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Your Secret Weapon: Confidence
Natalia Zurowski, Features Columnist
Beauty is subjective so let it be said: If a voluptuous woman is allowed to flaunt her curves and be proud of who she is, then a slim woman should be just as allowed to flaunt her body and be proud of who she is, without being victimized for it. And vice versa. Whether you are 5'11" or 5'7", curvaceous or waif-like, have large or small breasts, narrow or full hips etc., the common denominator amongst us all, is that we are women and every body is different; literally.
Please proceed to Part II
I have felt compelled to write this piece for quite some time and given the new year, I feel it an appropriate way to start off 2012.
My purpose is to give Canadian models today a boost of confidence. To let them know that there are other models in the industry who go through the same problems of self-esteem, insecurities, self-doubt etc. These issues are incredibly prominent and need to be taken seriously.
Some readers may think I am merely restating the obvious but my goal is not to provide any sort of awe-inspiring advice; rather, my purpose is to help that self-conscious model just getting started in this industry. To reassure her that she is not alone by providing additional knowledge and insight that can help her find that confidence within herself in order to succeed. Whether you are plus size, curvaceous, boyish etc., the common denominator between us is that we are all women, each made in a different and unique image. Do not compare yourself to others because I can tell you right now that by doing so you are putting yourself through self-debilitation. You are who you are and you should be proud of it. Confidence is something that takes time to build and once you have it, do not give anyone the ability to take it away. No one is on a pedestal above you, as you are not above anyone else. Once you begin to carry yourself with pride and your head held high, people will notice.
I feel that by having confidence as your foundation, you give yourself the courage to take action. By being bold and taking the necessary action to go after what you want, happiness and success are next in line. There is a big difference between a girl that walks into a casting with hunched shoulders vs. the girl that walks in, sure of herself and does it with grace. In her recent interview with Modelresource, Liisa Winkler highlighted how it is "really a lot more interesting to . . . look at women who know who they are." In light of this, you may have a better portfolio than another model at a casting, but if she walks into the room with a confident and fierce presence while you sit sombrely in the corner, she is more likely to book the job. I am not saying that a model needs to walk into a casting perky and smiling, nor does she have to walk in with a cocky attitude. I understand some models can be very shy, especially in the earlier stages. For some, being a bubbly girl is just not their personality and that is completely fine!
What is most important here is a strong and genuine sense of self that comes from within. Remember, when you are happiest with yourself, that happiness is infectious and people become drawn to it. Success is within your reach. Remember, in order for other pillars in your life to come together, you must first learn to be happy with yourself. Clients will see that because confidence radiates and shines through a person. If utilized correctly, it can be your secret weapon.
How to Handle Criticism
In this industry, every model is subject to criticism. Although it can be hard to hear, it is important to remember to keep your head held high. Just because a client or two may not like your look, do not let their opinions consume you. Instead, hang on to that confidence and do not let anyone cause you to question your self-worth. No one should have that effect over you nor should you ever grant them the permission of being able to do so. I may sound like a broken record, but I want to drill this into models heads: remain strong and self-assured women.
Dutch model Doutzen Kroes has endured her fair share of criticism for her allegedly large thighs. Gucci refused to book her for their runway show and opted instead for slimmer girls. Did she let their decision stop her from pursuing her modelling career? Did clients stop booking her for other jobs? No. She overcame those criticisms and went on to become one of the top working models today. Doutzen booked the lucrative Victoria's Secret contract and has worked for top fashion houses and companies like Armani and L'Oréal.
What was it then that clients saw in Doutzen? John Pfeiffer casts models to walk in the world renowned Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. When asked what the company was looking for in a model, John Pfeiffer highlighted the importance of how "there is a very clear Victoria's Secret woman: they all have this self-confidence." Despite critiques from the public and industry alike, Doutzen is an excellent example of why it is important for models to remember to take every criticism with a grain of salt.
As I noted earlier, not only is beauty subjective, but each client is looking for something different. Not every client is going to like you. Jessica Stam once said: "With modelling, you are judged on your looks. It’s easy to take that personally, but you have to realize that it‘s only your appearance that‘s being judged, not you as a whole. If you didn't, you'd be destroyed." Gucci may not have felt that Doutzen was a good fit for their runway show, but Victoria’s Secret thought she was a great model that embodied what they were looking for, and since then, her career has only continued to grow.
If for whatever reason you feel as though you are being legitimately attacked, do not talk back (you do not want to get blacklisted); rather, be professional and take up any issues with your agency. Allow them to deal with the situation. I know this can be difficult for some, believe me, I have had many moments when all I wanted to do (to put it lightly) was grab my portfolio and storm out of the casting. I have been extremely tempted to give a client the finger and let them have a piece of my mind. But I maintained my composure, said thank you and went on with the rest of my day. You just need to remember the three C's: remain cool, calm and collected. And breathe. I know it can be difficult at times, and there may be moments you want to just break down and cry. As a model myself, I can relate entirely. Remember, what one client thinks of you does not determine your success in this industry. As Liisa Winkler told Modelresource, "you don't have to change who you are and what you value in order to work as a model." Your attitude and belief in yourself are what put you ahead of the competition.