In all honesty, these days it’d be more difficult to tally up the number of girls who aren’t currently or haven’t in the past pursued modeling. It could just be me, but it seems like for whatever reason that has almost become a stepping stone in the life of a young woman. You know – you lose your first tooth, have your first crush, go to the prom, model, and then eventually start a family. Right? Ok, so maybe it’s not that crucial of a stepping stone in the grand scheme of things. But riddle me this – how many people you know claim to be pursuing a career in the art of fierce poses and mean walks? Mmhmmm, I figured as much…

Now I would assume that it doesn’t take much to give the illusion that one is, perhaps, a model of sorts. For a lot of aspiring young ladies, access to a plain white wall (“backdrop”) and individual to hold a digital camera (“photographer”) is quite easy to come by. So what it is that separates the real deal Tyra-to-be from the, say, next Twitter celeb or reality star who simply takes pictures??? What exactly differentiates the Models from the “Models”?

Is it Representation?
There was a time at which being signed to an agency spoke to one’s credibility in the industry. The names Ford, Elite, and Wilhemina (to name a few) would let you know that this girl was the real deal. But nowadays, lines are blurred. Individuals have begun to create their own local niche agencies to represent budding “talent”. Even major companies have begun to sign untraditional faces. Ford Agency alone has represented the likes of Janice Dickinson, Alek Wek, Lindsay Lohan and even Amber Rose. Each at their time of signing was given the same title, but do the names all hold the same weight?

Is it Exposure?
Perhaps being a model is about the number of people that know your name and face. One could assume that notoriety in the field would lead to more jobs, which would then solidify the title of “model”. But then again, with the undeniable popularity of sites such as Twitter, ModelMayhem, and Facebook, people are able to self-market themselves not only as a look – but also as a personality. So are bookings based on who has the largest following and visibility, or who truly has the most talent? Hard to tell…

Is it Physical?
I would like to believe that long gone are the days when being 5’8” or taller and a size 6 or smaller automatically qualified you to walk somebody’s runway. Truth be told, those credentials alone do not hold enough weight (no pun intended) in motivating someone to buy an article of clothing – and isn’t that the point of modeling anyway? So perhaps a wide range of physical attributes would differentiate the real working girls from the aspiring bunch. ANTM has showed us that petite girls can photograph just as well as the super tall ones once they learn their best angles. And models such as Crystal Renn have shown us that even being “plus-sized” can be used your utmost advantage. So with all these variations in what can be considered fashionable – how can you spot a model on the street just by looks alone?

Is it Consistency?
Maybe modeling is about working constantly. Go-sees, photoshoots, runway shows, ad campaigns, etc… It’s possible that the term speaks to one’s work ethic and drive, and their portfolio and resume will ultimately reap the benefits of such hard labor. But I always wondered: Would Naomi Campbell (for example) still be considered a model if she had just sat home all day or worked a 9-5 while the average Plain Jane (sans Naomi’s BODY and bone structure, granted) grinded to go to every casting she could make it to? Who’s more legit – the one with talent or the one with ambition?

Is It Pay?
I had a friend tell me that until you’re getting paid to do whatever it is that you’re doing – it’s just for fun; only when the check is cut does that hobby become a career. Sticking to that theory, one could argue that a Model is the one getting the big bucks, and all others are simply having aimless fun. But I could argue that everyone has to start somewhere, so big bucks will only come after a series of low-to-know paying gigs that shape and mold the talent into what they are destined to become.

You see, there are so many different variables in play that allow the term “modeling” to be used so loosely. I wish I could say exactly what it means, but I guess that’s really up to one’s own personal interpretation. For me, a model is a blank canvas – a muse. One who’s face, posture, expressions, and movement inspire you to think, act, feel, and do. To me, a model makes you want to purchase that bag you know you shouldn’t be spending your money on – but they make it look too good to pass up! To me, a model gives a woman that push to try the latest style of hair or makeup that she’d been wanting to test out, but was scared how it may look. And to me, a model is a chameleon that changes “colors” to blend in seamlessly with her “environment” – wherever that may be at the time. But maybe that’s just my take on things…

You tell me – what differentiates a Model from a “model”.

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  • I think it depends on all three: representation, consistency and pay. I don’t think you can consider yourself a model until you started landing paying gigs, going to go-sees/castings and have someone representing you. Also, craigslist and “modeling sites” doesn’t count, especially if you have been building your book and not getting paid for it. I think its like the guys equivalent to being a rapper. All guys are rappers like all girls are models.

  • This post is spot on… I once joked that perhaps I sould add my booking information to my Twitter profile lol. It seems that if a person has booking info they might just be someone you’d want to “book.” lol

    You guy really need to do a post on video hoes vs. video vixens… I’ve heard there is a difference lol

  • Interested

    Sistas got to what sistas got to do, so in that context I am pretty liberal in what constitutes a model. I mean no disrespect at all to the profession, but my main concern is seeing sistas getting work & recognition.