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 pretty difficult for models to succeed and actually land jobs.
That is why, even nowadays, we don’t see many models with tattoos, or even if they do 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 seemingly only when they reach 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’ll be probably considered a trendy accessory. But, what about men and women looking to start a modeling career? Can they show off their tattoos with pride, or is ink a big no-no?
Well, these, and many other questions we’ll tackle in the following paragraphs. So, make sure to keep on scrolling for a deeper insight into the hypocritical world of tattoos and modeling.
Can You Be a Model With Tattoos?
Why Are Tattoos So Dreaded In The Fashion Industry?
Tattoos have always been seen as a sign of rebelliousness, 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 allowed to really have tattoos; well, they were allowed, but if they wanted to have a successful career, they would avoid getting inked. This especially applied to high fashion, even nowadays. But, famous models are more open about having tattoos, truth to be told. However, even so, models are still facing criticism in regards to body ink.
So, why are tattoos so dreaded in the fashion industry?
First of all, tattoos are distracting. Tattooed models distract from the advertised clothing and the luxurious message brands are selling.
Second of all, we need to understand that models are ‘tools’ used to sell a luxurious, stylish, sophisticated way of life. Even if we’re talking about more relaxed, urban brands, the message is always the same; only certain, sophisticated clientele has access to our luxurious, impeccable, trendy products, not regular people. Tattoos are considered to be a feature of the ‘regular, common’ people, not the sophisticated, rich clientele fashion brands cater to.
High-end brands want the representation of themselves to be completely impeccable for the public. Such an image will make rich people spend their money, and common, regular people strive towards being able to afford such a lifestyle. Having tattooed models promoting such a lifestyle seems to contradict the message of the high-end brands, hence the small number of tattooed models showing off their tattoos on the runways or in the magazines.
Famous Tattooed Models – What About Their Tattoos?
Now, having said all that (in the previous paragraphs), we cannot simply ignore the fact that some of the world’s most famous models paved their own ways despite body ink. Let’s take a look at Cara Delavigne for example; she has over 30 tattoos on her body and has even confessed to being a tattoo addict.
Kate Moss also has a few visible tattoos, on her back and forearm. Ruby Rose is covered in tattoos, from head to toe, and she is one of the best-known 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 climb the model ladder, the more you’re allowed to be yourself. At the beginning of their careers, many of these famous models didn’t have tattoos, and they didn’t get their first ink until they’ve reached significant public recognition.
On the other hand, some models become famous for being unapologetically themselves; high-end brands recognize that certain things trigger a great response from the general public and see it as an opportunity to engage in the ‘thing’ and bring even greater attention to the brand and their products. This could be one way to look at things.
Top models like Kendal Jenner or Bella Hadid had plenty of shortcuts in their careers, which were also guaranteed that’s to the fame of their families. Who wouldn’t hire the sister of Kim Kardashian or Gigi Hadid? They could have been covered in tattoos and piercings and high-end brands would still embrace them because of the impact of their names and public presence. Some models simply enjoy certain advantages despite 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 have a hard time landing jobs, especially those high-end gigs, and especially if your tattoo(s) is in a highly visible place. You might also have a hard time landing jobs if you have large, colored tattoos with questionable or provoking 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 making it in the industry.
Now, the best would be to have smaller, delicate, minimal tattoos in areas that aren’t so eye-focused. For example, the ankle, forearm, lower back, inner thigh, feet, and similar areas are perfect for delicate tattoos that won’t be an issue during specific editions and photoshoots for brands and magazines. These tattoos can also be easily covered with a full-coverage concealer, so even if a brand has an issue with your tattoo you can easily ‘get rid of it ‘for the day.
Moreover, bear in mind that having a tattoo, or multiple tattoos, can limit your working opportunities to only specific brands. You’ll surely have a hard time landing high-end jobs, but you might be able to work for more youth-oriented, urban, contemporary brands that focus on street-style fashion, for example.
But, if your goal is to work for renowned, high-end brands, it is 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 could also advertise the brand even with tattoos. If the answer is no, then you probably won’t land the job.
What About Photoshop? Can’t Photoshop Erase Your Tattoos on Images?
Yes, in fact, almost all the fashion brands have their models’ photos and videos retouched in Photoshop. It is a quick and available way of improving the final products and getting the models to look their best. So, it would be safe to assume that your tattoos could also be fixed in post-production, right?
Well, it depends. If we’re talking about one or two really small tattoos, then yes, the post-production would probably erase the tattoos and make them invisible in the final image or video. Of course, this applies so long the tattoos don’t interfere with the advertised clothing. However, if we’re talking about bigger tattoos, placed in areas difficult to Photoshop, or they interfere with the actual advertised clothing, then Photoshop won’t really help and it even might create more issues.
So, Photoshop isn’t really the most reliable solution. Some brands might go out of their own way and struggle with covering the tattoos, but the majority will simply rather hire a tattoo-free model and do as little retouching as possible in the post-production.
So, What Are Your Options?
Before auditioning or applying for a modeling gig, make 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. Make 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 be potentially modeling? Will I be covered with clothes or will I model bikinis and more revealing items?
- Are my tattoo large and visible or delicate and hidden?
- Are my tattoos potentially offensive or placed in visible or areas modeling agencies and brands might find questionable?
- Are the brands I’m trying to work for conservative or cool and edgy?
By answering these questions honestly, you will get a clear idea about what kind of jobs you should pursue as a tattooed model? Considering the size, placement, and design of your tattoos, your job options will vary, that is for sure. But, by knowing which jobs you might be able to land, you might also increase your success rate and better career development.
Being a model with tattoos might be a challenge on its own. The modeling and fashion industry is ruthless, and unfortunately, models get replaced quite easily. This makes one’s career options limited as a tattooed model, considering that brands rather hire tattoo-free models. However, this shouldn’t discourage you from pursuing a modeling career. You just need to be realistic about your options and the kinds of obs you have a high chance of landing.