The modelling world has been continuously evolving with more people using their voices to promote diversity in the fashion industry. We no longer want models to represent the image of perfection but rather see them as something natural and realistic. Thanks to our voices, brands such as ASOS and Aerie embraced the changes and stopped photoshopping out their models’ stretch marks. We are now closer than ever to finally proving that beauty comes in all sizes, colours and backgrounds. However, there is still a large segment missing in the modelling industry that requires our attention – absence of petite models.
By Kamilla Bakiyeva
Why The Absence of Petite Models in Modelling Agencies is a Problem
While the modelling industry has come a long way, with now welcoming curvy models like Ashley Graham and Danielle Redman, it is still unclear to why the Petite section remains missing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an average Australian woman is 161.8cm, yet in order to become a female model, the height requirement is to be over 173cm. That is considering some of the biggest models in the world, Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne and Emily Ratajkowski are all shorter than the ‘regular model standard’ and that did not stop them from entering the modelling world. Unfortunately for other shorter girls, their height still remains a big hurdle standing between them and their dreams of pursuing a modelling career.
Image Source: Fashion Weekly
Why Does The Modelling Industry Favour Taller People?
Long legs and slim figures have been part of the modelling standard for as long as we can remember, starting with Lisa Fonssagrives. The Swedish model is often credited being the world’s first super model, also presented a height of 170cm and a relatively slim figure. Being mainly famous in the 1940’s and 50’s, she even once described herself as a “good clothes hanger”, potentially setting the stereotype and requirement of how models needed to look like.
It makes a lot of sense that on runways, models that are tall and lean tend to visually display the clothing better, as their figures help to avoid the fabric to bunch up or crease. It’s important for designers when presenting their pieces to make sure that nothing distracts the overall attention from the outfit, resulting in the higher demand for taller models.
Image Source: Vogue
It’s Time for Modelling Agencies To Embrace Change in the Fashion Industry
The era of walking mannequins has now ended, with society expecting models to represent healthy bodies and empower others with positive self image. Not all of us are born taller than 173cm and in a time where diversity and inclusion are being praised, modelling agencies need to evolve to stay relevant. If curvy models are being included, how come petite models are not?
To contribute to diversity in the fashion industry, major clothing brands such as ASOS, Topshop, Forever New and Boohoo now include a separate Petite clothing range, specifically aimed at shorter women. The ASOS Petite range only features shorter models with avergae height of 163cm to present the clothes, as we are no longer concerned with how the clothes look on the hanger but rather girls our size. Considering petite models find it challenging to get signed to an agency, it might become an issue for brands to find models for their Petite ranges. This gap creates a great opportunity for modelling agencies to start scouting petite models and start embracing the changes in the fashion industry.
What Can We Do About It?
In today’s day and age, every single one of us has a voice. Social media platforms provide us with a powerful tool for raising awareness, encouraging change and celebrating diversity. We are no longer afraid to speak up and point out important issues in the society.
This year we launched a Petite Model Search, to bring attention to the current state of the modelling industry and create a conversation online. We were astonished to see how many individuals are discouraged to pursue their modelling dreams as they are continuously presented with the image of never making it, solely based on their height.
How often are we told beauty comes in all shapes and sizes? And yet the petite models are still being neglected. This is why we need the conversations to keep going and the encouragements for change need to be heard. Our voices need to grow louder and it’s time to finally prove that clothes no longer wear us but it is us that wear the clothes.