Kai Braden

“Picture (Not) Perfect: A Male Model Memoir”

by Kai Braden


Every year teenagers travel to major fashion hubs across the globe in hopes to build a career as a model. Each one of those individuals has a different experience, yet all face similar social, political, and moral dilemmas. The nonfiction book I propose, based on my extensive professional expertise, serves to warn, to cope, and to offer a source of empowerment for those interested in world travels and the fashion industry. It is a dark comedy reflection of my own experiences and relationships I’ve built through traveling as an international male model, exposing the tainted truth and odd occurrences of the modeling world and guiding its readers to make the right choices. I discuss topics common to models that are embarrassing and scary to talk about because people deserve to know the truth.

This year alone, an estimated 100,000 boys and girls submitted their pictures to modeling agencies in hopes of becoming a working model. The growth of the media industry and its accessibility to the public, especially now through social media, lures more young people every year with an interest in the fashion world. Based on a P&L assessment in the goal of commercial success, “Picture (Not) Perfect” is marketed toward young American professionals interested in traveling and modeling by accounting real-life experiences of current international models such as myself and my colleagues. Secondary markets may include teenage girls and the LGBT community (a consumer market worth $835 billion); Gay and Lesbian young adult literature is becoming more popular as people are becoming more accepting. Articles in the New Yorker indicate the rise in sales in these markets for memoirs and traveling, as well. While countless books have been published in both the memoir and “how-to” genres for fashion and entertainment, there have been no published accounts of traveling as an international model from the male perspective. The potential of this manuscript is promising, insinuated by my articles already published in fashion magazines and blogs.

As for my credibility, I am an international model, actor, and dancer (www.kaibraden.com), as well as the founder and former CEO of the nonprofit organization AMEN Missionary. After ten years of working in the entertainment industry and five years in the nonprofit world, I have lived in seven different cities on modeling contracts and run programs that focus on youth in education while simultaneously achieving a degree from Pepperdine University in Television Production. I am inspired and passionate to tell a story that needs to be told.


“Picture (Not) Perfect“ is a nonfiction “how-to” memoir based on Kai Braden’s international travels as a male model and actor. Kai Braden is a multi-racial American fashion model born in San Francisco, California (www.kaibraden.com). This literary work documents his experiences from his first move to New York City on a modeling contract three days after his high school graduation in San Francisco. The narrative follows his journey over the course of a decade, city to city. Each chapter is themed after a city in which he has lived for modeling work— booking print campaigns like Gillette worldwide to local department catalogs in Bangkok, Thailand.

There are eight chapters in this book. The first chapter starts in New York City, where secrets are told, showing Braden’s loss of innocence and coming of age through a rude awakening of sexual obstacles. The second chapter takes place in San Francisco, showing where he came from and how he had to learn to decipher scams in the business of fashion. The third chapter is more of an observation and analysis of the stereotypes during his work in Singapore. The fourth chapter shows the life of a model as if it were a satirical play, based in London. The fifth chapter paints a lighter picture in the illusions and delusions of models in Los Angeles. The sixth chapter takes the readers through a life in Bangkok, Thailand, a place where Braden found a painful liberation through solitude and witnessed the imbalance of high fashion and extreme poverty. The seventh chapter touches upon the sacrifices Braden has made in order to develop his career as a fashion model, from jeopardizing his integrity to leaving his family. The eighth and final chapter brings the readers in full circle and leaves them in Hong Kong where Braden finds a purpose in a world where he once felt defeated.

Braden is inspired to tell this story that needs to be told to the young souls who share a passion in modeling. “Picture (Not) Perfect” serves to warn new models, girls and boys, to help them cope with the challenges we all face individually and together as one, and to celebrate our growth as artists. This literary work is not written as a form of sabotage in spite of his hardships and obstacles but rather to share his life experiences as a means to reveal truth and reflect optimistically. Names, locations, and recognizable details have been altered to protect their privacy, but the story remains the same. The story remains true. It is alive and breathing.