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Where is the Line with Young Models and Nudity?

Modeling: a job to love or hate? We’ve all heard stories about the glamorous life of traveling the world, attending fabulous parties, rubbing elbows with celebrities, and the hoards of free samples, but until recently, there has been less information about the more controversial subjects.

Recently, there has been a lot of public discussion about young models being asked to pose in certain ways simply “for the picture.” Young models are up against higher standards– to make a name for yourself, many models are revealing more and more skin. Modeling has entered into a whole new spectrum in terms of what the job entails. It is not solely smiling for the camera or walking down a runway wearing designer clothes; it now includes wearing and doing anything to publicize the reputation of company that the models are endorsing. Magazines have put models in situations that reveal much of their bodies, leaving us to ask: how much is too much?

Early in February, Kendall Jenner, age 18, walked in the Marc Jacobs fashion show for Fashion Week. She flaunted a sheer top and neutral ensemble down the catwalk. The racy outfit caught the attention of many critics as well as fashion contributors. The buzz is around what the brands want from the model–to become a newsworthy story in a lucrative market. This appearance is only the latest edition in the Kardashian’s empire of selling “sex” and has caused a controversy due to the fact that audiences have seen Kendall grow up on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, so the reveal comes at even more of a shock. As more and more models are posing either partially or fully nude, we have to question whether this is becoming the norm in the modeling industry. Models in the past have undergone similar debuts to prove their entry into adulthood and modeling versatility. But should their name come at the reveal of their bodies? Heidi Klum, a model and fashion designer warned young models that, “You have to be careful and strong at saying no, especially when you’re younger and on your own. Not everyone is cool and has your best interest at heart.” Models walk a slippery slope as such choices to bare skin have the power to catapult a career, as in the case of Kendall Jenner, who’s racy walk moved her from reality star to fashion icon, even scoring a seat at another fashion show next to Anna Wintour, the Editor in Chief at Vogue.

Other models have surfaced with stories about their uncomfortable situations when they were asked to pose nude and were told that their future career would depend on their decision. Kate Moss, an English model made her mark in the modeling business and fashion industry by appearing on the cover of over 300 magazines (and dating Johnny Depp)– she started her career when she was 16 with small photo shoots and in one, she was asked to pose nude for the picture. As a young model, she was not sure where the boundaries could be set and was informed that she would not make it in the business if she did not do the shoot the way the client wanted it. It is the younger models that suffer with this because at the start of this career, they want to be impressionable and continue to stay in the business, but should that mean that they do everything they’re told to avoid being shamed by the business?

Interested in learning more about the controversial world of modeling? Check out the documentary Girl Model for more information on young girls in the industry. 

Emily is currently a senior attending Connecticut College. She is a Biology and English double major. Her interests include community service, lazy days in bed watching movies and hanging out outdoors with friends. Like her interests, her taste in music and movies is all over the place. She has had an amazing four years here at Conn College so far, and is excited and nervous about being much closer to the REAL WORLD!
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