Gen Z: Jacob Mcalindon

23 August 2017

Photographer Cecilie Harris
Model Jacob Mcalindon at Established Models
Interview and words Hedvig Werner

"I think about a lot of things. Bad things. Good things."

Sometimes people surprise you and that’s the exact reason why first impressions are complete bollocks. Frequently, people base their whole idea of someone on a first impression, but how is that fair? Jacob Mcalindon at Established Models will surprise you. He came to Boys by Girls on a four-day work experience and we thought he was going to be like any other 16-year old boy at first. However, with the help of Cecilie Harris’ lens, Jacob delivered a completely different side of himself.

Jacob turned out to be peculiarly open, expressing his challenges facing anxiety in the midst of a whirlwind industry. Surprisingly, he is not actually comfortable speaking with his mates about this personal topic, but somehow found a moment to be explicitly open. It’s rather unfitting with such an honest thought in the world we are currently residing in, as truth doesn’t seem to carry as much weight as it used to. We are experiencing an alternatively fictitious world where most of us are basically putting our best foot forward at any visible moment, but shouldn’t we strive to normalize these struggles?

Jacob is heavily influenced by social media, which is not so surprising considering the hold social media has on Generation Z. Social media isn’t in any way helping us present the truth, but then again, it’s not really a complete lie either. It’s a filter, so maybe it’s worth comparing social media to a white lie - somehow balancing there in the middle, alternating between realities. Sorely trying to portray something perfect, but then if we step beyond the lines, there are so many hidden clues. Jacob allows you to take a step beyond the white lie of his generation providing you with a clue that reveals everything isn’t all sunshine and roses.

How would you describe your generation?
Probably quite weird - mixed. Everyone is different now, but that’s because times change. Everyone is more involved with social media. I don’t quite know how to explain it. I am living right in the midst of it.

What are the good things about growing up in your generation and what are the challenges?
I think my parents are more supportive. My mum said that her parents were a lot different when she was a kid and not as supportive. I think it’s a lot better in that aspect, especially at school.

You feel like you have a good support system?
Yeah, and social media is changing everything. Like modelling as well, I had never thought about modelling before. Social media helps young people as well with communication, jobs, making new friends and doing things. My generation is really linked to social media.

Do you think there are more challenges for your generation?
Yeah, I think there is more pressure. I was reading the other day that it’s hard to get jobs now and harder to buy a house. If you are 21, you need to finish uni, get a job and get a house. Most people are still living of their parents or living off of their parents’ money. I think that is kind of hard, and it is more pressure.

Where does this pressure come from?
Other people, everyone is really competitive. At school, probably everyone has always been competitive, but you could just know now, because everyone knows that it is harder. And also, I began modelling. I started to make a bit of money and you start to think; ‘How am I going to make more money, after modelling? What job will I get after modelling?’ There are these types of challenges.

Do you have an idea of what you want to study?
I was thinking about doing fashion merchandising and branding, because I do really like fashion. I really like clothes. My friends and I, all we just talk about is clothes and fashion. New brands, what’s coming out, what’s new. I buy and sell clothing and make money off of it. I think it is a good way of making money when you’re young. So if I am not modelling I’ll be selling clothes and stuff. I made like 400 quid last week or something.

Where does you interest from fashion come from?
I think social media has an impact on that, I see a lot of new things on social media. I get my inspiration for clothing on social media. I like seeing other people and people, you know. Seeing cool people wearing cool clothes inspire me. Then you start buying things, and it just keeps you straight in the book. When I got into modelling, then it started changing. I started seeing more of fashion.

You seem very passionate about fashion. Is there anything else that you are passionate about?
I like sport, art and politics. I like writing is pretty cool and also reading. I like going away, travelling is pretty good and going out. I think about a lot of things. I also read the news every day. A lot of people, 16-17 years old in my year, don’t read the news or watch the news. Since my dad works in journalism, I’m open to these things a bit more. I am pretty sure none of my friends read books. They are just all on their phones and I think that’s bad in a way. I don’t want to be looking at my phone for 24 hours a day. You should do more. That’s why I read, watch the news or look at art. I think that is interesting. I play sports as well and I go to the gym, to try to stay fit and healthy.

What is a good read you had lately?
I read all the time. I just finished a book called ‘Alone in Berlin’. It was really good. It was set during WWII, but it wasn’t just about war. It was more about the inside of it and the politics.

Where did you grow up?
In Carlisle, which is just ten minutes from Scotland. It’s in Cumbria, away from everything else; it’s a bit boring, a bit of a dead city - but you are really close to the countryside and the lake districts. I like Scotland as well, and have been to Scotland loads of times. I do live in a city. It’s all right, but I wouldn’t want to live there when I am older. That’s why I like modelling, because I get to go to Milan, Paris and London quite a lot. A lot of people that I know are still just living in Carlisle, but like I am doing what I am doing. I feel pretty lucky.

