I want to be a Model
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. –Jeremiah 29:11
“I want to be a model.” It’s a phrase I hear daily from beautiful and aspiring young girls and their moms. Hopefully, this post will be educational about the industry and save parents and their daughters some anxiety, misdirection and money.
First, It’s important to note there are lots of people and companies that offer services. These are managers or modeling schools, sometimes referred to as schools/agencies. A school/agency (John Robert Powers, John Casablanca’s, Barbizon, among others) charge money for classes, conventions and/or competitions etc. If the aspiring model goes through the courses AND meets the industry standards, the school/agency would try to get her modeling jobs, or place her with a reputable agency, but there are no guarantees. Most anyone can sign up to train—there aren’t tight standards on taking classes. However, these courses can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. I know from experience this is a costly and unnecessary step.
Conventions are very expensive. Though aspiring models can meet agents, she would be better suited to research the agencies themselves and not have to pay money to meet them.
A simple Google search for model agencies or model managements in your area will tell you what’s available near you. Call and ask whether or not they are a modeling school or are affiliated with a modeling school. If they’re not, schedule an appointment during their “Open call” after emailing them candid snapshots—not professional portraits—with little to no make-up on.
An agency earns 20% of the model’s fee when they secure the model a modeling job, or booking. (10% commission to the agent when the booking is a SAG–Screen Actors Guild–commercial.) No one needs model schooling to be a professional model. No one. If a girl meets the height, measurement and look criteria, she can begin modeling right away with a reputable agency.
What do model requirements look like?
Aside from the beauty expectation and no braces, expect agency guidelines to be 5’7″ for petite models and 5’9 – 5’11” for straight-size models who wear a missy size 2-6. Plus size models in the same height range are typically a size 10-14. Juniors (about age 13-18) are 5’8″-5’11″ and wear a junior size 3-7. If one does not fit these guidelines, she would not be the right size for the modeling industry, and taking classes won’t help the cause.
Why the strict guidelines?
The thing is…the industry decides what works for designers. There has to be a standard for developing the prototype of a new clothing article.
While they’re making the garment, (see Project Runway) it’s on a mannequin. That mannequin is this size. When it’s finished, there’s only one—the prototype, or the “Sample”.
That sample has to be shot by a photographer 12 to 18 months before it appears on the rack. Immediately after it’s shot, it’s sent off to be mass-produced. While that’s being done, the images are being processed and put into a catalog for buyers (those who will be putting the item in their stores).
When a client (say, Banana Republic) books the model, they have to be assured that any model they book, will fit the clothes, guaranteed. In other words, the model must be the same dimensions as the mannequin. (Usually 33-35 bust, 24-26 waist, 34-36 hips. When I started modeling in NYC at 18, the standard was 34-24-34.) These guidelines also apply to clothing that is already in the stores, and are pulled off the rack for shooting sale flyers. It’s something the model has to be qualified for. Her dimensions must fall specifically in those parameters. Always. These guidelines apply globally to all reputable modeling agencies.
It’s a complicated industry. But it’s no different then some not being qualified for engineering or teaching physics. Neither of which I am qualified for.
What types of fees do legitimate agencies ask for?
True modeling agencies would ask you to pay:
- Their choice of photographer for appropriate pictures. This should cost about $300-$500. There may also be a fee payable to the make-up artist (usually $50-$150).
- Sometimes, there is a cost to post the model on their website for clients to view. It’s usually around $200-$300 per year.
- Composite cards (Comp cards) run about $1 each. You could also pay a nominal charge for the agency to do digital layouts or digital comp cards.
- Mailing or courier fees.
What if I am accepted by an agency, but they want me to shoot nudes or lingerie?
By law, models cannot shoot either nude or lingerie unless she’s 18 years old. She cannot model for alcohol or cigarette ads until she’s 25. Having said that, I don’t model any of these and no aspiring model should be coerced into shooting something she doesn’t feel comfortable shooting. When one joins an agency, she will be asked to fill out an assessment of what she will and will not model; i.e., fur, swimwear, lingerie etc. This information helps her bookers know what castings to send her on. If the agency insists she models something she’s not comfortable with, she should find another agency.
I don’t meet the physical requirements, but my heart is set on modeling. What can I do?
There are other avenues a girl can explore that don’t require the specifics of the modeling industry. Pageantry, acting, fashion photography, make-up artistry and wardrobe styling are closely related fields that may interest her.
The Spiritual Element:
The Bible teaches us that God knows the plans He has for us, and they are wonderful, prosperous plans. If you don’t fit into the industry “mold” for modeling, it’s okay. God has a wiser, more awesome plan for your life. I have known what it’s like to be IN God’s will, and OUT of God’s will. Being out of God’s will is a frustrating and heart-breaking place. It left me empty and still searching. I felt insignificant and lost. I never want to be out of God’s will again. When we try to stubbornly force something that’s not a part of His plan, He often times allows us that freedom. But it must break His heart because He knows the result will be frustration, tears and emptiness.
Ask God what His plans are for you. Hold lightly to your ambitions and aspirations, allowing Him to change or adjust them according to His will. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, despite any industry’s standard (Psalm 139:13,14). And remember, modeling Christ in your day-to-day life doesn’t require agency representation.
Disclosure: Rachel is not a modeling agent and cannot offer career advice on modeling. Please search representation in your area. Guidelines for children are nil. Children must be well behaved and able to smile on command and receive and obey direction from the photographer on cue.
Rachel NEVER encourages pre-teen or teen dieting.
CLICK HERE for agencies Rachel is affiliated with.