Height matters in the modelling industry, even for teenagers. The high-fashion industry favours a tall, slim physique while catalogue models have slightly more relaxed requirements. Teens and young adults are likely to fit this mould, making the modelling industry a young person’s landscape.
Let’s take a look at what is required for teen modelling.
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High Fashion Vs Commercial
These two areas of the modelling industry have a very different view on height requirements for teen girls because they are advertising to a different audience. While the age ranges are the same, high-fashion tends to advertise to a more luxury clientele, while catalogue is more suited to the mass population.
The High Fashion World
Girls aged 14-15 are expected to be between 5’7″ – 6’0″.
Those aged between 16-22 need to be around 5’9″ – 6’0″.
Height is favoured by the high fashion modelling world; the above are typical measurements expected of teens wishing to make it in this type of modelling.
Only a small percentage of teens will reach this height. Modelling agency scouts reach out to young teens matching these rare requirements on social media. Scouts also like to approach potential models at festivals, shopping centres and airports.
Height & Modelling Agencies
Height requirements are not typically stated for agency open calls, but they do ask for models to provide their height, weight and full measurements on applications.
When applying to a modelling agency directly, each agency will make clear their required measurements; be sure to research these before applying in case you don’t fit the bill.
If you don’t quite meet the requirements, it’s up to you whether you still apply; while some models have been known to break the mould (Kate Moss was notoriously short at only 5’7″), most agencies will not look twice at a model who does not meet the required measurements. Be ready for lots of rejection.
If you are too short for most agencies, try looking for petite modelling agencies who specialise in working with shorter models. These agencies will cater to brands who sell to shorter customers, so they will be looking for shorter models who reflect their clients.
Over the years, many models aged 13 – 16 years old have been scouted by modelling agencies and introduced to the glamorous world of high fashion.
Those who are very tall with a slim figure have become the ideal fit for top designers to showcase their latest creations; as it is a notoriously difficult body type to achieve, more and more brands have turned to teenagers to fit this mould. Teens have yet to finish puberty, where hormones create a curvier frame for most women. It’s therefore become easier for brands to turn to teenagers who still have skinnier frames.
This means that the face of the industry has become a 14 – 15 year old. The likes of Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were scouted in their mid-teens too and have enjoyed long, successful careers.
However, there has been concern that introducing teens to such a lifestyle while so young and inexperienced could be damaging. Gracing the catwalk in Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York or shooting for top editorial magazines becomes their job – along with a lot of pressure, a lot of travelling and being away from home and school, and a lot of work.
The idea of a young teen with little life experience working in an adults world has become the norm, yet many feel as though adolescents are too vulnerable, impressionable and naive to live this lifestyle. High-fashion is incredibly demanding; models work very long hours, they must travel constantly, and they must fight to maintain an unachievable physique as they grow. It’s too much for most at such a young age. Both young male and female models are put under this pressure.
Vogue to Only Hire 18-Year-Olds
Vogue has recently made a commitment to only work with models aged 18+. This way, they will only work with models who are legally adults, who are capable of making their own decisions and who have far more life experience.
Vogue understands that in the past they have contributed to a fashion world that hires mid-teens to step into an adults shoes, but they want to leave this in the past. Their aim is to move forward into a future where their magazine reflects those buying it, rather than a child who is far removed. This includes their magazines across the world such as Vogue Paris, British Vogue, Vogue Italia and American Vogue.
Let’s hope many follow in their footsteps by only hiring professional models of 18+.
Attitude to Size
Another criticism of the high fashion world is their approach to size. Although their attitude is getting much better and inclusion of plus-size models is increasing, there is still a long way to go.
It’s important to make sure that your teen has a good attitude to their weight, figure and overall health as the fashion industry can make huge impressions on young people. Teens who are looking into modelling must have integrity and self-respect. Having a healthy mindset and understanding nutrition, exercise and health is vital.
Plus-size modelling is making waves in the industry and hopefully will become more than a token gesture, but until then we must protect teens and young people from the potentially negative thoughts that high-fashion can lead to regarding body shape and size.
In this industry, model height is much more relaxed, especially for teens. Popular high street stores such as Next and M&S seek a friendly, happy face rather than an unachievable height. The images are much more innocent and suitable for their target audience. Different heights are considered as long as they match campaign requirements.
Commercial modelling agencies are looking for teens who photograph well, have a good smile and are natural in front of the camera. Their confidence is much more important than height as brands are looking to find inspirational models whose looks are attainable to inspire customers.
At the photoshoot, teens will be asked to act naturally and smile a lot. It is a completely different look compared to high fashion, with children and teens getting to act their age.
To be successful as a teen commercial model, you must be able to smile naturally on cue – a forced smile will not picture well.
Getting Signed to a Modelling Agency
After taking a look at the different types of modelling for teens, you can decide which niche you wish to go for with the help and support of your parents. Being aged under 18 requires you legally to have your parent or guardian’s approval. It’s therefore important that aspiring teen models make sure they discuss their options with them.
Find Agencies Within Your Niche
There are specific agencies who specialise in teen modelling. Make sure they are legitimate before applying and do not part with any money – agencies never ask for money upfront.
Reputable agencies can help you find work suitable for your height and age. They can help answer questions that you have about the industry and reassure any concerns you may have.
Applying to an Agency
Find the section on the model agency’s website that provides instructions on how to apply. Usually, you will have the option of completing an application form or attending one of their open calls.
The Application Form
Make sure that you enter all your details correctly including your name, contact details and statistics. You will also be asked to add photographs. These are vitally important as your selection will be based heavily on how well you photograph.
Submitted images must meet the standards that they stipulate on their website. Read over a few times to avoid making any mistakes.
The best photos are high-quality images with you as the centre focus. It’s a good idea to think about hiring a professional photographer so you can get the best images possible. Take headshots as well as full-body images.
The Open Call
The date and times of an open call will be stated on an agency’s website. An open call is essentially an open interview; they will provide a time, date and location, and aspiring models can turn up in the hopes they will be signed.
Make sure you are prompt to avoid disappointment. Agents are extremely busy and will not have time to see you if you’re late. The appointment will not last very long and you will have an answer straight away.
Make sure you dress well and bring a portfolio of work to showcase your modelling skills. If you have yet to do any work as a model, hire a photographer to take high-quality images of you.
Casting calls can require you to wait a long time, so remember to bring snacks, water and a book to keep you occupied.
The modelling industry is difficult to get into. Even top models have to endure rejection, especially in the early stages of their modelling career. Be patient and positive; don’t give up if you are turned away. Re-apply to agencies every few months and remember you can apply to as many agencies as you like. Keep your portfolio updated and keep practising.