The modelling industry is a notoriously difficult industry to succeed in, but it’s even harder for plus-size models. While demand is definitely increasing both for agencies and brands who require plus-size models to cater to their curvier clientele, there’s still a long way to go before a UK size-14 (or even a 12) is seen in runway shows.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about plus-size modelling.
What is Plus-Size Modelling?
Plus-size modelling relates to models who are bigger than the “standard” sizing usually seen in the fashion industry. This changes depending on the niche of modelling and the type of work a model does, but it can generally be broken down into two categories: high-fashion and commercial.
High-fashion models must meet extremely strict requirements to be considered. Women must be a UK size 6-8 dress size and they must be over 5’8″ tall. In high-fashion, anyone over a size 8 is considered plus-size. It’s incredibly rare to see a model above this size working in high-fashion, though it’s not unheard of; Jill Kortleve is a 26-year-old Dutch model who famously walked for Chanel last year despite being a size 10. Before Jill, the last “plus-size” model seen on the Chanel runway was 10 years ago. Premium brands do not appear to be making many leaps forward in diversity and inclusivity.
In commercial modelling, the rules are a little bit more relaxed. More emphasis is put on having a proportional body, but typically most brands still prefer to work with models who are over 5’7″ tall and who fit a UK dress size 8. In commercial/catalogue modelling, those who are a size 14+ are considered plus-size, and this has become its own category to cater to the curvier (and standard UK size) shape.
Famous Plus-Size Models
– Ashley Graham
– Kelly Brook
– Candice Huffine
– Tess Holliday
– Paloma Elsesser
– Iskra Lawrence
– Robyn Lawley
– Denise Bidot
– Naomi Shimada
– Vivian Eyo-Ephraim
– Tara Lynn
What Do You Need to Be a Plus-Size Model?
To be a plus-size model, you need a nice figure, an attractive face and lots of confidence. Being curvy doesn’t mean you don’t have to eat well or work out. Brands and agencies will want to work with someone who makes effort to look after themselves and they prefer to work with people who are healthy and active, as they are more capable with keeping up with demanding photo shoots, extensive travel and long, tiring days.
An hourglass figure is the most coveted body shape. That means having a bust and hips measurement that is fairly similar, and a smaller waist. Don’t be put off if you don’t have this shape; you can still find plenty of work if you are deemed attractive and hard working.
There are no set rules that need to be met to be a plus-size model. Take a look at the top plus-size models above for an idea of the range of looks that can be seen in the industry. The only thing these models have in common is they have a certain something that makes them attractive.
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Plus-Size Modelling Agencies
If you want to work as a plus-size model, you will need to find a modelling agency that works with plus-size models. Many agencies have their own sub-section exclusively for fuller-figured models, and you will need to do some research to find out which ones they are.
Once you have a list, it’s time to get applying. An application form can usually be found on the agency website. They will ask for your measurements, clothing sizes and shoe size as well as your contact details. The most important part of your application is your photos. You will be required to attach 3-5 photos for the agency to view. It’s vital these photos show you off well. A selfie probably won’t be enough; you’ll need a professional-grade, high-quality photo to show off your figure and natural beauty to give yourself a good chance of being noticed.
If the agency is interested in you, they will contact you within a few weeks and ask to meet you in person for an audition (also known as a casting call).
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back from the agencies – it’s very common as it’s an incredibly competitive industry. Remember that you can apply to as many agencies that you want, as many times as you want – a good rule of thumb is to re-apply after 6 months or so.
If you’ve been applying for several months and have yet to receive any feedback, it might be time to try a new selection of photos in your application.
Your Plus-Size Modelling Portfolio
If you’re not sure what a modelling portfolio is, it’s an essential tool that all models – plus-size or otherwise – require. It’s essentially a portfolio of your work; a folder containing up to 20 of your best modelling work.
All models have a modelling portfolio. You need to cater yours to your target audience, which means selecting images that make your physique look great. There’s no point choosing photos from when you were smaller, or that hide your body – agencies and brands will be looking at your portfolio to decide whether or not to work with you. That means your portfolio needs photos of both your face and your body so they can get a clearer idea of how you would look working for certain advertising campaigns.
You need to upgrade your portfolio constantly, particularly if you change shape or size. As you get more work, you should swap out any outdated photos and include more relevant, up-to-date ones. Your portfolio will also contain your modelling details (height, clothing size, bust–waist-hip measurements etc.) so make sure these are regularly checked too.
Utilising Social Media
Social media, in particular Instagram, is a model’s best friend. It gives you the opportunity to share your work and your look with the world completely free of charge. You can build a fan base this way, which in turn can attract the attention of major modelling agencies and brands.
Use Instagram in a business way. Follow brands you want to work with, be conscious of how you come across online and post regular content to build your follower count and increase post engagement. It can be a demanding and time-consuming thing to do, but can ultimately lead to lots of future work.
Remember to always ask the permission of the photographer or brand before posting any work photos. for copyright reasons.