Does the Word ‘Model’ Have Negative Connotations?

Models, known for their prestige in aesthetic and fashionable clothes, have been the set beauty standard for years. They are the emblem of beauty (as some may say), they encapsulate the ‘it’ girl or ‘it’ boy.

There are some models that don’t hit the ‘normalized’ beauty standard and they are deemed ‘unusual’ or ‘different’, yet are they really all that different? What even is different? Why has different become unusual and why have these models only been predominately situated in Indie magazines and catwalks?

Either way, my argument is questioning whether or not ‘model’ has negative connotations. I feel as though the word ‘model’ has also become associated with false pretenses, a facade if you will. It’s almost like the said ‘model’ is trying to impress or seem superior through labeling their job status. But in reality, where is this superiority? It was a question being answered, nothing more and nothing less. Yet there are still judgements placed upon them; from various discussions with my friends, I understand that the imminent consensus is that modeling is a job without intelligence, it’s simply based on being ‘pretty’ or ‘handsome.’

I completely disagree, modeling is a profession that’s been around for decades and some of the best fashion looks have come out of models. They are entrepreneurial and have to have a certain level of resilience in order to achieve in their hard profession. Though the darker side of modeling must be addressed, recently models have spoken out against the ruthless critique of employers, saying they must be a certain thinness to be able to model. Victoria’s Secret have, to date, not emphasized plus-size modeling. The unrealistic body standard set by Victoria Secret still damages young girls and boys today, as this is what they see as ‘fashionable.’ In order to wear certain clothes,  they have to have this specific body type.

Ashley Mears, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Boston University, writes, “However, unlike other “bad jobs,” modeling is high-status work. Though the odds of making it big (or a living at all) are low, modeling is regarded as glamorous work, especially for women. In American popular culture, modeling is celebrated as a prestigious career for young women, any teen fashion magazine will convey as much. Hence my initial excitement at getting a foot in the door.”

She goes on to say, “In addition to being a “bad job,” I realized that it’s also an expensive one. Modeling requires extensive start-up and maintenance costs, which agencies incur and deduct from models’ future earnings. These add up quickly. My agencies charged a lot and often for a range of things one would never imagine, from daily bike messenger services to transport books from one client to the next, to the costs of composite cards, and even a charge to include my card in the “Show Package” mailed to Fashion Week casting directors. These expenses were billed against my prospective earnings and automatically deducted from my account.”

It’s not an easy job. Any job is a good job and models have raised money and helped people from around the world, and not just for publicity.

Image Credit: Claudio Sabia

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