Monday, September 8, 2008

The Girl Site Syndrome - why girls love calling themselves models

Isobella Jade, a successful model, radio host, and author, has an opinion on the internet and the modeling business. From track runner, to that bad day of almost crossing into soft porn, to the ad campaigns with top brands, and from six dollars to Page Six,-even though Isobella uses the internet and Google every day-, she has something to say about why she can’t stand the internet models.

Although without heels I am barely 5’2”, I have modeled for Victoria’s Secret, Marshalls, Braun Razor, national magazines, and many jobs most short girls would scream over, and I have gained exposure in media around the globe, but I was not discovered. I just Googled my way in, and found a way to make myself a model.

My experience of being a model is not one based on just strolling the beach in Brasil, it is not from a model search contest or walking the mall and being “just the new face” an agency is looking for. I basically just wanted to be one, and found a way I could be one despite the odds and Googling has had a lot to do with it. Let’s not make it sound easy, what I mean is: Googling the right way.

Since every girl in America (….the world) wants to be a model, I figured I would share insight into how the internet has helped and hurt me as a model.

I don’t consider myself an internet model but I have used the internet a lot during my pursuits, and today I blog, pod cast, and video blog, and my Google ratings do mean something. Something I never expected. Since 2001 I have seen and experienced the transformation of what the internet has done to the word model. How it has contorted it to mean any girl with boobs and willing to show them. How model has become a word to mean slut.

When I was 19 I moved to NYC as a college student and after needing a change of pace I gave up my track scholarship and discovered the word model in a Google search when I was searching for a new plan for myself.

I Googled the word model and quickly posed my random photos on one of the first internet modeling social sites called, soon thinking I was a top model because I set a rate and made $400 or more for showing places on my body I never imaged showing to random wanna-be photographers. When a year and half before I was a track runner growing up in Syracuse, NY. Where you come from doesn’t matter, even in the smallest of cities it was so simple to start my own little modeling project and take it to NYC, skip class and be a freelance model.

After a few downloads and a simple information page, I was set up and running with my new title as “model.” Although after exchanging emails and interacting and working with numerous “guys with cameras” and seeing how digital had also defined any old man with a camera “a photographer” when his wife wasn’t home, I found that modeling had many meanings. And although I was in front of the camera, the girls in the ad campaign were still a lot different than me. The main difference: Their height and they had a modeling agency. Being 6 inches too short for the standard modeling agency, I settled for a moment just being an afternoon tease, making a few bucks, and counting the hits and clicks on my modeling profile page, clinging to each compliment as if it was a cover shot of me in a magazine.

This might be my past but this is a current tragedy for many girls who want to be models today, and back then I hid my profile from my friends and family because of the new’ness of the internet and social sites and this was still when AOL’s IMing was popular so it wasn’t like everyone wanted to be a model. Yet today many, many girls( maybe even your friend, girlfriend, sister,)who think they are too short to model become internet models, and I consider it the Girl Modeling Site Syndrome.

Like many of these girls today, back then I thought the modeling agency was out of reach because of my height, I hadn’t considered commercial print modeling yet, and I had been told no many times and had begun to rely on websites, social sites, modeling forums, and later Craigslist in my moments of modeling despair to be one.

Although I always knew in the back of my mind, “this is not really modeling.”

TV and even a Google search of the word model can give you a wrong perception of what it involves to be a model. A simple smile can get you real modeling jobs with top brands quicker than showing your ass. The web screams the opposite. So after time I started Googling other words like “print modeling” and “commercial print modeling agencies” and found my opportunity and started asking the photographers to take some photos of my face too.

These days, everywhere I turn a girl wants to be a model. The barista at Starbucks, the blond dimple cheeked employee at the Apple Store, the beautician with a Cindy Crawford like mole at Sephora, and my doorman with dark hair and dark eyes, in his suit would probably take the chance to be one, if he knew how to really be one.

Suddenly any girl (or guy) can have the title of model. These days being a model is only a click away, - or so many think. More than ever girls want to be models and they are going to the web to become one. Being made into a model and continuing what I call a microwavable model. Stick out the ass, the chest, bend, twist, open lips slightly, and snap! With a “that was easy,” mindset.

I have been having major issues with girls who think they are models just because they know how to download their photo on their Myspace or Facebook, or the thousands of modeling portfolio websites that are free to join. All it takes these days to “call yourself” a model is being able to download your photo on a computer screen. Jeez, forget the handbag, the magazine editorial, the ad campaign, the commercial.

