Plus Model Magazine Editor-in-Chief Madeline (Maddie) Jones breaks down the essential steps you should take to launch a successful modeling career. And also, why you may want to reconsider that goal...
1. Know Your Worth
“This industry is not going to make you feel pretty. This industry is ruthless,” says Maddie.
Many girls fantasize about a career in modeling because it seems like it would be a chance to feel beautiful, pampered, and glamorous. But the reality is that modeling is not going to improve your sense of self-esteem, or your belief in your own worth. In fact, for many, it does just the opposite.
“If you think this industry that is going to validate your beauty, that’s the wrong reason to get into the modeling industry,” Maddie says. “It’s not about being pretty, or sexy, or even inspirational.”
As a model, you receive a great deal of harsh, direct feedback about your appearance. This isn’t intentionally to tear you down, but it can have that effect if you aren’t thick-skinned. You have to know your worth, and not allow that to be shaken by the little, negative remarks you might hear along the way.
2. Know Your Role
“There’s a misconception about the modeling industry, that it’s about the model. But it’s never about the model, it’s actually about the brand. Whatever that brand is--the shoes, the clothing, the makeup, whatever it is,” says Maddie.
Models have a very specific role to play, and understanding that is crucial to success.
“They’re not looking at you as a person. They’re looking at you as a product, a brand, to fit a certain criteria or concept,” says Maddie. “It is not about what you like, what you don’t like, what your aesthetic is. Not, ‘I don’t wear purple, or I don’t wear stripes.’ No, you wear what they give you, or you’re going to be sent off that set.”
At the end of the day, the majority of paid modeling work is about successfully fitting into a client’s “mold,” in terms of what they need to sell their products. As a work-a-day model, you’re there to turn out great images and to give the client what they need.
“You are basically a human hanger. You’re there to sell clothing, or shoes, or makeup, or whatever it is they’re hiring you to do,” Maddie says.
3. Come Correct
Success in modeling is definitely about much more than just looking good. You have to know your industry well, and show up like a consummate professional.
“You have to commit to yourself that you’re going to do the research. You have to commit time, you have to commit money--yes, you have to invest in yourself--and you have to commit your soul to it, and know that you’re doing it for the right reasons,” says Maddie.
“Go on plusmodelmag.com, and put ‘Modeling 101’ into the search,” recommends Maddie. There, she’s compiled a ton of advice for girls looking to break into the industry.
Social media can also be a great resource. As the saying goes, “success leaves clues,” and girls can learn a lot by watching models who have achieved success.
In addition to being well informed, models also need to display a high level of professionalism. There’s hundreds of aspiring models out there for every job that exists, so if you don’t act right, you’ll be replaced.
“This is not an industry that’s gonna pat you on the back and say, ‘Oh, it’s okay Mama, you’re beautiful.’ When they say they want you to be there at 9 a.m., be there at 8:30. When they say you’re gonna be on your feet for eight hours that day, you’re gonna wear whatever they tell you,” Maddie says.
4. Shake it Off
Learning to shake off negative feedback, rejection, or certain undesirable business outcomes is an essential skill for aspiring models.
“They’re not looking for a pretty girl. They’re looking for a tall, size this, that can jump. They’re looking for a shorter, blonde, that doesn’t have big ears, whose eyes are blue, or brown, etc.,” says Maddie.
When you receive feedback, or when you don’t get hired for a certain job, don’t take it personally. Shake it off!
“In this industry, it’s very easy, because we’re selling ourselves, to take things personally,” says Maddie. “Do not take things personally. You have to put yourself in someone else’s position.”
Those that don’t learn this lesson early on might get chewed up by the industry, something Maddie has seen time and again.
“I’ve seen girls come into this industry and leave with almost nervous breakdowns, because they did not realize how difficult this industry can be,” Maddie says.
5. Consider the Influencer Route Instead
“You don’t have to be just a model, or just a blogger. There’s this very big pond where you can be an influencer, a model, or blogger, and navigate that if you’re genuine about who you truly are,” says Maddie.
With so many options available to girls today, becoming a model is no longer the only way to be seen.
It’s important to realize that the role of “model” is a very specific one. Clients hire you to model for very specific reasons, and they’re looking for very specific attributes in women. Not everyone will succeed in building a portfolio, getting signed with an agency, and consistently being hired for modeling work. And that’s okay! Because there are many, many ways to make an impact in this day and age.
“A lot of girls are like, ‘I want to inspire women.’ You can inspire women being a doctor, a teacher, a mother...you can inspire women doing whatever it is that you do . . . in your daily life,” says Maddie.
Maddie uses her Snapchat and other social media channels to share her journey as an autism mom, for example. She is inspiring women by sharing what she’s doing in her everyday life, and almost none of the content she puts out on Snapchat has anything at all to do with modeling.
“You can inspire people out there just by being yourself,” Maddie says.
To hear more of my conversation with the incomparable Madeline Jones, check out this week’s episode of the Healthy at Any Size podcast. To learn more about Maddie herself, and her journey in fashion, motherhood, and other aspects of her life, check her out on social media.