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

Friday, August 01, 2008

Model Behavior - Plus Model Etiqutte

The Fashion business has been around since forever and as with any business there are rules and guidelines that have been put in place to ensure that the BUSINESS runs smoothly. The plus model industry is no different; in addition to the rules and guidelines, there is a proper way to carry yourself on and off the set if you wish to continue to work in this industry and climb higher in your goals. I am pretty sure that I’ve covered some of these things in previous articles but of course some subjects bear repeating because apparently many of you just aren’t “getting” it or the information just isn’t getting through….so this month’s column is a gentle “reminder” from The Runway Diva to you……..

On Set Behavior…Attitude, Attitude, Attitude - To put it nicely; don’t bring it with you. Don’t believe every thing that you see on television, and trust me when I tell you that “Divaesque” behavior will not get you repeat business with clients. Show up with a pleasant attitude, rested, ready, willing and able to get to work immediately. Keep in mind that you are the “product” on set and the client already has a “vision” for how they want their product portrayed. That means that you may have to swallow your pride on many occasions…..
Don’t complain about or attempt to alter the makeup provided by the makeup artist. When you are on someone else’s dime and time there will be times when you will not like the makeup. There will be times when you won’t like the clothing. There will be times when you won’t like the hair either. It is important for you to know that it has very little to do with you and most of the time the production staff has already been instructed by the client before hand regarding the “look” that is needed for the shot and it usually has nothing to do with your personal tastes.

Rule of thumb: Keep your personal opinions to yourself unless they are asked for by the client or producers. If you don’t like your hair, makeup or clothing; Reach deep down inside of yourself and let your acting skills take over and become whoever and what ever character the client needs or wants you to be. THAT’S how you get repeat business from clients, by delivering the shot like a pro. “Act” like a model get the job done and then let it go. Remember that it’s business; it’s not personal.

Bringing Children & Spouses to the Set – This is never a good idea….even if you have prior consent from the producers. And showing up with guests in tow without prior permission may get you fired from a set. There is a balance that must be maintained on a photo shoot. As a model, you need to be 100% focused on the job at hand and that is impossible to do if you are distracted by unruly children and/or interfering spouses/mates. Even if your children are well behaved a parent will always be distracted by the constant need to “check in” on their child or children to make sure they are alright.

Bringing spouses or significant others to the set can also wreak havoc and cause a model to be inhibited about what they are doing or feel the need to get approval from their mates on a shot because they don’t want problems when they get home. This can ruin the delicate chemistry between the photographer and the model and it can make everyone involved in the shoot uncomfortable. The same thing applies to bringing spouses, children and/or friends to castings, meetings, appointments etc.

Rule of thumb: Plan ahead! Leave your child or children at home with your spouse or hire a babysitter to watch your child or children (at home) while you handle your business. You would never be able to bring guests along to your 9 to 5 job; the same rules are applicable in modeling.

Proper conduct when dealing with clients – Be respectful at all times; keep in mind that you work for the client and not the other way around. Be prepared, if you are being fitted or meeting with a client and they ask you to bring specific items (i.e. body foundation, bathing suits or matching bra and panty) follow the instructions to the letter. If a body foundation is required be a smart model and WEAR IT TO THE FITTING. You can always take it off after you are done. Running to the bathroom to change generally wastes everyone’s time. Bring a robe if you are uncomfortable sitting around in your bra & panty. The same thing applies with a thong; it is in poor taste to wear them to any fitting and can often make the client uncomfortable. And always keep a heel in your bag because you never know if the client will want to see you walk. Don’t take it upon yourself to improvise on the particulars or it could be the difference between you getting the job or losing it; your behavior can also be the determining factor in your agent gaining or losing a business relationship.

Rule of thumb: Carry yourselves accordingly. Dress as if you are going to a job interview because you are. Remember that your goal is to impress the client because you want them to know that you are the best person for the job, so it would behoove you to arrive looking like a model (that means “face on” and wearing clothing that shows you in your best light.) You are only fooling yourselves if you think that a client won’t “judge a book by its cover”.

Working well with Others – I have often dreamed of a new day in plus modeling where we can all get along and genuinely be happy for each other when something wonderful happens and an aspiring model’s career advances. I have heard enough horror stories about the way models treat other models to make my head spin. We see it all the time on reality television and in the movies and I am sure we have all seen it or experienced it personally at least once….you know, envy thinly disguised as jokes, off the cuff comments or backhanded compliments. Know the difference between being friendly and invading someone’s personal space. Don’t ask questions that are really none of your business and then get offended when you don’t get the answers you are seeking. Keep the bragging and boasting about your own personal career to a minimum, in a competitive business like plus modeling it only breeds an air of animosity and contempt. And that makes the air uncomfortable for everyone. Remember that although fashion is a big business it is a small world and often times you may have to work with people that you do not necessarily like personally.

Rule of thumb: Be nice; be polite but always be about YOUR business and try to avoid cliques and blackballing people who are trying to make a career in the same business that you are trying to be successful in. Remember that trying to sabotage someone else’s career is NEVER a good idea because the same people you meet on the way up; you’re probably going to have to deal with them on the way down. Human beings may or may not remember a kind gesture or word but they will never forget someone who was mean or rude to them.

Freelancing with different agencies – With the work in the plus model market being often times scarce and seasonal; these days most models refrain from signing exclusive contracts with one agency (unless they are being groomed). Often times a good model can maintain her career and lifestyle by freelancing with several different agencies. I actually have no problem with this as I have done it myself on many occasions. The conflict begins when you freelance with every agency that handles plus models in your city. All of the major agencies generally will get the same casting notices when there are gigs requiring plus models available. Confusion ensues when you get a call for the same casting from 3 different agents, who have already submitted you to the client. Unfortunately, you have the exact same composite card (each with a different sticker or logo) at every agency. Now the client is confused because 3 different agents have submitted you with the same card for the job and now you have put the client in the bind of deciding which agent he or she should go through to book you and trust me when I tell you that no matter which agency you decide to give the business to – it’s not going to be a good look for you in the long run; agents usually have relationships other agents and they all have LONG memories.

Rule of thumb: It’s better to freelance in several different markets in different regions rather than spreading your self thin in one city. If the above scenario happens more than once, you are going to have a big problem on your hands.

All that I have in mind when I write these columns is to educate you and to try and make your journey as plus sized models go smoother and easier than mine did. Aspiring plus models today are very fortunate because the internet is your friend; none of this information was available to me when I began my career so I had to find out a lot of things the hard way. Often times I had to make a way or carve out a niche for myself where there was none. I implore you to take my words and the advice that you get from the pros in this business seriously because we are only trying to help you avoid the mistakes that many of us made early on in our careers. Treat the business like a business and you can reap all the rewards and benefits that it has to offer.

Continued Success!


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