Complete Guide to Plus Size Modelling

The modelling & fashion industry are catching up to the idea that plus size models are what people want to see in ads and TV commercials.

The Plus size modelling industry

It’s awesome to see that both the modelling industry and the fashion industry as a whole are finally catching up to the idea that plus size models are what people want to see in ads and TV commercials. In fact, diversity in models is often now a major factor impacting how brands choose their models. What this means for you as a potential plus size model is that there are far more opportunities for work now than ever before.

Here at Hunter Talent, we’ve certainly seen an increase not only in the number of briefs for plus size models but also briefs that don’t have specific height or weight requirements. And that’s not going to change. If anything, this trend will continue to grow making this one of the best times ever to consider becoming a plus size model.

So if modelling is something that you would dearly love to get involved in, but concerns about a lack of opportunities for people of your size have prevented you from taking that first step, then this is the guide for you. Here, we’ll go through all the ins and outs of becoming a plus size model and working in the industry. We’ll even give you a few tips that we’ve collected from the plus size models who we have worked with in the past.

To put it simply — this is everything you need to know about plus size modelling and then some. And yes, we’re talking about plus size female models and plus size male models.

What is a plus size model?

Many people assume that a plus size model is simply a model who is overweight, but that’s not the right way to think about it. Plus size models are people who wear larger sized clothing and you’ll never hear us describe any of our models as overweight. For women this typically would start at size 12, but more fashion brands are now pushing that to 14 and up as this is more in line with what the general public believes plus sizes to be. For male models, the industry considers men with a waist of 34” or more to be plus size.

Plus size models will do exactly the same kind of work as all other models. They help brands promote clothing, accessories, and shoes and pretty much anything else that the client requires of a model.

Can anyone be a plus size model?

Once you fall into those larger size categories then yes, anyone can be a plus size model. As we mentioned earlier, the fashion and entertainment industries are embracing diversity in an incredibly positive way and we’re not just talking about size here.

Whether you are an older male model or a model from a cultural background that is considered a minority, brands will want to hire you for their plus size modelling assignments. The same goes for models with disabilities. There’s always an opportunity out there that you are suited for.

Now, while we did say that anyone can be a plus size model, we’ll just add a caveat — you will need to be a hard worker and we’ll talk about that a little later.

Just remember that those plus size thresholds we mentioned in the previous section aren’t set in stone. You could be a male model with a 33” waist but your build might see you considered plus size. The same could be said for female models who are just a little smaller than size 14 or size 12.

What we’re saying here is that if you really want to give plus size modelling a try, then you should go for it.

Is plus size modelling easy?

Show up at the shoot, try on a few outfits, and smile for the camera — what could be so difficult about that, right? Well, quite a lot as it happens. The truth is that all types of modelling, from fitness modelling through to hand modelling, take a lot of hard work. And while the odd modelling assignment might be a quick in and out shoot that is over in the blink of an eye, they are quite rare.

So plus size modelling is certainly not an easy job.

But we don’t tell you this to scare you off. We tell you this so that you’re well prepared for the job.

A typical plus size modelling assignment will run for anything between a couple of hours to an entire day. Some will even run for several days. The assignment will involve a lot of standing around in between shots as the photography crew moves things around. You’ll have your hair and makeup done at least once if not several times while some shoots will require quite a few outfit changes. All of this will be done in a studio which could be either freezing in winter or baking in the summer 🙂

Seriously though, working at a shoot is certainly hard work and that’s before we even talk about the work you need to put in at home to polish up your skills and any travel that’s involved too.

But those aren’t the hardest parts of plus size modelling at all. The thing that makes modelling so difficult is the rejection that you are certain to face throughout your career. This is par for the course in the modelling industry and can be quite difficult to get your head around at the outset. But here’s the thing — for every plus size model assignment, there’s going to be dozens if not hundreds of models vying for the same job. Simple maths tells us that we’re not going to get the gig each and every time. What you need to do is realise that this is just a part of the job and has nothing to do with you personally. After all, a brand may be looking for a model with a certain look that you don’t have. And that’s no big deal.

What skills do plus size models need?

There’s this idea that modelling is just standing in front of a camera and striking a few poses, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a job that requires certain skills that you’ll need to perfect if you want to stand any chance of being a successful plus size model.

Below, we’ve listed just a few of the most common skills that all models need to have, and that means models for every niche and not just plus size models.


