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

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!


At 8:24 AM, Blogger SexualEnhance said...

Can't get enough of clear pores information.

At 10:52 PM, Blogger sexedman said...

What an excellent site. I was looking for healthy skin information. Now I don't have to look any more.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Elegant Plus Editor said...

Hi Sharon,

I just linked to your modeling 101 basics page from our Frequently Asked Questions page. Hope it doesn't end up overwhelming your in-box with aspiring models!

Let me know if it turns into a problem and I'll take the link down.

Thanks for taking the time to write all of this up!!!

- Thea
Managing Editor
Expert Fashion Guides Specializing in Sizes 12-34w


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