Modeling is one of these job branches that immediately makes most people think of women. Whether it is editorials or runways, female models dominate the industry. Throughout the eras, it is easy to look at them and determine the current beauty standard – from Kate Moss’ heroin chic to Gisele Bündchen’s feminine curves.
But what are the standards the industry applies to men and those hoping to become male models? Learn here what successful male models are supposed to look like in 2022.
Attractive Male Features
The beauty standards for both men and women shift throughout the ages and are wildly different depending on the culture and society that judges them. Western media has created a different definition for attractiveness than, say, any indigenous tribes across the world with no prevalent media access. Which weight, height, clothing, accessories, hair and facial hair styles are considered desirable changes with the point of view from several time periods and places.
There are some universally attractive features, however. Often, these include visuals that biologically and/or subconsciously suggest a healthy and strong person, like symmetrical features and a tall height, though many studies are questioning whether the link between these things is factually and scientifically accurate.
Different Men for Different Purposes
Which beauty standards apply to a male model also changes between different modeling jobs. When you look at the portfolios of male models from a model agency, like Showcast Models, you can usually filter the available options by categories. Here, you can look for models that suit a runway, models that look like everyday people, or even specific concepts, like men that aged well.
Typically, when we think of traditional modeling jobs, these include:
- Fashion Model
- Runway Model
- Editorial Model
- Commercial Model
- Print Model
- Lifestyle Model
- Fitness Models
Either of them might have different demands for their models. A fitness model, for example, should typically have some muscle mass and traditionally male features, while runway models can often be very lean or androgynous.
- Fashion, Runway & Editorial Models
Which male models are asked for on runways frequently depends on the specific designer or a specific collection. Male features that aren’t successful in one casting, might be exactly what other agents are looking for. Similar types of men are typically asked for in certain locations. There are types of looks that are booked more often in New York but not as asked for in Los Angeles.
In most cases, the so-called high-fashion models for fashion shoots and runway shows are athletic, but slim and lean, or skinny and untrained. They have very distinct and sharp masculine features. If they have a beard, it is typically short and well-kept. Long hair is not uncommon. In recent years, models like Josh Beech have normalized tattoos, even in high class fashion shows and shoots.
Some runway and editorial models aren’t conventionally attractive. Many designers include models specifically for their distinct character faces and interesting features.
- Commercial, Print & Lifestyle
In comparison to these models with more edge, commercial models are typically more polished. They are used to reflect the demographic the designer is trying to appeal to.
Fashion brands like Abercrombie & Fitch have recently been criticized for their selection of models, as well as store employees, with a very narrow beauty standard. By trying to appeal to white, wealthy, and physically attractive clients, they have used a very exclusionary recruiting and marketing practice.
While not every designer goes as far as firing store employees who don’t fit their beauty standards, they very much try to use models that look like the idealized version of the people they want to sell their clothing to.
Many male commercial models are traditionally handsome, bearded, and brunette, often portraying the perfect, charming, “all American”, friendly and outgoing ideal boyfriend, husband, or son-in-law. They are neither too muscular nor untrained enough to have a beer belly.
They are typically variants of “the average man”, but a very attractive version, suggesting to the clients that they can reach a same level of attractiveness by buying the same clothing/products.
Lifestyle models might be a little more specific. For example, a brand that wants to appeal to stereotypical surfers will look for sun kissed, athletic, and often long-haired models that visually suit the relaxed yet active surfer look.
- Fitness Models
Models that are used for fitness products or other items trying to appeal to men interested in training and gaining muscles, have a stricter beauty standard. Here, the body must match the job description.
While the other modeling jobs rarely look for extremely muscular and trained individuals, here it is a requirement. A conventionally attractive face is a bonus, but it’s rarely the focus in these shoots.
There are specific fashion industry beauty standards that are more prevalent in certain time periods or specific locations. While there are some features that are universally welcome, like clean skin and generally a sharp, masculine facial bone structure, there are rarely rules that aren’t broken. Some designers will always specifically look for interesting and unconventional faces, while others look for those men who appeal to the largest demographic group they are trying to reach.
In general, the industry is looking for well groomed, tall, slim, lean, or muscular men, with symmetrical masculine facial features. However, defining features like androgyny, tattoos, or unusually thick eyebrows can be exactly the thing that some designers are looking for.