 cents for every $1 a man earns (when they’re not modeling). But, when there’s any gender inequality in the workforce, we all suffer.

Take a look at PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap, for details on industries where pay inequality is rampant, on how family status affects pay, and how leadership positions create a system where gender inequality continues on its vicious cycle.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think any gender-based inequity is wrong, or is it hard for you to worry about how much really, really ridiculously good-looking people get paid? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Featured Image: valdeklaur/Flickr


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