How to Become a Plus Size Model: Getting Started

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Well, hello there!  I’m a plus-size blogger AND a fashion designer.  I’ve helped plan and pick models for countless runway shows at this point, as well as ecommerce photoshoots.
Aspiring plus size models have a tough hand to play.  Plus size fashion brands complain they can’t find and cast models over a size 14, because “agencies just don’t have them!!” (I call bullshit).  Aaaaand, agencies are very slow to hire anyone over a US size 14.
This leads to most plus size models being “free agents,” AKA “you have to negotiate deals your gd self.”
I’ve done a few modeling gigs, but the knowledge I share below really comes from my experience working on the design/casting team.  Below, you’ll find information that seems obvious, but isn’t — otherwise, everyone would be doing it.  This is low hanging fruit, bb.  You’ve gotta implement these 7 things before going to the next level.
Note:  I think this post is going to be the first in a series on plus size modeling.  If you have questions you’d like to me to answer (or find an answer to!) feel free to reach out on Instagram or Twitter.

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I’m coming for everything I want and more. 💫 ✨ . Y’all, long ass days in the studio have me wondering if I’ll EVER get my fashion collection finished. I’m trying to creatively find solutions to speed things up. . So I hire a few “stitchers” Or seamstresses? Go on a sort of hermitage? Kickstart this shit? I still have to pay my bills and work. I love what I do (consulting ftw), but it’s not my *calling*, ya know? . My luxury collection will be sized 8 to 30, and I feel like I’ve been talking about it for so long that folks no longer believe it’s coming. . I’m doing the work. Everyday. But my designs require a metric ton of work, each piece taking approximately 50 hours to complete. . And I’m one person. . I remind myself that I can do this. The middle is always the hardest. No one has really done what I’m doing. There are gonna be setbacks. . Chose this photo because I look fierce and certain. I can see the future, and I’m coming out swinging. Look out, because here I come. This photo is how i WANT to feel today. . Today, I feel discouraged. Crying in my car discouraged. So if you have a story about slogging away solo for your dream, and getting what you worked for, tell this bitch about it in the comments. . Photo by Shena Lee from my photoshoot with @tomboyx. . #EmergingDesigner #Qwear #plussizefashiondesigner #Goaldigger #TigerStripes #stretchmarks #slcpunk

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Tip #1: Get Your Book, Baby!

I’ve helped quite a few fashion brands with their online presence, and I can’t tell you the number of DMs brands get from aspiring models.  Like, minimum 5 a day.
And, while I totally appreciate the hustle, the execution is lacking.  When I click over to the profile of the aspiring model, I usually see almost 100% selfies (with lots of filters), photos of food, etc.
But no modeling photos?!
If you’re going to use Instagram to reach out to brands, you need to make sure you have photos of you modeling on YOUR Instagram.  These can be from “fake” photoshoots you do where a friend takes a bunch of photos with you, or they can be with a professional photog.  Make sure to include full body shots and different poses!
You should also have your “book,” or “modeling portfolio” ready to send.  This is generally a page on your website, or a PDF, of your top ~10 modeling images from different categories (Sleep, Athletics, Formal, etc).

#2:  Practice, Practice, Practice!!!

In various interviews, model Tyra Banks talks about going out on the weekends to practice modeling – with her mom as the photographer.  When you land your first modeling job, you’re going to want to have that practice under your belt!
Like I mentioned in #1, go out with a friend (or hire a non-skeezy photographer) for a photoshoot for your book.  Analyze your facial expressions and poses.  Look at the work of other models, and play around with their poses and facial expressions.  You have to show up, onset, ready to WORK.  You can’t do that if you’ve never practiced poses or analyzed past photos you’ve taken.
I recommend buying Tess Holliday’s book (she talks quite extensively about modeling), and The Art of Dressing Curves.  Make entering the industry easier by learning from those who are already successful!!

#3:  Social Media Matters

It sucks, but it’s true.  While you don’t need tens of thousands of followers to land your first job, it certainly helps.  Learn how to grow your Instagram and social media following, because it’s a good way to get noticed by companies and land an agency contract (if that’s what you want).  Here’s a good article to get you started.
(You can check out my Instagram here ;).)

#4:  Social Media Matters – Engage with Clients

Remember how I said that brands get a ton of DMs from aspiring models?  Many of those people have never commented/engaged on posts, or don’t event follow the brand!! Support those whose support YOU want, baby.  Check out this post on Plus Bklyn for more tips on engaging with brands.
SLXLM

#5:  Modeling is Exhausting

Modeling is hard and intensive labor.  You have to be hyperaware and connected to your body, but not let any of that show.  After a shoot, you’ll have aching muscles, and you will be mentally and emotionally DRAINED.
Modeling ISN’T standing around while a fan blows in your face, wearing couture and pouting for the camera.  Well, maybe like 1% of the time it is.  The other 99% of the time is grueling.  Time is money, and you’ll find yourself quickly changing outfits, getting hustled around a set and your brain going a million miles an hour trying to figure out wtf a photographer is saying.
 

#6:  Modeling is Expensive (for You)

Because there are so many aspiring models, you’ll probably have to shell out money to get started.  Whether it’s to hire a photographer (stay the eff away from Craigslist and avoid men who pop into your DMs asking you to model for them), get model coaching, buy clothes for shoots to build your book, etc.  You CAN do this on a tight budget, but you’ll need to be more creative about it.
SLXLM

#7:  Getting Paid // Get Your Biz Together

For unsigned models just starting out, $50 to $75 USD is a good starting rate.  In the USA, if you make over $500 from a client (models are freelancers), you’ve gotta pay taxes on it.  Make sure to put 30% of payments into a savings account and forget about them, getting ready for tax time.  Most small/indie brands will pay you in clothes or cash + clothes.  It’s up to you to negotiate that (and I’ll probs write more on this.)
What modeling questions do you have?  Sound off in the comments!
Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which helps me create more awesome content!  My opinions are my own.

 

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