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Petite Modelling | Height and Work

  • Melissa Keen
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Petite models often find it difficult to find work due to the strict nature of the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Petite models can work in commercial, catalogue, glamour and body-part modelling just like “normal” sized models (who are around 5’8 plus).

A petite model generally measures between 5’2” and 5’6” tall. Their hip, waist and bust sizes also tend to mirror their height (slightly smaller than the average male or female). Petite models are most commonly employed to model clothes for petite fashion collections but are still required to have the same great looks, personality, professionalism and confidence as any other model.

28 Successful Short Models

  1. Twiggy
  2. Kate Moss
  3. Lily-Rose Depp
  4. Anja Konstantinova
  5. Devon Aoki
  6. Funda Onal
  7. Hailey Baldwin
  8. Sofia Richie
  9. Camille Rowe
  10. Laetitia Casta
  11. Eva Pigford
  12. Marilyn Monroe
  13. Jenny Shimizu
  14. Audrey Marnay
  15. Josie Maran
  16. Liberty Ross
  17. Lydia Hearst
  18. China Machado
  19. Selita Ebanks
  20. Dayle Haddon
  21. Bambi Northwood-Blyth
  22. Yamila Diaz-Rahi
  23. Georgia May Jagger
  24. Charlotte Free
  25. Cara Delevingne
  26. Emily Ratajkowski
  27. Marisa Miller
  28. Isabella Rossellini

Successful Petite Models

Models who have defied the stereotypical image associated with top designers, catwalks and campaigns are carving a path for their fellow petite models.

Inspiring, successful models have ignored the height restriction demonstrating that a smaller stature IS required in the fashion landscape. Their unique looks and killer poses has ensured that their height measurement has gone unnoticed.

Successful petite models are making an impact in a tall girls stomping ground, ignoring the confinements set upon them. 

Twiggy

Surprisingly, this British icon of the sixties was only 5’4”. She revolutionised the stereotypical look of the era, beginning a new breed of supermodels.

Her height is rarely discussed due to her confident persona that demands attention. Also, her waif like figure suggests that her height is a lot taller, especially with the addition of heels. She remains the shortest model with such a supermodel status!

Anja Konstantinova

An exception to the rule is Russian-Australian model, Anja Konstantinova. Her impressive repertoire includes Vogue, Marie Claire, Urban Outfitters and French Connection. At 5’4″ her height is not an issue with each shot demanding attention with her striking features, luscious blonde locks and natural posing instincts.

The successful petite model, who was discovered in a Melbourne hair salon, has received lots of rejection in her career, yet continues to break boundaries in a predominately tall arena.

She explains: “People in Australia don’t accept shorter girls because they are a bit harder to work with, you have to photograph them in a certain way.”

Devon Aoki

Devon Aoki is listed with New York model agency One Management as 5’5” and has appeared as a poster girl for H&M’s Isabel Marant’s H&M collaboration. She has defied conventions by appearing on the runway for Chanel, Lancome and Versace; a proud moment for all petite models.

She has also starred in ad campaigns for YSL, Moschino and Fendi – to name a few – and landed acting roles too (you may recognise her from 2 Fast, 2 Furious, Sin City and DOA: Dead or Alive). Devon has graced the cover of i-D magazine three times, been the face of Lancome for four years and walked for Chanel.

Funda Onal

Turkish (but born and raised in Sheffield) Funda Onal is 5’5″. She has Nike, Adidas and Reebok on her modelling CV alongside video work for Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris and Kid Cudi.

She has certainly not let her smaller frame hinder her dreams of becoming a model. Her luscious brown locks and striking facial features draw the focus away from her height. 

Kate Moss

If you know a thing or two about modelling you’ll also know Kate Moss is only 5’6” (and is an extreme exception to the high fashion rule). Becoming an icon in the model and fashion world, Kate Moss is recognised worldwide for her work. Her height is certainly not an issue as she continues to dominate the supermodel title.

Types of Work Available for Petite Models

Other than Moss, most petite models find work as commercial and catalogue models. If they work in fashion it is generally with high street brands specialising in petite clothing. It is very rare for a petite model to find high-fashion work on the catwalk or for designer labels – but it isn’t impossible.

