How Social Media Changed the Modeling Industry
By: Beverly Abellanosa
Over the past decade, social media has dramatically transformed the way the modeling industry operates. Never before has the number of one’s social followers held so much weight on models being booked for shows.
Additionally, social media has also contributed to a facade of a glamorous model life, which is not always the case. Nevertheless, not all of social media’s effects on the modeling industry are negative. With the rise of platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, models can now create their own personal brands, connect directly with fans, and even launch their own businesses.
In this article, we will explore how social media has changed the modeling industry, and the ways in which models are adapting to this rapidly evolving landscape.
Social followings impact job opportunities for models
Social media’s influence has greatly changed the way models are selected for shows. Before technology’s takeover of the industry, models were chosen based on talent and how well they represented a brand. Today, brands often chose individuals who have little to no experience in modeling but have a large following on social media and/or a famous family.
This has been evident in Dolce & Gabbana shows, where more TikTok stars and social media influencers have walked the runway than actual high fashion models.
The term “Supermodel” is used loosely
Furthermore, the criteria for being considered a supermodel have been largely impacted by social media. Some of the biggest names in modeling today have been propelled to success by their followers and family connections instead of due to any hard work on their part. Nonetheless, these girls are still hailed as supermodels after only one fashion week.
Models speaking out
Equally important is social media’s construction of a glamorous facade of the industry. However, former and current models have begun to speak up about their experiences in the fashion industry and tear down the smoke and mirrors created by the media.
In an interview with W Magazine, Abbey Lee Kershaw, a former supermodel who walked 29 shows in her very first fashion week, was quick to criticize Vogue’s YouTube videos for contributing to the misleading facade of a glamorous model life.
“When you’re a high fashion model in the show circuit, by Paris [the last stop of the major fashion weeks] you are completely debilitated. It was not humane what they do to girls during that period. I don’t care what anyone says about the fashion industry, it’s hard work,” said Kershaw.
“And those dumb videos where you see Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner jumping around a hotel room are bullshit. That’s not how it is at all.”
The reality for most models
The unfortunate truth is that most models live in small apartments with several other girls and struggle to pay rent every month. Others are completely new to the country and cannot speak the language.
Models who do not have a large following or don’t come from a famous family are held to a much higher standard. They must meet weight requirements and look a certain way while more privileged girls can show up to rehearsals and call times late, and not worry about their measurements.
The upsides to social media for modeling
Despite these effects, social media’s influence on the industry has not been entirely negative. Models use social media as a platform to voice the injustices that occur in the industry every day.
The #MyJobShouldNotIncludeAbuse hashtag has turned into a movement where anonymous stories of sexual harassment in the fashion industry are being shared to raise awareness. Furthermore, models have also used social media to speak up about mistreatment during castings.
Ulrikke Hoyer, a Danish model, shared her experience during a Louis Vuitton show where she was canceled from the show for being “too big” and was told to “only drink water for the next 24 hours” by the casting director’s assistant. Hoyer’s Facebook post encouraged other models to tell their accounts of mistreatment as well.
Due to the outpour of models sharing their casting horror stories, LVMH and Kering have since established a charter for the well-being of models that will be implemented throughout all their brands.
Social media has impacted the modeling industry just as it has in our everyday lives. It has changed the ways models are cast, replacing models with influencers.
However, the ability for models to speak up on social media and connect with fans provides them with more opportunities to control their careers and advocate for fair treatment.