Gainesville model Amanda Jimenez posted a collection of photos from her Y2K-inspired modeling session on Instagram. Naturally, Silly Bandz made an appearance.
The nostalgic bracelet company posted Jimenez on its account with a fully capitalized caption: “We are obsessed.”
“My childhood was so fulfilled,” she said. “Child me was like, ‘Oh my God, this is not real.’”
Jimenez, a 20-year-old Santa Fe business administration sophomore, worked with Saeed Fareeduddin, a local photographer, to develop the colorful shoot they could both share online.
Gainesville offers plenty of opportunities for aspiring models to express themselves artistically and build a professional portfolio. Student-run magazines like Rowdy and Strike allow models to explore the setting of an editorial photoshoot, while fashion shows held by the How Bazar provide people the chance to walk in front of a live audience.
Jimenez has only modeled in Gainesville for a year, but she has already worked with a number of local photographers and publications, like Fareeduddin and Strike. Despite her initial hesitation, she jumped at opportunities to book shoots.
“There’s so many creative people here willing to collaborate,” Jimenez said. “Even though it might not seem like that because Gainesville is such a small little ghost town.”
Jordie Ortiz, a 22-year-old model in Orlando, was featured on the cover of the April 22 Strike Magazine issue and in Rowdy Magazine before he worked with the companies 47, Dickies and Pagoda. He started modeling because his friend, a photographer, asked to use him as a “lab rat” for his shoots. After his first time in front of the camera, Ortiz was hooked.
It was unbelievable and surreal when he first saw his face in Strike and Rowdy, he said. A 21-year-old nonbinary Gainesville model who goes by both Nina and Nino Franklin has not found as much local success as some of their colleagues. Most talent agencies prefer not to hire college students — people without a long-term plan or those who might leave soon — they said.
Franklin also struggled to find work because of Florida’s smaller market for non-binary and androgynous models, they said.
Creatives need to expand opportunities for models themselves, Franklin said.
“I don’t think it will be easy, but I think it’s going to be worth the fight to see some representation that looks like us,” Franklin said.
Vèeronique Deverson, a 21-year-old Santa Fe nursing student who modeled for the student-run Gelée magazine, said Gainesville modeling spaces and magazines can be performative and inauthentic when it comes to activism, but she has already seen progress.
Gainesville magazines are slowly becoming more true to themselves and embracing their personal style of work, she said.
"Even in my past two years doing modeling and meeting different people, some people I've met in 2020 are completely different now,” Deverson said.
The Gainesville modeling community changed as well. The individuals that make up this group have slowly become more comfortable in their own skin, more confident and more accepting of different styles of modeling, Deverson said.
Allyssa Keller is a third-year journalism major who reports for the Avenue. On a typical day, you can find her at Starbucks, fueling her caffeine addiction.