Don’t “Suck it in”! Body-positive tips and examples for confident model posing

Let me dispel something for you RIGHT NOW: there is no such thing as a “perfect body”. Just like there is no such thing as a perfect leaf, a perfect storm, or a perfect meal, all these ideals are POPPYCOCK! Great images are created through confidence, knowing your body, posing and lighting.

This brings me to the unspoken topic for modeling at photo shoots: to suck it in, or not to suck it in? Do supermodels do it? Do I do it?

Near the beginning of my modeling career, I was naturally waifey. My perception of my waist before modeling was a positive one, but I did not see any definition in the photos I was getting back from photographers. I thought I was “soft” and was convinced the only way to get that definitive line to separate my chest from my tummy was to “suck it in”.

Rule #1: the light is your friend

Turns out, that “line” is actually a SHADOW!!!!! ……Mind……=……blown! The shadow is controlled by directional lighting, a decent photographer can wrap highlights and shadows around your curves and lines to make boobs appear bigger, your muscles look more defined, your legs look longer, etc etc with just LIGHTING, and using the right lenses at the right distance/angles.

When I finally understood this, I stopped looking at myself under such a harsh microscope!

Conversely, improper use of photography equipment can also affect the subjects features in unflattering ways. For the first few years of my modeling, I was on a body dysmorphic roller coaster.

Rule #2: Be strong!

Another element that affects your shapes in images is your posing strength: relaxed muscles will expand into a larger mass. Think of your calf muscles when you’re on your tippy toes: they’re tighter, lifted, and show more definition (which can create a SHADOW!)

If you “suck it in”, the unnatural concave shadow looks obvious. Instead, hold your core muscles into your spine: your body will appear more natural. It’s also healthier to use your core muscles than to hold your breath and strain your diaphragm. This may take practice, I suggest you follow some YouTube videos on yoga, Pilates, and planking.

Regardless of your body type, core strength has many benefits. Of course, any muscle development regardless of the thickness of your subcutaneous layer will affect the way your lines and curves behave. Core strength enhances your posture, which affects your  spine, lungs, brain, sciatic nerve, basically your entire body. Having good posture is also subconsciously and socially beneficial. Ask your physician or a trained professional for advice for your personal exercise situation.

Rule #3: Confidence comes in all shapes and sizes!

Whatever shape you are, remember that there are likely others out there with a similar build to you, who may see themselves in you. You are doing the world a service by displaying confidence in your modeling images. I have suggested modeling to many beautiful friends of mine, and many have used the excuse “Oh after I lose ___X___ pounds I will try it” which is a method of procrastination.

I challenge you to find a *reputable* photographer, whose work you admire, and schedule a shoot! Even if it’s just for fun, a shoot can be an epic confidence booster 🙂

Below are a few examples of my personal friends who have been empowered through modeling. Each has agreed to share images that they feel less confident in, and why, and another example of an image that boosts their esteem.

A new mother, Madison explains how her self confidence has morphed, and how she sees herself as beautiful through her images, using posing as a tool.

 Madison DeCambra

“I feel like in first image the way that I’m holding my hips and my legs actually makes me look bigger than I was at the time. I like the way I held my right arm, because it makes it look smaller than it was, but my left arm is completely lost.

The second image was the first shoot I did in “underwear” since I had my daughter. It was a terrifying feeling to be in front of a camera like that again both times. But this time I felt a little more comfortable. I was scared to see the photos but when I got them back this one stood out to me. For the first time in a long time I felt like my body looked good in a photo. Maybe my arms were still kind of bigger, but I had managed to do a flattering pose for my new body type. My arm hides that I lost a lot of arch and flexibility in my low back. I actually love the light from behind me and the hair color I had just got done.

I’ve spent a lot of time scrutinizing my body in every photo since having my daughter. It’s been really tough to remind myself that I’m still beautiful. It took time to figure out how to pose for my new body. But watching other ladies excel who also had my body type was really motivating. I didn’t give up.”



Cori describes how her posing style coupled with lighting help her feel confident and comfortable with her body.

Cori Collins

 “I am really proud of and love photo “B”, the lighting and my pose worked really well to compliment my shape. Photo “A” is not very flattering, I needed to accentuate my curves. I found that posing in front of a mirror knowing my body angles and knowing whats most flattering for me is very important.

The more it hurts the better it looks usually! Really popping that hip out or stretching that leg out just a little more. If a photographer really digs a shot he may ask you to hold it. Sometimes this hurts, but to be a good model you have to make even those hurtful poses look glamorous. Whoever says modeling is easy is misinformed! I look at each shoot as a kind of a dance between a model and photographer: once you find that rhythm the magic happens.”



Krissy Ashley shows two very similar photos and describes why one makes her feel more confident than the other, due to her posing.

Krissy Ashley

“In photo A my posing is not right. My legs are pointed toward the camera making them look bigger, my shoulders are back and somewhat slouched and my chin in down, not a confident pose nor flattering to my body type..

Photo B was taken at the same shoot, I’m sitting straight, my chin is angled more up and my legs are pointed away from the camera showing the length and is a much flattering pose”




Model Diana Oliphant describes her modeling confidence in emotion and tones displayed

Diana Oliphant

“When I first started modeling I was very uncomfortable with my body, even though I’m basically an agency standard model. After even just a year of nude modeling, I am more confident in my body than I’ve ever been. Things like moles, embarrassed me.
Photo A is very yellow, which I don’t think looks great with my very pale skin. The pose is a bit bunched together, I think it would have looked better to be stretched out a bit more.

I think B is a beautiful photo. The natural light is great for my skin, and the colors between the top, my hair, and the eye shadow work really well together.”




Unique Curvy Model Eleanor Rose displays different images of her and talks about her posing confidence.

Eleanor Rose

“Image A  is pretty nice, but I could have improved it  both by turning my body more into the light, and by moving my right knee and shoulder away from the camera in order to open up the pose. I also made a mistake with the arm across my body, squashing my breast and stomach awkwardly.
The next image (b) is significantly better. I turned both my face and body to that gorgeous natural light, and I lifted my hands to my hair to open up the pose.
And then in the third image (c) I go back to a pose much like the first, but this time my face is angled to take better advantage of the light, my knee and shoulder are angled away from the camera, and I switched which arm is crossing my body – and how tightly I held it.
I chose this set because I think it portrays me well – and accurately – as a curvy model. Standing poses would flatten my tummy and show off my core, but a relaxed, natural sitting or kneeling pose like this isn’t going to show muscle tone on my build. I actually really love the way my stomach shows in image two, which is the image I would ultimately choose as best out of these three.”



Myself: Kristy Jessica

This was very difficult for me.  Image “a” was shot 8 years ago, I was new to modeling and EXTREMELY insecure about my appearance, especially my stomach.You can just see it in my face! I thought I wanted a 6-pack, when in reality I just needed to pose against the light at a different angle. I was also purposely “sucking it in” as you can tell by the unnatural concave look under my ribs. 

Image “b” I feel much more confident in sharing, the shadows are accentuating my curves in a beautiful way, and my face is showing serenity and peace. I use my muscles to tense up so they can create shadows which I feel make the image more dynamic and appealing.


I hope these examples and the tips above can help you see that women of all shapes and can be beautiful, and confidence is the first step! So remember, don’t “suck it in” at shoots just to try to look like Victoria’s Secret or America’s Next Top Model, be kind to your body and find ways to boost your confidence that are uplifting, not trying to be something or someone else.

Peace and Love! *Kristy Jessica


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