Way too much emphasis is placed on height when it comes to being a professional model. We hear from aspiring models every day saying 'I'm too short to model' or 'what height do you have to be to model?'. The perception is that you have to be tall and skinny to be a successful model but that’s certainly not the case. We're going to teach you all the ways you can become a successful, healthy, working model without having to be tall. If you'd like to get feedback from professionals in the industry, click 'Create a Model Profile' and upload a headshot. There is no charge to create a profile and you must be over 16 to create a profile.
What height do I have to be to model?
You may have read that female models need to be 5’8” or taller and male models 6’ plus to make it as a model and decided to give up on an ambition to model because you are too short. Well, we’re here to tell you that the majority of modeling work is taken by models under these heights and, often, it’s more fun and better paid. This height is only required for certain editorial models and catwalk models, and even this trend is changing with many fashion brands choosing to use a much more diverse range of models for their shows and shoots.
A model’s height and body shape requirements come from the high-end fashion industry when casting models for catwalk shows or shooting for their collection, typically for an editorial campaign. Fashion designers create their collection to fit models of a certain height and shape because the industry has determined that clothes look best on models with these body shapes. But times area changing!
The fashion industry may be slow to catch up but plenty of new fashion designers are breaking convention. The catwalks may still be dominated by leggy models with specific model measurements but more and more designers are opting to use models of all shapes and sizes.
How Models (without the height) can make in the Modeling Industry
Firstly, we hate the term ‘shorter’ models when talking about models who are working in the industry and happen to be under 5’8”. The modeling industry uses models of all heights for a range of jobs and campaigns. Kate Moss is only 5’6” and Lily-Rose Depp is 5’3” - these two super-successful models have never let height stop them.
Most commercial campaigns (adverts for brands, billboards etc…) use models of any height and shape as they better represent the product or service than a tall fashion model. Not only are these shoots much more fun than the pressures of a catwalk, the work is much more plentiful and the pay is great.
Although the model industry on the catwalks and high-end magazines still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity, most modelling jobs outside of this small sector are going to a range of shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities.
Model agencies have to move with demand and they are not nearly as rigid about the height of a model as they used to be. Clients are requesting smaller models, sports models, lingerie models, fitness models, plus-sized models, and everything else in between to represent a range of diverse brands, fashion labels and companies.
In case you were thinking it’s just the girls who are able to break into the modeling when not 6 foot, think again. Smaller male models are picking up work in just the same way.
Of course, if you approach a high-end model agency who specialise in high-fashion and catwalk, they will most likely have requirements but the vast majority of model agencies today are looking for a range. It’s not just a pretty face and body shape either. There are other factors that model agencies are taking into account that are equally as important.
Social Media Influence
Around 2015, model agencies started to recognise the power of social media and influencers. Brands who hired models wanted more than just a good looking person to wear their clothes or represent their brand, they wanted the exposure too.
Like all good businesses, model agencies adapted to this trend and started including the model’s social media numbers as well as opening up new model influence departments. Who cares about height if a model has 2 million followers who can promote the brands collection, service or product!
Take a look at Storm, one of the largest model agencies in the world. They have a filter called ‘social reach’ that shows every model’s social media numbers on their thumbnail picture. Most agencies have now recognised this and factor it into the contract.
Personality and Characteristics
Aside from an interesting or attractive face and certain body type, the personality of a model is vital. Before you roll your eyes and say ‘my mum says the same but I’m not going to be walking down the catwalk any day soon!’, hear us out.