Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Can you be a model if you’re uncomfortable being NAKED?!

Can you be a model if you're uncomfortable being naked? The short answer to this question is – yes. Now let’s be very clear here: there are really only two instances in which you’d be showing skin. One instance is on camera, which you can definitely deny if it’s something you’re with which you’re uncomfortable. The second instance is when changing either on set or backstage in front of people, or in a change room depending on the situation.

So let’s talk about the first instance. If you know what you’re comfortable with, this is something you should let the agency know from the beginning. No nudes? Tell them when you sign your contract (they’ll usually ask anyways). Are you okay with partial nudity but no nipple? Tell them. And make sure they tell the photographers you’ll be working with. One mistake I made was being afraid to tell people that I didn’t want to be topless. I’d compromise, cover myself and then in the end I’d end up asking them not to use the pictures because I was uncomfortable. Then one day a photographer told me: “Honey, if you’re not okay with something it’s totally fine, just tell us from the get-go because it’s a lot easier to not shoot it, than it is to ignore shots when we’re making selects later”. That always stuck with me, because it made sense. If you’re not okay with showing skin just tell them straight up, don’t make it seem like you’ve changed your mind afterwards, when they already went with a vision they had. They will change the vision to suit you from the beginning so don’t be scared!

And of course, if your agency knows this is something you’re uncomfortable with then they will outline that to photographers before you shoot with them, or they’ll always check with you first. I have been in some situations where I’ve gotten to set and they say “Oh we’ll do a couple shots topless!” and I’m like...HOLD UP that wasn’t discussed. It seems as if it’s getting to a point where people don’t think they need to tell agencies. But if you’re in that situation and you’re uncomfortable just tell them “I don’t do nudes, or topless shots” and that should really be the end of it.

In terms of what you’re willing to shoot on camera, it’s always up to you. There are so many models who don’t do nudes, don’t do lingerie, don’t shoot fur…whatever. And no one can or should be able to pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do on camera, end of story.

On the other hand, I do view the “changing in front of other people” instance a bit differently. This again, will probably end up happening in one of two ways. The first way is when there is no change room, so everyone is changing in front of everyone. For example, this is often the case at fashion shows. There isn’t really a change room because every one changes back stage at their station, which is usually right in the middle of the room surrounded by dressers, stylists, media, makeup and hair etc. And this is because there really isn’t time for models to each have their own change room. At fashion shows everything happens really fast – so you probably have 30 seconds to change in between looks before you run back out on stage, there isn’t time for you to take your time and run to a specific change room. You’ll probably have dressers helping you as well, so you’d never NOT be changing in front of people, and it’s simply for convenience.

The second way that this would happen is on set where there may in fact be a change room, but more often than not the stylist and some other people may end up being in there with you at certain points. And don’t forget, there’s a high possibility that the stylist will be male. The reason for this is that it takes time for you to go into a change room, change, come back out, have them confirm what they want and then have you back in and do it all again. If they’re in there with you, the stylist can style you with accessories, shoes etc. while you’re changing, and change what he/she doesn’t like in the moment, as opposed to waiting for you to come out and show everyone every time. It sounds like it doesn’t take that much time but trust me, it does. So again, it’s really all for convenience and it makes everyone’s lives a lot easier.

Of course, if this is something you’re not okay with (in either instance) that’s fine; you shouldn’t ever be forced into doing anything you’re uncomfortable with. But in reality it's highly likely that a high fashion client wouldn’t book you for a job if they knew this, because (in all honesty) why wouldn’t they just book someone who doesn’t mind, and will make their lives easier on set or at a show?

This kind of thing has sort of become commonplace in fashion these days. It’s pretty known that 8/10 times you’re going to be changing in front of someone, and aside from very unfortunate circumstances – no one is looking at you, they’re looking at the clothing. Believe me, no one cares, we all have the same parts. At least that’s been my experience.

Of course, if you’re feeling like you’re being mistreated, offended, assaulted etc. it goes without saying that it’s not okay and you should leave immediately. I haven’t heard many of these cases in my years of modelling. And when they have happened, the model has left, told her agency and she never works with that person again. But in most cases people on set have a job to do, and changing quickly in front of people to save time is really just one little part of it.

Can you be a model if you’re uncomfortable being naked? On camera, of course – no one can force you to show skin that you don’t want to show for a picture. And if they do, leave, tell your agency and never work with them again.

But off camera? This will be tricky as most of the time you change in front of people out of convenience for getting the day to move faster and make everyone’s lives easier. Honestly this is something I’ve just gotten used to because I can tell that no one’s looking at me and I don’t feel uncomfortable at all – although I did in the beginning. But again, I’ve never had an experience where I’ve been mistreated or felt objectified etc. and maybe if I had my opinion would be different.

What do you think? Do you think this is okay? Is it something that should be streamlined the way that it has? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. I think what you have shared here is important to people who want to get into modelling and shows your growth as a model and as an individual in an industry which has a lot of negative connotations to it. Being realistic in expectations is paramount to success a lot of people are told but at no means should compromise your morals, well that is what I think. The first time I helped out back stage at a fashion show during fashion week in the early 2000's was strange being a male, as social conditioning teaches you to know decoram and what is accepted or expected of you. Same as being a massage therapist, professional standards must apply. But I think if you are not happy in your natural state ie naked it must be something that needs to be addressed when possible, self confidence. However, Personally the more covered up and the suggestion of what someones attributes are is more alluring then just being shown in all its glory. To me Terry Richardson as a photographer has no class, as his MO is to show topless women and is overtly sexually provocative to the point it loses its poignancy. I think it's interesting how he has showcased pop stars in a way that loses there appeal and gains a less respectable audience.

    1. It's true. Photographers like Terry have kind of ruined it for everyone. But from experience I've learned that everyone isn't as gross as him. And most of the time, it's totally fine and no on will force you to do anything you don't want to do, and they won't mistreat you :) xx