It’s interesting to look back now on the ripples caused by the Covid-19 pandemic across the world, in different job sectors. Thanks to the many difficulties sparked by the pandemic, one often considers the effects it had on themselves, but rarely on others.
Well, recently, we got to look at the world from an exciting, and not that well-known point of view, namely that of the modeling industry. We talked with young fashion model and Instagram personality Lydia Bielen, who was kind enough to clue us in a little on what it meant to be a model during the past couple of years.
“Covid-19 affected everyone’s lives and careers in some way, I think. For modeling we had all of our castings online for a while. Sometimes they were on zoom, or you’d just have to send in photos and videos to the casting director or something like that. There were fewer modeling jobs in general, work was a lot slower than usual for a lot of people in the fashion industry– not only models but photographers, stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, etc.” says Bielen.
“Most agencies were working from home so you couldn’t just pop in and see your bookers whenever. Everything was over zoom and email. For some jobs, the client would send you the clothes and you actually had to shoot them from home. For example, against a white wall in your house on an iPhone camera. For other jobs they’d ask if anyone had a professional camera or photography equipment, which limited who would be able to do those jobs. My friends and I helped each other shoot several jobs from home. Some magazines, like Harper’s Bazaar for example, even published “FaceTime shoots” on their covers during this time. Everything was on social media, which was kind of weird but kind of cool.”
In many ways, this kind of initiative was exactly what the public needed. With many of us stuck at home in lockdown, it was helpful to see others, especially public personalities, enduring the same restrictions. So maybe it’s safe to say that Harper’s Bazaar’s at-home photo shoot sessions were a clever, and highly inventive idea.
“At the time I was in Spain and Germany for a few months during the pandemic. And I was lucky enough to have several in-studio jobs and campaigns there even during their lockdown. But I know in the US, there were a lot less in-person jobs.”
Obviously, the pandemic was difficult for everyone, but it must’ve hit particularly hard on people who, like Bielen, were accustomed to a lot of traveling, which was necessary because of their job. In fact, the young model cites traveling as one of her favorite parts about being a model, which admittedly, is probably true about most models out there. Still, with her usual creative outlook, Bielen resolved to make the best of it, and started pursuing ways of doing her job through the restrictions.
As a result of this resolve, she’s a surprisingly content and satisfied young woman, professionally. When asked what her goals for the immediate future might be, Bielen has to think about it for a second.
“I have achieved a lot of my modeling goals the past few years already,” she confides, “but one of my next goals would be to do a campaign that’s advertised in Times Square. Like a lot of people who visit New York, I was mesmerized the first time I walked around Times Square. It would be really cool to see myself there.”
Lydia Bielen comes from a pretty interesting background, in many ways living the dream that many young girls, particularly in this Instagram era, harbor. Working as a waitress in a small local restaurant in her native Georgia, Lydia was spotted by out-of-towners from Los Angeles.
“One day some people from LA came in and I greeted them and brought them to their table. Before they left one of them came to find me again, handed me a business card, said to give them a call and promised I Would never work in a restaurant again. I didn’t know what to think of it but after work I called. From there I met my first manager who introduced me to several important people and got me started with my career. A week later I quit my job and they were right; I have not worked in a restaurant since.”
It’s the dream that all little girls have, and yet for Lydia Bielen, it transformed into a reality. Although people had advised her to try her hand at modeling before, thanks to her distinctive, captivating features, Lydia had never seriously thought about it.
“Most people where I’m from graduate from college and get a normal job and get married and have a normal life. So, I guess I grew up thinking that was the order things were going to go,” she explains. “As I got older though, I started realizing that wasn’t really what I wanted. I was scouted at a restaurant in my hometown when I was 17. Before then I had never really thought about modeling as a career.”
After being scouted in that restaurant, Bielen started building her portfolio and also began traveling intensely. This perhaps accounts for Bielen’s inane maturity and composed nature.
“Pretty soon I had fully moved out on my own. Again, this was all without ever really thinking “I’m going to move out and get my own place across the country from home”. I was just in LA for work, and they needed me to stay longer, so I ended up staying for a few months, then they needed me in New York, so I went for a couple months. I started getting used to the lifestyle and living alone. Pretty soon I was traveling all over the world for work.”
It’s safe to say Lydia Bielen doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon, and it’s good for her, because she shouldn’t. Rarely have we seen a model who is so young, and yet so well-suited for her position.