Forums > Model Colloquy > Height and professional modeling

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

This subject comes up often. An aspiring model who is 5’ 7” (170 cm) or shorter ask about modeling agency representation and is told that she is too short. People from both sides chime in making all kinds of bold claims and some just outright make up shit to support their claims.

Let’s deconstruct this and try to bring some understanding to the volatile subject.

Why is height brought up so often as a barrier to professional modeling?

Height is an objective measurable criterion by which models are measured. Often, there are other factors at play with the person asking the question which are not addressed. Since unsolicited critiques are discouraged and often subjective, the easiest thing to do is to point out height as a barrier. Along with height, other criteria exist. Location, age, body measurements, face symmetry, and the right look are all important criteria to consider. Pointing out height without mentioning all other requirements leads the model asking the question to focus on that single requirement and defend it by citing all kinds of exceptions to minimum height requirements.  The fact is that being tall does not make someone a shoe in for modeling. So even if that model somehow overcame the height issue, all the other issues still has to be dealt with.

Let’s dispel some common statements

All professional models have to be 5’ 8” (173 cm) or taller to get signed by an agency. This is false. There are different kinds of agencies. 5’ 8” (173 cm) is the minimum for fashion agencies. Major agencies in major markets will set this minimum for commercial models too because commercial models are often fashion models. There is no need to have a roster of tall models for fashion and another roster for 5’ 6” (168 cm) to 5' 8" (173 cm) models. Tall models can do both and there is no shortage of tall models so tall models have the advantage of being flexible.

There are commercial/lifestyle agencies. They often will list a minimum height requirement of 5'7" (170 cm) or 5' 8" (173 cm) but will often sign shorter models, particularly Asian models in the appropriate market.

There are talent, promotional, and acting agencies. These don’t list any minimum height requirement but their work is not traditional modeling. It often involves product representation or acting.

Glamour modeling has no minimum height requirements. But there are no mainstream modeling agencies for glamour models in the U.S. although I've been told there are some in other countries like the U.K.

Short unsigned models cannot make money. This is false. Short models can make money but it’s almost impossible for a short model to make a living wage without doing nudes or glamour. There simply is not enough commercial demand for unsigned short models for any other kind of work and all the high paying jobs go to agencies.

Only runway and high fashion requires tall models. This is false. Look at the website for these top NY agencies (http://models.com/agencies/top/) and it will be obvious that they are not just doing runway and high fashion yet they all have minimum height requirements.

Print models and beauty products use short models because full body shots are not required. This is false. Major campaigns go to agencies for their models. Those agencies have minimum height requirements. Models can be tall and exceptionally beautiful so tall models can and do work in beauty campaigns. Again, this comes back to supply. There is no shortage of beautiful tall models so why go looking for a short beautiful model for a beauty campaign.

Everyday people buy fashion so fashion is modeled by everyday people. Advertising is about representing the product at its best. The fact is that everyday people are not used in ads, not even commercial ads. Commercial models are idealized versions of everyday people. They look like everyday people but better. If you don’t believe me, look at an ad for a product. Do they look like the people in line at the supermarket or the people on the bus? In fashion, tall models are used because fashion drapes better on tall models. It does not matter that the buyers are not 5’ 9” (175 cm) and size 2. The models are used to best show the garment. The average American woman is 5’4” (163 cm), size 14, and weighs 152 pounds (69 kg). Would you buy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret if she was modeling it? Do you see this average woman on the poster boards at The Gap or Banana Republic?

You can’t tell height from a picture. Don’t be ridiculous. Height is very apparent in pictures. Body proportions for short people vs tall people are different. If a short model is well proportioned and standing in front of a seamless background, it’s more difficult but put that model next to a 5’ 9” (175 cm) model or next to a doorway and it will be very apparent.

I heard yoga can make you grow 2 inches. Yes yoga can indeed make you grow two inches if you do yoga in 2 inch heels. Beyond that, it's a complete fabricated lie. Yoga improves your posture and believe me, no model getting measure is slouching so improving posture will not add inches to your height.

What about Kate Moss? She is 5’4, 5’5”, 5’ 6”, 5’ 7”. There is only one Kate Moss and the fact that she became a fashion model despite her height has nothing to do with anyone else. She was discovered at age 14 by Sarah Doukas, the founder of Storm Model Management. They had hoped she would grow taller but she didn’t and by then she had already achieved supermodel status so it didn’t matter. Bottom line, you may be 5’ 7” (170 cm) but you are no Kate Moss.

