While some girls dream of being a model from the first time they pick up a fashion magazine, the reality is that this is an occupation and, like any occupation, there are modeling requirements. Unfortunately, unlike a doctor or even an actor, some of the requirements for being a working, successful cannot be learned, purchased, or faked — though there are companies out there whom would lead unsuspecting aspiring models to believe otherwise. You have to have the right combination of genetics, business-savvy, personality, motivation, and luck to be truly successful.
Modeling requirements are largely driven by the clients who book plus-size models. Putting together a catalog or retail website costs thousands of dollars and there may be millions of dollars of sales at stake if the right model isn’t booked. A model’s job is to sell the merchandise she is modeling therefore if a client believes that their customers are more likely to buy more from models who are 5’10″ and a size 14, that’s what they will book. Consequently, an agency signs models they believe clients will book.
Height 5’8″ – 6′
This is probably the most frustrating requirement for most aspiring models to deal with because you can’t change your height. While there are a few working models that fall below 5’8″, the reality is that finding an agency to take a chance on a shorter model is difficult. Even more difficult is finding a client who is willing to book a shorter model.
Size 6 – 16
Yep. You read that correctly. Some clients book size 6, 8, and 10s as their “plus-size” models. While height is the most frustrating requirement, size may be the most controversial. I constantly see discussions regarding a model being too skinny, not plus-size, gaining/losing weight… The reality is that successful plus models, for the most part, are not truly plus-size. They are tall, rather average-size, photogenic women who happen to have the right genes and a good business sense. Like any model, they typically work out, watch what they eat and take good care of themselves. If they don’t, they do not work (unless they are genetically blessed).
Models of all sizes are photogenic whether they are classically beautiful or a little quirky. For whatever reason, they just look amazing on film. Unfortunately, some attractive women don’t necessarily photograph well, so if you have a hard time finding an agency, don’t take this as a commentary on your overall attractiveness. As an agent, I saw plenty of pretty girls who just didn’t photograph the way they looked in person.
So, maybe you are 5’7″ and a size 18, does this mean you shouldn’t give modeling a try? Of course not! There are exceptions to most modeling rules and seeing agencies shouldn’t cost you anything other than time. But, be prepared for honesty (sometimes brutal) and rejection as these are things you will have to learn to deal with if you do become a successful model. Just know that it shouldn’t cost you a dime to find an agency (if they start talking about fees and classes, run!) and you can’t take classes in getting taller or having higher cheekbones.