The average British woman now wears a size 16—this is up a size from just a decade ago. At Talent Management, we’ve seen this modelling trend grow all over the world; women are getting bigger and curves are more in fashion than any time since the 1950s. Many are calling it the “curvy girl revolution.”
So it is little wonder that plus-size models are in higher demand than ever before. The fashion industry is changing and many insiders believe we are in the middle of a size revolution. Size 0 models are becoming less desirable and are even banned from some fashion weeks.
The original plus-size model, Emme, was pretty much the only notable success in the 80s and 90s. But now a regular stream of gorgeous curvy women are emerging and starting to compete for jobs with rail-thin models. In fact many successful plus-size models are former beanpoles who tired of trying to stay super slim when their natural body shapes were curvier. More and more mainstream modelling agencies are starting to include more plus-size models in their books.
From Vogue to Sports Illustrated
Vogue Italia has a cover feature with plus-size models on its cover as far back as 2011 and has done so regularly ever since. Even New York fashion week first featured some plus size models in 2014.
But the last 12 months have marked arguably the most significant breakthroughs in this size revolution as the Pirelli calendar featured a size 18 model, Candice Huffine, and Sports Illustrated magazine selected the size 16 Australian Robyn Lawley for its swimsuit issue.
Revolutionizing the Fashion Industry
Not only are these women beautiful and making a healthy living as models, but they are also very vocal about positive body image and changing the industry’s perceptions.
Fashion and beauty companies are finally starting to take notice of a market that they had once ignored. Plus-size women are out and loud and ready to shop with plenty of disposable income. This is a huge market to tap into as larger women are no longer content to wear just whatever they can fit into, but are demanding stylish, high-quality, on-trend clothing. So designers who previously made clothes in sizes limited to size 12 or 14 are starting to respond by adding sizes up to 18, or even starting plus-size diffusion lines.
This size acceptance has by no means happened overnight, but it is gathering speed and seems to be unstoppable.
Tips for Aspiring Models
So what do you need to become a successful plus-size model?
Obviously it is important to look the part. You need to have an expressive and photogenic face, good skin, teeth and nails and—whatever your size—a toned and healthy body.
For fashion models a minimum height of 5’8” is usually required and dress size from 14 to 20. However, for commercial work, there can be far greater variety in look and size—including petit models.
It is important to be adaptable; you’ll be portraying all sorts of different women ranging from the sultry siren in a lingerie shoot to a high-flying business executive wearing sharp tailoring. This means you shouldn’t be sporting any visible tattoos or piercings. Think of yourself as a blank canvas upon which clients can create the image and look their brand requires.
Looks and size aside, there is a great deal of sitting around and waiting in the modelling world, so patience is required as is a pleasant personality. Nobody wants to work with a prima donna. Punctuality is crucial as a late-running model wastes everyone’s time and can become costly, so will be unlikely to get another booking.
How Do You Get Started?
When you prepare to approach Talent Management, make sure your photos look the part. You should have a great head shot: Your hair and makeup should be natural and your clothes shouldn’t get all the attention—in other words, avoid patterns, logos and trends. Photos don’t have to be professional; clear, well lit, uncluttered snapshots are ideal to get started.
We don’t require full-body shots; however, if you have one, please send it in. Swimwear is not required, but do choose a fitted dress that shows off your figure—nothing too loose or billowy. Properly fitting jeans and a simple top (such as a tee-shirt or a tank top) works well too. You should wear heels for your full-body shot as you will find that these are commonplace in photo-shoots after you are signed.
Most plus-size models work on catalogue, online and print campaigns for speciality brands and designers but are also in demand for magazine editorials and increasingly for catwalk shows too.
This is a great time to be a fashion-loving curvy girl who wants to carve out a career as a successful model. Good luck!