“Instagram Model”. Those two words, when put together, are usually an insult (against a young lady) meant to highlight the fact that they’re not really a professional, and therefore not a real model. When Naomi Campbell spoke about the “easy come, easy go” careers of most models plucked out of the depths of social media popularity, there was a lot of “Amen!” in support of what she had to say. And, speaking as a (somewhat) more traditional model, I see where she’s coming from. Gigi Hadid’s runway walk, anyone? Lovely girl, but she should have gotten a coach ages ago. The fact that she hasn’t makes her continue to look, well… like an inexperienced Instagram model, totally out of her depth. So let’s break down what that term tends to mean, shall we?

An Instagram model:

  • thinks modeling is only about looking pretty
  • is obsessed with their follower count
  • only knows one angle for serving face – that 45° head tilt that literally everyone else does
  • doesn’t have the “it factor” that professional models do to sell the garment/product/whatever that a brand is promoting
  • wouldn’t know what to do with their body during a shoot with a professional photographer or on set with a director

…and so forth. The long and short of it is that, undeserved or not, the reputation of “Instagram models” leaves a lot to be desired. If you care to transcend it though, all you have to do is flip the script! The above one. See that bulleted list? Be honest; do any of those points describe you? If so, then do the exact opposite of everything outlined:

  • Dig deep inside yourself – you are more than your looks, and it is your personality that will elevate you as a memorable, unique model instead one of several hundred thousand faces on social media.
  • When it comes to follower count – let it go. Yes, we “professional” models are being pressured by our agents to get those numbers up. But in today’s climate of niche marketing and micro-influencers, it’s just as important to focus on making sure that the content you create and share really resonates with the followers you already have.
  • Get to know your face! It’s yours, no one else has it, and it has interesting features beyond looking pretty. Try a haughty frown selfie from a low angle. Learn how to work your “bad” side. It will make you a much more versatile and interesting model.
  • Some aspiring models, online and off, just won’t ever have it. Others might not have much of it just yet, but can develop it. Never rest on your laurels – keep working on it!
  • When you find yourself the featured talent of a major campaign, how you carry yourself will be very different from how you have done it

The advent of social media is VERY exciting for all of us, traditional professional or IG professional. As someone who goes through the traditional slog, it has been a blessing in that I get to define my public persona instead of giving that power over to an agent or manager whose vision doesn’t align with mine. And for those of you who are entering the modeling profession through social media, there’s quite frankly a lot of unnecessary BS that you are blessed to not have to deal with. People are building successful careers by breaking all the rules. You can too, but first you need to know what those rules even are. And some of those rules should never be broken.

Alexandria Boddie is a writer, photographer, model, and otherworldly showgirl who strives for nothing less than pure authenticity on social media. 

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