Modeling is a valuable activity for people who have, or who want,
a career in any performing art. It is helpful for development of
self-image, and correction of minor physical and emotional
imbalances. It is a good way of making friends and of getting
involved with groups of people who are interested in artistic
happenings. Above all, it is itself a performing art, worthy of
respect’as such. People who can recognize this, and have the ability
to carry it out, make good models.
A. Sizes and Shapes
People are not “ideal” in size and shape. Enormous varieties are
possible; people anywhere in the whole range of that variety can
model, and can be particularly desirable for particular pictures.
People working to improve imperfect sizes and shapes are likely to
project themselves better than people do who are satisfied with these
B. Age, Health, and Handicaps
People can begin modeling as early as they get an interest in it,
and keep on until they lose that interest, no matter how old they
are. Length of modeling sessions as well as length and style of
poses must be modified in accordance with age and health
reguirements. Physical disabilities can offer valuable insights to
artists (and their acceptance can offer valuable insights to
models). People with emotional disabilities can provide intense
experience to artists, if – as sometimes happens – the modeling work
is valuable to the models. People with mental retardation often
offer magnificent examples of body freedom: examples badly needed by
all our society, not just by artists.
1) People under twelve should very seldom model more than one hour at a time.
2) People under 16 should probably be accompanied by adult relatives or friends for modeling sessions.
3) People under 18 (legal age) should not sign model releases
for photographs without having an adult sign with them,
taking responsibility for the use of the photographs.
C. Race and Ethnic Background
Modeling enhances the values of racial and ethnic
characteristics, making them clearer and more valuable for people
open to understand them.
D. Sex and Sexual Preference
Sexual characteristics are quite obvious in nude modeling; sexual
preferences are as clear, or as well hidden, through posing as they
are through other activities.
E. Experience of Abuse
People who have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
sometimes feel drawn to modeling as an occupation because of a bitter
self image, and a feeling that they – as survivors of abuse – will be
able to withstand the further feeling of abuse that modeling naked is
likely to provide for them. The anti-personal history of modeling in
many institutions is a valid basis for this expectation, but where it
works out as expected, the experience is harmful to all concerned.
On the other hand, where models find themselves surrounded entirely,
naked as jaybirds, by the love and reverence of caring artists – and
see the lovely (or heartfelt, or funny, or hard-fought) work that is
drawn from them, the experience is deeply healing. While the past
abuse may never be mentioned, and never even be recognized, some
models find life-long friends: who love and care for them in their
wholeness; by modeling for them.
F. Woman or Man
1) Women models are requested more often than men.
2) Fewer men than women model.
3) Women are asked to return for “repeat performances” more
often than men are: this may be, in part, because some
types of discrimination against women have given women
greater necessity, and greater ability, to present themselves.
Men sometimes seem to feel that “being there” is enough – and
it’s not. Modeling is a performing art.
EXTRA: Two Stumbling Blocks to Modeling
A. Getting Undressed
Many potential models feel more awkward about getting naked than
about being naked. A bathroom, which may be used for changing, must
be available at any studio; some studios have changing areas. Bring
your robe and a pocket mirror with you into the changing room, look
at yourself all over in a mirror after you get undressed, use a comb
to make last arrangements on your hair, put your robe around you
(without tying it), ask if people are ready for you; and make your
entrance. Wait until you have full attention; then drop your robe.
This is easier said than done, of course – but it is very effective
indeed, and its effectiveness soon makes it much easier. Wear
clothes that “take off” easily; getting undressed in the company of
artists you are posing with can soon be a valuable part of
preparation for them, as well as for you, where the setting is
right. If a session goes splendidly, getting dressed after it tends
to be a bit sad, for everyone in the room.
B. What an Artist Might Draw
Anything visible; some things, sometimes, that aren’t visible.
Many artists ignore, or diminish, body hair and genital areas. Where
an artist begins on a work can be an especially disconcerting situation.
Some begin at the head, some at the feet, some at the most prominent area, some where weight distribution is heaviest, some at the genitals: the midpoint of the body. Any of these approaches is fine.