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Written by: Lexi Nimmo
“How do I become a curve model?” This is a question I receive multiple times a week! I’ll be honest, the question itself gives me the impression you aren’t cut out for it. Let me explain: The modeling industry is like any other career in the sense that you must first do your research about where to learn the trade and then enroll in classes! Once a young woman asked me how to get into modeling, and I told her to start with classes. She replied, “Why do you need classes to just wear clothes and walk?” Oh, honey. That’s NOT the right attitude at all. There’s much more to modeling than meets the eye. It’s an art form that requires professional training. Just like with many other programs of study, you may need to travel to attend classes if they aren’t offered in your area. The good news is you have options! You can take group classes, workshops, and private lessons. If none of those are an option for you, I recommend looking to YouTube for some online guidance! No matter how you do it, pursuing the necessary training takes initiative. Do you think adults who want to be nurses message a nurse on Instagram and say “How do I get into nursing?” Probably not! Google is your best friend and a great place to start your research. You are also going to need professional headshots, test shots, a “model bag” and a solid social media presence. Be prepared to spend at least a few hundred dollars, because quality is of the utmost importance when it comes to your portfolio. Once you have these things in order you can start submitting to agencies, which requires more independent research so that you’re sure the agency you are submitting to is legitimate.
If I sound a little intense, buckle up baby, because the modeling industry is tough! Don’t get me wrong, I have met some of the most positive, uplifting, and kind women in this industry, but the nature of it is fast-paced and competition is fierce. If you can’t keep up, you’ll be left behind and you can absolutely count on rejection. That said, it’s nothing personal! Castings are looking for something very specific for each gig, and the turnaround is fast so they need to find the closest match as quickly as possible. The best you can do is be as prepared as you can be and have a tough skin. I think now it’s obvious that if you say you want to be a model, but have never done any independent research about the industry, you might be barking up the wrong tree.
You see, the independent hustle doesn’t stop after you’ve taken classes and signed with an agent. In this new digital age, your online presence plays a huge role in booking gigs. Some agencies don’t even sign new models unless they have at least 10k on Instagram! I know, it’s crazy, but that’s the biz and you have to go with the flow or else get swallowed up in the waves! There are many ways that you can gain exposure and draw some traffic to your social media accounts. The best ways to promote yourself are utilizing social media, networking (online and IRL), and creating original content. In my opinion, Instagram is the best social media platform right now! Spend time focused on your Instagram account and building an audience there (strategically engaging/using hashtags/tagging similar yet more popular pages etc.). Networking is extremely important both on- and offline! Not only is this a way for people to get to know you but you never know which connections will come in handy. Also, networking leads to creative collaboration, which is essential to expanding your audience. Finally, creating original content is super helpful for gaining public exposure. Booking gigs can be hard because it depends largely on luck (no matter how talented or beautiful a person is), but when creating your own content, you don’t need permission to show the world your talents!
Let’s talk pictures. You will need to hire a professional photographer to take headshots and full body shots of you that you can use to submit to agencies and gigs. I know it’s tempting to get that guy from church or your cousin or your neighbor with a “nice camera” to take them for the low, low price of free… trust me. The investment is worth it. But beware! You want to hire a photographer who has experience with this specific type of photography and also has great references from other models. Unfortunately this industry has a few bad eggs who behave unprofessionally, and the best way to protect yourself is to ask for a least two references from models who have recently worked with this photographer. Also, never be scared to bring an escort with you to a small shoot like this. Be sure your escort is quiet, respectful, and out of the way (no stage moms or controlling boyfriends), but if you are more comfortable with another person there just tell the photographer. Some photographers don’t allow escorts and my advice is to run as far away from them as possible. Better safe than sorry. If you can, I definitely recommend hiring a professional hair and makeup artist for your headshots. You want your makeup and hair to look natural, yet polished. A lot of times we think we are really good at doing our own makeup, but we miss the mark, and that’s where a professional saves the day! You should wear a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans with nude or black heels. All of those things should be in your model bag along with a nude bra, nude shapewear, foundation, mascara, hair spray, a bottle of water and an easy snack like a granola bar. These are the basics, and I know that many people recommend putting additional things in your model bag. This is totally fine, but the things I mentioned are things you will absolutely need during a casting or gig.
Once you’ve got the skills, headshots, and model bag, you are ready to submit to agencies and even independent gigs. Yay! But you need to be very cautious. Unfortunately there are a lot of scams out there, and while some are easy to spot, others are so common people don’t even know they are scams. The golden rule is you should never pay to join an agency or participate in a gig. Hiring a photographer for a test shoot to build your portfolio is totally normal and you definitely should do that! What you want to stay away from are agencies that ask you to pay a membership fee or gigs that require you to pay to participate. Your agent makes money when you make money (10-20%) and if you don’t make money, neither do they! Gigs should be paying you, not the other way around. Some gigs are TFP (trade for photos) where you recieve images for your portfolio as your payment and the photographer and / or company can use your images. These gigs are great when you’re first starting out. I also see runway shows holding model castings and then asking for a fee to participate. This is not how legitimate runway shows operate! Sadly, many of these runway shows masquerade as New York Fashion Week shows, and that’s just not true. If you ever see a casting and you’re not sure if it sounds legit or not, you are more than welcome to email or DM me and I will happily take a look at it for you and give you my opinion, because I do not want you to get scammed.
Modeling is hard work but it is also so much fun, and one of the coolest jobs in the world! If you’re truly committed to pursuing modeling, you should absolutely go for it! There is room for everyone at the top and the world needs to see your beauty and strength! I love answering specific questions about classes, portfolios, agencies and castings, so I’m giving you an open invitation to shoot me a message anytime, and I promise to guide you the best I can. Remember that you are beautiful and powerful, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to!
Instagram: @ lexinimmo
￼Photography Credits: Will Lietz
Hair Credits: Luxe Salon Cancun
Make Up Credits: Luxe Salon Cancun
Style/clothing Credits: Eduardo Novelo