How to be a Successful Model If You are Not Six Feet Tall

By Anastasia Halldin

When you think of modeling, do you picture 16 year old, waifish thin and very exotic looking girl? If so,think again. Even though the modelng business is oversaturated with the most beautiful women in the world, an average-looking person can still have a niche within the business.

Fashion modeling is the most prestigious category of the modeling industry, because about a dozen of fashion models have actually achieved the status of celebrities.Fashion modeling industry is not open to everyone and has very strict standards: height, weight, age and measurement requirements. Fashion models have to stay very thin to fit the clothes they are modeling, and even though many people in the industry might deny it, the pressure to have zero body fat is enormous in the fashion world. If you are tall and thin and lucky enough to have an agent who’d send you to castings (meetings with clients or photographers who can potentially hire you,) be prepared to do about six meetings a day, which wouldn’t necessarily result in any jobs.

If you are lucky enough to actually get a modeling job, most editorial projects (such as magazines) don’t pay a lot, and it takes an average fashion model a few years to build up her portfolio to start getting big fashion campaigns and other high-paying modeling gigs.

Travel for fashion shows or for editorial work can be exhausting, and many young women have trouble coping with pressure, related to the industry and its standards. Therefore – drug use, eating disorders, unfinished education and other issues, mentioned way too frequently in the media.

Not everything about the world of fashion modeling is dark and hard, but unfortunately, there are very few models who can actually make it to the top and enjoy the fame and fortune it offers. The biggest problem of fashion modeling today is competition. Because the industry has been raised to its highly prestigious status, it is simply impossible to provide all gorgeous hopefuls with enough work. This is why many aspiring fashion models give up modeling after spending six months in a tiny model apartment in Paris or Milan, watching their hungry roommates steal their food or do drugs.

I remember leaving home at 17 and going to Milan on a contract with a big fashion agency. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with five other models, who all had eating disorders to some degree. Some girls did drugs. The atmosphere overall was extremely competitive, which reflected the way fashion modeling operates in general. The way my roommates greeted me was always the same: “So, are you working tomorrow? What are you shooting for? How much does it pay?”

The most common misconception about modeling is that the industry revolves around fashion. Closer look reveals, however, that fashion modeling is not the only option for someone who tries to be a model.

You can choose many different paths in her career, focusing on one direction or trying out a few.

Commercial, fitness, fit and showroom, glamour and fetish, artistic, convention and parts modeling could be easier, less competitive and healthier options for the aspiring models.

“There is simply more money in commercial print. You can make $3000 a day,” says Frank Marsi, commercial photographer, “You can also work much longer, there are commercial models in their late thirties.”

Have you seen cell-phone ads? They usually feature good looking, but not outrageously gorgeous people. This is how commercial models look like. Catalogues, some billboards, most advertisements and TV commercials use commercial models. As long as there is advertising, there is a need for people who look right to sell the product.

The height and weight requirements in commercial modeling are not as drastic as in fashion, and they very from job to job. A catalogue, for example, would require a taller model for clothes to look good, but an anti-balding shampoo ad would feature a middle-aged gentleman, who’d be the perfect model for that particular product.

I remember shooting for a commercial job for a pajama catalogue about a year ago. All I had to do was sit on a sofa wearing a pajama and pretend to be reading. I made $1300 that day.

To become a commercial model, you would need a composite card with about five pictures that look natural and pretty. Start by finding a good local commercial photographer, who’d shoot your photos. Then you can visit modeling agencies and show them your photos. Always check up on the photographer’s or agency’s reputation by asking for references, before committing to anything.

To get into the world of TV commercials, the best option is to send your headshots to casting directors who cast for commercial work. If they like you for a commercial role, you’d have to audition. If you do get the part, the pay could be anywhere from $10000 and up.

Fitness modeling is obviously for the fit. Protein bar ads, health shakes ads, sports clothes ads, fitness magazines – they all use fitness models. Muscle And Fitness magazine photographer Brian Moss finds most of his models at fitness conventions and contests, although he sometimes looks for his models on the internet.

Moss says that fitness modeling is easy to break into, if you have the right look.” I found this girl once and told her she’d have a cover in a year. She ended up doing two covers,” Moss says.

Fitness models should have great muscle definition and work out regularly. “There are many girls, there are many beautiful bodies, but there are very few beautiful girls with beautiful bodies. I mean, athletic, of course,” Moss says.

The pay for fitness magazine shoots is about $150 a day. “You shouldn’t confuse publicity with money,” says Moss. Magazine jobs could lead to doing commercial fitness work, which pays more.

The best place for a fitness model to start her career is to get involved with contests and fitness conventions, info on which could be found on the Internet.

Fit and showroom modeling could be somewhat boring work, but it pays well. Showrooms pay about $300 a day and fittings pay $100-$200 an hour. Showroom models show the clothing samples to clients. Generally, showroom work is booked through agencies and it is very seasonal – it’s busy after the fashion show season.

I’ve done a lot of bridal showroom work, where I tried on a lot of wedding dresses for a week or so. The work was exhausting, because you have to stay on your feet for the whole day, but I was happy with the pay.

Fittings involve trying on samples of designer clothing, having your measurements taken and telling the designer how does the garment feel. Fit models have to be a specific size.

Michelle Rogo, booker from Fit agency in New York says that the best part about being a fit model is that “you are in a comfortable atmosphere all the time, without too much hostility or competition.” Female fit models range from size four to size 14, but size eight gets the most work For males it’s the medium size that fits the most.

Fit models can keep working for a very long time as long as they keep their measurements. “Our oldest model gets the most work and she is in her 50’s,” says Rogo.

I do fit modeling quite frequently. It’s not the most glamorous of industries, but the pay is certainly worth it. I have a company that hires me for a week of fittings couple of times a year and I am always looking forward to these weeks!

The best way to become a fit model would be to visit your local fashion design school. Calling modeling agencies and asking if they have a fit division helps, too. More independent-minded fit models can try calling clothing companies directly.

Glamour, fetish and artistic modeling are for the brave among us. If you decide to model in these categories, be prepared to take your clothes off. There is a big debate going on about the differences between those three styles, but generally, glamour photographs involve at least partial nudity and lingerie, artistic photos are usually black and white and require full nudity, while fetish is everything in between, sometimes involving leather, chains and/or fishnets.

To model in these exciting, but risky categories, you have to be at least 18 years old. There is more work for females, so male models should probably concentrate on other areas. Modeling agencies aren’t the best source of unconventional or nude work, so you might want to check out some web resources, such as or When dealing with web photographers, don’t forget to ask for samples of their work and references, because safety is very important.

For those with exceptionally beautiful body parts, such as hands, feet, etc. there is parts modeling. To get into this huge and well-paying market you would need photos of your best body part to show to modeling agencies in your area. For more information, visit

Modeling can be very fun, exciting and well-paid work that doesn’t have to involve starving and breaking your high heels while walking to millions of castings. If you really want to model, you are likely to find your niche in that business. And remember, the most important qualities that make a good model, regardless of the category she or he chooses to work in, are: confidence, patience, persistence, and punctuality.

Good luck!

Anastasia has enjoyed a very successful modeling career in major European capitals of fashion, as well as in the United States. She walked the catwalk for Prada and was photographed for Maxim and Glamour.

Anastasia is a published author of Diary of a Model – book, based a true story of glamorous photoshoots and fashionable parties. A must read for anyone interested in the inner workings of the business!

For more about Anastasia’s life and career visit

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