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Social Media's Effect on the Modeling Industry

The image and reputation of supermodels has changed dramatically since the “Supermodel Era” of the 1990s.

In the late 80s supermodels became very prominent figures in pop culture. This new obsession with the models lasted well into the 90s.

Supermodels like Claudia Schiffer, Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Yasmeen Ghauri model for Versace in the 90s.

The “Big Five” in the industry for many years were Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington.

These women hold records for the highest number of Vogue covers, Naomi was the first Black woman to be on Time, Russian and French Vogue. Their hard work and talent is unmatched still.

The way society and the media portrayed these women was mainly as pictures in a magazine. Although they set high beauty standards, supermodels were not given much of a personality or voice in the public eye.

Nowadays supermodels are prevalent figures on social media. With millions of followers, models and influencers are able to post about their personal lives, choose what to show the world, and feel more relatable to regular people.

However, the convenience of social media, technology, and the popularity of plastic surgery has made many question the credibility of calling today’s models “supermodels.”

With millions upon millions of followers, modeling is now changing and more and more people with large social media following are able to attend celebrity events like the Grammys, Oscar’s, the Met Gala, etc.

YouTuber James Charles attending the 2019 Met Gala.

Brands and companies now look at social media standing when choosing their models or brand ambassadors. Sometimes this will conflict with how hard the influencer might have worked to get this position.

Models like Gigi and Bella Hadid began modeling before they gained massive platforms on Instagram, however, their platforms are what helped them take their careers to the next level.

Gigi and Bella Hadid on the cover of Vogue, March 2020.

This influencer age we’ve entered has faced a lot of criticism.

You may remember the great supermodel debate in 2016 where a conversation regarding calling models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid supermodels was appropriate. Many claimed the two aren’t nearly experienced nor talented enough for the title of “supermodel.”

Former model, famous for her work in the 90s, Rebecca Romijin addressed the conversation on Entertainment Tonight saying:

Social media stars are now the supermodels in fashion. They are not true supermodels. And the thing is, I have always looked to Vogue magazine to lead the way, not be a follower. I rely on Vogue to set the standard, not follow what everybody else is doing. So I have been disappointed that fashion magazines have been supporting this trend of social media stars to set our style standards. But it will change; fashion always does.

Most would agree that with time and experience, these models will likely gain the respect and title they deserve.


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