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What Are Alternative Modeling Agencies?

Written By: Alyssa Buffington

Mainstream modeling usually focuses on specific types of models. A lot of models are often skinny, lighter-skinned, or have conventional beauty. However, recent decades have seen the rise of alternative modeling agencies

Alternative modeling agencies are agencies that focus on one specific style. Many of these agencies employ models that exist outside the conventional beauty standards, but not always. These agencies seek to broaden representation in media and understanding of beauty.


Types of Alternative Modeling

Below are just some categories alternative modeling can take. Popular agencies have grown from these ideals.

Plus-Sized Models

One category sharply growing in popularity is the work of plus-sized models. Many people have longed to break away from the stress and discrimination caused by thin models in media. Agencies dedicated to varying body types aim to show the beauty in all sizes. All body types are welcome to try alternative modeling.

Transgender Models

As the LGBTQ+ community gains more recognition, some agencies seek transgender models for their work. These agencies are driven to give transgender models equality, both in visibility and pay. Alternative agencies offer more freedom to transgender models, where they are displayed on their terms.

Body-Modified Models

Are you a model with tattoos? Piercings? Or even altered physical appearances such as missing limbs? If so, there is a high chance an agency exists that wants to view your talents. Most traditional modeling works with clear, unaltered skin, but that highly narrows the experiences of people. As tattoos and other modifications gain more mainstream acceptance, there are more opportunities for models to show their worth.

‘Natural’ Models

A major complaint with traditional modeling is the use of makeup and digital alterations to create unattainable beauty standards. Many people wish to see models that have natural appearances, free of makeup and specific facial shapes. Alternative modeling agencies often hire models with a more natural, real-life appeal. There’s now a way to show your beauty without looking almost fake.

Subculture Models

This last category is less about the individual person and more about identity. Many alternative modeling agencies deal with one specific group of people. A few examples of this trend include goths, punks, urban, steampunk, preppy, and hipster. This exploration of identity breathes new life into models and represents the fashion of all different types of people.

How To Become An Alternative Model

The first step to becoming an alternative model is figuring out if you meet the requirements - or more accurately if you don’t meet the requirements of traditional modeling. Alternative modeling has a high focus on individuality and non-traditional looks, so if you don’t fit the norm you are probably a perfect alternative model.

From there do your research and see if any agencies work with your unique skills. If you can’t find an agency that’s specific enough, try to find one that’s close to your look and see if you can sell them on your other looks. Once you find an agency or two that would work with you, the process is similar to traditional modeling:

  • Create a portfolio - As with any modeling gig, a good acting portfolio is necessary. Gather together your experience, photos of yourself, and your unique skills. Highlight what’s special about you and why they should work with you.

  • Be ready for casting calls - If an agency likes your application, they’ll want to meet in person and assess you. Be professional and come prepared on audition day with cards and styles. This is also the chance to show the agency up close your unique brand of modeling.

  • Use social media - Social media sites like Instagram help models display their work, and it is just as effective for alternative models. Maintaining a professional social media account will sell people on your capabilities. Keep posting and reaching out to the right people and social media can be a gateway into professional modeling.

If you’re a passionate model that differs from the norm, alternative modeling is the key to having your voice heard. It may be hard work with many rejects in-between, but keep practicing and an agency will eventually see your talents. You might even be lucky enough that your modeling will reach someone similar to you, inspiring them to also feel comfortable in their skin. You’re not just your voice, but the voice of many, so be bold and share that voice with the world.

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