What about Devon Aoki? She’s 5’ 5”(165 cm). Devon Aoki is another exception. Her father was Rocki Aoki, a former Olympic wrestler and founder and owner of the Benihana restaurant chain. Devon was discovered when she was 13 and was introduced to Kate Moss who took her under her wings and got her signed to Storm Model Management at age 14. She had a short fashion career compared to Kate Moss and moved quickly into film. Bottom line, if you are 13, have a unique look, and have an international supermodel as a friend, you might have a shot. Until then, stop citing Devon Aoki.

What about Eva Pigford? She is 5’ 6.5” (169 cm). Eva Marcille Pigford, who goes by Eva Marcille now, is not a fashion model. She is reality TV show celebrity who has modeled some fashion as a result of her fame. After her win in Cycle 4 of America’s Next Top Model, they quickly raised the minimum height requirement to 5’ 7” (170 cm).  Celebrities often model fashion regardless of their height. Eva is making the transition to acting.

What about Cycle 13 of America's Next Top Model? They only want applicants to be 5' 7" and UNDER. This move further solidifies the fact that ANTM has as much to do with real world modeling as The Biggest Loser. To date, no ANTM winner has established themselves in any significant manner in the modeling world. Sure a few winners have gone on to do a few covers and model in some shows but they are all pretty much entertainers. ANTM is a reality TV show. Cycle 13 appears to be some kind of gimmick to introduce some spark into the new show. It's unsure at this point what angle they are going play. Maybe it will focus on commercial/lifestyle modeling. More likely, they will just follow the same formula of casting the most drama ridden girls. Regardless of who wins, the trend of ANTM not moving on to become real top models will certainly continue with a model under 5' 7".

What about Evangeline Lilly? She was signed with Ford. Evangeline Lilly was signed with the acting division of Ford. She was never a fashion model.

What about Agyness Deyn? What about her? Woman Management NY list her at 5’ 10” (178 cm) but she is really 5’ 8” (173 cm). Not exactly a shorty.

More from Roger here.

Feb 16 09 12:02 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

OK. Let’s talk about some often mentioned exceptions on Model Mayhem.

Apnea: (http://www.modelmayhem.com/7339) and Mosh (http://www.modelmayhem.com/219654) They are exceptional but both are alternative models and not represented by any mainstream modeling agency.

Taylor Greer (http://www.modelmayhem.com/666721) I believe Taylor is signed with LA Models. She has a very commercial look and it should be obvious her portfolio is full of commercial images. 5’ 4” (163 cm) is not too short for commercial modeling, especially if you look like Taylor.

Stacey Lee (http://www.modelmayhem.com/9035) Stacey is signed with City Models in San Francisco, a very commercial agency in a commercial market. Plus she is Asian so she gets some leeway to be shorter.

Going beyond height

Location, location, location. Models have to be within driving distance to their potential agency to be considered. If you live in Des Moines, Iowa, you’re not getting signed to a NY agency unless a local agency you are already signed with places you. Bottom line, move to the market and then try to get signed. Are there exceptions? Sure there are. If you have the perfect look and the perfect stats, you may be considered by a major agency. You may even be asked to fly in for an interview. If you are offered a contract, you have to be prepared to have the financial resources to live in that market with little or no pay initially. Some agencies have model apartments but they are the exception, not the norm and those apartments are not free. The models have to pay for them.

Stats. The ideal fashion model stats are 34-24-34. If you are off by more than one or two inches, it may work against you, although it won't be a deal killer.

Age. Fashion models start young, typically at 14-15. 24 is retirement age. If you are in your 20’s, it’s probably too late to start a fashion modeling career. Commercial models don’t have these restrictions. Older models are in higher demand for commercial/lifestyle modeling. See http://www.newmodels.com/race.html

Drive, ambition, tenacity. The model with the right look will do better if she has good work ethics. A model with a look the market does not want will not overcome that barrier with hard work and tenacity.

But it’s not fair! Too bad.

Feb 16 09 12:02 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

.

