Can Models Have Tattoos? What Are The Pros And Cons?

Where tattoos meet the runway – the evolving story of tats in the modeling world.

Written by , MSc Manjari Uppal MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Edited by , MA (English Literature) Madhumati Chowdhury MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) linkedin_icon
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In the dynamic world of modeling, where trends rapidly evolve and beauty standards are constantly redefined, it is worth looking into how body art fits the scene. Naturally, one wonders, can models have tattoos? What are the pros and cons of embracing body art under the spotlight? Audrey Hepburn, an iconic figure, once emphasized the significance of grooming and attire, asserting that those who are the happiest appear the prettiest. In this context, tattoos have had a mixed reputation, wherein some consider them to be defacing of the body or lending an untidy look to the bearer.

While the modeling landscape has evolved, embracing diversity in shape, size, and color, the acceptance of tattoos remains a nuanced topic. In this article, we explore how tattoos intersect with the modeling world, uncovering the opportunities and obstacles that inked models encounter versus ones with flawless skin, in their pursuit of a career. We discuss the evolving industry norms, examine how renowned models have embraced body art, or covered them up to be a part of the modeling industry. Scroll down to walk the path of the aspiring models with ink and learn about alternative careers they can consider in the fashion world.

Can You Model With Tattoos?

Tattooed model on the runway
Image: Shutterstock

You may be wondering whether breaking into the modeling industry can be a reality for individuals with tattoos. Well, generally, the industry tends to favor models without tattoos, aiming for a broader appeal. Tattoos, akin to permanent accessories, pose challenges as they hinder the desired blank canvas look.

Brands, particularly those targeting audiences without body modifications, often opt for models without visible ink. Since skin tone influences tattoo visibility, darker tones make them easier to hide. Conversely, larger, darker tattoos are harder to conceal, especially on lighter skin tones, incurring additional time and cost in post-editing. While makeup can cover tattoos, it demands specific skills and products for an acceptable job.

While mainstream modeling agencies may shy away from heavily tattooed fashion models, alternative modeling niches actively seek inked models, embracing body art as a requirement.

However, it is crucial to note that the preference for ink-free models still prevails in certain segments of this industry, particularly in high-fashion shoots for clothing collections. High fashion maintains stricter standards with tattoos and piercings, potentially limiting opportunities, especially with upscale brands aiming for a sophisticated clientele. Lifestyle modeling, on the other hand, opens doors for people with tattoos or piercings, as these companies promote products and services on various platforms without strict criteria.

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Betty Broadbent, who was also known as the “Tattooed Venus,” went on to break norms in the 20th century by addressing tattoos for what they were, an art form. She was also the first ever person to be entered into the Tattoo Hall of Fame.

So, can models have tattoos and still have a successful career in high-fashion? The answer lies in navigating the diverse preferences of the modeling industry. Many world-famous celebrities and supermodels have challenged traditional norms, with their massive followings, proving that body art is not necessarily an impediment to a thriving modeling career. Scroll down to learn more about these tattooed models.

Famous Female Models With Tattoos

  • Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne with a hand tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

Renowned for her divine beauty and bold eyebrows, famous supermodel Cara Delevingne proudly shows off her inks. Her first was a lion tattoo on her index finger, highlighting her star sign, Leo.

  • Bella Hadid

Alongside her sister Gigi, Bella Hadid features angel wings on her ankle, paying homage to her time with Victoria’s Secret.

  • Kate Moss
Kate Moss flaunting her anchor tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

Despite being a retired supermodel, Kate Moss remains iconic for her small, intricate tattoos, especially the anchor on her wrist, which are easily concealable when needed.

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Tattooed runway shows have become a growing trend in the fashion industry, where models with visible tattoos take center stage. These shows intentionally highlight and celebrate body art and tattoo models, challenging traditional beauty standards.

  • Kendall Jenner

A member of the famous Kardashian family, Kendall Jenner proudly displays her broken heart finger tattoo and her tiny cowboy boot tattoo on her ankle, adding to her distinct image.

  • Jourdan Dunn
Jourdan Dunn flaunts her phoenix tattoo
Image: Shutterstock

An English supermodel, Jourdan Dunn embraces significantly larger tattoos, including a symbol of the Egyptian goddess Isis and a prominent phoenix on her arm.

  • Gisele Bundchen

With celestial-themed tattoos, including a star tattoo on her arm as a tribute to her grandmother and stars on her ankle which she modified later to represent a star tree, Gisele Bundchen showcases elegance with her body art.

