Today's guest post is from Briauna Mariah. Here's her inspiring story and her revolutionary mission:
"I was never one of those girls who "always" wanted to be a fashion or runway model. It was suggested to me when I stopped growing and realized I was 5'11" and slender. I thought it would be a good way to pay for college. I never thought modeling would change my life, but it has.
I still remember hearing my first agency booker tell me, "You are a product, so don't take what I say as personal." It's impossible not to take it personal when someone tells you, "You have too much baby fat, come back in 6 months." I was 15 years old with a BMI of 18!
Every aspect of a model's skin, hair, curves, walk...is constantly criticized. She is never good enough. As a society, our beauty standards in the fashion world are warped. They are completely unrealistic. Yet, young girls are expected to conform. This is what it feels like to be a model. Moldable.
Being represented by an agency has always been a stressful experience for me. I was always pressured one way or another, bullied strategically, bossed around, and strung along for months along waiting for my paychecks. At one point, I weighed 123 pounds (at 5'11") and was still being told to lose more weight. "You'll never be an international model unless your waist is smaller!" My waist was 23" at the time.
Sadly, the experience is the same for so many women. Young girls losing too much weight is too often celebrated! This perpetuates and encourages eating disorders among young girls across the globe.
Once I realized how much damage I was doing to my body, I kept wondering when things would change.
Everyone talks about it. People complain about the unrealistic images painted by the glossy campaigns, the high end runway shows and photos so edited they hardly resemble the actual model.
The damage to the models themselves is only a fraction of the problem. The media creates this expectation of perfection. Our kids see this and can't stop wondering, "why don't I look like that?"
Shouldn’t something be done about the way models are being exploited?
Shouldn’t someone, somewhere do something instead of just talking about it?
I realized if I wanted to see change, I had to take action myself. I decided to create a modeling agency to promote positive change, diversity and health.
Changing the way media portrays women will help eliminate the root of many eating disorders, self-esteem issues and even social bullying. Promoting health as the new standard will create positive images we can be proud to have our kids aspire to."
Briauna is the founder of We Speak, a modeling agency designed from the ground up to empower and protect models, give designers and consumers a choice to make a difference, plus create an advertising culture we can be proud to have the next generation look up to.
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