Do you like growing up there?
Yes, I think it was good. I’ve lived in the same house for my whole life.

Do you have any favourite childhood memories?
Yeah, I have quite a lot of good childhood memories - like going away. We have a house in Edinburgh, so we go to Edinburgh a lot. Because my family is quite cool, like, we have been to so many European countries. I think my family is pretty cool. My great uncle was a spy. My great uncle was a doctor in the war and had an NBE or something. He raided the first Nazi concentration camp. Even now we have a lot of stories and stuff. It’s pretty cool. The other day I found out that my uncle was like an undercover Nazi-Marshall, he met like Hitler and stuff. I was like ‘That’s mad.’

Oh wow…
My aunty is a doctor at university. My dad is a news reporter on BBC. My mum has her business in art. It links to all the stuff I like; arts, politics, reading and writing.

What kind of art do you like?
Anything really. I was at Saatchi Gallery like two days ago, that was pretty cool. You went really high up and looked out over this room. It was full of black liquid or something - it was weird, but cool. I was looking over this balcony and there was this room and at the bottom of it there was this mass that looked like black jelly. It’s art. Art is weird. Art changes all the time. I’ll probably go to a gallery on Friday.

What has been your favourite destination to travel to so far?
I think Berlin is pretty cool. A week after I got signed, they were like; ‘You are going to Berlin’. I thought; ‘What the hell, I’ve just been signed a week ago. Last month I was doing my GCSE’s and now I am going to Berlin with Topman. What the hell.’ That was pretty cool.

What did you do when you were in Berlin?
I saw the wall, and walked around seeing new things, like the Brandenburg Gate. I remember just chilling about and meeting new models. That was my first modelling job. Two days after that I did the campaign. I would like to go to Asia, Australia or America. I have not been to America yet, so that would definitely be something.

A little bit of a philosophical question, who is Jacob?
I’m still 16, so I think I am quite annoying. I am quite spontaneous and just think of all these random things to do all the time. I think I am creative as well; I can be quite imaginative sometimes. I’m not that mature yet, so I’ll probably just piss around all the time, which is probably what most teenagers do…. But also I think I can be intelligent sometimes... yes sometimes. I am tall.

How would you describe your current lifestyle?
There is nothing to do where I live, so I go out with friends and watch films. Buy new clothes sell clothes. I don’t do much, but when I do something I do quite a lot. Next week I am going to my friends in Loughborough for a week.

What do you want your lifestyle to look like in five to ten years?
I want to have a job. Having money would be quite good, but also doing something that I enjoy. All of my friends are saying like; ‘I want to have a job for the money.’ But at the same time, I think if you do something just for the money you might not enjoy it. Right now I think modelling is good, because I make money from it. I would also want to go to university in London, so I can model at the same time. I think that would be pretty cool.

What did you dream of becoming when you were little?
When I was three I said I wanted to be a dog. They have zero responsibilities. They just run around and stick their head out the car or something. Sounded like fun, but this was never going to happen, so I gave up on being a dog. I wanted to be a professional sports player, because you get lots of money from that.

Who do you see as influencers of your generation today?
A lot of people would say famous people. Okay, there might be some famous people I do look up to, like Travis Scott, because I saw him live and thought he was cool. His fashion sense is great. Famous people are good, but they also live inside their own bubble most of the time. That’s probably a bad thing as well. I look up to designers and brands as well. Social media helps you - you see things and get inspired by other people. People on social media inspires me in the sense of what I am going to wear and what I am going to buy. Or maybe what I want to sell next. On Instagram there’s this group, which I am in, called ‘Basement’. It’s really cool. It’s about 60.000 people in this group talking about street style and clothes. We meet up with each other actually. I’ve made so many friends with the ‘Basement’. A lot of my London friends I’ve met through ‘Basement’.

Everything sort of leads back to fashion with you. What is your favourite brand?
At the moment, I like the old Supreme stuff. I like their collaborations. I also like vintage clothing; vintage high-end brands. Lately I’ve been buying vintage Prada, vintage Gucci and such. I think it’s cool. I end up buy that and sell that. Everyone at school calls me ‘Rent-Boy’, because I buy clothes and wear them for like two weeks and then I sell them again. My wardrobe is always changing.

What do you do to make yourself happy?
That’s a good question, because I have anxiety. I think about a lot of things. Bad things. Good things. Fashion makes me happy. Friends, going-out, partying and festivals – those are the thing that makes me happy. Meeting new people. Seeing my favourite artist live. That makes me happy. Especially going away. I liked going to Milan, but at the same I didn’t like going to Milan. I think that with anxiety it’s hard. I didn’t like going out in Milan, because I got lost a few times and then my anxiety kicked in. I was like; ‘I hate this place.’ I get anxious all the time.

