In honour of Women’s History Month, we’ve interviewed Christine Hart about her years of modelling, travel, and her new passion, writing. In the words of Christine, “perseverance is the key to success”.
About Christine Hart
Christine graduated with a law degree but pursued a modelling career. She has travelled the world, lived in beautiful cities and worked with the famous photographer, Helmut Newton. Christine’s career wasn’t always wonderful and a chance encounter with Colonel Gaddafi proved her journey as a model to be tougher than magazine photo-shoots and runway walks. After 10 years of modelling, she is now a mother of two and has written her first book, “The Stories Models Never Tell”. Christine Hart aims to shed light onto the reality of the modelling world.
A peek inside the modelling world: A tell-all interview
What is your professional background and what are you currently doing?
Right now, I am a writer. I love writing because I can express a lot of myself, it’s amazing. You have a lot of fun creating your characters and what you do with them; kill them, make them fall in love, whatever. After graduating university with a law degree, I went directly into modelling.
How exactly did you make the jump from law to modelling?
I actually never wanted to study law. You do things for your parents that you may not like or that may not make you happy. Becoming a model was a way to get out and travel. I was able to use my physical appearance to make money and live all over the world. For me, modelling was a tool but what makes me happy is writing. Modelling was just a phase of my life.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dancer. As I grew older, I loved art and drawing. I grew up during the recession of the 80s so my mother wanted me to study something stable. After finishing the law degree, I looked for something different to make me happy.
If I had studied what I always wanted to do, I would have studied something more artistic; I would have become a dancer, producer or photographer. If I had to go back in time, I would have done something I was more passionate about. I would have not done what others told me to do, not even my parents. I have my law degree on the wall, but I’ve never felt like a lawyer.
What was your favourite part of working as a model? What was your least favourite part?
With modelling, I’ve had so many lives: I‘ve been an American, I’ve been an Australian, I’ve been a South African. I’ve lived many lives, in many cultures, in many cities and on many continents. I feel blessed with a very rich life.
What I never liked was the falseness of my job as a model. You have to smile, never complain and always maintain your body shape. Being behind the camera is not as natural as it seems. I now prefer a job where I don’t always have to look perfect; where I can leave the house without makeup and high heels. You don’t feel free if you always have to look perfect. I was constantly aware of fashion, trends and the rules of beauty.
In your book, you share an incredible story where you were supposed to participate in a fashion show in Libya but then all of a sudden, found yourself in a bunker, entertaining and putting on a private fashion show for Gaddaffi.
The worst experience of my life! I was 28 and they booked us for a catwalk show at the consulate in Tripoli organized by the Spanish Ambassador to Libya. Once in Tripoli we took another plane and landed in the middle of a Libyan desert! When we realized it, we were in a bunker with, amongst others, Gaddafi. This was the scariest experience of my life; walking down the catwalk in a bunker in the middle of the desert! We could have been sold, killed, or raped. I was by far the oldest model and back in Spain, I was the only one that complained. Nobody supported me or dared to face our employer. I immediately changed my agency and only many years later, women thanked me for telling the truth. Back then they were just too young and too afraid to say anything.
If you had a daughter, what advice would you give her if she chose to become a model? What advice would you give her for her professional aspirations?
I would tell her to choose something that makes her happy. Even if she wants to become a model, I wouldn’t say no. I’d recommend to her to study first, develop a character, a formation, a personality.
We live in a fast-paced world, how do you think modelling will evolve in 10 years?
When I started modelling we didn’t have Photoshop, we had to shoot for hours; fixing the light, changing locations for different shoots and reshooting if something went wrong. Now everything is much quicker. Maybe they won’t need models in 10 years because everything will be digital and done by computers. I think maybe this job will disappear in a few years. Who knows?
What is your advice for someone searching for their dream job or following their passions?
When I was young I was insecure, I used to follow the desires of my parents. After travelling and through all the experiences I’ve lived, I found myself wanting to write and so I took a course in creative writing. Maybe I am not as talented as in other sectors but it is what I like to do. You have to explore yourself and find something that makes you happy and always follow your instincts.
Same for modelling. I was 25 years old the first time I walked into an agency. They told me I was way too old to model. I then went to Italy and lied about my age; I told them I was 20 and had the chance to work with Helmut Newton! I showed the agency that I could work with one of the most famous photographers. You can’t give up, even when everyone else is giving you a no – perseverance is the key to success.
How powerful are images and stereotypes?
Very! I was completely brainwashed and didn’t have a truthful grasp on beauty. Now I realize that it is so important to show what is real. I was so influenced by the beauty industry; I was never happy with my body shape, I was constantly losing weight to make agents and designers happy. It was never enough. What I really want to share in my book, “The Stories Models Never Tell”, is how stereotypes can damage young people. Realising that has made me a happier women.
How come women still struggle combining family and careers?
In the northern countries, like Sweden or Denmark, you see a lot of women in high positions; many women as CEOs and men at home taking care of children. Latin cultures often still suffer from “Machismo”. But all over the world men are afraid of losing their positions in society and do not give enough opportunities to women. They secretly know that women work more efficiently, can multitask, are less corruptible and have more empathy and power of negotiation. We have proven the ability to succeed coordinating families and work life.
You stopped working as a model to start a family, is it possible to combine a modelling job with family life?
For many people it is possible to combine family life and modelling. For me it was my decision. I don’t want to be travelling; I want to see every minute of my kids growing up.
Interested in reading this article in German? Click here. Interested in reading this article in Spanish? Click here.