Strict standards are not body-shaming


Ahmad Smith

Junior Haley Toepfer lays down to relax and tan by the pool on a hot summer day in July. This picture signifies the body type the modeling industry looks for most.

I am a local fashion photographer and I have lately been looking for ways to better my photography. I ended up narrowing it down to a couple major things. Better light, a better space for pictures and most of all I needed more subject matter – models. Recently I decided to put out an Instagram and Facebook post saying I was looking for models. On the post I had included the necessary requirements I would like the models to have, things like a flat chest and stomach, and skinny legs – some of the same requirements as professional modeling agencies.  After about three minutes I had gotten some pretty nasty commentary. At first I wasn’t surprised, because I knew eventually I would probably get yelled at for the photos I post or because of the way I really only use thinner models.

The first comment was saying how I wouldn’t be looking for models so much if my standards weren’t so high, but in my defense I have only really looked for models one other time, and my standards were actually lower than those of an official modeling agency. So it confuses me when I put out a post looking for the exact same things as a professional photographer or modeling agency that people would react the way they did. By now, it seems that people should know that not everyone has what it takes.

To me it’s just the fact that when people see or hear something that they don’t like, even the slightest bit they have to go ballistic and try to call people out on it even though they don’t truly know what they are talking about.  

Flat chest and slender bodies are two of the many things modeling agencies are attracted to when looking for new models. To be a model, big or small, you have to meet requirements. When it comes to modeling, you really have it or you don’t.  Everyone wants to be a model and thinks it’s just simple stuff – get in a bikini and do a silly pose in front of a camera – but there’s a lot more that goes into it. Outfits, super high or low temperatures, a lot of makeup, dead lines and waking up at dawn are just a few things that go into the business. Not everyone can be a model and people need to understand that. Bryenna Raleigh, a model for the peak agency, addressed her requirements she has had to face to become a model. For girls you have to be 5’8 – 5’11 depending on the agency. In LA they allow 5’7 but the key word is allow. I was not even requiring a specific height.

The bust measurements are 30 – 34 A-C cups. Waist requirements are 21-25 inches around. Hips requirements are  31 – 35 inches around.  She also informed me that bodies must be proportioned and continued to explain how requirements differ by location such as in France, where BMI for female models has to be 18.5, they must have clear skin and no braces. Raleigh also explained how strict requirements apply to both genders. I was wanting to be a model but I had realized I probably couldn’t because I definitely did not meet the requirements. Yes, even guys have requirements. Men’s height usually has to be between 6’1 – 6’3 and usually pretty built depending on the agency or the photographer.

The most you can try to do to better your body if you want to be a model is workout and eat right, but even then you still may not make the cut – some just aren’t born with the right build. The same thing goes for dance. Nineteen-year-old Shannon Hartle has been dancing since she was three. She has even been in a music video for the song “Heights of Brooklyn” by Ryan James and has been a dance model for choreographers like Kevin Richardson. Hartle agrees that to be a professional dancer there are body requirements. Ballet companies look for dancers with long necks, thin long arms, a short and thin torso, long legs, high arches, small chest and small posterior. “They must also be naturally flexible,” Hartle said. Some of these things listed are the same things almost all modeling agencies look for if you want to work for them.

The type of girls I was looking for are in very high demand in the modeling industry. Because of this some girls are starting to claim that this is body shaming larger women. This could not be more incorrect. I appreciate women’s bodies for what they are and believe that every women is beautiful, but the photos I take are meant for my art. I pick out poses and outfits specifically for smaller girls because of what I look at everyday. Everyday and all day I am looking up and looking at “fashion photography”, vogue fashion photos or I’ll just look at my favorite fashion photographers like “Yves Huy Truong”,“Jack Belli” or “Bryan Rodner Carr”. All of those those photographers and companies use smaller models. To help make my photos look more professional I figure I should do the same thing.

Someone tried to argue with and tell me that I should take photos of everyone because larger women are becoming more relevant in the modeling and fashion industry. From what I look at everyday that is really not true at least for the type of photos I pay attention to. Models might be starting to have bigger posterior or bust, but that really depends on what the photographer wants. I do think that every girl is beautiful in there own way regardless of of size but the modeling industry has standards and they are high. Not everyone can be a model and we need to stop sugar coating it. Not everyone has what it takes.