“I Want To Be A Fashion Model”

Christina Galioto

“I want to be a fashion model”. This is the line said by many of us at one time or another. Being a successful high fashion model requires much more than just a pretty face. Here’s how to make it in this competitive world…
Be sure about the requirements.  For high fashion these days you need to be 5’9′ to 6’tall. You can get signed by a top agency if you are 5’8″ and if you are 14 or 15 years old, 5’7″ and above would do. Just being good-looking is not enough; you must look good in a two-dimensional photograph.  Most of the models we know and admire (Victoria’s Secret Angels) are about 5’11”. I barely make the cut standing tall at 5’9″. I’ve been hovering over my friends and family for years and when I first got into modeling I felt like I finally fit in. You don’t want to fall on the opposite end of the ruler, if you’re not tall enough you won’t be able to make a nice living off of it.  A gorgeous friend of mine is 5’7″, half white and half black with piercing green eyes. She managed to get signed by Ford because of her striking appearance but her best paying job was catalog work for Macy’s… This is not to say there isn’t modeling work for the shorter ladies, it will just be a different part of the industry (makeup, fitness, lifestyle, etc.)

Contact a legitimate agency. In your area there may be many agencies claiming to give you”guaranteed jobs” and take some amount of money, easy and quick right? Wrong. Agencies that take money from you before giving jobs are scams. The first thing you need to do is see who is reputable, how long they have been in business, and who they represent. I found my first agency, Elite, by following the lead of my favorite models, I found out who they were represented by.  Go straight to the top.  If you have what it takes to be a successful model there is no reason not to. Then send your pictures to established modeling agencies such as Elite, IMG, Wilhelmina, NEXT, Ford, and the like.  Established agencies are in-the-know about the most desired jobs in the industry. You don’t want to waste time signing with an agency that doesn’t get you any work. A lot of amateur models get signed and are excited by that, but if you’re not making money, what are you doing? You’ll hear me repeat this, it is a career, not a hobby.

Be yourself. I feel like I’ve written this in numerous other articles because this vital behavior almost always has an impact on personal success.  So you’ve booked a meeting with an agent – now what? Resist the temptation to paint on new eyebrows or shop for a new outfit before your interview. In the words of Kurt Cobain, “come as you are”. If you have a quirky look or style naturally, work that! Don’t be concerned about changing who you are to impress an agency. When meeting perspective models they prefer to see them as they are: no makeup, natural hair, and their true personality. Keep your outfit simple, body conscious clothing like dark skinny jeans and a black tank top are perfect.

Smile for the camera & speak up. In addition to your professional portfolio bring some candid shots as well. Agencies often ask for snapshots or polaroids. A simple headshot, body shot, profile, and smile is good. Remember you’re not a fashion model yet so don’t let your wardrobe stand out more than your shape and features, keep that part simple and play around with different poses and facial expressions instead.  Some people think a models job is to look pretty but personality plays a huge role, so sit up straight and spit out that gum! An outgoing personality is always a standout, models need to be able to express themselves and not be nervous or shy. The models that do well are confident, ambitious, and have a certain humbleness about the fact that being genetically gifted is what got them into business. In the end this is a business, and as with any other, respect and professionalism are really important. Arrive for your interview early and ready – no scrambling to rearrange your book in the elevator!

Determination. Learn to face criticism. Even if you’ve been winning beauty competitions all your life, the industry folks have their own views about who has “it” and who doesn’t.  Maybe a job you didn’t book required a different skin tone, longer legs or a leaner structure. Don’t let it get to you because everyone has different opinions and are looking for different types of models.  Don’t quit the hustle! But don’t end up in the poor house trying either, be aware of how the industry is treating you and how it makes you feel.  This business is not for everyone.

Impress people and be very sociable, contacts get you work in this industry. I can honestly say it’s not a “who you know” business because you need to have the chops both in front of the camera and on the runway, BUT when you meet people you mustn’t go unnoticed. Get to know them and remember them.  Even today I was at New York fashion week castings and I haven’t walked in these shows in two years but I ran into people I knew! Both models and photographers! We share casting information, contacts, and get each other on guest lists all over the world! Of course we also form lasting relationships in the process and some who once were strangers become extended family. As with anything, do not try to use unfair means or let any one make you do something you are not comfortable doing. If anything like this happens, politely refuse.

Have a back up plan. Make sure that you have something else going for you.  It is a very competitive industry and if you quit chasing the next gig you can quickly end up in panic mode.  Some jobs will give you residual income but mostly you’re onto the next one. Most models do this as a full-time career and the chase has to be part of the fun or else…  I was a full-time model from 19 to 24 and then I decided there were other things I wanted to do so I kept it as a side hustle.  That works for me, but only because I have other things paying my bills.  Consider what you truly love doing, nothing has to last forever but if you decide that this is what you want to do you must give it your all, nothing less with suffice.

Stay healthy. Keep your skin clear. Eat clean and please don’t starve yourself.  I consider myself a veteran in this brutal industry and with rejection sometimes comes self loathing. “I’m too fat, my butt is too big, my cheeks are too chubby.”  If there is truth in your words there is a right way and a wrong way to fix it.  Anorexia and bulimia never equate to glowing beauty.  Eat well and work out often.  I also suggest weekly facials and regular trips to the steam room/sauna.

Read before signing on the dotted line. If you’ve impressed the agency enough to get an offer, take a deep breath before doing a celebratory dance and signing a contact. Do not sign anything without reading it first! Do your research and go with your gut. Make sure any questions you have are answered and clarified before you sign.




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