It may seem silly to say it but walking is almost as important as posing when it comes to plus size modelling. Now, you may think that because you’re going to focus mainly on catalogue work that you won’t need to worry too much about your model walk, but that’s not true. As a plus size model, there’s every chance that you may be asked to do some runway modelling at a live fashion show. And if you don’t know how to walk down the runway, you’ll end up feeling awkward and may even make a mess of things. That’s a surefire way to not get hired again in the future.

Get onto YouTube or take some modelling lessons and learn how to walk with confidence and perhaps a bit of attitude. Not only will this help you for live modelling events but it will do wonders for your self confidence.

A knowledge of the industry

Anyone who works as a model will have a basic understanding of industry trends and all the lingo that goes with it. You won’t need to know everything, but it does help your case for future bookings if the client or photographer can see that you have a genuine interest in your job as a plus size model.


A plus size model will be patient while waiting for their first modelling assignment but that’s not what we mean. What we’re actually talking about here is the fact that you will need to be very patient while working at a shoot. You may be asked to stand around and wait or have your makeup endlessly touched up. You may also be asked to do the same thing over and over again as the photographer looks to get the perfect shot.

For most models this becomes second nature very quickly, but for new models it can take some time getting used to.

Team Work

Teamwork makes the dream work, right? And it’s so very true in the world of plus size modelling. It makes sense when you think about it. At a typical photoshoot you’ll have hair and makeup people, wardrobe, possibly the client, the photographer and their assistants. Oh yeah, and you too. And all of those people have to work closely together to make the shoot a success.

This is why it’s absolutely essential that you are a team player and that you work well with people. Not only will this make your assignment run more smoothly but it will improve your chances of getting hired again by the same client or requested by the photographer.

You may also be asked to work at a live event such as a fashion show or an exhibition. These events have tons of people working behind the scenes and you’ll need to get along well with everyone if things are going to run smoothly.


This is possibly your most important modelling skill and one that is seriously underrated. You might just think that you can smile and get away with it, but if you look at models in any ads or catalogues you’ll notice that more often than not, they’re not actually smiling and they’re rarely standing in the same position twice.

Now, this may be a little tough to master at first because when practising at home, you will feel a bit silly. But there’s nothing silly about being able to drop into a few different poses when a photographer asks you to. In fact, this is one skill that photographers will appreciate the most as it makes their work all that much easier.

Check out some plus size models like Tess Holliday, Hunter McGrady, or Kelvin Davis and see what kind of poses they use the most in their work. You’ll notice that when it comes to facial poses they may have a few favourites and there’s nothing wrong with you trying to emulate those that you think look best. Just make sure that you set aside a short time every single day to practise this and give your poses names so that you can easily keep track of them.

Plus size model work and assignments

So you might be thinking that plus size model work is simply all about plus size clothing. Well, that’s not the case at all. Yes, there are quite a lot of briefs for plus size models to promote clothing but that’s far from the only thing that they do.

We mentioned earlier that the industry is embracing diversity and that’s because people now want to see people that they can relate to in the ads they see every day. So it’s not just plus size clothing briefs that come into Hunter, it’s all kinds of briefs as many general briefs for non-clothing products will have no requirements with regards to size or body shape.

For example, if a brief comes in looking for a model to promote a set of garden furniture or even a mop for the house, a plus size model will have just as much chance of landing that assignment as anyone else. Of course, not all briefs will be like this, but we are starting to see a lot more lately.

For the most part, plus size models tend to do print campaigns or catalogues, but on occasion you may be asked to audition for a TV commercial which is a whole different ball game and usually an interesting and exciting experience.

One thing you will find though is that every modelling assignment you take on will be completely different from the last.

How much do fashion models get paid?

Plus size models are paid in line with industry standard rates. Just so we’re clear, there’s no preferential rates for certain types of models, but models with a solid reputation and a lot of experience can certainly command higher fees.

So as you can imagine, this is a tough question to answer as it really could be anything depending on the client, the time you spend at work, any travel that may be involved, and how your images are to be used. A quick shoot for a small ad in a flyer will likely pay less than an assignment for an ad that will appear in a national newspaper.

If we’re talking ballpark figures then you can expect to make anywhere from $350 to $600 for the first few assignments if they are standard half or full day jobs. This could go up significantly if clients start to ask for you by name and you’re a model that’s in demand.