What causes your anxiety?
Sometimes I don’t like going out. Sometimes I don’t even leave the house for a few days. Well, I obviously I go to school, but I don’t go out. I never really talk about it to my friends - only my parents and people who are close to me. I am always thinking about things. I worry in bed. I don’t worry about everything, I just think about everything. And it is like; ‘Fucks sake’. I am happy all the time apart from being at school or doing homework. There was a time in Milan where I was like; ‘I hate Milan.’ I had to have a driver, because I was at a point where I didn’t even like to leave the hotel. I didn’t like to go around on my own. I was just sixteen.

You don’t usually talk about your anxiety?
No, no… Well, I do with some, like with my mum and also my agent knows. They know that I don’t like being alone, especially in other countries.

What is it about being alone that makes you anxious?
Well, I can be in London alone, because I’ve been here already. When I was in Milan, I didn’t really know anyone. I had to get back on my own and I hated it. It was horrible and I was sweating. I do like Milan in the end. I got three shows there. That was the good part. I met a lot of new people and stuff, but anxiety is annoying.

Do you get quite emotional?
No, I don’t get emotional. I just get the feeling like ‘I’m not going to do it.’

Is it more like you’re putting up a wall?
Yes, probably. I think Milan is really good, because all the models from my agency were in the same hotel, so every one came over and we were like talking, drinking, smoking and eating. Everyone looked forward to that at the end of the day. I looked forward to it everyday. Making friends. To be fair, we went to a big party and we saw Justin Bieber. That was cool. It was the only time we went out. Apart from that, the rest of the time I didn’t feel like going out, because of my anxiety. In January I will definitely go to Paris, and I will try to enjoy it. I will try to enjoy Milan when I go there again, because now I’ve been there once.

You said you talk with your parents about your anxiety, but why don’t you talk to your friends about it?
I don’t know. It’s just that talking with your friends about such deep things, they would probably get bored of it. I think if you talk with friends about it, they will treat you in a different way.

Do you talk to your mum about everything?
Oh yes, I talk to my mum about everything. I have really good parents. They’re laid-back, and really supportive.

How do you handle stressful situations?
I laugh in stressful situations, I find it funny. We were at a festival this week and we missed the train to get home - I found it really funny. All my friends got really angry, but I was just finding it really funny. I think humour, especially when I am anxious, is a good thing. I try to find humour in everything. In stressful situations I might ring a friend or something, just to talk to someone and feel better.

In todays society gender is becoming a bit more fluid. How do you feel about gender identity?
I accept it. My great-uncle is gay. I know a lot of gay people. I accept all of it; transgender, gay, drag queens. Whatever you want to do with your life - you go do that.

Do you think masculinity is changing today?
Yes, probably. Men are becoming more feminine.

Are you in contact with your feminine side?
Probably. I don’t know. Maybe a little bit. I have male and female friends. It’s a good balance.

Are you spiritual or religious?
No, not really. I don’t believe in God. For me it is just a bunch made up stuff. Although if you do believe in it, that is fine. I won’t be sitting and praying, However, I went to mass when I was high and it was pretty funny.

How does that work?
You just sit there and think about stuff. It is funny - something about aliens - a bunch of random shit. I go to church for Christmas. When it comes to new cities, I do like looking at the cathedrals. In Pisa or something, I went to see some churches on the countryside. But I am not religious, and I don’t really believe in ghosts. Aliens, I think it would be pretty cool if they existed. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t.

What would you say if you met an alien?
‘What’s good?’ I don’t know what to say, because I don’t know if it would be the same language. Maybe they are here. Maybe they have been here long before we existed. Maybe it’s just a massive lie. I don’t know, I am not a scientist. It is also like that with the Doppelgänger. Maybe I am a famous scientist or have a pet dinosaur.

What would you call your pet dinosaur?
I think if I were a dinosaur I would be a velociraptor. They are on the go all the time. They are probably quite annoying and kill shit all the time. They come in packs. It would be really funny if my mates and I were all a bunch of velociraptors. That would be pretty fun. My favourite movie when I was younger was ‘Jurassic Park’.

Have you ever been in love?
No. Well, I don’t know. Probably I have. Maybe I did a bit. No not at the moment. Probably haven’t yet.

What is your dream?
At least have money. Money would be an aspect of that, but also do something that I love. Have a good job and a nice house. Have a nice partner or a good relationship. Have good friends. Meeting new people. Travel. See new things all the time. An office job would be a nightmare - that would be boring. Even if I was getting paid £190K a year and I was just sitting there every day, I would hate it. I think I would never want to do that. My dream is to have a good life.

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