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Am I Too Short to Be a Model?

  • Melissa Keen

A key area of concern for many aspiring models is whether they have the relevant measurements to make it in the business. In an industry notorious for its strict guidelines, it’s understandable that many hopefuls would be concerned.

While it can be difficult to enter an industry without the “ideal” measurements put forth by it, it certainly isn’t impossible! Read on to find out how you can make it as a shorter model.

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The High Fashion Modelling World

There is one area of the modelling industry that refuses to budge when it comes to strict measurements, and that’s the high fashion industry. High-fashion agencies will very rarely look twice at a model that doesn’t fit their strict height and body shape requirements. This is because high fashion designers and brands believe that being over 5’7 for a girl and 5’11 for a boy is the best possible height to show off their clothes. They also feel that if all models look similar then people will be focusing more on the outfits rather than the individual.

You only have to look at a catwalk show to see that all the models who feature together on the same show look similar. They will usually have the same build and height so that they can be styled to fit the designer’s brand. It’s less about individual personality and all about the collection; each model is chosen to help portray whatever vision the designer has come up with.

High-end agencies tend to be stubborn. Instead of embracing diversity like catalogue and high-street designers, they are old fashioned in their thinking and have not shown much scope for change.


Catalogue Modelling

Just because the high-end fashion industry is strict, that doesn’t mean the whole modelling industry is the same. Particularly in recent times, more and more companies are looking for models who reflect a far more relaxed and achievable beauty.

Shorter models are finding it easier to create successful modelling careers. While there are a rare few who manage to break into high fashion, most are successful catalogue, parts or high-street models.

Famous Short Models

As brands appear to relax their requirements, agencies too are able to look for models who represent a more diverse range of looks. This means that more shorter models have managed to get signed to top agencies.

Of course, there are a select few who managed to get signed before the relaxed rules and despite their shorter stature. Kate Moss (5’7), Twiggy (5’6) and Anja Konstantinova (5’5) were all shorter than the requisite “ideal” height at the time of their heightened careers, but their persistence and hard work meant they made names for themselves despite the adversity they faced.

Short Models Agencies

For short models looking to make a break into the fashion industry, it’s important to get signed to an agency. An agency will help a model to book jobs and find work.

Before applying to an agency, it is important that you know their height requirements. If you do not meet this height (or are not even close) and have definitely stopped growing, it’s important to understand that you have a diminished chance of being accepted. Feel free to apply anyway, but don’t be disheartened if you are rejected – you must be realistic.

There are some agencies who work specifically with alternative models. Do some research and find agencies who work with shorter models; you will have a far easier time being accepted by one of these.

You can apply to as many agencies as you want, as many times as you want. Look for availability – agencies who are on the lookout for new models are far more likely to sign you. Wait at least 6 months before applying to the same agency.

Ensure your portfolio is up to scratch. Include photos of you looking lean and tall; if you can prove you are able to do this in photos, you will be more likely to be booked.


How to Be a Short Model

The principle of each modelling niche is pretty much the same. A lot of models have to work extremely hard to carve a successful career, which is the same for petite models.

The most effective way is to apply to agencies who accept 5’2 models and above. Either attend an open call or fill out the application found on their website.

It is vital you have a stand-out portfolio to help you get noticed, too. Include plenty of shots to show your diversity as a model.

How Petite Can a Model Be?

The typical petite modelling requirements are between 5’2 and 5’6 for female models. Short male models do find it more difficult to find work in the industry as women can add a few inches with high heels.

Petite model measurements are also very important depending on the niche you wish to enter. A 5’3 model may have a large chest and hourglass figure, which is desired by the glamour industry, whereas a 5’4 model may have a tiny frame, which is more suited to petite fashion brands. A model’s physique as well as their height is taken into consideration.

Models under 5’5 or 5’6 can also enter the body part industry, as height isn’t as important. The main concern is the body parts in question and if they are suitable for the product in promotion. If you have a great pair of legs or slender, smooth hands, you may be able to make a career out of your attribute. Both men and women can become body-part models.


Can Short Males Model?

Unfortunately, shorter men tend to have a trickier time in the industry, but it isn’t unheard of. Runway may be out of bounds but catalogue, fitness, TV or body part modelling may be available to shorter male models.

An additional factor is who you are modelling with. A stereotypical image would usually prefer the guy to be much taller than the girl (who remember might be wearing heels). Acceptance will depend if the duo works well together, or if you are modelling independently where your height will not be highlighted. Photos can be digitally manipulated, but this costs brands money and time.

Can I Be a Male Model at 5’9?

Unfortunately, there is no set formula as to whether a 5’9 model will succeed. The catwalk may traditionally favour towering heights, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Aaron Frew is represented by D1 Model Management and measures 5’7. He has worked with Calvin Klein, Vogue and Hysteria Magazine.

If modelling is your dream, give it a try – but focus on other niches where height is less of an issue. In the high-fashion world, your 5 foot 9 inches will most likely be exposed amongst the giants already on their books. Don’t be intimated; apply to top agencies initially and move on if the answer is no. You have nothing to lose.

To find out more about modelling, why not apply online at UK Models and speak to one of our team. They will be able to advise you on your options and guide you towards the best type of modelling for you.

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Posted by Melissa Keen

Melissa's experience in the beauty and fashion world as a writer and blogger spans over five years. Her other interests include reading, yoga and music.