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. 

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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. 

Tall Model Height Catwalk

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. 

Although there are more opportunities for a diverse range of models today, it’s true that it helps to have a certain ‘look’ to get noticed by model agencies or become a freelance model. However, by certain ‘look’, we don’t mean skinny, tall and pretty. There is no one ‘look’. Clients require a huge range of looks and models put themselves out there to pick up that work. 

So what characteristics help when it comes to breaking into the model industry? Let’s start with the basics. Professionalism is crucial. To be a respected model, you must be on time, polite, hard working, and respectful. Models who think they are the stars of the show soon get shown the door. Who wants to work with a diva? 

Having a thick skin and being resilient is also very important. As a model, you will be put up for castings all the time. You’ll often be sent to a room with other models going for the job and have to present your portfolio to the client. Of all the models in the room, only one might get the job. Rejection is commonplace and it’s important not to let it get to you. Freelancers of all kinds, from photographers to dancers get rejected on a weekly basis. You roll with the punches and go again. 

Commercial Model Short Height

Forgot about the stereotype that all models are dumb clothes hangers. The models who make it are smart and very aware of their role. They work on their brand everyday from making new contacts to working on their social media game. A successful model, especially a freelance model, will have the same attributes as a founder of a startup company. A head for business and an eye for a hustle. 

What are the most common modeling jobs that models who don’t meet the catwalk height requirements land? 

Commercial Modeling 

Think of every perfume, jewellery, fitness app, or toothpaste commercial that you come across. Maybe it was an advert on a bus stop or a flyer that you picked up at a festival. Brands like these generally use commercial models. Why? Because commercial models are more relatable than super tall, androgynous catwalk models who won’t connect to the general public as well. 

Commercial models are selling an idea or a lifestyle that has to appeal to a wide audience. Commercial models are often, slightly unfairly, called ‘girls next door’ to refer to a conventional, relatable beauty.  

The average female height in the US and UK is about 5’3” for women and 5’9” for men. Petite models and curves are welcome! 


Fitness Modeling 

The health, fitness and well-being industries are booming. Brands need models to represent their products, services and apps so if you’re athletic, you’ve got a good chance of becoming a fitness model. 

Healthy skin, a toned physique and a positive attitude are the main characteristics to fitness modeling. No height restrictions here. So long as you can look good whilst wearing the latest activewear collection and running through the park with a fitness app, you’ll be fine. 


Lingerie/Swimwear Modeling 

When you think of lingerie, you think sexy, healthy, and fit. Lingerie models require a totally different body shape than a catwalk model. Designers want to fill their pieces with curvaceous and voluptuous women who show off their collection in the best possible light. 

Aside from curves, confidence is key when considering lingerie modeling. Confidence is required for all types of modeling, but when you have to stand, sit and lie in front of a group of strangers under intense lights and ‘own it’, it’s not one for the timid. 

petite model

Petite/Plus Size Modeling

The term petite model refers to a person between 5' and 5'6". Agencies and brands use petite models for all types of campaigns. From commercial, high-street fashion brands who's sizes are for the average-sized consumer to beauty products where height is often irrelevant. 

Petite models can be commercial models, swimwear models, fitness models, and promo models, for example. Really, they should just be called 'models' as they model for brands who do not consider height to be an issue. 

Plus-size models are curvaceous models who are used for larger sizes in fashion and for all sorts of model campaigns outside of fashion. 


The stereotype of a model walking down the catwalk with long thin legs is not a true reflection of the modeling industry at all. In fact, catwalk modelling makes up a tiny percentage of the overall modeling industry. Fashion makes up a chunk of the work but in reality, most models working today have worked for fashion brands, technology companies, corporate events, beauty commercials, and 101 other sectors. If you're passionate about modeling and would like to discover if you are suitable, create a model profile and receive feedback from a community of professionals. 

Model Profile Short