Casting Calls: How to Apply as a Plus-Size Model

Curious about being a plus-size model? Here, we run down what types of modelling opportunities are available for curvy models, as well as the ins and outs of the business.

What is a Plus-Size Model?

A model is generally considered to be plus-size if she is a size 12+. While this is the average size of a woman in the UK, the modelling industry tends to have strict standards that must be met in order to do well.

High-fashion is the most strict type of modelling. Models are considered plus-size when they are a size 8 or above. It is very rare to see a “plus-size” model on the runway. They desire tall, willowy models to show off clothing.

All other forms of modelling including catalogue, fitness, glamourlingerie and body parts modelling are much more relaxed about their requirements. Here, plus-size is considered to be 12+. It differs from brand to brand.

Most Famous Plus-Size Models

– Ashley Graham

– Iskra Lawrence

– Tara Lynn

– Candice Huffine

– Tess Holliday

– Robyn Lawley

– Marquita Pring

– Denise Bidot

– Crystal Renn

– Paloma Elsesser

Jill Kortleve – The Plus-Size Runway Model

Jill Kortleve has managed to break into the high fashion industry despite being considered a plus-size model. She is still the required height at 5’9″, but at a UK size 12/14, she is considered to be a curvy model. Despite this, Jill has worked with some of the top high-fashion designers including Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Michael Kors, Fendi and Valentino.

Jill is one of the very few plus-size models who have managed to get onto the catwalk. She hopes that it will inspire other top brands to be more accepting of different body shapes and sizes.

How Much Do Plus-Size Models Weigh?

It doesn’t matter how much you weigh as a model. All that matters is your measurements and how well you photograph.

Stop focusing on what the scales say and instead focus on being healthy. Models have little fat and must eat well and workout to make the most of their body shapes.

An hourglass figure is the most desired body shape in the industry. Many models hire personal trainers to help them create this body shape through toning and building certain muscle groups.

Models also work hard to ensure their muscles are equal. Many of us have a stronger side (usually our dominant arm is slightly bigger because we tend to use it more). Having equally-built muscles helps models have better posture.

Do Plus-Size Models Work Out?

Plus-size models pay just as much attention to their eating habits and exercise regimes as regular models.

Some people are naturally curvier, and some are naturally skinnier. Regardless of the type of body you were born with, all models work to ensure their bodies are in peak condition.

This means eating well 80% of the time and working out regularly to keep fit, burn off fat and create lean and toned muscles.

Do Plus-Size Models Need a Flat Stomach?

It is desirable for plus-size models to be in proportion and to have flat stomachs as these measurements tend to look better in photos and wear clothing better. However, larger models are being seen in commercial modelling.

Plus-size model Tess Holliday is a body positivity activist from America. In 2015 she was signed with London-based modelling agency Milk Model Management; at the time, she was the largest model of her size to be signed to a mainstream agency. Tess is also unusually short for a model. At only 5’5″, Tess wears a UK dress size 26.

Tess has done an amazing job of spreading body positivity and encouraging brands to be more accepting of curvy models. She does not have a flat stomach or an hourglass figure, but despite this she has shot a campaign with Benefit Cosmetics, worked with H&M and has featured in Vogue Italia.

Tess is also covered in tattoos, allowing those with body modifications more opportunities to find work.

Larger models can indeed find plenty of work, but those with flat stomachs and proportional body parts will likely find more opportunities.

Can I Become a Plus-Size Model With No Experience?

Every model starts out somewhere, and plus-size modelling is no different.

Becoming a model with no experience can be tricky and will take some perseverance and patience. There are several things you can do to improve your chances of success.

– Make sure your modelling portfolio is as good as possible to show off your modelling potential

– Apply to as many agencies as possible

– Research which agencies work with plus-size models

– Apply to modelling jobs

– Book a professional photoshoot to practice posing in front of the camera

– Practice your poses constantly

– Use social media to build a following

Staying Safe

It’s vital for all models to properly do your research regarding agencies and potential jobs.

There are a lot of scams online and models are regularly targeted to take advantage of their desperation to succeed in modelling.

Here’s what to do to avoid any scams:

– Never accept any offers immediately. Always do your research.

– Research any agency you apply to.

– Do a background check on anyone who approaches you online to ensure they work for who they claim to.

– Never ring a number or message an e-mail provided by someone online. Always get the official number or e-mail off the website so you know it’s the official company.

– NEVER send money or inappropriate photos to anyone who requests it online.

– Remember that you should never have to pay money to a proper modelling agency.

– Never sign any paperwork without reading through it thoroughly. Employ a lawyer or ask for help if you need help deciphering any of it.

How to Get Signed As a Plus-Size Model

There are several ways to help you get signed to a modelling agency as a plus-size model:

Being Scouted

Being scouted is the quickest – but also the hardest – way to become a model. Being scouted is when a model agency representative sees you in real life (or sometimes online) and approaches you themselves.

Most top models are found this way and are introduced into the business because they are in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, there’s no telling where a modelling agency rep will be or when you might see one. Many models are seen in shopping centres or airports but some have said they were discovered in restaurants – one top model claims she as scouted in a McDonalds!

Always make effort with your appearance by dressing well and taking care of your physique to increase your chances of being scouted. Practice looking like an off-duty model by wearing flattering but minimal make-up, styling hair and wearing clothes that suit you.

Don’t rely on being scouted as it is a rare phenomenon.

Apply Online

Applying to agencies online is the best way to find an agency, though this can be time-consuming and frustrating. Agencies will receive thousands of applications every week so you must stand out from the competition.

You can find many agencies online. Their websites will have an application form for you to fill out. You will be asked to include your measurements as well as some photos of yourself.

You can apply to as many agencies as you want, as many times as you want. A good rule of thumb is to only apply to the same agency once every 6 months or they may become annoyed.

If you are successful, the agency will be in touch. If not, you will likely not hear from them.

Don’t become despondent if you are not immediately accepted. All models face rejection and it’s very likely you will not be signed straight away. This can be due to a number of reasons; their books may be full, you may not have the right image for them, or they may have another model signed who looks to similar to you.

Keep trying and work on improving your portfolio to give yourself a better chance.

Social Media

Social media, in particular Instagram, is a great way to build some followers and attract attention. As well as giving yourself the opportunity to be spotted by an agency, you may also receive work from brands if they like your look and if you reflect their target audience.

Many bloggers and social media influencers are able to build healthy platforms for their fans to follow.

The downside to social media is that is it very time consuming and can attract unwanted attention from trolls and bullies.

You must be able to take criticism and negativity well to succeed on social media.


​Your modelling portfolio is a vital tool that you will use throughout your modelling career.

If you have experience as a model it shouldn’t be too difficult to select up to 20 of your best photos to include in your portfolio.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to book a professional photoshoot and get some photos taken for you to include. Remember to take headshots as well as full-length body shots.

Try to include lots of different photos to show your flexibility and range as a model.

​Attend Open Casting Calls

A casting call is a model’s interview. You will be asked to attend a casting call if an agency is interested in you.

An open casting call is a free-for-all and allows many models to show up at an agency in the hopes of being discovered.

Casting calls give you the opportunity to show your potential in-person. You will likely find out almost immediately if they are interested.

The downside to casting calls is that the competition is extremely high. With so many models to see, you may have to wait for hours before being seen. Bring a book and some water and snacks.

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