Feb 16 09 12:02 am Link

Model

Reby

Posts: 2876

New York, New York, US

PYPI FASHION wrote:
Bottom line, if you are 13, have a unique look, and have an international supermodel as a friend, you might have a shot. Until then, stop citing Devon Aoki.

Haha.
This must have taken a long time to write but it was all worth it for that line !

Feb 16 09 12:08 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Reby wrote:

Haha.
This must have taken a long time to write but it was all worth it for that line !

Much of that was just rehash from older threads. Better to consolidate them into one thread.

Feb 16 09 12:10 am Link

Photographer

Star

Posts: 17966

Los Angeles, California, US

Don't forget about the men

Feb 16 09 12:10 am Link

Model

Reby

Posts: 2876

New York, New York, US

PYPI FASHION wrote:

Much of that was just rehash from older threads. Better to consolidate them into one thread.

Glad you did !
Hope everyone uses it as a reference.

Feb 16 09 12:12 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Star wrote:
Don't forget about the men

Oddly, I rarely see male models making bold claims to change industry standards. I don't even recall a single thread.

Feb 16 09 12:13 am Link

Model

Miss Anna Evans

Posts: 40233

Astoria, New York, US

This ought to be stickied.

Feb 16 09 12:33 am Link

Photographer

dave wright glam

Posts: 1110

Phoenix, Arizona, US

best thread ever!

Feb 16 09 12:39 am Link

Photographer

S de Varax

Posts: 7312

Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

PYPI FASHION wrote:

Oddly, I rarely see male models making bold claims to change industry standards. I don't even recall a single thread.

I remembered a couple, but they disappeared rather quickly, but that's besides the point.
Thought you or TX had posted a thread on height and professional modeling already?

Feb 16 09 12:41 am Link

Model

KristenVictoriaZ

Posts: 777

Reby wrote:

Haha.
This must have taken a long time to write but it was all worth it for that line !

i laughed at that too haha

Feb 16 09 12:45 am Link

Model

KristenVictoriaZ

Posts: 777

there should be a link to this post on newmodels.com haha

Feb 16 09 12:46 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

KristenVictorias wrote:
there should be a link to this post on newmodels.com haha

Sacrilege.

Feb 16 09 12:49 am Link

Model

theda

Posts: 21717

New York, New York, US

Miss Anna Evans wrote:
This ought to be stickied.

indeed, but no one reads stickies.

Feb 16 09 03:40 am Link

Model

Laura BrokenDoll

Posts: 3562

Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Why just don't use metrical system?
It would be sooooo much easier!

Feb 16 09 04:20 am Link

Photographer

ChanStudio - OtherSide

Posts: 5363

Alpharetta, Georgia, US

Great post Pat.  smile





Broken Doll wrote:
Why just don't use metrical system?
It would be sooooo much easier!

Cause we are Americans.  < joking >

Feb 16 09 04:25 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Broken Doll wrote:
Why just don't use metrical system?
It would be sooooo much easier!

Updated for the non-red countries.

http://images46.fotki.com/v1442/photos/1/156060/842693/800pxmetric_system-vi.png

Feb 16 09 04:54 am Link

Model

Laura BrokenDoll

Posts: 3562

Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Btw can you please post the link to a site where I conver measurements?
I've tried some sites but they aren't much reliable...they all gave me different measurement :S

Feb 16 09 05:01 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Broken Doll wrote:
Btw can you please post the link to a site where I conver measurements?
I've tried some sites but they aren't much reliable...they all gave me different measurement :S

That's because you are translating inches wrong.

173 cm = 68 inches.
68/12=5.666 feet.
That does not mean 5' 6"
.666 feet=12*.666=7.9"

Therefore 173 cm= 5' 8".

http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm

Feb 16 09 05:06 am Link

Photographer

Kristina J

Posts: 2328

London, England, United Kingdom

Pat, great post, but please correct this: you wrote in two places that 5'7'' is 175cm.
It's 170cm.
It's only gonna confuse our metric models.
Thanks. smile

Feb 16 09 05:10 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Kristina J wrote:
Pat, great post, but please correct this: you wrote in two places that 5'7'' is 175cm.
It's 170cm.
It's only gonna confuse our metric models.
Thanks. smile

I'll check it. I did a copy and paste and may have pasted in the wrong places.

Feb 16 09 05:12 am Link

Model

Laura BrokenDoll

Posts: 3562

Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

PYPI FASHION wrote:

That's because you are translating inches wrong.

