This summer I’ve been interning for a modelling agency. I go to photo shoots, interview models, and write blog posts for their website. However, most of my time has been spent just observing the goings-on within the agency. What I have discovered so far has been surprising, to say the least. At the beginning of the summer, I was excited to learn about the fashion world. However, with the summer almost over, more that anything I’m just disillusioned about the whole industry.
When I first started this job, I was planning to write a post about how untrue the stigma around the modelling industry is. I was going to spout out lines like, “Our agency has a place for everyone” and, “We don’t care about a model’s weight, we just want them to be healthy-looking.” However, the more time I’ve spent here, the more I’ve realized that the whole industry is still shallow and completely hung up on size.
One of my first assignments was scouting models on Facebook. “But how do I know who would make a good model?” was my first question. The reply I got surprised me: “It’s really all about measurements.”
An international model (i.e. anyone who wants to be in a real fashion magazine or walk on a runway) has to be 5’7-6’0. No shorter and no taller. On top of that, they need to have proportions that are “industry standard”. Industry standard proportions are a waist measurement of 23″-26″ and a hip measurement of 33″-36″. If you can’t picture this, that’s like the waist of a ten year old on Marilyn Monroe’s hips.
Model scouts look for these proportions first, and a pretty face second. In fact, most of the models that I’ve met and observed at the agency aren’t very pretty. To be honest, they’re mostly kind of weird looking. One of my fellow interns described them as baby giraffes, and that’s pretty accurate. Their legs look too long for their bodies, and their waists look too small to support their ribcages. On top of that, they’re awkwardly tall, and most either stoop over or trip a lot.
With this knowledge, it strikes me as strange that so many people look to the models in high fashion magazines as the pinnacle of beauty. Not only is it not a realistic standard, but it’s truthfully not a good one. Pretty, healthy people with soft curves and normal proportions have no place in this industry.
I talked to a part-time model who I considered quite naturally pretty, and she said that her first runway show had pretty much killed her self-image. Her fellow models told her she was too short (she’s 5’7), and the designers at the show had lightly suggested that she could use to lose some weight (she’s not fat, like not even a touch overweight). I was horrified.
It’s always disappointing to find out that a stereotype is true, and I wish that I had something different to report from my experience. I’m passing on what I’ve learned this summer with the hope that a few less girls will have to find it out the hard way.
The next time that you feel jealous of a girl in a magazine, just remember: in real life, she’s probably not pretty. Those models we all admire? They’re mostly just awkward baby giraffes.