Petite models aren’t restricted when finding work. Thanks to a boom in brands catering for men and women with smaller frames and shorter legs, petite models are being employed to keep up with industry demand.

Swimwear

Lingerie and swimwear modelling also doesn’t demand height with brands more concerned with showcasing their designs. A fuller bust, pert derriere and toned torso become a higher priority than your height statistic.

Petite models may not feature on the Victoria’s Secret runway but high street brands, catalogue and independent designers will prefer a physique that promotes their lingerie/swimwear in the best light and are less interested in your height.

Body Part Modelling

This industry focuses on specific body parts, so it won’t matter if you’re on the short side. Shapely pins, a pert derriere, piercing eyes or delicate hands will be under scrutiny at castings. It is important to take great care of your specialised body part to avoid scratches, blemishes, broken nails etc. Some models even insure their body part; Heidi Klum’s legs are said to be worth a whopping $2 million!

A petite model should explore their options in the body part modelling world to find new opportunities to expand their repertoire. 

Glamour Modelling

This industry is more relaxed about height, with their main objective focusing on a large bust, slim waist and pert derriere. Glamour models are recognised for their provocative poses and nude exposure rather than their height.

You need to be perfectly comfortable with flashing some flesh before thinking of entering this industry.

Beauty Modelling

Promoting cosmetics and beauty products typically doesn’t involve a full-body shot, therefore a model’s height is irrelevant. An eye, lip or full-face close-up is usually featured in the campaign to advertise a mascara, lipstick or foundation. To be hired as a beauty model, clients will focus on a particular area as with body part modelling.

TV/ Advertising

The TV advertising world covers a variety of subjects ensuring that those who appear in front of the camera come in all heights. You will need to have acting skills in order to make it in this industry.

As with fashion modelling, certain shows or programmes may have certain requirements for height, though opportunities will be available for those with a shorter stature.

Gender Discrimination

It may not be fair but a female petite model is more successful than a male petite model. Smaller gents are not hired as height is a key issue. Towering 6 foot-plus heights are favoured for men, as it’s thought that those with smaller measurements stand out.

Female models have the advantage of heels that can easily add 2-3 inches, allowing for the height gap to close considerably. Men do not have this luxury, exposing their 5’8″ physique instantly.

This means that at present the catwalk is off bounds for shorter men, but body part, TV, fitness and catalogue modelling is more realistic. 

How To Make The Most of your Petite Frame

Try not to draw attention to your shorter height when interacting with clients and via body language. You’ll have to work extra hard to get noticed; that means standing tall and learning to accentuate your height in photos. Never be caught slouching and be sure to work on poses that elongate your lines.

A good posture and a strong stature goes a long way in presenting yourself at a casting, agency meeting and photoshoot. If you need practise in front of the camera, UK Models offers a photoshoot and professional portfolio for aspiring models.

How To Become a Petite Model

We hope our introduction to petite modelling has reassured you that as a shorter framed model, you still have every chance of finding career success. When it comes to starting your career we suggest you take the same route as a mainstream model, perhaps considering specialist petite agencies as you do.

Do your research and find out what type of modelling you are interested in and what key traits are required for success. Before investing in your career you need to be sure that modelling is the right path for you. Will you be trying to find work as a catalogue model, or maybe a glamour model? Visit our homepage and click on either the ‘Male Modelling’ or ‘Female Modelling’ tab for a full breakdown of the types of modelling work.

  1. See if you enjoy modelling. Try and get as much experience as possible before stepping into the real world of photoshoots and posing.
  2. Think about creating a portfolio. This will not only help you practice posing but also get valuable experience. UK Models work with aspiring models every day to produce industry-standard pictures, so why not tie the two together and get pictures and some experience by working with us? Send us an online form if you’re interested in looking into this idea.
  3. Approach agencies relevant to your style, particularly agencies that specialise in working with a petite model. They are more likely to have clients on their books that need and want petite models than a mainstream agency.; this will naturally increase your chances of getting work.

How Can UK Models Help a Petite Model?

Owning a set of professional shots is a great way of launching your career as a petite model. The photographs can sit in your portfolio to showcase your talent and create a strong identity for your website. Agents and employers can view each resource to find a model suitable. Shots should therefore be of high quality to impress. Here at UK Models, we can provide this service to ensure that the images highlight your potential. 

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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.