173 cm = 68 inches.
68/12=5.666 feet.
That does not mean 5' 6"
.666 feet=12*.666=7.2"

Therefore 173 cm= 5' 7.2".

http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.htm

too bad sad
I'm going back to 5' 5"

bye bye tall people sad

Feb 16 09 05:13 am Link

Model

Laura BrokenDoll

Posts: 3562

Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Well I don't know I'm still very confused on how it works.

I'm 1,68 cm...what should I write on my profile?

Please readers, notice that not all the models are dumb...it's just me! LOL I suck at math big_smile

Feb 16 09 05:15 am Link

Photographer

PYPI FASHION

Posts: 36332

San Francisco, California, US

Broken Doll wrote:
Well I don't know I'm still very confused on how it works.

I'm 1,68 cm...what should I write on my profile?

Please readers, notice that not all the models are dumb...it's just me! LOL I suck at math big_smile

I'll show you the easy way and the right way.

Easy way for any models >5' and

Feb 16 09 05:25 am Link

Model

Janice Marie Foote

Posts: 11483

PYPI FASHION wrote:
OK. Let’s talk about some exceptions on Model Mayhem.

Apnea: (http://www.modelmayhem.com/7339) and Mosh (http://www.modelmayhem.com/219654) They are exceptional but both are alternative models and not represented by any mainstream modeling agency.

Taylor Greer (http://www.modelmayhem.com/666721) I believe Taylor is signed with LA Models. She has a very commercial look and it should be obvious her portfolio is full of commercial images. 5’ 4” (163 cm) is not too short for commercial modeling, especially if you look like Taylor.

Stacey Lee (http://www.modelmayhem.com/9035) Stacey is signed with City Models in San Francisco, a very commercial agency in a commercial market. Plus she is Asian so she gets some leeway to be shorter.

Don't forget about Sarah Richling at 5'4" http://www.modelmayhem.com/25322

Feb 16 09 05:44 am Link

Photographer

Simon Gerzina

Posts: 2288

Brooklyn, New York, US

Janice Marie Foote wrote:
Don't forget about Sarah Richling at 5'4" http://www.modelmayhem.com/25322

She looks like she's repped by a pair of talent agencies that book things like promo work and trade show booth babes.  That's a totally different world from fashion and commercial work and there's nearly no crossover between the two.  It's certainly a viable type of modeling for women who don't meet fashion standards, but you've got to either live in or spend significant time in the big convention cities...Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix/Scottsdale, Pasadena/San Diego, San Francisco, NYC, etc.

Feb 16 09 05:52 am Link

Model

K I C K H A M

Posts: 14664

Los Angeles, California, US

Serious question: If there are so many girls who are 5'8 sold for 5'10, such as Agyness, wouldn't it stand to reason that some of the girls who are sold as 5'8 or 5'9 are around 5'6 or 5'7? I know they would be exceptions, but I know of some girls on here (who I won't name) who had their heights down as like 5'7, and then they get signed with a decent agency and suddenly they gain an inch or two....

I agree on the sticky part. It's going in my favorites for reference next time I see a thread about it.

Feb 16 09 10:36 am Link

Model

Rachel Jay

Posts: 20356

Hoffman Estates, Illinois, US

:added thread to list of things to read on my profile, which is really just a reference list for myself, so I can pass the info on to others:

Thank you!

Feb 16 09 10:44 am Link

Model

D M M

Posts: 7905

New York, New York, US

Kelli Kickham wrote:
Serious question: If there are so many girls who are 5'8 sold for 5'10, such as Agyness, wouldn't it stand to reason that some of the girls who are sold as 5'8 or 5'9 are around 5'6 or 5'7? I know they would be exceptions, but I know of some girls on here (who I won't name) who had their heights down as like 5'7, and then they get signed with a decent agency and suddenly they gain an inch or two....

I agree on the sticky part. It's going in my favorites for reference next time I see a thread about it.

Yes, it's done. But you can't lie THAT MUCH unless the model is a huge supermodel, and nobody cares, already. I know a few models who stand at about 5'7" who are listed as 5'8", or who are 5'8" and listed as 5'8.5". Sometimes, a girl at 5'9" will be pushed to 5'9.5" on her showcard, with hopes that she'll book more shows with that half an inch on her side. But, that's it. They won't lie about your height for more than an inch or half an inch.

