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Which Body Type is Best for Photography?

Updated on March 7, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

"Women have been used in advertising as early as the 1890s. Ever since the 1890s, the image of being thin has been the ideal image for women all over the United States for over a century. At the start of the 1900s, thinness was in style. During this time there was a growing amount of interest of women in athletic and physician field that began to perceive body weight as a science. This science was of calorie counting and of keeping track of weight through constant weigh-ins. At this time the physically perfect woman was 5'4" tall and weighed 140 lbs. By the 1920s, around the time of World War I, the flapper image became very popular. The flapper image was still very thin but the image presented women with a younger, more boyish style instead of a sophisticated, feminine image. Flappers had short hair, flattened breasts and small waists that emphasized the target look of the flapper. In the 1930s, the image of the small waist and flattened breasts was diminishing."

Which is a better look?

© Glenn Francis,
© Glenn Francis, | Source
CC BY 2.0 Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link.
CC BY 2.0 Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link. | Source

The short answers is that it depends on whether or not the shoot is being paid for by someone else besides the photographer. It is then that whatever the client wants holds true. If however the photographer is doing it for personal reasons like for a photo project, then he or she decides.

Before you start a project you need to decide; plus size, curvy, average or skinny models, which body type is best for photography?

The truth is that tastes continue to change and we are seeing a return to a more "healthier" looking female body type and quickly getting away from the "sickly" looking model roles of a few years back.

Models have been deliberately becoming skinnier and skinnier in order to fit a mold used by the fashion industry in order to save a buck and photographers have had to accept the skinny standard for many years.

After all, when anyone looked at a fashion spread all they saw were basically living twigs wearing clothes. It did not matter that the model looked anorexic and sickly.

To most aspiring models this was what they had to become if they wanted to make it to the modeling world.

Fashion photographers mostly took what the industry demanded and supplied and this in turn proliferated the super skinny look.

However the majority of independent fashion and portrait photographers will tell you that given a choice they would prefer to photograph a more natural looking model, in other words to photograph reality.

Curvy ladies are not only what most women really look like but being one does not involve following a strict dietary regimen to the point of starvation nor does it impose a rigid almost diabolical exercise routine.

Normal looking women should be what photographers aim for when deciding on what models to use for their next shoot and the trend appear to be growing quite rapidly as seen by the overwhelming majority of pictures taken for magazines, posters and other applications featuring normal weight or even plus size women.

Photographers should avoid at all costs using models that are ultra skinny since by using them they are sending the wrong and potentially dangerous message to young up and coming model hopefuls.

Plus sizes are often considered to be "normal"

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source
(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

How did the trend towards ultra skinny began?

This is hard to pinpoint but without doubt one model had an impact when at 16 she took the fashion industry by storm and was featured by almost every major fashion house in the world.

"Twiggy was the skinniest model that had ever been seen, weighing in at 89 pounds and standing 5’6” tall. At this time, Twiggy set a standard that most models could not achieve. In a book entitled Models by Michael Gross references to a British model of the 1960s, Gillian Bobroff. In trying to achieve the look that Twiggy set forward, Bobroff exclaims “"It was dreadful.... [Twiggy] started a trend, and you had to be just the same. I ... started killing myself, taking a million slimming pills. I never ate. I had bulimia. It was a nightmare, trying to keep up"

It is probably more due to Twiggy's success as a model than to anything else that the ultra thin look became popular with the fashion industry but certainly not the only reason.

Another strong point needs to be made; most fashion designers make test model and fit them to mannequins. It made sense to have models that fitted a similar shape as that of the mannequin, the one size fits all mentality.

Since it did not make sense to mass produce a design until it had been accepted by the public and "mannequin" designs were already done, the fashion industry saw it a way to save money and thus demanded that models wearing these designs had to be as thin as a mannequin.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
© Glenn Francis,
© Glenn Francis, | Source

Should the fashion industry or anyone else dictate a woman's weight?

See results

However, thankfully the industry is changing at all levels and thanks in large part to the concerns of the public and consumers.

In recent years many a consumer group has been voicing their concerns to the fashion moguls and the industry in general and demanding changes in the way that their models are made to look.

Another key role in the change of attitudes and the acceptance by the industry is that they can always "photoshop" any image that seems a bit too "fat" for their taste. This in other words appears more like a compromise that the industry is willing to live with.

No longer do young girls have to believe that their body type is not perfect for the modeling world because they are too fat. Normalcy is finally returning to the whole industry and consumers have to pat themselves in the back for being at the forefront of the change.

It seems more and more that a return to a healthy more natural look is in and an anorexic like body type is finally on its way out.

CC BY 2.5 Edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link
CC BY 2.5 Edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      kayla: Thanks and do your homework before you get into modeling.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      im interesred n modeling

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      IntimatEvolution; Thank you

    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 

      7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      Nice article.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      tirelesstraveler: everything boils down to many other things!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      So much for attributing logic to the industry. I am 5'9" and weight 160. Athletic and have worn a ten since I was #130. Something is fishy in this industry.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      tirelesstraveler: The money saved is when you do many outfits ( you will be saving about $2.00 per yard) and it is negligible when doing just one outfit. 5"4" is too short but when you take a 5'7" - 5'8"model then 140 is not that "obese" looking.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Never thought of saving money by using thinner models. The size 4 dress certainly uses less fabric then the size 10. Today 5'4" 140 is considered obese. Thought provoking hub.


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