Finding where you fit in the modelling industry

Over the last decade, the modelling industry has copped a lot of criticism and negative media surrounding beauty and sizing standards.

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to hear stories of models who are going down the path of extreme weight loss in order to achieve a size that is not healthy for their body shape. As a mother modelling agent, we feel it is important that we address this problem as best we can and arm our girls with knowledge and self confidence that will allow them to succeed in the industry without falling into the trap of bad health or low self esteem. As such, I am going to offer a three-step strategy that will allow aspiring models to make the most out of their natural beauty and forge a successful, long-lasting, and rewarding career in this exciting industry.

One woman who was able to apply these three steps, and in the process completely change her modelling career path, is Crystal Renn. Crystal was originally scouted by a modelling agency when she was 14 years old and was told that only if she lost 40% of her body weight would she make it in the modelling industry. This critique sent her down a path of negative body image, self doubt, and ultimately a serious eating disorder. Once Crystal understood her options within the industry and confronted the fact that being a runway model was neither healthy or achievable for her body type, she was able to develop a much healthier relationship with food, move towards a healthier weight for her body type, and move into the curve modelling industry. By embracing her healthy body weight and shape, Crystal was able to move into the most successful chapter of her modelling career.
Crystal RennCrystal Renn photographed by Seth Sabal (2010)

1. Understanding

I can't begin to stress enough how important it is that aspiring models understand their options in the industry. As a model, you need to know not only about the different types of models that exist, but also the restrictions that are traditionally placed on the models within each sub-industry and where these restrictions have come from. This step is particularly relevant for those who are aspiring to be runway models. The high fashion industry's standards have been criticised heavily over the last few years; however, with the increased awareness that has developed surrounding the often unhealthy and unrealistic expectations that are placed on runway models, the industry is now beginning to move in the right direction. Though runway models have traditionally been required to be above 174cm and within a size 6-8 AUS range to fit designer clothing, more and more often models who don't fit these restrictions are beginning to enter the high fashion industry. Additionally, many countries are beginning to bring legislation into place to protect the health of models. In France, for example, models now have to obtain a doctor's certificate which outlines that they are within a healthy weight range for their height and body shape before they are able to be hired (The Fashion Law, 2015). Although laws such as this allow the industry to move forward quickly, the days of the 'fit model' (the tiny mannequin that designers fit their clothing to) are still far from over. Armed with this knowledge, young models who are aspiring to enter the runway modelling industry can further understand the hurdles that they may come across and make educated choices in relation to the direction of their career.
Country Girl Management National Finals

2. Confronting

Though many young models aspire to working on a runway, the reality is that the high fashion industry is still currently largely represented by models who fit within a certain height and size restriction. Whilst many models can achieve these restrictions whilst still remaining fit and healthy, many more cannot. It is vital that aspiring models are not only realistic in what their healthy body actually looks like, but also what it means for their career as a model. Confronting the fact that going down the path of runway modelling may not work for your body type can be difficult, but it shouldn't spell the end of your career. There are so many other modelling paths and that are available for girls who want to pursue them. A great example of an industry where this is the case is the commercial modelling industry. In this industry, there are fewer restrictions surrounding height and weight. Instead, there is a focus placed on the face and personality. Doing your research and understanding where your body shape will fit within the industry is the best way to move forward with your career.

3. Embracing

Every career path comes with its challenges. Some industries require a high level of knowledge and training, others require an extroverted personality, a contagious sense of humour, or an innovatively creative eye. The modelling industry is no different. It requires individuals who fit certain requirements in terms of personality and appearance. As such, it is so important that aspiring models are able to objectively reflect on their own look and healthy body type and work towards an aligned sub-industry. Embracing your look, and being confident and comfortable with the skin you're in, is the most crucial step in becoming a successful model. Being critical of your own strengths and weaknesses, always working towards self improvement, and ensuring you take on the feedback of others (without letting it destroy you), is absolutely vital.

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