By Carol Ann Blackwell
To be, or not to be nude “in print or in person” as a model should always be the choice of the model. It is a personal choice that can really become an issue to a model that chooses not to pose nude. (Even at runway shows, fittings, garment changes at shoots, etc…often models are undressing in public areas vs. a private room). Models (and parents) should not fool themselves that it will never happen just because they insist on privacy, so the best plan is to “have a plan”.
In the modeling world there is are many different types of print modeling jobs. From high fashion editorials in magazines all the way to photographic art hanging on display at an art gallery or book store. Photographic prints of models play a large role in our society. Most people don’t even realize how frequently that they see models in print all over the place…everywhere! The challenge comes in figuring out where someone belongs in the modeling industry, or even if print modeling and posing in front of a camera are really for them.
The prerequisites for being considered a high-fashion editorial model and how it has a very high standard of height, weight, and unique characteristics are elite regarding the “prestige” ranking associated with editorial fashion. Since the opportunities are rare to achieve such a successful status as a high-fashion model, that leaves many other talented models with all of the other opportunities that span from the commercial and artistic modeling world, too. That is a broad area with its’ many specialties and divisions that have a set of unique requirements, as well.
In modelling there is always a question that most parents will ask and it’s regarding whether or not their child will be expected to pose nude. Under age 18, nudity is not the question because that is illegal, but the grey line comes back whether their teenager will be made to look more provocative or wear garments that may be considered revealing and imply nudity. That’s not a simple question when a person is in a chosen industry to model. Different people have religious beliefs or morals that would strongly oppose any nudity, while some individuals are just modest. In general, the modelling industry isn’t known for its’ compassion regarding the model’s feelings, so the nudity issue needs to be addressed.
A very important assumption regarding artistic modelling, as well as high-fashion and some commercial modelling, is that a model should be aware that the nudity probability is very high. If you have an artistic modelling assignment or an offer by a photographer, you should clarify what extent of artistic modelling is required (no nudity, partial nudity, full nudity, etc.). The model has some decisions to make regarding being photographed nude because that’s a lifelong commitment that isn’t easily erased away like getting a small tattoo. The model should think about whether they are comfortable with their body and if being photographed in the nude is open for discussion with their modelling agency. This part of the topic is not about posing for a pornography magazine, but rather the associated bookings that enter a modelling agency in regard to fashion, commercial, and art. The agency needs to know this information and to what extent of nudity you will allow, but they know that you may lose some jobs, too, by being limited. There’s really no way to convince a model who has strong feelings about NOT posing nude that there may be times others in the industry will not understand or be empathetic, so the model does have limitations in their eyes.
Another important discussion is with family because there are both positive and negative consequences of modelling nude and how it can affect your career in the future if the type of nudity is considered pornographic versus artistic. Artistic nude modelling versus pornographic modelling is just one BIG difference in making the decision that can alter a model’s “commercial” career, too. Some commercial clients may not approve, some may never know, while others may not care. There are some commercial clients that actually need models that are comfortable with partial of full nudity, so whether or not the model chooses to bare all is mostly a personal decision, of course.
The consideration to “bare all” is part of the modelling industry and is also shared with the broad possibilities on the Internet and in the specialised pornographic magazines. There are some nude models where that is all they do as a specialty is pose nude for websites and magazines, but it is not considered prestigious work just because they are in a magazine. Of course, among their network of marketing, there are some standards of higher quality versus lower quality opportunities even for pornographic print.
The Internet and magazines have their own status of what is considered acceptable and of “good taste”. A model’s personal website and other pay-sites are a prime example of whether the model is featured artistically or more provocatively graphic and may even be considered lewd. Some photos may come back and haunt a model for any variety of reasons that expands beyond the model losing a perspective, conservative, commercial client especially if someone does a search of you or your alias (a.k.a. name) on the Internet.
Some societies, especially in Europe, are more comfortable with nudity, so the opportunities a model finds when they travel and work internationally are endless. Once again, it’s the model’s choice and the model’s consequences if not handled with an artistic edge. A model should not want to have too many “regrets” as they mature in their lives, but because everyone’s standards and morals are so different it is more about doing whatever works for you and makes you appreciate your experiences.
Another note for discussion that is related to your comfort level and morals is regarding your sexuality and posing provocatively. Just as nudity issues arise from time to time, so does sensual interaction with other male, female or both types of models whether or not you’re gay or straight. Sensual moments that cause extreme discomfort for a model at a photo-shoot can affect a model’s ability to get the job done professionally. That is where a model must use an acting ability to outwardly set the tone the photographer needs to work and even help other models feel more comfortable. It is a group effort, but once again, if the thought of the experience is so unbearable, then your agency must be aware of that, too, as another limitation.
When the model does agree to be photographed nude there is usually some degree of privacy where just a photographer and only required professionals will be allowed on set. This can be confirmed by the model as well as staying covered up during any down time on the set. This should be respectfully done and honoured by all involved to maintain the model’s privacy. Just because a model will appear in a nude or partially nude photograph, it is not an open invitation for a “live peep show” or to degrade another human being who may be feeling vulnerable emotionally or physically. Even the most beautiful nude model may have hidden fears of imperfection that they are counting on being photographically altered with lighting or re-touched afterwards. Emotionally speaking, the model may be a little (or a lot) nervous and they need to trust the situation and let the photographer do their job while the model does their required job. No distractions.
There is a safety and security issue that should be addressed regarding this type of modelling assignment (as well as can be used as a guideline for all types of modelling). You should learn when it’s appropriate to have someone accompany you to ANY photo-shoot versus developing a plan ahead of time letting people know where you are or checking in via cell phone, text, etc. just to confirm all is well. In general, if your booking or photographer is booked through a modelling agency for you…no one should go, unless you are under 18 and the agency clarifies the parent’s role (if any) for an accompanying adult.
*A point to note on behalf of safety and issues for the photographer, too, (not just the model) regarding models bringing jealous boyfriends, stolen equipment from people who don’t belong on set, interruptions, etc…discuss this with the photographer respectfully if there is a special issue that should be worked out before a photo-shoot, so both parties can feel comfortable and safe.
Posing nude is always the models choice, but everyone views nudity in different ways within the modelling industry. It can have lasting affects on a model’s current and future professional and personal life whether it’s in the name of “art”, in a “men’s magazine”, or on a website that is considered a pornographic site. Parents can’t always be there to make their child’s decisions whether they are 16 or 21, so this should be discussed openly and honestly (first) that the model must have a plan to set their limitations. This is usually an awkward conversation for a model to have when they are willing, but the parent is in distress.