There are many difficult jobs in this world—Alaskan crab fisherman, ice road trucker, cameraman for The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers—but few are as grueling, as physically exhausting as the dark, harrowing world of hand modeling. Seriously, it's, like, so hard.
As one of the few full-time body parts models, Ashly Covington thinks about her hands "every minute of every hour of every day," because for the past seven years, her hands (and, occasionally, her legs and feet) have been her sole source of income. She can earn anywhere from $300 a day to a couple thousand per hour.
"Most people can walk away from work when they're done with a job, but parts models can't, because [our parts] have to be flawless. I moisturize 20 to 30 times a day, and wear gloves 90 percent of the time," she said. "When it's your livelihood, you've got to think hands first."
"Sometimes, I watch that movie Boxing Helena and I get really jealous," Covington continued, "Cause, you know, even though Helena was horribly mutilated and brutalized by a crazy person, she's finally free of her stupid, burdensome, beautiful hands. She never has to moisturize, or get paraffin treatments, or wear gloves ever again! I mean, yes, she was turned into a freak and held against her will, but she must feel so free. God, I love that movie. I even named my hands Boxing and Helena."
Obviously you have to think about your hands a lot when you're a hand model--it's right there in the job title. But if America's Next Top Model has taught us anything, besides what being human Silly Putty is like (spoiler: it's boring!), it's that modeling of any sort actually is a very difficult job—not because of the modeling itself, per se, but because of the babbling nonsense fountains who spit and spout any number of contradictory directions at you while you're trying to model. Yelling things like: "Smile with your eyes!" "Be more tree!" "You're like, 'Ungh!' You need to be more, 'Grungh!' Go!" doesn't really help anyone do anything but become more confused.
The dark side to all this is that eventually the models start listening to the nonsense fountains. And the nonsensical advice starts to make sense. Then their brains break:
As a result, parts models have to do what seems like the near impossible: "Your hands have to convey emotion," Covington said, whose background in drama serves her well.
"I was doing a shoot where I had to pick up a cheeseburger and bring it to camera, but they wanted it to be the most delectable cheeseburger," Covington said. "So I said 'mmmm,' and really conveyed the emotion entirely to get it reflected in my hands."
Lest you think that the cheeseburger probably conveyed the "this cheeseburger is delicious" message better than the hands holding it, take a look at the many complex emotions conveyed by the hand models below:
Impenetrable melancholy following the death of a parent:
And then there's the most famous hand-emotion ever conveyed by a hand model:
Kembra Hickey, the hand model on the Twilight book cover apparently even travels to Twilight conventions to sign autographs, because she is thisclose to the vampire boyfriend contained within those pages. But don't be fooled by her Twi-fame:
But anyone toying with the idea of becoming a parts model shouldn't do it because of illusions of fortune and fame.
"It seems people think we all live like supermodels and rockstars," Hickey said, "but it's really just a regular job."
Aw, thanks for the warning, but no one thinks hand models are rock stars. They think hand models are George Costanza.