LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Tall, thin, and perfect.
These are things most think of when they hear the word model, but at Blackledge and Co., modeling has a completely different meaning.
"The modeling experience that I create is about grooming role models," explained Jenni Blackledge, owner of Blackledge and Co." It's all about creating independence in the girls, self-confidence, and seeing themselves in a positive manner."
Blackledge started her modeling program for senior high school girls to enjoy their last year in high school. She works with girls of this age because she loves their high energy, but also because of a little thing called social media.
"They see more visual media than anyone has ever seen, I mean that's there generation," Blackledge explained.
She said she believes this high exposure can lead to less self-confidence.
"It's scary to be in front of a lense, it's scary to be photographed," Blackledge said. "In our program, I really promote fun and being yourself."
"At first, I was like, I can't do this I don't like pictures, but it's made me feel more confident," said model Rachel Meyer. "I feel like I'm awesome, I can do that."
"Jenni was like 'girl be yourself' and I was and I felt so comfortable," said model Mariela Salas.
"It's not all about being pretty and skinny, it's all about personality in front of a camera," explained model Krystin Massingill.
The models are the faces of Blackledge and Co. and appear in several publications. Blackledge works with Rob Fisher of Bella Salon and Briana Harkness to add professional hair and make up to the experience.
The modes also serve as role models in their community by putting together a gala that helps raise money for the Lufkin women's' shelter.
Over the past few years, the modeling industry has been featuring women of different body shapes, ages, and looks, embracing how women really look instead of relying on photo shop. The 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition will feature women of different body shapes and older ages.
"I love that the industry is more aware this because these images that are created aren't real and these girls are looking at them and going 'oh I want to look like that and it's not even a real person," Blackledge said.
The models hope they can inspire other girls to be self-confident.
"You're one of a kind, nobody else looks just like you, said model Alivia Reyes. "Every girl is beautiful.
The gala will be on May 3. Tickets will go on sale at the end of March.