Aspiring Plus-Size Models beware!
Hi, all you Aspiring Plus-Size Models my name is Sabine Gruchet. I’m a plus-size model with over 20 years modeling experience.
I started modelling, as a size 8-10 straight model, after being discovered by a talent scout in my local Sydney supermarket. I had a great career and got to travel the world – that was until years later the pressure of maintaining my straight model size became too much. I was 5 foot 10, size 8 shoes and my body was saying feed me. I struggled big time. I eventually gave in, became a curvy girl and that was it, I thought my career was over.
The fashion industry has never been terribly kind to larger ladies has it. We know that plus-size modelling has received its fare share criticism [1 – Daily mail ] [2 –news.com.au] are just a few – Some commentators believe that plus-size models may be setting a bad example to women and how they should look. They believe that promoting larger models may lead to women believing that having an unhealthy lifestyle is acceptable.
While there may be a link between developments in plus-size fashion and the weight of the population, plus-size modelling hasn’t necessarily developed inline with the population’s weight. After all, most clothing is still to this day being modelled using a straight-size model.
But not everyone is meant to be skinny – our bodies are beautiful, and we are not talking about health here because not every skinny person is healthy. So why are we expected to respond to images of small size 6 and 8 women when a small women cannot be marketed to with images of plus-size women? When the plus-size modelling industry began, the models ranged in size from 14 to 18/20, and as customers we long for those days when we can identify with the models and feel happy about shopping.
Plus-size models are deemed, by the agencies representing them, to be any model that does not meet the standard sizing of regular models. Plus-size models are generally, in the US, UK and Australia (regardless of equivalent sizing) models who measure above the standard regular model bust-waist-hips measurements of 36-24-36. Therefore, you will often find models at a US size 8 or 10 being marketed as plus size. Popular opinion is greatly divided on the topic; many feel that the existing population of models does not represent the average consumer at a size 8 and therefore will say that plus-size models *should* start at size 14, however within the actual business of modelling this is not the case.
Slowly there is a growing need for plus-size models today. It is no longer the case that you have to be pin-thin and extremely tall to be a model. Many modeling agencies worldwide have plus-size divisions now.
The business can be glamorous and like me, introduces people to opportunities they never thought possible. But that doesn’t mean every attractive plus sized women interested in becoming a plus-size model should be considering the possibilities. Notice I said, the business CAN be glamorous, emphasis on can and not; is glamorous.
Nearly everyday I receive an email (without sending any pictures, I will add) from women who are considering plus-size model as something they can just do for fun – nearly all these women will not be successful.
There may well be a growing need for plus-size models today, but the fashion industry still has a lot of hangups when it comes to working with plus-size models. Modeling jobs are few and far between, highly competitive and auditions can be tough. But do not let that stop you.
Firstly you need make sure you qualify as a “model” and then as a “plus size” model. The requirements for plus-size modelling are not very different from those of other types of modelling. The minimum acceptable height is generally no shorter than 5’9″/175cm and they must have an impeccable grooming routine, good bone structure and a well-proportioned and healthy body. Some women consider themselves to be full figured when in fact they are not. Some are even told they need to gain weight.
You you can’t simply be comfortable with your body! You have to love the camera and love getting your picture taken. Plus-size models need to be comfortable with everything about their appearance. If they’re not, it shows through in the photographs and cost the client money.
Modelling is a Business – and a tough business at that. No matter what type of plus-size modelling you do, be it specialty modeling or any other kind of assignment, you have to treat it as a business. I commit 100% – I go to every audition, keep my body in shape, maintain contacts with everyone, and always keep networking. I am serious about my job and I am always professional. I consider plus-size modelling as my own personal business. Being a model requires a strong sense of self and determination to succeed and confidence that shines.
A model’s job is to sell the products they are promoting. It is not enough to pose with the products, but using the skills of Modelling to actively sell them is necessary. Models are often a prop for the product but the goal is always to increase sales.
Modelling = Selling. The sole purpose of a plus-size model is to make a product or service look as appealing as possible. A model’s job is to sell, sell, sell. I always keep this in the forefront of my mind.
You have to look your absolute best. Even as a plus-size model you need to watch your figure and stay toned, look great, keep up with your skin, have beautiful teeth (these are imperative for good pictures), hair, nails, etc. Your body is your “moneymaker” as they say, so take care of it accordingly.
You have to be ready to compete – Be confident. Conveying confidence is the only way to succeed. Determination is your biggest asset, since modelling is extremely competitive.
Always Be Professional – Plus-size modelling is a serious business. It can not be treated as a hobby or something done just for fun. It must be respected as a job, even if it is enjoyable. It requires attention to detail, professionalism, and preparation. Other professionals will not work with someone who is not prepared.
Keep your wits about you when you are rejected. It is part of the modelling world, plus-size and otherwise. The feedback can often seem brutal and hurtful, but if you take it personally you can never succeed because you will fall apart emotionally. Plus-size models have to be tough and be able to move on.
But if you think you fit the requirements for a career in plus-size modelling – Apply online to an agency with a plus-size division, or go to one of their open calls. Check the requirements on their website, and send in pictures. DO NOT wait to put a portfolio together first. You’ll just waste time, the pictures you have done, may not be what they need. If they are interested in you and, you have no pictures – tell them you don’t have any professional pictures but, are open to a paid test shoot if necessary. The agency will help you develop your book. Don’t be surprised if a test shoot set’s you back £250 to £400, and only shoot with a recommended test photographer or one suggested by the agency. (a lot of photographers will claim they know how to produce agency quality pictures, but are in fact not skilled enough).
You will probably need snapshots to apply. This means unedited pictures of you that show your body, build, face and bone structure. You need full body shots and shots of your face, both frontal and profile, and preferably also a shot where you smile. These pictures do not have to be professional (they are often preferred that way). So ask a friend to do it.
Be Proactive. The internet and Google are your friends. Keep a close eye on Facebook and other internet networks too; you can find castings for plus-size work there. And you can even get publications, if you don’t mind working hard and networking.
Search for pictures of established plus-size fashion models and get a better understanding of what a plus-size fashion model is. To help, I have created a website www.plus-sizemodels.com and also a UK plus-size models Facebook community page https://www.facebook.com/PlusSizeModelsUk, both feature todays most successful UK plus-size models. Take a look at these pictures of established plus-size fashion models and you will get a better understanding of what a plus-size fashion model is, as well as provide you with loads of inspirational pictures – especially Plus-sizemodels.com which showcases the individual models’ profile and portfolio’s, highlighting their work ethic, professionalism and achievements as plus-size models representing the curvy woman.
And finally… Aspiring Plus-Size Models beware! There will be people offering unpaid work, claiming it is “great exposure,” and while sometimes this is the case, usually it’s not. But do not let that stop you from wanting to be paid for the work you do.