Then you wait for a chance to get hit or clicked upon, or commented on or complimented by some guy with a camera or some horny guy and then a rate is set and similar to internet prostitution you show up, take it off, pose, and leave with a few hundred dollars.

But is that modeling? Should this be illegal? The perverts, the social website scams? Is it a freedom of expression or a freedom to ruin the word model?

My question to girls who think they are models just because they know how to put a finger to their mouth is: What are you really modeling? Just your yourself? Obsessed to be seen? What are you the supermodel of? Their ass? Yet they want to know why they do not have an agency? Pouting while asking “why don’t I have any magazine tear sheets.”

I answer emails each day to girls who want to be models, and don’t know how to start, most of them are under 5’5” and most of them send my a photo of themselves in their thong, or a really bad face shot of themselves cropped from a group shot. I do my best to reply and guide them on my three modeling blogs you can find by simply Googling
“ petite modeling” or basically any modeling word. I know these girls wanna-be models are short, the average height of a girl in America is 5’3” and I know they are Googling so when they find me I have become this go-to-girl for the girl who wants answers beyond America’s Next Top Model. I give it to them raw from America’s Shortest Model.

The main thing girls of the web should know is that: Top brands do not discover their talent on the internet.

Next, instead of signing up for as many social sites as you can, start to think about modeling for a product, and think of advertising and notice the ads and editorials when you read magazines like Glamour and Marie Claire. Start to notice places girls of all heights are seen; think of more than just fashion. What about banks, shoe brands, fast food, hair care, skincare, nail care, and even mattress brands need models.

Now get some photos that will actually sell you to a commercial print modeling agency. Look at the agency website and notice the photos the models have. Monkey see, Monkey Do –sort-of. Focus on a headshot. It is the best photo you can have. And a body shot doesn’t have to be overly sexy, look at for ideas for how to pose in panties and bra’s without looking like a weird hooker. Think of catalogs, even Hanes needs models. You need basic photos. You could take them or even your mother! Looking natural is the best way to pose. Imagine the products you could model, grab a handbag, or a pair of shoes, a great scarf, or hat.

Time to print, print up some photos, I use and then mail them to agencies and grab a magazine, look in the masthead and notice the photo editors. Send them your photos. I got a few tear sheets this way. Start by being more active than only staring at your photo on a website and counting your friends on Myspace.

Use Google for honest modeling research: Try Googling commercial print modeling agencies, and instead of always Googling Photographer, Google Photography studio, and professional photographers do photography full time, not just during their lunch break, or when their wife isn’t home. I think Google is an amazing marketing tool if you use it right. I have even worked with some great brands by simply Googling them and asking if they needed a model. You have to show you can model for an agency to be impressed especially if you are not 5’7.” This means making your own comp card, headshot and starting your own portfolio book.

Many girls download their photos on these internet modeling portfolio sites and wake up for the hits and clicks and comments on their page that define “they have a chance at being a model.” I have encountered girls who have said “I’m retiring from modeling” and all they had been is really just a tease showing up at some guy’s apartment for a few hours and shooting in his living room in her thong or less.

It is an underground industry and it is lively and the internet has killed the supermodel, and what it means to be one. To be a model you have to mail your photos to agencies, you have to find the right agencies for you. If you are short don’t submit to fashion agencies, submit to commercial print ones, if you want to lingerie model, then fort the sake of your mother discovering you naked on the internet one day, work with a photographer that is a real photographer. I can’t believe there is even a difference today, but suddenly someone’s respected profession has become one that any old man with a camera can have, and being a model just means having a sexy photo of your self.

It sort of makes me want to puke up my lunch.

I don’t believe you are a model until you have gotten a paycheck from a top brand.

I had to think inventively to be a model, I am really short, not even 5’2’”, and when my book comes out in April 2009 through an imprint of HarperCollins the title is my height in heels, Almost 5’4” -but I stand tall, I have a realistic mindset and I really put a lot of myself and work into my pursuits. And I am tired of girls just wanting to be the next hottest thing on the internet. It might be the age of the internet, but the old fashion way of licking a stamp and envelope is still the way of business in the modeling world. Try it and you might be more than just a hit or click on the internet.

Isobella is a model in New York City, her modeling pod cast Model Talk shares insight into being a model and interviews with the industries top professionals. She creates beauty tips for AOL’s Stylelist weekly and has three modeling blogs and can be found by simply Googling famous petite models.

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