Managing the Model Body
In this chapter, I document how advertising’s need to send a specific, meaningful message to an interested consumer shaped the work of model management in its early days. At that time, 1900s fashion designers, such as the incomparable Lucile, tightly controlled their mannequins, molding them into the “look” of their particular house. Mid-century models were given specific instruction in which expressions to wear and how to feel for a particular shoot. With the developing importance of capitalizing on the value of experiences and the body’s changeability, however, modeling work evolved into the professional free-for-all that it is today, where it is anybody’s guess what look clients will want from one moment to the next. Similar changes surfaced in methods for obtaining and portraying the ideal body recommended to models in published manuals of modeling “advice.” This chapter also explores how the popular language of model management draws back the curtain on how we envisage the “ideal” worker as a culture, since changes in instructions given to models over the years interestingly have dovetailed with significant changes in productive technologies during the same timeframe. This connection becomes particularly evident when tracing the advice given to models in modeling manuals from the 1920s to the 1960s, described here.
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