Kickstarting a career for the plus-size modeling industry is a tough battle, and it takes good marketing skills to find your way up. There are many ways to do that: develop an employer-friendly social media presence, build a strong modeling portfolio, and consistently getting in touch with plus-size modeling agencies, among others. With all the already-established plus-size models in your area, landing your first plus-size modeling job in this competitive industry may be overwhelming. But once you eventually get in touch with plus-size modeling agencies, you’ll be on your way to signing more contracts in no time.
Working with a plus-size modeling agency has a lot of benefits. You get to keep yourself safe, get a little help marketing yourself, and get more opportunities.
So how do you get started? Let us walk you through.
Before You Actually Get in Touch with Plus-Size Modeling Agencies
Plus-size modeling is a little different from other divisions of modeling in that size matters more than exact measurements. Generally, plus-size models are size 12 and up, with good body proportions. A general rule is that your waist should be about 10 inches smaller than your hips, but that’s just a guideline. Height requirements vary, depending on the type of plus-size modeling. Fashion models are generally 5’9″ to 6′. Fit models are generally 5’5″ to 5’9″. Commercial models can be any height. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to every rule: famous plus-size model Tess Holliday is 5’5″!
Plus-Size Modeling Agencies: Know what kind of model you are.
When most people think of models, they usually think of the famous ones like Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, or Gigi Hadid. However, little do you know that there are many other types of modeling out there, and in each type, there are models whose names you don’t know but who are making a terrific income. Modeling, much like other industries, is made up of a variety of genres or types. Here are the types that plus-size models book:
- Runway modeling
- Commercial modeling
- Editorial modeling
- Catalog modeling
- Promotional modeling
- Swimwear modeling
- Lingerie modeling
- Art modeling
Note that each type of modeling has its own set of requirements. Now that you know your personal measurements, pick the type that suits you.
Prepare a portfolio and composite card.
This is usually easier said than done. But just like applying for any job, one has to have their recent picture taken, their résumé updated and printed, and their cover letter ready. For aspiring models, prepare the following:
- Have as many pictures taken. “You don’t need to be shooting professional photos,” says Chris Gay, general manager of The Society Management, who suggests models send prospective agencies honest, amateur shots. You can send photos taken by amateur photographers or even by your friends or family, as long as they are well-focused, have good lighting, and are high in resolution. It is even best if you will send in images of you wearing minimal or no makeup at all, as these will show them your natural looks and will give them an idea on what might or might not work with you. “Take the most effortless beauty pictures, not a lot of makeup or hair, just be yourself,” advises Ivan Bart, President of IMG Models.
- Prepare a composite card. A composite card is a sheet of paper that contains an 8 × 10 headshot on one side and several photos with vital statistics on the back. It is often given to casting directors, photographers, and art directors, who are looking for talents.
- Create an initial portfolio. When a client shows interest in a model, the next thing they want to see is more photos. This is where your portfolio comes in. Like all creatives, plus-size models need one (it’s commonly referred to as a book in the fashion industry). Compile your best photographs to create an attractive portfolio that you can carry to agencies, go-sees, cattle calls, and agency interviews. This portfolio should represent the range of your expressiveness and emphasize your personal style and physical attributes. You’ll want to build your modeling portfolio both digitally and physically. Your digital portfolio, such as a DVD or flash drive, might be useful especially if you’re interested in modeling for television or the catwalk. You can include video footage of your walk or your previous video modeling experience.
Reminder: Before you’re ready to start sharing your portfolio, you’ll want to make sure it’s polished and error-free!
Look up modeling agencies with plus-size divisions.
If you live in a big city, such as New York or Los Angeles, then having an agent is ideal. However, if you live in a small or mid-size city with a population of less than one million, then you may want to consider working as a freelance model. While agencies in large cities will often cover the cost of things like headshots, agencies in smaller cities will not and they may also charge more for their services in order to stay in business. For a list of modeling agencies with plus-size divisions, check our article out.
Research each potential modeling agency.
Educate yourself about the “right” agencies. Know that modeling agencies earn a lucrative profit through the commissions they get from their model recruits. Some say that it’s a small price to pay in exchange for the modeling gigs they will hook you up to. Others share that modeling agencies can be your ticket to success. While that is true, this should not stop you from doing your own research into how the agency came to be, how they usually work with models, and everything else that comes with it. Check out potential agencies’ reputations with other professionals in the industry, and never pay fees to apply or sign onto an agency. For complete tips, check our article out here.
Also, before sending your photos to multiple agencies, check to see how they want photos submitted. Some may only accept photos by email and others only by mail. Follow their instructions to the letter to demonstrate your attentiveness.
How Do You Get in Touch with Plus-Size Modeling Agencies?
After you’ve taken your measurements, prepared an initial portfolio, looked up plus-size modeling agencies, and done your research, it’s time to get in touch and submit your portfolio. Here are various ways.
You can find a modeling job through social media. Follow local designers and photographers on Instagram, Twitter, and even Pinterest. Creatives will often announce casting calls (sometimes affectionately referred to as cattle calls) or a one-off modeling job on social media feeds. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to casting for jobs. Most major cities have groups specifically for local modeling jobs.
Online model scouting services
Submit your photos to a reputable online model scouting service, such as ModelScouts.com. They work with the world’s top plus-size modeling agencies and have the connections and knowledge you need to begin your career. Remember that you don’t need experience or expensive photos (snapshots are fine), just professionalism, drive, and of course that special something!
Find out if the agency has open calls or castings and attend one! Additionally find out what the specific requirements are for that agency, i.e., what you need to bring and what you need to wear. For example, wear your best outfit. It could be simple jeans and a tank top or a simple dress. Try to avoid anything too loud.
It’s well known in the marketing world that it takes seven to nine times of you contacting someone for them to really pay attention. Cold-emailing modeling agencies is no different. In this case, you’re selling yourself and convincing your “client” that you’re worth the shot. Write a concise email and attach your portfolio and contact details. Make sure your portfolio already includes the necessary information: name, height, weight, bust, hips, and waist size, age, hair color, and eye color.
Networking is a great way to meet models and people in the modeling industry who can help you find a modeling job. Try to attend recruiting events or conferences where top agencies will be attending. Get to know key people in a casual, conversational way, and then ask them for suggestions and advice about how to find jobs. Make sure that you add these events to your calendar and start making yourself a regular presence in the modeling world. Keep in mind that someone who is not influential today may be influential tomorrow, so be nice to everyone.
As models compete with movie actresses and TV stars for high-paying beauty contracts and endorsement deals, the appetite for models who can build a following of their own has never been greater. Modeling agencies are now casting their eyes wider, scouring even music festivals such as Coachella, and scrolling Instagram feeds through campaigns like IMG’s @WeLoveYourGenes, inviting aspiring models to hashtag their photos with #WLYG to be considered. Be active on social media accounts. Post pictures of your work regularly and be open to collaboration opportunities!
Once you’re easing your way in the industry, be prepared to encounter rejection and cancelled bookings from time to time. Learn how to get through these tough times with this useful article.