My Thoughts On The "Instagram Models" Phenomenon

I remember writing a rant/thought on the Las Vegas incident last year. However, this rant/thought I’m writing is a lot less sensitive since it’s not relating to death or fear in any matter. I’ve written many articles about social media (i.e. How Social Media Affects a Healthy Living, My Secret Eating Disorder, The Truth about Modeling...etc.) and the modeling industry/community and how those impact young women.

Let me just say this. In my opinion, this statement is fact, regardless: Instagram and The Modeling Industry are The MOST Influential AND Superficial Places to Work Under.

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Combine the Two and What Do You Get?

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Instagram Models-- A term to describe attractive, young women and men modeling on Instagram. Their pages would usually consist of half-naked photos, surrounding themselves with luxury items, at LEAST 10,000 followers and traveling the world. Their bios would usually state their ‘agency’, nationality/ethnicity or even a quote.  

Remember that word: usually. I know this ‘phenomenon’ has been happening since forever and you’re probably thinking, “Paula is so slow AF.” If you’ve ever wondered who are all these hot people on the Explore page on Instagram-- those are the ‘Instagram Models.’ I could go on and on about what it truly means to be an Instagram model, but my thoughts/rant are more focused on the algorithm and misconceptions of these ‘models.’


How Agencies and Creatives Discover Models


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Nowadays, modeling agencies are discovering girls (and guys) via social media (i.e. Instagram.) In fact, I’ve been discovered by quite a few people on for my modeling work on Instagram. It’s a lot easier for agencies and scouts to find attractive young women online. However, I’ve begun to notice more experienced models do get annoyed with the algorithms of Instagram these days.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, supermodel Cindy Crawford admits she gets "jealous" of the supermodels of today's generation and their use of social media. She says, 

'"I'm a little bit jealous that they have social media. I think that through the use of social media, they are better able to shape their own image. I think my generation of models, we were perceived the way we were, you know, through our pictures."

From her perspective, I do see her point with the whole Insta-Model phenomenon and it really does annoy me, too.

In a nutshell, anyone can get paid on Instagram if they have a large following. The more good content you have (i.e. amazing photography or attractive looks), the more followers you can gain AND agencies can discover you via social media. Pretty much, an Insta-Model got lucky because she happened to take a good selfie, paid for her following or probably took advantage of someone (i.e. sex) who has connections to the industry. THAT IS WHERE THE TERM INSTAGRAM MODELING COMES IN. However, instead of looking at those models who are all in bikini pictures, what about the models who worked their butts off in order for agencies to recognize them? What about the models who focus so hard in school and balancing out work, let alone trying to find a time and place for a photo shoot? What about the models who have to use social media as a way of networking and finding connections to other creatives? Mostly, what about the models who stay genuine towards themselves and not take off their clothes to receive validation from others?


The Misconceptions and Overall


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Modeling is superficial just as Instagram and that will always remain a fact. Though I am a model myself, I wanted to reach to other local models around the area and hear what they thought of the algorithm. I had a pleasant email interview with the beautiful Ashley Johnson (@accentric_artist) about her standpoint of the whole algorithm and misconceptions. Miss Johnson says with her thoughts,

“I hear the term, Instagram Model, [connotates] with a lot of negativity or with a [perception] of they’re really not doing anything, but standing in front of a camera. From what you see, they are just standing in front of a camera, but I know firsthand it isn’t the only way for their networking. They’re normal people just like you and me, but they have the drive to make a name for themselves. If you really want it, you gotta network online and offline. Just like if you own a business, you’re not just gonna make a site and call it a day! You’re gonna go tell people, you’re gonna call people and you’re gonna set up events to help your business thrive. When I started my Instagram, I had like 3 followers and only got like 2 likes on a photo. I literally had to build my page up from the ground.”

When I asked her about the misconceptions about these models, Miss Johnson explained,

“I think some misconceptions/stereotypes of being a model is that you don’t do much, you’re conceited and everyone can do it. If I’m not at work, I’m at school. If I’m not at either, I’m doing a photo-shoot. Even when I’m doing these other things I’m still promoting myself. Modeling actually helps build my confidence because it shows me that you don’t have to look a certain way to be beautiful or evoke emotion in a picture! One thing I will say that’s the beauty of it is everyone can do it, but to really stand out and get noticed takes time and consistency; not everyone is trying to put in the effort. Do I want to see everyone succeed? Of course! That’s just the type of person I am.”

In reality, we’re not just a bunch of hot people who take pictures in tropical places. Let alone, most models cannot afford a round trip to Bora Bora. We barely get paid for what we do, but we still network regardless because we want to be known.

Miss Johnson then gave her last two cents about building her career on Instagram:

“ helped to reach people I can’t get to as easily. I can network in Virginia Beach and surrounding areas, but to reach to France and for people to know of me in Asia, that’s where the social media really comes in. You can reach people you never thought would know about you! Once you reach them, it’s back to showcasing your talents and giving them something worth viewing. Personally, I’m always trying to figure out how I can get better and how can I connect with more people. Whatever you do, whether it’s modeling or anything else, you always wanna better yourself.”

Remember: Models are very hard-working at promoting themselves. It’s superficial because it focuses on the vanity of the model if you look at it from an outsider's perspective. However, it does not represent models as a whole. Some models have a purpose to teach others and some try to make money. Either way, we’re not perfect people. This GIF is literally us on a daily basis.

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