Why? When you hire Agyness Deyn, you're hiring Agyness Deyn for her status, mostly. People recognize Agyness, love Agyness. It's the same with Kate Moss. When you hire a regular agency girl, you hire her for her look and body. If that body doesn't fit the clothes, then you're going to send her home.

Feb 16 09 11:31 am Link

Model

Sam_

Posts: 1372

New York, New York, US

great thread of accurate information !

stop making sense...this is mayhem and you will confuse everyone smile

Feb 16 09 11:36 am Link

Model

Sam_

Posts: 1372

New York, New York, US

D M M  wrote:

Yes, it's done. But you can't lie THAT MUCH unless the model is a huge supermodel, and nobody cares, already. I know a few models who stand at about 5'7" who are listed as 5'8", or who are 5'8" and listed as 5'8.5". Sometimes, a girl at 5'9" will be pushed to 5'9.5" on her showcard, with hopes that she'll book more shows with that half an inch on her side. But, that's it. They won't lie about your height for more than an inch or half an inch.

Why? When you hire Agyness Deyn, you're hiring Agyness Deyn for her status, mostly. People recognize Agyness, love Agyness. It's the same with Kate Moss. When you hire a regular agency girl, you hire her for her look and body. If that body doesn't fit the clothes, then you're going to send her home.

oh how i missed you

Feb 16 09 11:37 am Link

Model

D M M

Posts: 7905

New York, New York, US

Sam_  wrote:

oh how i missed you

Feb 16 09 11:43 am Link

Model

Engel Schrei

Posts: 14456

Indianapolis, Indiana, US

Pat, I

Feb 16 09 11:49 am Link

Photographer

Hennrik

Posts: 256

Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Let's make it easy for the girls (and the boys):

170 cm equals 5'7 (or 5'6 if rounded down)
171 cm equals 5'7 (or 5'7 if rounded down)
172 cm equals 5'8 (or 5'7 if rounded down)
173 cm equals 5'8 (or 5'8 if rounded down)
174 cm equals 5'9 (or 5'8 if rounded down)

Feb 16 09 11:50 am Link

Makeup Artist

Anna Evans MUA

Posts: 183

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US

theda wrote:

indeed, but no one reads stickies.

Unfortunately. But it would save space in my bookmarks. smile

Feb 16 09 11:52 am Link

Photographer

Hennrik

Posts: 256

Munich, Bavaria, Germany

Out of curiousity, I did some quick statistics on the 138 models (women, excluding new faces) listed with a German agency (no particular fashion focus, lots of commercial jobs, relatively young agency) I am scouting for:

- 8% are 5'8
- 80% are 5'9 or 5'10
- 12% are 5'11 or 6'0

Means, if you are a 5'8 we won't slam the door in front of you,
but if your height class represents ~10% of the models, that tells you there's probably also only an ~10% share of jobs you fit in ...

Feb 16 09 12:48 pm Link

Model

K_G

Posts: 2930

Detroit, Michigan, US

This is a very informative thread. Thanks again for posting it!

Feb 16 09 01:53 pm Link

Model

K I C K H A M

Posts: 14664

Los Angeles, California, US

D M M  wrote:

Yes, it's done. But you can't lie THAT MUCH unless the model is a huge supermodel, and nobody cares, already. I know a few models who stand at about 5'7" who are listed as 5'8", or who are 5'8" and listed as 5'8.5". Sometimes, a girl at 5'9" will be pushed to 5'9.5" on her showcard, with hopes that she'll book more shows with that half an inch on her side. But, that's it. They won't lie about your height for more than an inch or half an inch.

Why? When you hire Agyness Deyn, you're hiring Agyness Deyn for her status, mostly. People recognize Agyness, love Agyness. It's the same with Kate Moss. When you hire a regular agency girl, you hire her for her look and body. If that body doesn't fit the clothes, then you're going to send her home.

Thank you sooooo much.

That makes quite a bit of sense.

Lookie! I'm learning things on MM. How exciting. wink

Feb 16 09 02:07 pm Link

Model

Keira Grant

Posts: 3801

Houston, Texas, US

You just crushed so many delusional girls' dreams. sad

Thanks. smile

Feb 16 09 02:45 pm Link