Find Your Niche in the Industry
My whole life, my dream was to actually be on the other side of the lens, as a photographer. Before I started modeling, I always assumed that it’d be a very easy job; just pose in front of the camera and look pretty. But, after being in the industry for almost five years now, I’ve come to learn that modeling is so much more than just looking pretty (as so many people seem to think). Modeling takes complete mental, physical, and spiritual strength, but that’s a topic for a whole different discussion. What I’m here to talk about, is my experience in the modeling industry as an “inbetweenie.”
I never thought twice about what I was eating, or how many times I was working out a week, or how many calories I was burning. But, after being submerged in the industry for just a short time, I began to learn the harsh reality that is the modeling world.
I am 5’9” and have always had a difficult time staying within the required* sizes 0, 2, or 4, which is what the large majority of the girls are on the main board are in most agencies. I remember the first time I ever took my measurements. My hips were 38”, my waist was 25”, and my bust was 34”. These measurements are not accepted in the industry as what a normal model should be, but I also wasn’t big enough to be considered a “plus size model.” Since the day I started modeling, my agents would always tell me, just try to get your hips down to a 36” or 35” and you’ll be perfect! I remember thinking, “but these are my bones…how will I ever fit in to the standards of what’s being portrayed as ‘beautiful’ unless I completely starve myself? Why can’t I just be accepted for what I am?”
* ideal runway measurements: 5'9"-5'11", 115-130lbs, 34-24-34"
After having heard one too many times that my hips were just too big, I decided to try my hardest to get them down to what my agents wanted them to be. It took months of struggling, hours of working out in the gym, and most of all, took a huge toll on my mental state. I wasn’t happy. I knew that it wasn’t what my body was naturally supposed to be doing. I found myself constantly comparing myself to other models on Instagram and thinking, “why can’t I just be naturally be skinny like her? Why do I have to be curvy, and have thighs, and a butt, and boobs?” Even after I had reached my goal of getting my hips down to a 36”, I still felt like I wasn’t good enough. I’d never be an ideal model for a high fashion client, because I still couldn’t fit into the sample sizes. I’d never be able to be a runway model, because I wasn’t thin enough.
After having one too many melt downs, I decided to take a break from taking modeling so seriously. I started focusing on my other interests, and took on other projects that distracted me from my constant thoughts in the back of my mind, that I was too ‘fat’ to be a model. Then one day, I had an epiphany. Rather than trying to put myself into a box, why don’t I create my own? Rather than struggling to be categorized as a high fashion model, I decided to focus my energy into the areas of modeling that I excelled in; ones that I knew clients would be looking for girls with a little curve, or an athletic build.
I began focusing my energy into becoming stronger, more toned, and healthy rather than starving myself, and trying to go against what my natural body type was. I found that I was much more happy accepting myself for what I was, rather than trying to be something I wasn’t.
As models today, we are lucky to be at the forefront of a revolution in the modeling industry. Brands are now promoting body diversity, from all shapes and sizes which, to me, is such a beautiful thing! There is still a lack of representation and promotion of the “inbetweenie” girls, like myself who don’t fall under the category of a standard size 2 or a plus size 14, but we’re getting there, and I couldn’t be happier to serve as an example as one those “inbetweenies.”
So, what my message is to all of you new models out there, is embrace who you are! Don’t let the standards of the industry put you in a box and stop you from chasing your dream of becoming a model. Don’t let social media fool you into thinking that the models you idolize are perfect because you never know what they’re really dealing with on the inside. Find your niche and stick to it! My niche is swimwear and athletics.
What’s your niche?