opinions – bodylove

When Models become Influencers

You know when people say about models that they are just “coathangers”, just there to show the clothes and look pretty and that’s basically it? Well that’s sort of kind of not entirely untrue: this is after all an industry of outer beauty. At the same time there is a lot more to be said about this, especially since lately there is a rise of models turned influencers.

What does it mean when a model is an influencer? It either means she has a message, or a platform to show herself, or both. So instead of being this anonymous silent beauty that just shows an outfit, we see more and more models who have a message or an opinion, and a presence on social media to share it. That message can be completely trivial (“look, this is my life” or “working out and eating healthy”) or can be very idealistic (models talking about climate change, or body issues, or support presidential candidates,…).

reef

Robyn Lawley cares about protecting nature in Australia, her homecountry. This post is about the great barrier reef (notice how her profile picture also says “I don’t support dumping on the reef”).

Major agencies have been getting on board, either with special influencer boards or by showing their models’ social media stats.

social bree

Models1 shows their models’ social influence

social ashley graham

IMG takes it even further and shows you a direct feed of model’s instagramfeeds next to their portfolio’s

This trend works both ways: the past couple of years I’ve not only seen models turn into influencers, but also seen influencers (like bloggers, celebrities or activists) turn into models. The Blonde Salad’s Chiara Ferragni has graced covers for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, blogger Nadia Aboulhosn designs and models for Boohoo,… And how about socialites like Kendall and Gigi? Capable as they may be, would there careers have been the same if not without their millions of followers?

Influencers also sometimes extend their influence to other fields too: Ashley Graham designs lingeriecollections and speaks about body issues, Robyn Lawley does swimwear and speaks about environmental issues, Chrissy Teigen is a TV host and wrote a cookbook, Cara got into acting,… So more and more, those different fields and forms of expression are morphing into one.

laura swim

model Laura Wells regularly talks about environmental issues, and also designed an eco-friendly recycled swimwear collection, playing entirely into her brand and what she believes in.

Personally, I really like this evolution. It’s nice to know that there is more to modeling than just looking a certain way, but that you can also have a message and stand for something. And you can draw so much inspiration from dabbling in other fields too; I’ve certainly experienced becoming a more well-rounded model since I started blogging as well. I also feel like it would do the industry some good if we started seeing models as individuals again, each with their own story and message, instead of anonymous interchangeable standardized girls. An industry where it’s not just about what you look like but also about who you are and the personality you bring to the table.

But I can imagine there is a downside to all of this as well. First of all, what about girls who are just starting out? Competition is already so high within modeling, and now besides all the things girls are already worrying about, they also need to add “presence on social media” to compete with other  girls? But more importantly: the online world can be a cruel one. The higher you climb on the social media ladder, the more haters you’ll get. There are social media icons who receive death threats and severe trashtalk on a daily basis. You have to be pretty strong to handle that kind of online abuse.  As a model, it’s been possible to be completely anonymous in the past, but with social presence becoming more important, some models might be forced to share themselves online as well… and perhaps that’s not for everyone.

 

What do you think of models becoming influencers? Great opportunity, or unnecessary pressure?

 

The ugly side of beauty

During my years as a model, I’ve met so many people who are even more beautiful on the inside than the outside. Laura Boegborn is one of those people. She works as a makeup artist and a sales rep, selling makeup to women. She’s in the profession of making women “more beautiful”. But herein also lies a painful truth. A couple of days ago, Laura wrote something about the difficult side of working in the beauty industry, specifically her experience there as a saleswoman, and I have asked her if I could share it on my blog.

laura

natural beauty Laura

People ask me what I do and respond to my answer with a gasp. ‘’Wow, you have a dream job, so creative!’’. I nod and smile and say I’m so happy.

I’m not happy. I am not fucking happy. I am part of the machine that grinds you up. I am part of the business that makes a profit of your self-loathing. I am part of the multi-million, billion dollar industry that tells you that you are not good enough. I am part of the problem. I am part of you telling yourself to hate yourself.

It’s seeing mothers with their daughters coming in for a make-up session, where I teach them, and hearing them say that their daughters look so much better with make-up on. I see them smile, nodding and agreeing with sad eyes.

It’s seeing women sitting in front of the mirror and saying ‘’gosh, I really look awful’’, waiting for me to reply in a non-verbal way, with some product to slap on their faces. A ‘’actually, you look great’’ isn’t sufficient. Your self-hate is too deep, too old. It found its way into you, like a seed. It grows with you and it’s intertwined with your spine. Ripping it out like a weed would hurt you and leave you broken.

Your self-hate started when your mother said you look better with make-up on. You smile, you nod. You don’t wanna make a scene. They congratulate you for losing weight. You look better now that you lost the weight. It’s your grandmother squeezing your thighs and telling you not to eat that.

It started when you saw the airbrushed ads, wondering why you aren’t like that. You don’t wonder the first second you see those ads, it just creeps up on you. You’re not being swallowed whole, you’re a 6 course meal.

I have to make sure they buy something. I have to make them believe that you will be a better person when you buy that eyeshadow. I have to press on that pain. I don’t throw salt in the wounds, I use sugar. But that hurts just as much.

I don’t wanna be part of that business where you just buy, buy and buy. Where I have to tell you that you are not good enough, that you are inadequate.  But if you buy that eyeshadow, you will be adequate.

I don’t wanna be part of you hating yourself.

I want you to love yourself.

I just sat there and read it again and again. My “About Me” here on the blog says “We live in a society where billion dollar industries are driven on the insecurities of women, and I do not want to play that game anymore. I play my own game now: my body, my rules.” so I felt a wave of emotion for Laura’s post. In this era where everyone is obsessed with perfection, I think we need more brave women like Laura to question everything we always thought was right.

I have hated the pores on my nose for years. Hated. Bought tons of products, creams and pads to reduce them or fill them up. Do you think that if I hadn’t been blasted with images of perfect, smooth, poreless women for 2 decades I would even think of paying so much attention to nosepores?

How would you feel about your body if no one told you how you should feel about it?

Women are not genetically wired with insecurities and body issues. Those are societal pressures, creeping up on you pretty much from the second you were born. It’s the dozens of industries that benefit from keeping you unhappy with yourself, from offering you a solution to perfection that is always -just – out of reach. It’s watching every woman you’ve ever been around growing up as a kid being insecure about herself and voicing those insecurities right in front of you, making you believe that insecurities are “a normal part of being a woman”. It’s the subtle sabotage of someone complimenting you by saying you are beautiful only to have it undermined by the thought that your nose  would look “better” with a bit of bronzer (“it’s not always salt thrown in the wound, sometimes it’s sugar. But that hurts just as much“).

I’m not saying makeup is evil (judging from how many lipsticks I own, that would make me a hypocrite). If you enjoy wearing lots and lots of makeup, that is totally okay, you go girl. I’m not saying the beauty- and fashion industry is evil (although working in it and remaining bodypositive at the same time can be extremely challenging). But if it comes to a point where you are afraid not to wear makeup, or where you hate your face without makeup, or where you find it hard to name 5 things about your face that you find beautiful, then we as a society have failed. We are failing.

Time for change. To put it in Laura’s words “I want you to love yourself”. So dear nakedface, I love you.

nakedface

What do you think about Laura’s post?