Are you dying to know how to become a plus size model? Thanks to a number of boundary-pushing models, designers, and activists, there’s more plus size visibility in the world of fashion than ever before. Plus size modeling opportunities are increasing across the industry, from catalog and commercial jobs to swimsuit modeling, magazine editorials, and even runway shows.
These days, it’s not just plus size clothing brands looking to cast full figured models: more and more straight size brands (those catering to a size 12 and under) are extending their sizing—or rolling out entire plus collections.
If you’re looking to steal some of that limelight for yourself, we’ve got a few tips on how to get your foot in the door of the plus size fashion world, including finding plus size modeling jobs, applying to plus size model agencies, building an online modeling portfolio, and more. Let’s get started!
What are the Plus Size Model Requirements?
While straight-size modeling focuses mostly on body measurements, plus size models are typically evaluated and cast based on dress size. Broadly speaking, plus size models are categorized by the fashion industry as anyone over a size 6—a designation that’s raised some eyebrows in the past.
These days, however, most women deemed plus size models are a size 12/14 or higher, bringing the industry’s perception with what counts as plus size a little more in line with that of the public.
The industry’s exacting standards about height and other aspects of models’ appearance, however, still remain largely intact. Plus size fashion models are generally 5’9” and up, and are asked to have unblemished skin, healthy hair and well-kept nails.
Plus size fit models can be shorter—between 5’6” and 5’9”—while commercial modeling gigs (a.k.a. real-people modeling) offer more flexibility. (Keep in mind that there’s exceptions to every rule: famous plus size model Tess Holliday is 5’5”!)
Are There Plus Size Model Agencies I Can Apply to?
Many of the top modeling agencies in North America and around the world now offer plus divisions. Here’s a selection:
Additionally, there are also a few curvy model agencies specializing in plus models, like Germany’s Curve Models and U.K.-based Bridge Models (which represents “curve and brawn models”). For a more extensive list of regional agencies, check out this roundup by Plus Model Mag.
How Do I Get Signed by Plus Size Modeling Agencies?
The easiest way to get seen by model casting agents? Send them a link to your online portfolio website! Many plus size modeling agencies have “Be A Model” pages set up, listing their desired criteria for models and allowing applicants to submit portfolio images for consideration. Expect to supply measurements like your height, weight, bust, waist, hips, dress size, and shoe size.
Additionally, plus size model agencies will ask for a selection of images—typically, a full-body photo, a waist-up photo, a headshot taken straight on, and a headshot taken in profile. These images don’t necessarily need to be elaborate, or taken by a professional photographer—all you need is natural lighting. The goal is to show yourself off as you are, so wear plain clothing (a white T-shirt and jeans or a black shirt and pants are great) and minimal or no makeup. (Looking for examples? NEXT Models offers sample images on their application page.)
You might also be able to attend an open casting call geared toward plus size models—many agencies will regularly open their doors to undiscovered models looking to meet with casting directors. For tips on how to navigate these cattle calls, check out our guide to landing your first modeling job.
Who are Some Famous Plus Size Models?
Arguably, the two biggest names in plus size modeling right now are Ashley Graham, who landed the cover of Sports Illustrated’s famous swimsuit issue in 2016, and Tess Holliday, who was featured on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK in 2018.
Other famous plus size models include Tara Lynn, Robyn Lawley, and Candice Huffine—but there’s also plenty of noteworthy rising plus size models, including La’Shaunae Stewart, Paloma Elsesser, Naomi Shimada, Vivian Eyo-Ephraim, and Tash Ncube.
How Can I Become a Plus Size Bikini Model?
Though agencies specializing in swimsuit modeling do exist, and some larger agencies do have specific swim divisions, most plus size models for swim campaigns are picked from a regular plus size modeling roster. Be sure to include bikini or lingerie shots in your portfolio so that casting directors can keep you in mind for swimwear gigs.
Plus size brands with a focus on swimwear might also host their own model searches looking for fresh faces, so be sure to follow some of your faves on social media for any news.
Height and size requirements are about the same for plus size bikini models as for other plus models. Generally, those casting plus size models for swimwear shoots are looking for people with an hourglass shape and visible muscle tone, but with brands constantly making their shoots more diverse, there’s more and more room being made for models of all shapes. Remember: here, more than ever, confidence is key!
What are Some Plus Size Fashion Designers and Plus Size Brands that Hire Plus Size Models?
Some of the major plus size clothing brands include Torrid and Eloquii, while hipper indie brands include the basics-oriented Universal Standard and Premme, a line created by plus size influencers Gabi Gregg and Nicolette Mason.
Canada has major plus size fashion brands like Addition-Elle and Penningtons, while the UK is home to Asos Curve, Asos’ plus size brand. Boohoo Plus offers budget-friendly clothing popular with streetwear lovers.
Meanwhile, a number of straight-size companies—including H&M, Loft, J. Crew, and Modcloth—have extended or introduced plus sizing, and have begun booking more plus size models to show off those wares.
What Kind of Plus Size Modeling Jobs are Out There?
According to Toronto-based modeling agency ICON, which represents several plus models, “plus size models can be found in advertising campaigns, magazine editorials, runway, live-TV work and commercials.”
Here’s a few tips on how to hunt down plus size modeling jobs without an agent:
With the popularity of plus modeling on the rise, you might see an increasing number of plus size model searches held by designers and brands for specific campaigns. Be sure to follow plus size brands and designers on social media to find out who’s looking.
Seek out Facebook groups or job boards in your area that feature postings for modeling gigs.
Look on social media for local photographers who shoot full figured models. (Searching Instagram hashtags can help with this.)
Try joining Model Mayhem, a popular site for freelance models seeking gigs.
What Should I Put in My Plus Size Model Portfolio?
If you’re looking to jump-start a career as a plus size model, you’re going to need a an online portfolio that lets you show plus size designers and casting directors what you can do.
As previously mentioned, basic images shot in natural lighting are a must-have, but you’ll also want to use images featuring a variety of looks in order to show off your range. Add them to your model portfolio book to bring with you to castings, and make sure you use them for your online portfolio as well—casting directors searching online for plus size models could book you on the strength of your online portfolio alone!
Here’s a few tips for building your plus size model portfolio:
If you can’t afford to hire a photographer (and a stylist, and a makeup artist…) then organizing a TFP shoot is a great way to get images for your portfolio.
Broaden your repertoire by brushing up on essential modeling poses.
Include a few bikini or lingerie photos—especially if you’re planning on going after plus size bikini model jobs.
Check out a few awesome modeling portfolios for inspiration for what you can do with your own plus size model portfolio.
Once you have your shots in hand, use a website builder to create a professional-looking portfolio in a snap. Choose one with bold, fashion-forward templates that will impress industry insiders, and Instagram integration so you can show off your gorgeous Insta snaps there, too.
Check out our guide to creating a model portfolio for everything you need to know about making a stunning comp card and online model portfolio.
Now that you’ve learned all the ins and outs of becoming a plus size model, it’s time to get out there and show the world what you’ve got. Let your confidence shine, and the fashion world will take notice.
Looking for more info on how to break into the fashion industry as a plus size model?
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