The Runway Diva Says. . . Is an online advice column for aspiring models. As a 20 year veteran of the fashion industry as a plus sized model, I have found in my travels that most aspiring models, no matter their size, don't have a clue of the tools needed to become a successful model. Hopefully, I can help make their journey a little easier. Please Email me your questions to

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sisterly Advice

Dear Sharon,

I know that you get hundreds of email, so since I want your full attention, I'll keep this short and sweet. First of all you are fabulous!!! I need some fashion help and advice. I am 6ft tall, I weigh 243lbs,and I wear a 16/18. My shoe size is 11. Ms. Sharon please tell me where to find fashionable, cute, sexy clothes. I'm on a tight budget, but want to be fierce! Im a 30 year old single mother of a beautiful 2year old. At present, I only make close to 19k a year. Life has been hard for me, but hey that's everyone, so I'm taking it all in stride, and rolling with it. At present, I live in Baton Rouge, LA, but within the next two months, I will be moving to Arlington, TX. I need a fresh start. I'm trying to find store that cater to TALL plus size women, with big feet. I can't afford to have my clothes made, or high end designer clothes. This sister is on a tight budget, but I believe I can still be F. A. T. !!

Your FAT Sister,
(The Amazon Queen)

Dear Amazon Queen

Girl I feel your pain....I have been where you are for most of my life, so I understand how hard it is to be fabulous on a limited budget!!! I love your positive energy! And I love The Amazon Queen moniker!!!! You are already halfway there mama!!! The great part of it is that you already know that you WILL NOT be making 19k for the rest of your just gotta fake it till you make it!. I am sending you some sites that I know of off the top of my head that held me down during the rough times...(And being a shopaholic myself...there were more rough times than I care to

Being a size 12 shoe myself, and spending most of my childhood in Buster Brown shoes or sneakers...I know from experience that there are a WHOLE lot more variety in shoe choices nowadays. Here are some of the sites I like to surf through looking for great shoes at fairly reasonable prices:

Paradise Fashion (Friedman's shoes)

With the birth of the Star Jones Collection Payless is now making decent knock during the "BOGO" sales!

Nordstrom also carries a decent selection of shoes also...

Don't fret though...with kids nowadays coming out of the womb with size 10 feet....Manufacturers will eventually have to bump up the selection and the size range to meet the growing demand of the people.

Now shopping for clothing is ALWAYS more difficult if you are big AND LONG!!! And at the age of 44 I am not interested in looking like I should be an audience member for 106 & Park. I want to look good but I also want to look like an adult. Because I have been modeling for so long, I have built wonderful relationships with designers and am used to having things made to my measurements. If you are looking for sites that specialize in tall size prepared to spend some change. But for now you can start here: They carry tall proportioned clothing and they are not too expensive. A lot of the big girls I know shop here and they generally carry some really cute things. I don't know if they carry tall proportioned pants & Jeans but there are some cute things on their site. The name of the game is mix and tops from here....bottoms from somewhere else.

I love The Gap and Old Navy, they have very cute things, limitless possibilities and they are ALWAYS having a sale....YAY!!!!!

These are only a few of the hundreds of sites to choose from. I am only sending you the ones that I am familiar with. But if you go to Google and put in Tall Size Women's Clothing in the search box, you'll be surprised at what comes up.

Remember, "Fake it till you make it Mama", shop the sales, find out where the plus girls in your city are shopping and ask them. Working on a limited budget is hard, but not impossible.

Remember a TRUE DIVA is Fabulous in her own long as YOU feel good about YOU...that's all anyone will see and remember. Trust me.

Good Luck on your journey and let me know how it goes.


Modeling 101 - The Basics

So you woke up this morning and decided TODAY is the day you’re going to set the world on fire on your journey to becoming a successful plus sized model. Before you head out the door to the Modeling Agencies you need to ask yourself a few questions..

Are you at least 5’8” barefooted?

Although there are quite a few people sneaking in right under the “radar” at 5’7”, the reality of the business is that you need to be at least 5’8” barefooted NOT in heels. Although no one will pull out the measuring tape at an open call, most of the bookers at these agencies have been in the business for a very long time and can pretty much tell if you are too short. But don’t lose hope if you are shorter than 5’8” there are plenty of other types of modeling that may be for you.

