The fashion industry has a long standing infatuation with nudity. It’s celebrated, it’s critiqued, and it’s always a topic of conversation. It’s used to shock, to express, and it’s used to sell. But with our movement toward a more liberal way of life, is it becoming an expectation that models pose topless or even nude to make it in the industry?
Years ago, nudity was widely used as a sales tactic in the industry. We’d see nude or semi-nude models used to combat the prudish nature of fashion in society and appeal to a newly-free and rebellious market.
Nudity is often still is used to sell through the shock factor, but is also currently used to promote a healthier body image and inclusivity of women in the industry that don’t have the ‘typical’ model body.
Millennial stars like Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian have made names for themselves with their tendencies to show off their bodies. There’s no doubt their powerful statements of self-love and ownership over their bodies is inspiring.
Kate Moss came out a while ago about a nervous breakdown she suffered as a teen after being made to pose topless. Not long after, Heidi Klum expressed her own concerns about the way that young models are being pushed into posing topless at shoots that are promised to be career defining moments by some photographers and creative directors.
Klum, who has posed nude herself, warned young models not to be caught up in the pressure to be a success and to be stronger about saying no to nudity if it makes them feel uncomfortable. Moss herself really began to see success after her topless Calvin Klein campaign. It highlights the example that’s been set for young models that ditching your clothes can make you a star.
Photographers are often at the epicenter of the fashion culture that suggests models need to pose nude to be successful. Terry Richardson is a particularly infamous example. He’s known for his suggestive and overtly sexual campaigns but has also faced a heap of backlash and even legal suits over his treatment of models and the pressure he puts on them to pose nude. During an interview with Hint Magazine, Richardson shared, “Like I’ve always said, it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow. I don’t have a hole in my jeans for nothing.” With this kind of rhetoric coming from a widely successful and influential photographer, it’s not difficult to see why some models feel pressured to bare it all to be famous.
The other part of the argument is the culture that’s created through social media. With the ability to comment, like, and save photos, fans are quick to use these tools to celebrate risqué images and there doesn’t seem to be much separating those that get branded as heroes for showing off their body and those considered vulgar. Selfies that show a little skin get significantly more likes than those that don’t. And whilst we might be posting revealing pics as a celebration of the female body, you can’t deny that it promotes the idea that as a model, the more you show the more you grow.
There are many examples of models who have had successful careers without having to bare it all so posing nude should not be seen or promoted as a necessity to becoming a famous model.
On the other hand, many models and celebrities that have risen to fame and stardom have used their beautiful bodies as a tool to help propel themselves to success. Models like Naomi Campbell, Adriana Lima, Cindy Crawford, Adrianne Curry, and Candice Swanepoel have all risen to the top without being afraid to take it all off.
The bottom line is this – if you are a model and you are not comfortable with being photographed nude, then you should stick with your convictions. While you may not be eligible for some of the more edgy or risqué campaigns, you can still have a very rewarding and successful modeling career without compromising your values. If however you are not opposed to showing more skin, then there will be many opportunities that will be open to you as designers, magazines, and fashion editorials get bolder and more revealing. Whichever way you go, always remember to love the skin you’re in, no matter how little or much of it you show!