What is a Real Life model?

  • Freya Hill

Real life models define the men and women of the modelling world who represent real people. They are becoming increasingly popular, although very few people know what they are because high fashion, commercial and catalogue models tend to be the ones in the spotlight.

What Is a Real Life Model?

These models can be male or female, in any age bracket, of any height, of any weight and any ethnic background. They are employed to represent ‘normal’ members of the public, not to provide the inspirational look of long legs, a toned stomach and glossy hair that a catwalk/commercial model is employed for.

We are seeing a rapid increase in real life models because of the growth of new online businesses and a change in acceptability in the modelling industry. Real models are generally employed to give consumers a good idea of who is likely to buy the product or service that the company or artists are advertising.


Who Hires Real Models?

Companies use real life models to relate to their target audience, so this is actually a very clever (although untraditional) way of working. Take High and Mighty, a male clothing company who have a target audience of men over a particular size and height. It would be totally inappropriate for men such as Clement Chabernaud to model High and Mighty’ clothes, a) because he doesn’t represent an overly tall man, and b) he wouldn’t fit into their products! Thus, High and Mighty need to employ real life models, people who their clothes are made for.

The same can be said for other brands such as Blue Banana. This is a company that’s devoted to the world of tattoos, it’s therefore imperative to them to work with girls and guys who are equally obsessed… and covered in ink. A high fashion model would be inappropriate here.

Many models find a bit of a lifeline in real modelling. After having their hearts set on high fashion modelling to then realise they are a few inches too short (women generally need to be 5’8” to 5’11” and men 6’1” to 6’3”) they begin looking for work as a real model and actually find themselves pleasantly surprised. Models with an untraditional look – facial piercings, lots of tattoos, a big bust, curves or a small stature – also find themselves finding success as a real model.

Acting Skills Are Beneficial

The real life modelling world is very much apart of commercial ads where the everyday is highlighted. People find comfort in watching an advert that they can relate to and imagine themselves in that scenario. Capturing the human experience is vital to selling products.

For example, a gravy commercial where a family sits around the dining room table eating a roast dinner is the perfect Sunday afternoon that most aspire to be. Marketing relies heavy on models/actresses who can act natural and pull off the perfect image. A high fashion model who is used to posed images will not be able to capture that wholesome image required by a lot of brands.


However, a down to earth model who shares their same values and way of life will be much more suited. The ideal opportunity for a real model to step in. Depending on the product or brand, the model required can anything from a young child to a mature male; the options are endless.

Take a look at adverts that are aired whilst you are watching TV you will begin to notice that a lot of commercials are a reflection of everyday life. Also, some printed ads embrace the same concept yet are present in a magazine or newspaper with the correct target audience. Even look at a post online as real life images are very much used on social media and websites to attract the audience.

It’s Still Hard Work

It is important to realise that real modelling is not an easy option out. You will still be expected to take care of your body and hair.  It is important to be in good health and to work in the same way that a professional model would. A positive attitude is essential and a real willingness to work is vital. A fitness and beauty regime is the perfect way to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

When at a shoot or on set the day may be long with an early rise and late finish. Only the enthusiastic, positive models will be able to endure this kind of flexibility and long days. It is not a regular 9-5 working day or week with jobs sporadically becoming available. Castings are very much a part of the process, with rejection becoming daily life. It is a difficult and unpredictable process with only the dedicated succeeding.

You need to be extremely confident and have a love for the camera. Also, you need to be able to take direction and work with a large team. Most importantly, real models are often cast because of their personality. This type of modelling evolves around a person’s character so much more than their modelling statistics.


How Can UK Models Help?

If you’re keen to explore this avenue of the industry, get in touch with our New Faces team. You can do this by sending a couple of photographs via our free online application. We ask for a few of your basic contact details so we can get back to you.

Real models are represented by agencies but many decide to work in a self-employed manner. If you are interested in following this line of work, UK Models recommend that you have a professional portfolio made. This book will act as your visual CV to show that you have the persona and skill set in place. Again, by applying to our New Faces team as explained above, we can help you out.

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Posted by Freya Hill

Freya is been writing for many years on fashion and modelling. Her hands are a bit too wrinkly for a 23 year old and she has worked with MTV, New Look and Vauxhall Fashion Scout.