All About Plus Models
by Sita Mae Edwards
What is a plus model?
Let's start with what she isn't. "Plus model" is not synonymous with "plus size woman." Being one does not make you the other. This is often confusing for new models, and for everyone else for that matter. A plus model is a fashion model who is slightly larger than straight size fashion models, and she is used to sell clothing to plus size women.
General parameters for a plus model are height between 5'8" and 5'11", sizes 10 - 18. (Generally the New York market prefers smaller plus models in the 8-12 range, and the Los Angeles market favors 14/16's.) She must be a fit, toned, proportional hourglass, and have great skin and teeth, just like straight size fashion models. A beautiful smile is a must.
There is a male equivalent of plus models: Big and Tall male models. They tend to be well over 6'2" and have chest measurements from the upper 40s to mid 50s. Like female plus models, they are not "fat" - they are toned and proportional.
Additionally, the plus model look is generally conservative, wholesome, and classically beautiful. You won't see a lot of "edgy" plus size models, and unless you're Mia Tyler you won't be able to get away with a lot of body modifications.
If you would like to Google some famous examples of plus models, look up Crystal Renn, Barbara Brickner, Liis, Tracie Stern, Emme, and Kate Dillon.
To reiterate: height, measurements, proportionality and your overall look are just as important to plus modeling as to typical fashion modeling. If you are 5'5" and 200 pounds you may be a plus size woman, but you are NOT a plus model.
Money and Location
Like any other kind of modeling, you have to be where the work is. For plus modeling, that is mainly divided between New York and Los Angeles. (Other locations include Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, London, Melbourne, Munich, and Toronto.)
Even if you have all the qualities plus modeling requires, if you live in Nebraska and are considering moving to a big city solely for the sake of pursuing plus modeling, don't. A vanishingly small number of plus models actually make their living solely as models. Virtually all of them have another primary source of income, and model on the side from time to time. There just isn't enough work available to make relocation worthwhile.
The good news is that if you are already located in a city with work for plus models, and you have the right look, you can work for a long time. Plus models have a very long shelf life, often working into their late thirties.
"I need to build my book"
Aspiring plus models commonly make the mistake of thinking they need to spend a year or two TFPing their hearts out to build a book to take into agencies. That is a waste of time. You will get signed (or not) based on your look, not your portfolio. If you are signed, your agent will have a list of photographers known to produce appropriate images for your market, and will send you off to hire one or more of those photographers to create the book you need.
DO NOT spend money on a photographer before you've gone to visit the agencies in your area.
"How do I get signed?"
Please see the section of this website entitled "How to Apply to a Modeling Agency." All of the information there applies to aspiring plus models as well.
"If I'm not a plus model, what am I?"
That question gets asked a lot by those who are too short, too round, too tattooed, or who just generally don't have the right look for plus size modeling. The answer is simple. You're a model. You may not get signed to an agency or do any kind of mainstream work, but you can certainly do some art modeling, or just model for a fun hobby, or every once in a great while, a shorter or larger model might find work for a boutique plus clothing or jewelry designer.
Further (somewhat dated) helpful articles, as well as a great forum can be found at www.plusmodels.com.
Want to learn more?
If you find the articles here helpful, we urge you to purchase our book: The Professional's Guide to Modeling.
Click on the link below for lots more modeling information on this site.
Index of articles about the modeling industry.
Copyright newmodels.com 2007.