  • Ruby Rose
Ruby Rose flaunts her tattoo sleeves
Image: Shutterstock

As an alternative model challenging industry norms, Ruby Rose is covered in tattoos, defying conventional standards while securing her place at the top as one of the most popular personalities out there.

  • Katherine McNeil

Displaying over a hundred tattoos, Katherine McNeil is known for her extensive body art, reflecting her unique personality within the modeling industry.

As the modeling industry evolves to embrace diverse looks, understanding how tattoos can impact your career becomes crucial. Read on to find out more.

How Will Tattoos Affect Your Modeling Career?

Tattoos can impact your modeling career in both positive and negative ways. On the positive side, they can make you stand out, look edgy, and even open doors to niche modeling opportunities. However, some clients and high-end brands may perceive visible tattoos as unprofessional, potentially limiting certain lucrative job opportunities. It is essential to consider the type, size, and location of your tattoos, as well as industry trends, before pursuing a modeling career or reconsider your desire to get tattoos if you are looking into a modeling career.

Tattoos can be a double-edged sword in the modeling world, offering both advantages and challenges. Scroll down to learn more.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Having Tattoos As A Model?

Pros

  • Make You Stand Out From The Rest: Tattoos can set you apart from the crowd of other models, adding a unique and distinctive element to your look.
  • Add An Edgy Appeal: They can enhance your image, giving you an edgy and cool vibe that resonates with certain brands and audiences.
  • Help Expand Job Opportunities: In some cases, having tattoos can broaden your job prospects, especially in the niche or alternative modeling market.

Cons

  • Are Perceived Unprofessional: Some individuals may perceive models with tattoos as less professional, for the general perception of tattoos remain associated with rebellion or non-conformity, which may negatively reflect on the personality of the model. This, in turn, might limit opportunities with certain brands or in specific segments of the industry.
  • Are Challenging To Cover Up: Tattoos can be difficult to cover up, especially if they are large, dark or colorful, requiring additional time and resources in post-editing.
  • May Fade Quickly: Regular use of makeup to conceal tattoos may contribute to their fading over time, affecting the longevity and vibrancy of the body art.
  • May Affect Job Prospects: Certain jobs and high-end brands have strict criteria that exclude models with visible tattoos, limiting the range of available opportunities.

Despite these considerations, a crucial aspect that can change the luck for models with body art is their ability to manage and cover up their tattoos as needed. Check below whether it is possible and how they can do this.

Can Models Cover Up Their Body Art?

Yes, models can cover up their body art, especially with the help of makeup artists. For smaller tattoos, it is relatively easy to conceal using cover-up makeup. Of course, this ease of covering tattoos depends on factors like size, location, and the type of makeup used. Smaller tattoos in easily covered areas are more manageable. On the other hand, larger tattoos or those in visible areas may pose greater challenges in terms of concealment. Tattoo sleeves, in particular, can be challenging to conceal. Additionally, individual skin tones can affect the effectiveness of hiding body ink.

Rachel, a YouTuber, shared her experience modeling with tattoos and masking them. She has gotten seven tattoos within a year and a half, including a recent addition to her arm, forming a floral sleeve. In her vlog, she says, “I’m getting a tattoo, I want to show it off for the most part, so I don’t really want to get tattooed and then cover it up. If you’re a model, you’re going to be photographed in very little clothing or in clothing that reveals parts of your body that normal clothing wouldn’t. So it’s like where do you possibly get a tattoo that won’t ever be seen like there isn’t really a place that you can hide (i).”

Nevertheless, for aspiring models to make the choice to cover up or let their tattoos show, it is important for them to understand the diverse policies of modeling agencies regarding tattoos to navigate their modeling journey. Scroll down to learn how different agencies approach people with body art to make informed decisions.

What Are The Tattoo Policies Of Different Modeling Agencies?

A tattooed model during a photoshoot
Image: Shutterstock

Different modeling agencies implement different policies regarding tattoos, and these guidelines can significantly vary from one agency to another. There is no blanket rule for models with tattoos, making it important for them to be aware of the specific guidelines of the agency they are/or want to be associated with.

Some modeling agencies may be more lenient, accepting models with visible tattoos, while others may require them to be covered during assignments. Some agencies may expect models to manage the coverage themselves, while others offer professional makeup assistants for the sole purpose of coverage.

Additionally, these policies might differ depending on the regional and cultural contexts, where the sort of tattoos and body modifications might also be a factor in agency policies. While some agencies may tolerate certain types of tattoos, others might be more conservative in their approach. For instance, floral or abstract patterns or even small sized tattoos might be more widely accepted than tattoos with potentially controversial or ambiguous symbolism.

