My grandmother used to model – long before it was anything like it is now. I used to go to her house and she’d spend hours teaching me how to hold a pose perfectly for 5 minutes at a time. She taught me about face angles and the technique of showing expressions with the eyes.
Sometimes it makes me laugh when I think about her lessons. My grandmother’s modeling was a lot different than what I do. I think the best way to compare it is fashion modeling compared to commercial modeling. Although my grandmother did appear in an issue of Vogue, her sweet smile and conservative poses seemed better fit for and Old Navy commercial.
When my grandmother was alive, she reviewed some of my first shoots.
“Why do you have so much attitude on your face?” she’d ask with a confused look.
“Oh grandma,” I’d laugh. “That’s what people like- that’s what sells.”
“Well, I don’t even know what you are wearing- all I see is your body and your face, “ she added, wrinkling her nose. “But it’s the prettiest face in the world!” she’d add, kissing me on the forehead.
While, I know my grandmother lived in an entirely different world than I do, I couldn’t help but think about what had changed in modeling. Was it more about the body? Did people even notice the clothes anymore? Why do we have so much attitude?
I mean, when I was a kid, I didn’t remember happy smiling models in the fashion magazine. No, they were more like femme fatales – dangerous women with sexy lips, piercing eyes and seductive bodies. I wanted to be that- the image of beauty and strength wrapped up in high-fashion apparel.
Where I was growing up if you mentioned the word model, people thought of the beautiful girls in music videos. You know that object of affection that every girl wanted to be. I never really identified with that image. Instead, my idea of a video model was always something more like the girls in Polyptych video.
Instead of me being the girl in a bigger story, where I am illustrating something else, in my mind I was always the story. I guess you could say that’s a bit vain, but I say you probably don’t understand the amount of work that goes into modern day modeling.
Unlike what my grandmother did, it is not about getting in front of a camera and looking pretty anymore. It’s not even about making the clothes look good. No, fashion modeling is about using the body to create an emotion that is overpowering. It’s about being soft while strong, attainable yet rare, desirable and almost unreal. Fashion models don’t make good music video models because they overshadow any other message that is attempting to be shared. They are so powerful they could sell anything based on their looks; they are too damn fierce for words.