Ask Chris Benz: How Can a Small-Town Girl Break Into Modeling?

Dear Chris, I am 12, but I look 15 or 16. Everyone has told me to be a model/designer all my life and I believe I want to start looking now. But I live in a little town named Conway, in South Carolina. We aren't known for anything but being country. I was born in Washington D.C, so I know a little about fashion but I have no idea how to approach the modeling world or anything like that. My mom is very supportive and all but she has no clue either. What can I do to get noticed, and put myself out there? -Gracie Dear Gracie, Oh the mercurial world of modeling--nothing if not full of twists, turns, scandals, and triumphs.
Avatar:
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
37
Dear Chris, I am 12, but I look 15 or 16. Everyone has told me to be a model/designer all my life and I believe I want to start looking now. But I live in a little town named Conway, in South Carolina. We aren't known for anything but being country. I was born in Washington D.C, so I know a little about fashion but I have no idea how to approach the modeling world or anything like that. My mom is very supportive and all but she has no clue either. What can I do to get noticed, and put myself out there? -Gracie Dear Gracie, Oh the mercurial world of modeling--nothing if not full of twists, turns, scandals, and triumphs.
Image Title1

Dear Chris,

I am 12, but I look 15 or 16. Everyone has told me to be a model/designer all my life and I believe I want to start looking now. But I live in a little town named Conway, in South Carolina. We aren't known for anything but being country. I was born in Washington D.C, so I know a little about fashion but I have no idea how to approach the modeling world or anything like that. My mom is very supportive and all but she has no clue either. What can I do to get noticed, and put myself out there?

-Gracie

Dear Gracie,

Oh the mercurial world of modeling--nothing if not full of twists, turns, scandals, and triumphs. It is definitely not for the faint of heart. Each season brings forth a new crop of beautiful girls with interesting faces and looks, most of whom had never considered modeling at all. American girls are few and far between, but it seems that the fresh-faced all-American girl is gaining traction.

I am of the opinion that if you have any other passion in life, you should definitely pursue that, rather than concentrating on making it in the modeling industry. If your look truly is the paradigm of the next aesthetic in fashion (and by next movement, I’m talking at least 4-5 years from now, since we do not cast girls younger than 16 in shows), then you will be sought out and scouted without much effort on your end.

A simple set of Polaroids showing your face, profile, and full body in a simple outfit is all an agent needs to see to tell whether a new girl’s look is right or not. I don’t see the harm in dropping these in the mail with a nice note and see what kind of response you get from the New York agencies. Often, girls who live in other regions of the country will have a "mother" agency, which acts as an intermediary between their local board and the bigger agencies in New York, Paris, and Milan.

Our resident casting director, Laine Rosenberg, weighs in as follows:

It's great that you are interested in pursuing modeling at such a young age as you'll have a long career ahead of you if you have the "right look." This "look" varies per agency but height and size do matter. I should warn you, however, that 12 is rather young to dive into modeling full force as you tend to grow up rather quick in this fast-paced industry and you'll need a tough skin. One must be 16 years old in order to walk the catwalks, so you have some time to prepare yourself and practice your craft if high fashion is the path you choose. In the next couple years I'd recommend studying fashion magazines and mimicking the poses of the models you aspire to be like one day. Set up test photo shoots with a photographer and see what your best angles are and if the camera is drawn to a certain feature of yours. If so, learn how to work that feature to your advantage--you may have beautiful eyes or a strong profile or a gap between your front teeth. Sometimes it's the feature that you dislike about yourself the most that the camera loves! It's important to be comfortable with your body and how it moves-- flexibility is a plus and often helps models attain the most dramatic poses. Dance or yoga classes often help with flexibility.

Take this time to really hone your skills and see if you have that natural ability to capture the camera and everyone's attention. Once you've mastered the art, then you can consider sending some recent digitals (close up, full length and profile shots all with no makeup, in skinny jeans and a tank top) of yourself and your measurements to some model agencies for review. All agencies accept submissions of "new faces" and if interested in you and developing you, they will contact you to come in person for an appointment. Clearly Conway will not be the hotbed of the modeling industry, so perhaps try Charleston, Raleigh, Charlotte or Atlanta to start. A little experience goes a long way and will only help propel your career in the end. Best of luck!

xx CB

Got a question for Chris? Email him on askchrisbenz@fashionista.com.