Girls can get romanced by the dreams of becoming a model. Guys can, too, don’t get us wrong, but there is something about the high heels, beautiful faces, and glamorous models on TV and in magazines that is alluring.
Ever since she was little, Bella was posing for pictures in her pink princess dress for daddy. She blew kisses to the pretend crowd while doing the runway walk down her hallway and dreamed of becoming a glamorous model some day. She watched the Bob Barker beauties on The Price is Right and thought about how, one day, she could show off her look in front of a real crowd. Maybe even on real TV. Good thing she’s not camera shy.
Now, at 16 years old, Bella is a runway show model and wakes up in a hotel in Italy after a show. She is fighting the urge to eat a spoonful of peanut butter and is wondering what Derek Zoolander thought: “Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?”
The life of a model can be glamorous for some, but it can also be rough. Some are living the life, complete with the sexy attire they can keep, a large paycheck, and name and face recognition (It’s no secret who Victoria’s Secret models are).
Others are waitresses in one life and struggling models in another. It’s a long shot and a competitive world, and your face needs to fit the want or need out there that agencies are looking for at a given time. But if you have a unique look, seek glam and competition, and can take rejection, then strut it. Now that you’ve been warned, here’s the skinny:
Commercial Modeling Requirements (give or take): Female: 5’6 to 5’11 Male: 5’9 to 6’2
Editorial/Fashion Modeling Requirements (give or take): Female: 5’8 to 6’0 and 90lb -120lb Male: 5’9 to 6’2 and 120lb-170lb
Plus-Size Modeling: 5’8 to 6’2 and sizes 12-18 (though many in the industry claim it’s 6 to 14)
Generally, runway models are between the ages of 14 to 19. You can get over-the-hill quickly in this industry.
Most runway models wear a size 0, 2 or 4 because Designers feel as though their clothes look better on skinny models.
The two general types of models are editorial models and runway models. Want to be on a billboard or a magazine? Be an editorial model. Want to wear fur and twirl around for a crowd? Practice your pouty face and strut as a runway model.
Runway beauties tend to have wide set eyes, long legs, high cheekbones and are far from what it means to have an average physique. After all, the average woman in America wears a size 12 or 14. So if you’re average and if you are not as thin as the runway or editorial industries prefer, there is still a place for you in the profession, Catalogue models, print models, commercial models, body part models and even some editorial models do not have to fit the strict requirements of the runway. In fact, catalogues like J.C. Penny’s needs models of all ages and types to sell clothes. Models are needed to sell products and business services everywhere. Heck, you can even open up a fishing magazine and see a model making a perfect cast.
In order to get your foot in the door in the modeling world, you have to go through an agency. Designers, companies and professional photographers generally do not work with independent models. If you search “modeling agency”, you’ll come up with a boatload of results. There are numerous so-called “agencies” out there. Even well- known modeling agencies have gotten in trouble. In 2011, the Department of Consumer Affairs ordered WMT Model and Talent Network Development to pay $900,000 in fines to New York for operating as an unlicensed employment agency. Basically, the company got in trouble for charging for photo sessions as a prerequisite for job placement but had no intention of getting models jobs.
Real, or poser? How to tell if you’re sitting in a legitimate Modeling Agency’s Office:
• If you are there at 9:00 p.m. at night, there’s a good change the agency is not for real. Professional agencies keep normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours. • The room is packed with fresh-faced hopefuls. People who work for real modeling agencies don’t have time to talk to a roomful of people. • The modeling agency sends you to their photographer. Numerous “agencies” make their money by charging you a fee for portfolio photos. Legitimate agencies will give you a LIST of local photographers for you to contact on your own. • The modeling agency wants to take more than 20% commission from your modeling gig and asks for the money up front. Agencies generally take 20% of your pay and charge whoever hired you 20%. If the agency says they want more and they want it up front, then get out of there.
Once you are picked up by an agency, or have chosen among a few that have expressed interest in you, the gigs will hopefully start rolling in. You’ll wake up early in the morning, rush to several fashion designer fittings, get makeup and hair done, walk down the runway, run to the next show, get hair and makeup done again, talk to your agent and schedule shows all in one day. Models lead very busy lives. It’s important for those entering this career to keep a level head and their eyes on the money. Models can make some major bucks. A model working with famous fashion designers can make $5,000 to $6,000 a day. Supermodels like Alessandra Ambrosio can make 6 million a year. Wowsers. Before you slip on sky-high stilettos and head over to your nearest modeling agency, it is important to note that you are more likely to get bitten by a shark than to become a supermodel. However, hard work and some weight watching could get you close. Fingers crossed.
We’re a big fan of non-offensive hand gestures.
We hope you learn something about the (un)glamorous life of a model from us. Good luck to all you potential Derek Zoolanders out there.
“So join now, 'cause at the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, we teach you that there's more to life than just being really, really, really good looking.” – Derek Zoolander