What Happens When Models “Age Out” Of The Industry

Photographed by Sunny Shokrae.
Modeling is an industry that’s famously kind to teenagers. Lindsey Wixson and Karlie Kloss are just two of today’s supermodels who got their starts while still in high school — and although there have been industry-wide attempts to prevent designers from casting minors, the impact on campaigns and the catwalk has been minimal. These early beginnings can give models major career opportunities (and lucrative designer exclusives) at a young age, but modeling's youth obsession also prompts an important question: What happens when the girls get older? Not every woman on a Fashion Week runway will have a career that extends into her 40s and 50s like those of Iman, Pat Cleveland, and Cindy Crawford.

reports that the Model Alliance tackled this problem at a recent panel in New York City, during which the organization offered advice from experts and ex-models alike on how to begin a new career after modeling. The Alliance, which was founded by former model Sara Ziff, is no stranger to confronting industry issues, and this one is unfortunately common. Every model faces challenges as she becomes older, and as Ziff explained, “We aim to help models enjoy successful careers in the modeling industry, but we also appreciate that modeling is precarious work and that it doesn’t last forever, even for the most successful models.” It's a sad and ridiculous truth of the business that many models have been forced to accept.

Part of the challenge is the fact that the agency — not the model herself — dictates when a model has "aged out," but it's still up to the model to decide what to do after she's reached this supposed end date. According to the models at the panel, the key lies in finding your other interests early — not waiting until your modeling career begins to dwindle. By pursuing different activities on the side while still working as a model, these women can get a jump-start on a potential future career.

Judging from Karlie's NYU attendance, Cara Delevingne's acting gigs, and Lyndsey Scott moonlighting as a computer programmer, this is some practical and extremely savvy advice that today's fashion insiders have already picked up on. And, although having a backup career plan is never a bad idea, it's important to note that a small but powerful group of women are still killing it in modeling, even past middle age. Want proof? Just see Lauren Hutton's lifelong success, Jessica Lange's striking Marc Jacobs ads, and Bruce Weber's latest Barneys campaign for reminders that beauty and style extend long after one's 20s are over. Here's hoping the entire modeling industry recognizes this soon. (Bustle)

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