Spotlight On What Makes A “Model”
When we think of models, we generally have a predetermined “look” that comes to mind. High cheek bones, long legs, skinny limbs, tall frame, and every other feature that we don’t consider to be “normal” for the general population. These people are almost segregated into their own category of human. Models are thought to live only in the unrealistic pages of fashion magazines, runway shows, and in front of a camera.
Now because of this, a “model” has been defined by society as a beautiful rarity of the human race that can only be labeled as such if they fit the modeling “look.” This incredibly specific bone structure, body type, and natural image is not something everyone can attain by dieting and exercising, it’s 100% out of our control. Because of this, we’ve taken the word “model” and placed it only on a minor population of society. It’s become a compliment for someone that is wickedly pretty, and a label for a look that seems unreachable if you don’t fit the mold of what a “model” is considered to be.
In My Experience
Having posed for photographers within the past couple of years, I’ve even been asked if I’m a model which used to seem like a ridiculous question. I’d mostly take it as a compliment but sometimes almost feel like a poser or a phony. I definitely don’t pose for fashion magazines, have long and skinny legs, or have protruding facial features. However, I started to realize that I do exactly what these life-size Barbies do in a photo shoot: I wear clothing that fits the setting, and pose my body to express what ever image both the photographer and I are trying to portray. So, I guess, I could technically say that I am a “model” of some sort.
A couple months ago when I was up in Brooklyn, Kwaisi and I talked about my modeling experiences and I came to the conclusion that modeling is not something that is limited only to a certain group of people. Yes, to be a professional model, there is a look. And like every profession, it comes with standards that we cannot change.
But what I’m talking about is the act of modeling itself. To stand before an audience or a camera as a part of artwork or an aid in representation of something. That to me, is a model, and it isn’t as limiting as we’ve made it out to be. Being ashamed to even consider myself a model or to hear other girls think that they wouldn’t be able to do a simple photo shoot with a local photographer JUST because they didn’t meet the standards they felt they had to, isn’t right. If you think about it, a model is just one that “models” something. Whether it be an article of clothing, a popular hot spot in the city, or the vision of a photographer, a model is simply someone portraying an image.
When I talked to photographer, Jose Gonzalez, in my most recent Wander Talks podcast, he discussed how his vision was to bring together the model and the scenery around them to create an image that had the same balance he viewed in his architecture studies. His models are simply bodies in space that help his creative process come to life.
To be a model takes far more than just a pretty face and a tall body. It takes confidence, body awareness, and the ability to create an image that is understood by the viewer. You see “average size” women in catalogs, men in brochures of a university, and short celebrities on the cover of magazines. To me, they are models, and I think we forget that. Even Kate Upton, for example, is a beloved model that doesn’t fulfill the classic “standard” look, but every picture she takes is just as beautiful. It is more so a skill than anything, and to think that only tall, skinny people have this ability is not the case.
I want both men and women to understand that “modeling” is not something they can’t do if they don’t feel they have the look. I want the word “model” to represent something more. Everyone may not have the same destiny to model for Victoria’s Secret, but they could sure as hell have the potential to rock what they’ve got.