Bikini modelling is a sub-category of modelling that both high-fashion and commercial models can do. While it may look glamorous, bikini models must work hard to stay bikini-bod ready all year round.
Read on to find out what it takes to become a bikini model.
What is a Bikini Model?
Bikini and swimsuit modelling is required for brands selling holiday, swimwear and beach merchandise. Most clothing brands have a swimwear category, and there are many commercial and high-end brands selling bikinis and swimsuits for all occasions. This means that both high-fashion/catwalk and commercial models may be requested to model bikinis at any given time.
Models may be attracted to the glitz and glamour of bikini modelling, but it can often be uncomfortable. Models can be required to pose in sand or water while flexing muscles and facing the sun for hours at a time.
Types of Bikini Models
As well as regular bikini models that you see in magazines, there is another type of bikini model. This type of model is a fitness model and enters competitions to win prizes for their physique. Both demand dedication and confidence, though both are very different looks.
A typical bikini model is one who works commercially or for high-fashion brands. While strict criteria needs to be met for high-fashion, the commercial modelling industry is far more relaxed about its requirements. However, there are still high standards to be met for bikini modelling. Bikini models must eat well and work out to maintain a good figure all year round. They must also be prepared to have make-up applied to all areas of their body, and they must be willing to have their leg and armpit hair removed. They must also have good skincare routines and be willing to have regular spray tans.
Fitness Bikini Models
Fitness bikini models are more like bodybuilders. They undergo intense and strict lifestyle changes to achieve figures that most of us could never obtain. Fitness bikini models enter competitions in order to win prizes for their physiques. They usually apply their own make-up and must get intense dark spray tans to better show their muscle definition. They must wear a certain type of bikini that emphasises and flatters their body. Fitness bikini models sacrifice a lot to obtain and retain their physiques.
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What Do You Need to Be a Bikini Model?
Bikini model requirements differ depending on the category of fashion you are working for. High-end brands like Victoria’s Secret and Melissa Odabash require top fashion models to model their ranges. This means models who are over 5’8″ tall with naturally slender hourglass figures and toned limbs.
Commercial brands like Next, H&M, Pretty Little Things and BooHoo will work with commercial models. Requirements for commercial models are much more relaxed; models can be 5’7″ and even shorter in some cases. Commercial brands also tend to use more realistic body types to show off their products on multiple body shapes.
Who Are Some Top Bikini Models?
Sierra is one of the most famous bikini models on Instagram with over 4.1 million followers. She is incredibly healthy and has a strict diet and fitness regime. Sierra rarely indulges; she says the sacrifices she makes in the kitchen are unfortunate but necessary when you need to look bikini-ready all year round. Her dedication is clear to see in her bikini shots, which she regularly uploads to Instagram.
Tyra is an ex-runway and Victoria’s Secret model and has a famous bikini modelling portfolio. She was the first woman of African-American descent to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue. At 45, she also became their oldest cover model when she came out of modelling retirement to pose in a yellow bikini for her third cover with them.
As one of the most famous plus-size models in the world, it probably comes as no surprise that Ashley is also well-known for her bikini shots. She has even had her own line of swimwear and is a huge advocate for inclusion and body positivity. She has featured on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Elle to name a few.
Emily has been modelling since the age of 14 when she was signed to Ford Models. She garnered fame after featuring in the infamous ‘Blurred Lines’ music video and went on to feature in several films. After an incredibly successful modelling career, Emily started her own swimwear brand, Inamorata Woman.
Gabrielle (Gabby) Epstein
Originally from Australia, Gabby is one of the top popular Instagram bikini models with over 2.2 million Instagram followers. The Australian beauty has a washboard stomach and toned physique that is regularly featured on her popular account.
What is the Difference Between a Bikini Model and a Regular Fashion Model?
All models need to look after themselves and be photo-ready in an instant. That means having a healthy lifestyle all year round. Eating well and working out are all part of the job.
Bikini models must also think about hair removal, fake tan, and toning body parts that are more on-show in a bikini (like the bum). They must also work harder on their body skin by regularly exfoliating and moisturising to keep it healthy and glowing.
Most swimwear brands require a model to remove all their body hair. The method of removal is up to the model, but they must ensure there are no visible hairs or ingrown hairs/redness before a shoot.
Models tend to be skin-conscious which means regular sun tans are out of the question as sun tanning can cause damage, ageing and sun spots on the skin (not to mention cancer). However, they all desire (and are likely requested to have) a healthy glow for bikini and swimwear shots, especially if the campaign is summer or holiday-related. This usually means getting a spray tan done before a shoot. Enough time needs to be left so that the tan is developed properly and washed off, but a fading or patchy tan is an absolute no-no.
What it Takes to Be a Fitness Bikini Model
Uk bikini fitness model, Charlotte Pickstock, claims that training each day in the gym is an integral part of her daily routine. Her tailored diet is strict and often bland; she rarely has cheat days. She must consume a lot of protein and water. Alcohol has to be consumed in moderation if at all. Charlotte has to maintain this routine year-round even when not in show season, so there are no shortcuts and no breaks to fitness bikini modelling.
On stage, fitness bikini models must wear a lot of tan and make-up so that muscles and facial features can be seen by judges under harsh lighting and from a distance. Models must also learn how to pose in specific ways to show off muscles in the best way. It is preferred that hair is long; many models get extensions before a show.
How to Become a Fashion Bikini Model
Most bikini models are not full-time bikini models; they usually model other clothing and occasionally work for swimwear brands.
Lingerie models are also typically found to be bikini models as they both show off the same body parts. However, bikini models are not always lingerie models as lingerie has a more sexualised meaning and some models are not comfortable with this.
Unless modelling for plus-size or alternative modelling brands, most bikini models are required to have exceptionally toned and attractive physiques. More brands are starting to hire realistic-looking models and are not airbrushing their models as much in photos, but most brands in general still require models to work hard on their figures.
Bikini models must have a great portfolio that shows off their modelling abilities. A model who wishes to pursue a career in swimwear modelling should include more bikini photos in their portfolio.
An aspiring bikini model should also research modelling agencies who work with bikini models.
Lastly, a bikini model should try to utilise social media by creating social media accounts (Instagram in particular is great for models) and attempting to amass a good follower count. Many models now start their careers in this method; brands hire models via Instagram because Instagram models already have a big fan base and therefore an audience to sell to.