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Modeling Tip: Are You Too Old to Model?

It’s no secret that the modeling industry has its own definition of “old.” A middle-aged model is 25, not 45. Some agencies won’t look at new faces who are old enough to vote. Why is that, when we see overripe supermodels still being featured in Vogue and advertising campaigns?

Kristen McMenamy at age 46

Kristen McMenamy at age 46

Because models are an investment. If an agent is going to put time, effort, and money into promoting a model, they want the highest return on investment possible, i.e. many prime working years ahead before wrinkles appear and marketability declines.

Christy Turlington, Age 42

Christy Turlington at age 42

The supermodels who have managed to stretch their careers into the decades (five of them in Lauren Hutton‘s case) made names for themselves back when they were fresh-faced teens.

Lauren Hutton at age 67

Lauren Hutton at age 67

There are exceptions, of course. Anna Nicole Smith was discovered at age 25. Isabella Rossellini began a modeling career at age 28 (her pedigree—she’s the daughter of Ingrid Bergman—gave her a leg-up). Some models have resumed their careers after two decades off (see Karen Bjornson‘s story).

I headed to Europe to model after college at age 22. I felt ancient. Even though I was starting my career later than most models, I looked young and I wish I hadn’t worried so much about being old. Looking back at photos of myself, with my baby fat chipmunk cheeks, it makes me chuckle to think how over the hill I felt at the time.

So, yes, youth counts in the model success quotient. Agencies like to start girls as teens (men have more leeway as age = distinction with them; our society still needs to work on that with women, but the clients booking beauties like Lauren Hutton help. Thanks Alexis Bittar!). However, 22 is not old. I made a lot more money modeling at 30 than at 22, so it’s not all over at 25. And, I didn’t miss out on college. That counts for a lot in my life success quotient, which always counts more than a mere model success quotient. :)

Enter the Modelingmentor Model Contest—there’s no age limit!