Understanding the tattoo policies of modeling agencies is vital for models navigating the industry, and for how they choose their assignments. Now, let’s scroll down to learn more about modeling agencies that permit and even celebrate tattoos on their models.

Modeling Agencies That Allow Tattoos

Certain modeling agencies embrace diversity and cater specifically to an alternative audience, where models with tattoos are recognized for the appeal of their unique looks. Agencies like Tattoo Models, Envy Model Management, the Dragonfly Agency, Anti-Agency, and State Management specialize in unconventional styles, deviating from the classic mainstream look. These alternative modeling agencies prioritize promoting models with distinctive personalities rather than conforming to the traditional desire for blank slates for brands.

Additionally, IMG Models, a globally renowned agency, has broken industry norms by allowing models with tattoos. This marks a significant shift, considering that many companies of their stature traditionally avoid models with prominent tattoos. IMG acknowledges the personal touch tattoos can add, making models even more distinct. The changing landscape of modeling agencies reflects a growing acceptance of diverse styles and looks within the industry.

Nevertheless, for models facing challenges in traditional modeling spaces due to body art, or those opposed to covering up their tattoos, can explore niche or alternative modeling options. They can offer unique opportunities and greater acceptance of diverse looks. Read below to know how you can embrace the path of alternative or niche modeling by emphasizing your distinctive style and proudly showcasing your tattoo and piercing choices.

Alternative Modeling Options

If traditional modeling avenues seem limited due to your body art, alternative options might be the key to unlocking your modeling potential. Consider the following:

  • Alternative Modeling Agencies

Explore agencies that focus on unique looks rather than conforming to mainstream standards. Ensure legitimacy by researching agencies with a professional online presence, multiple clients, and positive reviews before making any commitments.

  • Freelance Opportunities

If an agency commitment feels restrictive, try freelancing. Reach out to brands that align with your style, or use casting call databases to discover freelance gigs that suit your unique look and personality. While freelancing presents its challenges, it also provides independence in managing communication and finances on your own terms

  • Music Video Opportunities

The music industry widely embraces different types of models with or without body modifications. One famous instance is the inclusion of Rick Genest, a heavily tattooed model with even facial tattoos, in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” music video. Hence, gigs in music video productions can be a lucrative opportunity for people with tattoos.

  • Social Media Promotions

Leverage social media to showcase your tattooed or pierced style. Many freelance models use social media platforms to build a large audience base with their followers that helps brands seek them out for promotion and sponsorships, thereby offering the model/influencer with control over the projects they choose and their schedules.

In conclusion, the modeling industry is witnessing a notable shift in its approach to tattoos. The question of whether models can have tattoos is being addressed with evolving perspectives. While tattoos can set models apart and offer unique opportunities, some limitations still exist, particularly in high-fashion segments. Nevertheless, models do have options they can pursue, including covering up their tattoos with makeup, alternative niches modeling gigs, or joining agencies that embrace diversity. Understanding agency policies and industry trends is crucial, as they can allow models to navigate their careers on their terms to find real-time success.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can print models have tattoos?

Yes, print models can have tattoos, but the acceptance of tattoos depends on the specific requirements of the shoot or the preferences of the client hiring the model or the brand audience base.

Can Dior models have tattoos?

Dior, like many high-end fashion brands, generally prefers models without visible tattoos. However, policies may vary, and some Dior models might have tattoos that are strategically concealed during assignments.

Can swimsuit models have tattoos?

Swimsuit models can have tattoos, and the industry is generally more accepting of body art in this category. Tattoos might even add to the unique and edgy appeal of swimsuit models.

Do Victoria’s Secret models have tattoos?

Some Victoria’s Secret models have tattoos, but the brand has historically favored models with a more classic, clean look. Nevertheless, in recent years, there has been a shift, and models with tattoos have been featured in Victoria’s Secret campaigns.

Key Takeaways

  • Tattoos can both set models apart and can limit high-end opportunities.
  • Traditional agencies may prefer no tattoos, while alternative niches gigs actively seek inked models.
  • Models can cover up their tattoos with makeup, but the ease depends on factors like size, color and location.
  • Modeling agencies vary in their acceptance of tattoos, with some being more lenient than others.
can models have tattoos

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Curious if tattoos can coexist with modeling. Check out this insightful video with answers to the most frequently asked questions by aspiring models with body art. Find out if being inked is a hindrance or an asset!

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Manjari Uppal

Manjari Uppal Beauty & Lifestyle Writer

Manjari is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over three years of experience in writing across different niches, including beauty, health, wellness, and technology. She first discovered her passion for writing in school and has since honed her craft to perfection.
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