Rejecting Model Standards
Originally published in Creators Mag
Don’t Let Model Standards Limit Dreams
Models have been historically required to be tall, skinny, flawless, and the overall image of perfection, or what society has deemed perfect. The stresses and pressure of the modeling industry to fit into these model standards have also been known to lead some to eating disorders, appearance-altering procedures, and mental health problems.
The modeling industry is finally starting to become more inclusive and accessible as more big brands and designers feature models of all shapes, sizes, and shades in campaigns and on the runway. In the past, companies have fed into and consumers have fed off of the desire to be the models wearing clothes despite having totally different body types and encouraging unrealistic expectations.
Now, consumers are more aware of the negative effect media has on body image and self-esteem and want more diverse models to represent various body types (and races) so big companies have finally started to oblige.
This has gone so far as to the majority finally denouncing Photoshopping body shape and skin, including stretch marks and cellulite, even in e-commerce for many big brands. The modern woman wants the model to look like her, to be relatable, not to want to look like the model and encourage comparison and self-hate.
This demand for diverse models has opened up the art to more women, many of whom have found self-love and body appreciation through freelance modeling, although it is much harder to make money than being signed, the love for creating art keeps many going.
However, many agencies are still harsh and exclusive with height, race, and sizes, and models are rejected often for not meeting the “standards.” This can be extremely discouraging because being a signed model is the dream for many. But for the freelance community, Instagram has provided a market for models and influencers to work directly with photographers, designers, and brands.
The term “Instagram model” has had a negative connotation because some people will call themselves models on social media with no experience, but those who build a portfolio, earn a positive reputation and prove they have a talent for modeling deserve a place in the industry. It’s just like anyone who picks up a camera has to prove themselves to be a “photographer,” which takes time and investments.
Cheyenne (Chey) Dawn is a great example of a petite model at 5’4” who’s found great love for modeling and been very successful in it, and she’s become an inspiration for many models in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“When I first started modeling I was often told that there wasn’t a big market for petite models. At first, it was discouraging, but the more I looked and the harder I worked the more opportunities came to me,” Chey Dawn said. “I believe there are a lot of factors in what makes a good model, but height is certainly not one of them. The moment you stop limiting yourself is the moment you become truly successful.”
We’ve been applying the pressure to show companies inclusivity and diversity are the ways to go, but with the age of social media we must remind ourselves that we are good enough, we don’t need to change ourselves or look like someone else to be a model. You don’t have to be 5’8” and up, have a perfect hourglass size 2 body with clear skin and big lips and full hair.