We can all agree that tattoos aren’t really the most desirable feature to have when pursuing a modeling career. Many modeling agencies and designers like to point out that having tattoos can make it quite difficult for models to be successful and land a job.
That’s why even nowadays you don’t see many models with tattoos, or even if they have tattoos, the design is rather minimal or well hidden. Sure, some of the world’s top models show off their tattoos with pride, but apparently only when they achieve a certain level of fame and recognition.
Once the designers want to work with you, you can have as many tattoos as you want and they will probably be considered a fashionable accessory. But what about the men and women looking to start a modeling career? Can they show off their tattoos with pride, or is the ink a big no-no?
Well, these questions and many more that we will discuss in the following paragraphs. So be sure to keep scrolling for a deeper look into the hypocritical world of tattoos and modeling.
Can you be a model with tattoos?
Why are tattoos so feared in the fashion industry?
Tattoos have always been considered a sign of rebellion, and their connotation certainly varies and changes from culture to culture. In the contemporary fashion industry, tattoos are much more accepted, we have to be fair and point that out.
Just a few decades ago, models weren’t really allowed to have tattoos. well, they were allowed, but if they wanted to have a successful career, they would avoid getting inked. This applied particularly to high fashion, even today. But, famous models are more open about tattoos, truth be told. However, even so, models still face criticism when it comes to body ink.
So why are tattoos so feared in the fashion industry?
First of all, tattoos are distracting. Tattooed models distract from the advertised clothes and luxurious messages that brands sell.
Second, we must understand that models are “tools” used to sell a luxurious, elegant and sophisticated lifestyle. Even though these are more laid back urban brands, the message is still the same; only a certain sophisticated clientele has access to our luxurious, impeccable and trendy products, not ordinary people. Tattoos are seen as a feature of “regular and ordinary” people, not the wealthy and sophisticated clientele that fashion brands cater to.
High-end brands want the representation of themselves to be totally flawless to the public. Such an image will entice the wealthy to spend their money, and ordinary people will strive to be able to afford such a lifestyle. Having tattooed models promoting such a lifestyle seems to contradict the message of high-end brands, hence the small number of tattooed models showing off their tattoos on the catwalks or in magazines.
Famous Tattooed Models – What About Their Tattoos?
Now, having said all of that (in the previous paragraphs), we can’t just ignore the fact that some of the world’s most famous models have blazed their own trails despite body ink. Let’s take a look at Cara Delavigne for example; she has over 30 tattoos on her body and even confessed to being a tattoo addict.
Kate Moss also has some visible tattoos, on her back and forearm. Ruby Rose is covered in tattoos from head to toe and she is one of the most famous models in the world. So how did these models manage to create such successful careers despite the body ink?
Well, in the fashion industry, the higher you go through the modeling ranks, the more you have the right to be yourself. Early in their careers, many of these famous models didn’t have tattoos and didn’t get their first ink until they achieved significant public recognition.
On the other hand, some models become famous for being shamelessly themselves; high-end brands recognize that certain things get a big reaction from the general public and see it as an opportunity to engage with the “thing” and bring even more attention to the brand and its products. That might be one way of looking at it.
Top models like Kendal Jenner or Bella Hadid had a lot of shortcuts in their careers, which was also guaranteed for the fame of their families. Who wouldn’t hire Kim Kardashian’s sister or Gigi Hadid? They could have been covered in tattoos and piercings and high-end brands would still embrace them due to the impact of their names and public presence. Some models simply enjoy certain advantages despite the tattoos.
So can you be a model with tattoos?
Technically, yes, you can be a model despite body art and ink. In practice, however, you might struggle to land jobs, especially those high-end gigs, and especially if your tattoo(s) are in a highly visible location. You might also have a hard time landing a job if you have large, colorful tattoos with questionable or provocative designs.
The size, type, design and placement of a tattoo can simply make or break your modeling career. These factors are extremely important and play a big role in the fashion world and in determining your chances of succeeding in the industry.
Now, the best would be to have smaller, delicate and minimal tattoos in areas that are not so centered on the eyes. For example, the ankle, forearm, lower back, inner thigh, feet, and similar areas are great for delicate tattoos that won’t be a problem in specific edits and photo shoots for brands and magazines. These tattoos can also be easily covered with full coverage concealer, so even if a mark has an issue with your tattoo, you can easily get rid of it for the day.
Also, keep in mind that having one tattoo or multiple tattoos may limit your job opportunities to specific brands. You will surely find it difficult to land high-end jobs, but you may be able to work for younger, urban and contemporary brands that focus on street fashion, for example.
But, if your goal is to work for big-name, high-end brands, it’s best to keep tattoos hidden and minimal. Just ask yourself; can you imagine the customer and user of a brand having tattoos? If your answer is yes, then you as a model can also advertise the brand even with tattoos. If the answer is no, you probably won’t get the job.
What about Photoshop? Can’t photoshop erase your tattoos on pictures?
Yes, in fact, almost all fashion brands have their models’ photos and videos retouched in Photoshop. It’s a fast and available way to improve the final products and get the best models. So, it would be safe to assume that your tattoos could also be fixed in post-production, right?
Actually it depends. If we’re talking about one or two very small tattoos, then yes, post-production would probably erase the tattoos and make them invisible in the final image or video. Of course, this applies as long as the tattoos do not interfere with the advertised clothing. However, if we’re talking about larger tattoos, placed in hard-to-Photoshop areas, or if they interfere with advertised clothing, then Photoshop won’t really help and it might even create more problems.
So, Photoshop isn’t really the most reliable solution. Some brands may go out of their way and struggle to cover up tattoos, but the majority will simply hire a tattoo-free model and do as little post-production editing as possible.
So what are your options?
Before you audition or apply for a modeling job, be sure to be honest with yourself about your tattoos. This will allow you to create a clear picture of your expectations and the jobs you could actually land. Be sure to ask yourself the following questions;
- What brand am I trying to work for? Is it a high-end brand or a street-style, urban, contemporary, youth-oriented brand?
- What will I potentially model? Will I be covered in clothes or will I be modeling bikinis and more revealing items?
- Is my tattoo big and visible or delicate and hidden?
- Are my tattoos potentially offensive or placed in visible places or areas that model agencies and brands might find questionable?
- Are the brands I try to work for conservative or cool and edgy?
By answering these questions honestly, you will have a clear idea of the type of work you should pursue as a tattooed model? Depending on the size, location, and design of your tattoos, your job options will vary, that’s for sure. But, by knowing what jobs you could land, you could also increase your success rate and better career development.
Also Read: Jobs That Allow Tattoos: Where Can You Work and Show Your Ink?
Being a model with tattoos could be a challenge in itself. The modeling and fashion industry is ruthless and unfortunately models are replaced quite easily. This limits career options as a tattooed model, as brands hire models without tattoos instead. However, that shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing a modeling career. You just need to be realistic about your options and the types of obs you’re likely to land.
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