What is true is that runway or catwalk fashion models are as a rule, expected to be no less than:
5″8 for females
5”11 for males
I’m Too Short for Catwalk – What Now?
The myth that you have to be tall to be a model centres around pop culture’s singular focus on catwalk modelling. This is simply one type of modelling. What is not greatly known about the modelling industry is that many types of modelling exist with no height requirements.
So what are your other options if those measurements are a tall ask?
- Commercial Modelling
- Fitness Modelling
- Swimsuit and Lingerie Modelling
- Glamour Modelling
- Plus Size Modelling
- Fit Modelling
- Parts Modelling
- Child and Teen Modelling
- Mature Modelling
- Petite Modelling
Origins of the Tall Tale
Taller models became in demand for runway modelling which is the physical act of displaying a new fashion collection for a designer. This is normally the first public display of the collection, meaning the clothing for runway shows are one-off pieces and will have been made to fit a sample size. Sample sizes range between a US 0-4, or a UK 4-8. For the clothes to display at their best, they are styled on a model that is within that size range. Height is desired simply for the clothing to hang off a body in a similar fashion to what they would on a coat hanger.
1. Commercial Modelling
Commercial modelling is a great alternative for models that do not meet the height requirements for catwalk. Commercial modelling jobs aiming to sell a lifestyle product or concept to the general public. Perfumes, pharmaceuticals and cars are all examples of commercial modelling jobs. A great smile, expressive eyes, a healthy body and a bubbly personality are all elements that make a successful commercial model. Another positive of commercial modelling is that it celebrates diversity in the industry. Different ethnicities, ages, sizes and – you guessed it – heights are all needed for commercial modelling.
2. Fitness Modelling
Fitness modelling focuses a lot less on height requirements and instead on physique. For both men and women, a healthy and well-maintained body will help you find success in this type of modelling. For female models, bookers will be looking for toned curves and a positive representation of the feminine figure. Male models are equally expected to be athletic, fit and toned.
3. Swimwear and Lingerie
Swimwear and Lingerie modelling requires similar attributes to fitness modelling, with a strong emphasis on healthy and fit body shapes. The key difference is the level of muscle in the bodies of fitness models. Swimwear and lingerie modelling are types of modelling with no height requirements and are popular with petite models.
4. Glamour Modelling
Female models are normally more sought after for glamour modelling than male models, as it is more centred around sexually suggestive posing. So while this is a type of modelling with no height requirements, curvy and voluptuous figures are the norm. Mainstream publications that use glamour models include Playboy and GQ.
5. Plus Size Modelling
Plus size modelling is another type of modelling with no height requirements – and has seen a considerable boost in demand recently. Plus size modelling is determined by size and proportions instead of exact measurements, so commonly size 12 and upwards. Demand for plus size models has become so popular that many well-known modelling agencies now boast a plus size division. Though size 12 and up is not considered large by society’s standards, in the modelling world it can be so the celebration of this shift is welcomed.
6. Child and Teen Modelling
Another type of modelling with no height requirements is child and teen modelling. Child modelling can start from as young as two months old to roughly 13 or 14. Teen modelling follows this, though it is a bit of a grey area in the modelling industry. To be considered a teen model, you’ll be just outside the child modelling age bracket but not as developed physically as a grown adult model. Child and teen modelling is often popular for commercial campaigns. Until full adult height and proportions have been reached, it is hard to categorise what kind of model a teen model will become.
7. Mature Age Modelling
Mature age modelling is providing opportunities for older models, normally between the ages of 35-40 up to 80 years old. Increased demand for mature age models in the commercial sector has seen this branch of modelling grow substantially. As mature age models are more sought after for their mature appearance, height is not a crucial requirement.
8. Fit Modelling
Fit models work behind the scenes and are a crucial part of the industry. They are required to try on clothing and provide real body fits for retail manufacturers before they are distributed to the consumer. For this type of modelling, there is demand for a variety of body shapes and measurements. Models that do not meet the height requirement for runway can be the perfect fit model.
9. Parts Modelling
Another type of modelling with no height requirements is parts modelling. Parts modelling includes a variety of body parts, such as eyes, smile and even earlobes. Petite models are often favoured for this type of modelling, as their small stature commonly translates to small body parts. This offers a broad range of work for a model that isn’t considered tall enough for catwalk modelling.
10. Petite Modelling
Luckily for those concerned they’re not tall enough to be a model, a type of modelling exists just for you! Ironically, petite modelling actually does have some height requirements. Men and women that are successful in petite modelling are normally 5”7 and under. Though they rarely appear on the runway, petite models are increasingly popular for commercial and print campaigns.
When the world thinks of supermodel Kate Moss, many think of her modelling accomplishments first and don’t factor in her demure 5”7 stature. Even in pop culture, the tides are slowly changing with reality television juggernaut America’s Next Top Model creating season 13 exclusive for models 5”7 and under.
Do You Measure Up?
It can be hard to disassociate the modelling industry from tall height requirements, however it’s an exciting time for the industry as it evolves into a more inclusive and diverse space. Model of all shapes and sizes are finally being celebrated for the unique beauty they bring to the modelling industry.
Becoming a model is based on a combination of things, with personality and natural beauty holding more weight than you may think. If height is holding you back, explore the other types of modelling and enquire regardless. You never know what your uniqueness can bring to the industry!