China has taken a liking to Western models, using blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties to advertise the newest fashions, the Washington Post reports. Vogue China's editor Angelica Cheung explained that the fad "reflects the growth of the fashion industry. It needs a variety of girls now. If it's a local Chinese brand, they want to show their clothes look good on Westerners, especially brands that want to sell overseas." She also mentioned that Chinese models lack professional training.
According to the head of the Yuanjin Modeling Agency in Shenzhen Ou Haibin, 20 to 30 modeling agencies in the country use foreigners, with 300 to 500 Western models working each month. Blondes are big in the summer, but in the winter, more brunettes are hired.
However, it's not necessarily easy to be sought-after overseas. American and Canadian models told the Washington Post that they work long hours, are fed McDonald's for lunch (but are immediately sent home if they gain weight), and often find themselves at the ends of mis-communications due to the language barrier:
[Natalia] Tydir understood she was going on a shoot once but had no idea where. She ended up on a 10-hour train ride to Inner Mongolia in freezing weather, and she was wearing only T-shirts and flip-flops and had not packed an overnight bag.
Yet China is still a hot spot for modeling, where only the strong strike a pose:
"If you can get rid of all your insecurities, you can model in China," model Brandon Waarbroek said. "If every day you can take getting lost, not knowing how to order food, and looking at symbols all day."