Are you between sizes 12 through 18?

Technically, “Plus” sizes begin at a size 10 (which is just absurd to me) and I really do believe that this is something that has been carried over from the 80’s when they would take size 10 or 12 and “pad them up” rather than hire true sizes. Although I am sure they are still using 10’s for catalog work, the industry has changed greatly and there is a trend towards using true sizes now. Now while the industry has made great strides in using the larger size models (I did the bulk of my work at a size 18), there is still a long way to go, hence if you are larger than a size 18, you might find some local work, but not a lot of it in mainstream modeling yet. If you want to work regularly, you should really strive to get down to at least a size 18.

Do you have clear skin and/or complexion?

Your face is the first thing that clients see and since they are hiring you to sell their product, if your skin is bad and you have to use heavy makeup to cover it up or you have scars on your face….chances are they won’t hire you. Try changing your diet and start consuming plenty of water. Go to a dermatologist and try to clear up your skin before you make the agency rounds.

Are you photogenic?

There is a BIG difference between being pretty and being photogenic. I know plenty of pretty women who take absolutely horrible pictures. You need to be comfortable in front of the camera, and that’s not an easy thing to do. One way to find out is to go back and look at photos of yourself throughout your life and ask yourself: do you like the way YOU look in them? Do others constantly compliment your photos or ask you if you are a model? If you have friends in the industry, take your photos to them and ask them as well.

Can you walk in a heel at least 2 ½ inches or higher?

Although I truly believe that the “Art of Runway” is dying a TRUE Diva knows the value of perfecting her runway "strut", you STILL need to be able to walk in at least a 2 ½ or higher heel. While there isn’t a lot of runway work for plus sizes on a major level right now, I believe that by learning how to walk properly in a pair of heels makes you appear to be more graceful and fluid. You can start by trying to get booked in local shows in your area and they are great venues to perfect your runway technique.

Are you prepared to spend a substantial amount of money on your career?

Let’s be clear here: Although you shouldn’t have to pay to be signed with an agency or pay large sums of money for one person to shoot your book…you WILL eventually have to spend quite a bit of money towards your career BEFORE you make any back. Composite Cards, constant testing with different photographers to build your book, hiring make up artist, stylists etc., all of these things are standard operating procedure for the budding new model. If you know you are on a strict budget or you are not working at the moment, this would not be a good time to approach an agent. Try to build up a little cash flow before you proceed.

Do you handle rejection well?

If you do not, STOP RIGHT HERE!!! DO NOT PASS GO!!! Rejection is the name of the game in fashion. Potential clients see hundreds of girls a day and only 1 or 2 of them have the look the client is searching for. Get your self esteem in check!! You will hear the word “no” a heck of a lot more than you will hear yes, and it isn’t personal. It’s just business and you should treat it as such. Don’t go home and agonize over why you didn’t get a specific job. Remember, that it’s not about you it’s about the client and what they are looking….and half the time THEY don’t even know what they are looking for. So don’t crumble when you hear no, thank the client, walk out the door, shake it off and move on to the next one.

Do you have a job?

Baby....If you don’t have a job….GET ONE as soon as possible!! You’re going to need it to constantly upgrade your book, get new comp cards, etc. It’s very hard to pursue modeling as a career with no source of income.

Do you love yourself?

This should actually be number 1 on my list. If you cannot look in the mirror and love what you see on a daily basis….This career is not for you. If you don’t feel good about yourself, how can you possibly believe that you can honestly sell a product??? If you don’t love yourself at 250 pounds, you won’t love yourself at 150 pounds either. It all begins with YOU. Whether you are 150 pounds or 350 pounds, you have to be in love with yourself before you can expect anyone to love you back. When you are happy with yourself, it emanates from your pores and it is absolutely infectious. I believe that THIS is what clients ultimately want to see.

Now if you have read my "list" and checked it twice and you are SURE that you meet all of the above criteria.....Go on and....

Just Do It!!!!
Good luck to you and please let me know how it goes!
The ORIGINAL Runway Diva!