The following analysis pertains to a self-reported data from of over 140,000 American models. All respondents were female, ages 18 to 28, and actively seeking modeling assignments through online accounts that each model maintains. Each was asked if they were interested in nude modeling assignments. Their preference for or against nude modeling was posted publicly, along with their portfolio.
Of these models, those who openly advertised a desire to pose nude numbered 12.5%. This percentage includes all heights, sizes, and shapes. If we just consider models who fall into a particular body type, the number willing to pose nude goes up. For example for those between five feet tall and five foot eleven, having a dress size zero through eight, and have a bra cup size of “B” or larger, 15.5% are willing to pose nude. If we look at the subset of these women who have a bra cup size of “C” or larger, the number goes up to 17.5%. If we look at those with a D or DD bra cup size, 20% are willing to pose nude.
The first sample, models ages 18-28; one in eight is actively looking for nude modeling jobs. With the last sample, it is one in five. These numbers reflect models who are seeking regular employment modeling nude. If you consider those who are willing to entertain nude modeling on a case-by-case basis, the proportion increases.
The results can’t be considered scientific because it is based on self-reported data. However, this analysis does make clear that body type has an effect on an interest in posing nude. The single most influential factor is bust size. It seems bustier women are more comfortable posing nude.
In a separate survey, the willingness of models with breast augmentation to pose nude was considered. It was apparent that having breast implants did not significantly change a model’s willingness to pose nude. In fact, only 16% of those willing to model nude had breast implants, compared to 26% of all models in the survey. In most instances, breast augmentation reduces the aesthetic appeal of a nude model. Many photographers don’t desire the unnatural shape and scars that come along with breast implants and models know this. So, it’s not surprising that the percentage of nude models with a natural bust line (84%) is higher than the percentage of all models over eighteen with a natural bust line (74%).
It is also apparent that models of average or shorter heights are slightly more comfortable with nudity than their taller counterparts. Models who are 5’9” and taller were about 1% less likely to advertise a willingness for nude modeling jobs.
When comparing various ethnicities willingness to pose nude, the results are disparate. Over 62,000 American models ages eighteen to twenty-eight were sampled on a modeling employment site. Of those who stated an ethnicity, Native Americans and Caucasians were the most likely to express an interest in posing nude (22% and 16.5% respectively.) All other categories were less likely than the average (14.5%) to respond positively. The least likely to respond in the affirmative was East Indians, which were only one-third as likely to do so.
Even hair color plays a role in determining willingness to pose nude. In a sampling of models, again all ages 18 to 28 in the United States, respondents were asked to report hair color and their willingness to pose nude. Amongst blondes and dark-haired models the results were mostly undifferentiated. Redheads and brunettes were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Redhead models were the most likely to opt to model nude, more than twice as likely as brunettes. Even hair length comes into play. Models with very short or very long hair are up to twice as likely to model nude compared to those with medium length hair.
How to use this information? You don’t want to limit yourself to pursuing models of only a very specific body type or appearance. For one thing, the demographic that is most willing to pose nude may not be what you’re looking for in a model. If you want to photograph tall models with small bust lines, there is no reason not to pursue them as subjects. Additionally, the subset that is most likely to pose nude comprise only a small fraction of the available models. Although short, very busty models were the most likely to be seeking nude jobs, they accounted for fewer than ten percent of respondents.
The more experienced the model, the more comfortable with nudity
Experienced models are more likely to want to model nude than inexperienced. This is mainly attributable to the fact that modeling nude is a one way trip. Few models begin modeling nude and then stop. More often, models will start modeling before they decide to pose nude. Then they will continue to pose nude. Models who describe their experience level as “very experience” are more than twice as likely to pose nude as those who say they have no experience. The desire to model nude increases sharply as models gain experience. For this reason it’s beneficial to seek women who already have some modeling experience.
The style of photography is a huge factor in attracting models.
When models are asked their opinion of nude photography versus artistic nude photography, the results are astonishingly different. In a sampling of over 1,400 American and Canadian female models 15% of them said they would be willing to pose nude. When models are asked if they would pose for an artistic nude, the number jumps to 45%. This is three times as many positive responses.
This was not an anonymous survey. These data are from a modeling employment web site where the models receive job offers for various modeling jobs ranging from fashion to nude.
The models were told that artistic nudity meant full nudity with artistic intent. For sake of clarity, the models were told that this was not implied nudity. One in seven models are willing to pose nude, while nearly half are willing to pose nude when the photography is described as artistic. Clearly the style of the photographs has a huge influence on a model’s willingness to pose nude. What makes a photograph artistic is subjective, and it is the photographer’s intent and style that attract models. Because art is in the mind of the viewer, you need to do more than describe your work as artistic. This is why you need a portfolio.
On a side note, various data were compared from modeling web sites of varying sizes. On heavily trafficked web sites, models are less likely to advertise their willingness to pose nude. Many models say that this is because of the large number of undesirable correspondence they receive. On smaller modeling sites more models indicate an interest in nude gigs.
For more on this topic and other aspects of recruiting and working with nude models can be found in my new book, Up to My Eyeballs in Nude Women. This book is written for the serious beginner, the curious non-photographer, and even the moderately experienced photographer who needs a better grasp of recruiting and working with nude models. Understanding this book does not require comprehension of photographic technique.
Model: Bonnie Rose