By Simi Afroza Mira

As a former model myself, I have seen it time and time again: droves of girls and women, arriving to open call auditions for modeling agencies, hoping they will be discovered, just knowing that they are the next Big Thing. They think to themselves, I’m tall! I’m thin! I’m even beautiful! This must mean that I will make an amazingly successful model! What many don’t know is that the recipe for what makes a successful model in our society isn’t as simple as beauty, height, and a slim, lithe body. The girls and women who eventually become very successful; who book a lot of print or runway jobs, and make a name for themselves in the modeling industry, know that there is so much more to modeling than having just a pretty face.

We, as a society, all know that Photoshop exists. We watch YouTube videos; seeing a model’s before and after shots with it. We gasp in surprise – and we also think, that if this software program can change their appearance on a whim, then that’s all that matters to make a great picture – they falsely think that a software program is what makes a “beautiful” model beautiful, not an actual beautiful model, who understands her body, her lines, her face, and knows how to make it work in front of the camera. But, that line of thinking couldn’t be more wrong. And I will tell you why:

Of all of those excited, hopeful girls and women who I would see line up for open call auditions, I would only see maybe a very small handful make the cut and sign with an agency. Almost all of these women left disappointed, and aghast. I’m beautiful, dammit! I’m tall! Why didn’t they sign me? What these women don’t understand, is that standing in front of a camera, and expecting your beautiful face to carry you and make a beautiful photo, DOES NOT HAPPEN. The most beautiful woman in the world could stand in front of a camera, and if she does nothing but stare with dull eyes; if she does not pose and shape her body into flattering lines, if she does not engage the camera with her eyes, her lips, even her eyebrows, then even that most beautiful woman in the world will take a picture that will depict – yes – a beautiful woman, but a beautiful woman with a dull expression and no life in her eyes. Even the most beautiful woman in the world cannot sell products that models are asked to sell with their beauty and their bodies if they do not know how to use their body, and to harness their beauty into making it marketable for the modeling industry. All of those women and girls were turned away, one by one, because they stood in front of the camera, with little to no animation on their face, believing that beauty was enough. And it isn’t. Even Photoshop cannot add vitality to a smile, or a discreet and appropriate sexiness to the lines of a body, and It cannot make dull, dead eyes bright and alive. No technology, no software program can do this. Only you, as a model, can learn to do this for yourself, if you want success in the industry.

So yes – having a tall, graceful, slender body, and even beauty to boot, is a great basis for the beginnings of what could be a successful modeling career. But I can tell you, as a former successful model myself, is that modeling isn’t just showing up and being pretty. It’s hard work. It’s learning an assortment of poses that flatter your body, and giving great and interesting lines for the camera. It’s about knowing how to animate your lips and eyes and eyebrows. It’s about the arch of your neck; the tilt of your chin, and knowing how it is most flattering to the angle of the camera being used. All of this is the recipe for a successful model in our industry today. No amount of technology will ever be just enough for great print work. It takes HARD WORK – and yes, height and a beautiful or interesting face, and a slender body, is usually requisite as well – but know that it simply isn’t enough. Hard work is required too, and most aspiring models do not know or understand this.