Photo model in Europe and United States: Linda Hand tells us her story

Fashion Model, makeup artist, photographer, actress: Linda Hand begins her teenage career in the United States, she is portrayed on the cover of many international fashion magazines, several  covers for “L’Europeo” and many photographic services for magazines such as “Vogue Italia”, advertising campaigns for Enrico Coveri, Montana Parfum, Moschino and more. Some years later she begins to work in the international movie make-up scene, side by side with stars such as Richard Gere, Willem Dafoe, Greg Wise, Ron Moss, Katherine Kelly Lang, in the trick for music videos.

How old were you when you began to work as a model? How did you have this idea and what was your first experience? I began when I was 18 years old. My friends and relatives told me to try modelling because they thought I had the right physical aspect and “look”. So I went to Los Angeles to study at a training school and I went to many auditions but no way! Nobody seemed interested and made me work. I was too tall, lean, “flat”; the Californian ideal was a shapely woman and I saw many girls with cosmetic surgeon retouching. I also met colored girls who dyed their hair blond to give themselves more of a chance to find a job there! I am originally from Oregon and it had been normal for me to move to California, but maybe I should have tried in New York where aesthetic features like mine were more appreciated. There is a huge difference between the taste of East and West Coast.

What were the hardest aspects of this craft when you approached the fashion world? Well, at the beginning I got a lot of insecurities! I started thinking that I wasn’t good looking at all and it wasn’t for me. I had to move away from my family and come to live in Italy to try to work in fashion. One day, when I was still in the States, a talent scout from a small fashion agency in Milan noticed me and offered me a flight ticket and three months of paid accommodation to try to work for them. I thought: “it is for free, no obligation … I go to see Italy!”. I began to work soon because in Europe my aspect was more appreciated: clear eyes, longitudinal corpus, non-excessive shapes. From my Italian “mother” agency (so it is) I got engagements all over Europe, so I worked in many countries.

Did you make many sacrifices to keep you lean? Not at all! Fortunately, I had the right measures and physique and I didn’t struggle to keep fit.

Do you still follow the fashion world from afar? We often talk about the bad example that fashion houses give to teenagers by choosing “filiform” models: what do you think about it? Of course, I follow it and I honestly disagree with the idea that the world of fashion can strongly influence some teenagers behaviors: anorexia, bulimia are problems that have deep origins, inside the family and in the environment where the children grow up. I don’t think anyone can behave like that because they’re influenced by a picture on a magazine. Moreover, I don’t think the big fashion houses, the serious designers, give a bad example by choosing their models. They usually all follow very rigid criteria, their models must be perfect, neither too thin nor too shapely. In my opinion, those companies that choose “skeletons” want to cause a scandal and try to make media talk about themselves.

What would you suggest to girls who want to try to become photo models? While in the United States, as I have said, it can be really difficult to approach this job because there are mainly two towns in which to try and where young people from all over the United States need to go by facing large distances, compared to those who live in Italy – being geographically smaller – I would especially recommend to find a valid agency (those that ask for money or force you to subscribe to  a school aren’t serious) and not to move to Europe in search of a job, because a good agent gets you work across Europe, even from only one country!

The most important thing I would recommend, though, is to have the courage to look in the mirror: if an agency needs a minimum height of one meter and seventy-five and you are one and sixty meters high, it is useless to try to go to the audition at any cost with high heel shoes. As is the case with many sports, there are also “rules” for this work, some necessary physical criteria to pass. I often say that the photo model is like a hanger: when you go to a selection they look at you only in consideration of the garment you have to enter in and they don’t take into consideration the person and your feelings. I know it may seem cruel, but that’s it! To face this you need the right detachment and ability, to be honest with yourself. I am not talking about “beauty”, which is a very subjective and relative concept but of measures; If you don’t fall into those categories you should never think “I’m ugly!”. But it’s best to consider other work.

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