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My Body Image Transformation through Modeling

Updated: May 28, 2020

Written by Claire Huder

In my family, women were generally short and stocky and men were thin and tall. I fit this tendency, as I followed after my mother and grandmother, all of us being on the shorter side with wider hips, thicker legs, and bigger butts. My mother walked around with such an air of confidence that I admired and wanted to achieve, and sometimes did, but not permanently, as I walked around every day comparing myself to other girls or women. Despite the compliments I would receive from friends and family, I still felt like I could—and should—be skinnier. I found myself conveniently “forgetting” to eat, taking fab-diet pills, and participating in numerous detox programs. I got so used to skipping meals that, at one point in and immediately following university, I was only eating one meal per day.

My journey to accepting and loving my unique body began at university when I became an art model. I needed a job for extra cash, and didn’t want to resort to working at a cafeteria and didn’t have the necessary major or minor to work as an editor for students’ papers at the library. It was through my on-campus job hunt that I discovered the art department’s need for figure models for their drawing classes. The catch—these models were nude.

Thus my journey began on my first day of work for a Drawing II Figure Drawing class. I will admit I was slightly anxious that the students would make comments or judge my appearance. This fear quickly dissipated as the professor explained to me that there was a no-tolerance policy regarding shaming in any way, and assured me that his students were professional as they were on their own journeys to become artists. I was briefly introduced to the class—which disproportionately consisted of mostly females and a couple males—and was welcomed with open arms, and, as my small amount of anxiety quickly melted away, I began posing. When the students and/or I had breaks, I was able to wander and observe their creations, and I was astonished.

Was that really me?

The professor emphasized translating correct proportions from eye to paper so that their drawings would be as life-like as possible, and the woman I saw on their paper was muscular and beautiful. The legs I thought were too thick were muscularly just thick enough, as I saw their shadowing emphasizing when my muscles flexed. The butt I thought was too big was in proportion to my thicker thighs and my wider hips. The stomach I thought had fat was mostly slim and even at times showed muscle as well.

My entire body was proportionate to itself, despite my earlier concerns that certain parts were too big. I left that class feeling more self-confident than I had felt in months, maybe even years. I continued to model for not only that class, but for Advanced Drawing III/IV/V classes and even for a local studio for professional artists throughout my college career.

My modeling career evolved when I chose to leave Ohio behind and move south to Jacksonville, Florida. In the fall of 2018, I had my first photoshoot with a professional photographer—and just like when I attended my first university art class as a figure model, I was slightly nervous. I always believed that models had to be tall and twiggy, my complete opposite. However, though this may be true for runway models, it proved to only be a small fragment of the modeling profession. Yes, there were requirements for certain projects for female models to be above 5’9” and to generally fit into a size 2, but there were other opportunities for those who did not meet those standards. At 5’0” and at a size 4, I found myself able to model as a—freelance—petite, fashion (catalog), fit, promotional, glamour, and art model.

I built my portfolio quickly by shooting a variety of such styles with a variety of photographers, and built my aptitude and confidence at the same time.

I was given the opportunity to represent a new local boutique for their shop’s debut—including modeling a few outfits on their opening-day catwalk and in print and online advertisements—represent a local real estate and event company at numerous events around Jacksonville, be booked to model for a number of photographers in Northern and Central Florida, and be published in a local magazine—Radx Magazine—for a local photographer’s work. These past opportunities have led to even more current and future opportunities that I have been given, such as walking in a fashion show in June in Orlando and being featured inside and on the back cover of a French-based magazine—MALVIE Magazine for their May 2020 issue, notably with the same photographer whose work I was featured in for the local magazine.

I cannot express the level of joy and confidence I feel, seeing my modeling work being appreciated by others. I have learned that models are of all shapes and sizes, and the key to successful modeling is being comfortable in your own skin and projecting that confident attitude. I am thankful for stepping outside of my comfort zone all those years ago and discovering both a hobby and profession that has helped my self-confidence and self-esteem grow as much as it has.

-Claire Huder

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