How to Become a Plus-Size Model

Modeling jobs are in the upswing in this size range

Plus size model
  Marla Rutherford/Getty Images

It used to be that you never saw plus-size models in magazines or on catwalks, and the models were usually extremely and unrealistically thin, thinner than most women. But that's changed, and plus-size models are showing up in catalogs, fashion magazines, on retail websites, and as fit models. If you are dreaming of being a plus-size model, there are more opportunities than ever.

Becoming a plus-size model usually requires some height and an ideal size range, but you'll also need drive and tough skin to make it in the industry.

If you have what it takes and you're interested in plus-size modeling, review the basics to get started and get your portfolio out there.

Create Your Portfolio

When you're first breaking into the industry, you won’t need a full portfolio to begin making inquiries. Instead, concentrate on photographs that show your natural beauty and that aren’t particularly staged or posed. Aim for at least one high-quality face shot and a full-body shot in simple attire. Choose an outfit that flatters your coloring as well as your figure.

Enhance your chances by getting a professional photographer to do a photo shoot and hire a professional makeup artist and hairstylist to make you look your absolute best. Have the photographer take many shots in a variety of poses and then choose the best full-body and face shots for your submission to agencies. You should submit copies since the photos you submit are not likely to be returned.

Contact Agencies

You'll need to get in touch with modeling agencies to jumpstart your professional career, but before you do, you should educate yourself about the "right" agencies. Check out potential agencies' reputations with other professionals in the industry, and never pay fees to apply or sign onto an agency.

After you've done your research, call the top three agencies in your area and schedule appointments to meet. On the day of your appointment, wear comfortable, semi-casual clothing that fits well and is flattering. If you think you are at the low end of the height requirements, wear a pair of heels to add a little extra height. Wear kitten heels if you want to be a bit less obvious.

Attend an Open Call

Open calls are generally a specific time when an agency allows applicants to come in without an appointment. Think of it as an audition for modeling. It can be an overwhelming experience, particularly if you find yourself in a large group of hopefuls.

Some agencies may have you fill out an extensive form before speaking with you. You will need to include contact information, interests, measurements, and experience. You may also be measured by the modeling agency representative.

Smile and don't let any criticism get to you. As you attend more casting calls, you could hear comments on your headshots or figure. Simply say thank you and move on.

Know that if you do get signed, you'll be expected to create a portfolio, as well as a comp or zed card, which is a mini-portfolio and business card all in one, with photos and contact information.

Do not pay an agency to be on their website, to be represented, or to attend their school.

Plus-Size Modeling Requirements

While you may need to fit into a certain size to become a plus model, that's not all. Plus models are generally 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet tall and wear a size 12 and up. A size 12 is not actually a plus size; it's on the larger end of regular sizes. But the smallest plus-size models wear size 12, much like regular-size models often wear a size 0 or 2, a smaller size than most of the women who wear regular-size clothing.

Plus-size models also must be toned and have proportional figures, with about a 10-inch difference between bust and waist and waist and hips; shapely legs; beautiful skin; perfect white teeth; nice nails; and healthy-looking hair.

Fit models, who manufacturers use to actually fit their clothes on to make sure they meet size guidelines, may be required in larger sizes or shorter heights than standard plus-size modeling, so it’s worth inquiring about these opportunities when you call agencies, particularly if you are shorter than the requirements or wear a larger size.