UGA modeling organization promotes diversity in the fashion industry | Arts & Culture


Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber — these figures have set standards in the beauty industry. However, The Agency at the University of Georgia has decided to challenge these standards.

Founded by UGA alumna Brooke Shareé Patterson in 2011, The Agency is a modeling organization dedicated to providing individuals with the tools and knowledge necessary to make strides in the fashion industry.

Due to her “unorthodox” outlook on beauty and fashion, Patterson said she faced countless rejections from boutiques and collaborators across Georgia when trying to get a footing. However, she persevered so she could establish a space for models of any ethnicity, gender, height, weight or experience level to explore their passions.

Shaolynn Betts, a senior advertising and emerging media studies major and The Agency’s president, is one of those models. After being rejected from several other clubs all because of her size and ethnicity, Shaolynn discovered The Agency and quickly rose through its ranks. She now carries on Patterson’s legacy, leading the organization into its 10th anniversary next year.

“Typically we try to showcase that message in the content we produce,” Betts said.“Even from our founding years, our social media presence and our executive positions have been diverse in composition, and in our promotional material we often try to showcase individuals of different ethnicities, sizes, heights and so forth.”

Another Agency member, Iqra Rafiq, has also seen these sentiments reflected in her own experience. Recently she did an androgynous photo shoot, where she was allowed to blur the lines of gender and learn that fashion extends beyond.

“The agency is so loving and inclusive,” Rafiq said. “It’s allowed me to ensure that the public sees brown skinned girls with curves and fat in their photos as well. I’m not super skinny and tall and some girls fall into that assumption that only skinny, tall girls are beautiful. By modeling I get to show that everyone is beautiful.”

Height and measurement requirements and experience levels are not specified for admission to The Agency. Whether it is in front of the camera as a model or behind as a stylist or marketing member, The Agency takes special care in ensuring that each of its members receive the exact training they are looking for.

The Agency will be holding a clothing drive April 29 at 5 p.m. in the Zell B. Miller Learning Center where attendees and prospective members can ask questions and even grab a new addition to their wardrobe for $5 or less. Information on casting and upcoming events can also be found on their website.


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