Just remember that in order to make the big bucks, you’ll need to work hard and be patient. Success in this industry rarely happens overnight. Keep improving your skills and one day you might command thousand-dollar fees for a day’s work.

A plus size model’s tips for career success

Over the years, the team at Hunter Talent has worked with plus size models who have enjoyed success in their careers. So we asked for their input into what it takes to make it in the industry. Here’s what they told us.

Grow a thick skin

Once you put yourself in the limelight, people are going to talk about you. And they’ll talk about you a lot. They may say positive things about you and they may say negative things. This, alongside the rejection aspect we talked about earlier, means that you will need to grow a thick skin and grow it fast.

Just bear in mind that there are always people out there who are either jealous of your success or simply like to say mean things. You’ll need to tune those people out so you can focus on the positives. Remember too that it’s not just plus size models that this happens to but all models.

Keep learning

No matter how great you may think you are at walking and posing and how much you may already know about the industry, it always pays to keep learning. This is because of the simple fact that no two modelling jobs are the same. So the skills that served you so well in one shoot may not come in quite so handy on another. So keep honing those skills no matter how long you’ve been in the game.

Protect your skin

Plain common sense this one, but we’ll go ahead and remind you that you should always wear sunscreen when out in the sun. Even on overcast days! The health of your skin is important if you want to have a long career as a model so try your best to take care of it.

Eat the right food

All models regardless of their size or weight should eat healthy foods and get some regular exercise. There’s a common misconception that plus size models don’t need to worry about this, but this isn’t true at all. This is not about losing weight or getting super fit, it’s about eating healthy so you can stay healthy and have a long and happy life (as well as a successful career!)

Network as soon as you can

There is a lot of value in networking in the plus size modelling industry as this can help you hear about upcoming opportunities and can put your name to the front of people’s minds when they’re looking for models. Just to be clear, by networking we mean creating actual relationships with people by speaking with them and being approachable too. So don’t just go out there collecting business cards and phone numbers. Speak to the people you meet and work with. You never know what kind of opportunities might come your way because of a chance meeting.

How to get started as a plus size model

Find an agency

This is the first step that we recommend all plus size models take as it will save you a lot of time in the long run. But as much as we want to tell you to sign with Hunter Talent, we’re going to advise you to do a little homework so you can find the right agency.

Yes, that means that there are plenty of the wrong kind of agencies out there too. Thankfully, Hunter isn’t one of those but they do exist and are often there to simply collect fees and do nothing to promote the talent models on their books.

The right agency will take care of its models, offer some resources to help them improve their skills (like this guide), have a good track record of booking work with household brands, and offer genuine guidance. Most importantly though, the agency will value its models and work hard to promote them.

One red flag to watch out for is an agency that tries to sign you over the phone or through email. An agency should always meet with a potential model in person or through a video call so they can discuss career goals and so on.

Get a portfolio

Your agency should be able to recommend a good local photographer for you who has experience shooting modelling portfolios. We can’t tell just how important it is for your photographer to have that experience. This is because they will know just how to present you in the way that clients expect. They’ll also highlight your best features and know just what the right poses are for your portfolio.

This is why it’s not a good idea to ask a friend to shoot your portfolio or worse, to do it yourself. Clients expect to see professionally taken images, anything less and they’ll skip right over your portfolio.

Remember, your portfolio is incredibly important as it’s the only way that clients can see what your potential is and it’s usually their first impression that counts. So get it done professionally even if it costs a little more than you expected.

Take care of yourself

We did mention earlier that you should eat healthy and protect your skin from the sun and that remains a priority. But you will also need to get enough sleep so that you are fully relaxed and rested. This will help your skin health and your energy levels which will be crucial when it comes to long photo shoots in a hot studio.

There’s also the small matter of your appearance. If a client hires you, they’ll expect you to look pretty much the same as you do in your portfolio shots. So try not to lose or gain weight and keep yourself looking as healthy as you did in that portfolio shoot.

Perfect those modelling skills

This is similar to a tip we mentioned earlier, but we think it’s worth repeating — keep working on those modelling skills. You just don’t realise how important it is to keep on top of those skills as they will certainly help you a great deal when it comes to the day of the shoot and calming those pre-shoot nerves.

How to prepare for a plus size model shoot

The day has come and you have, at long last, landed your first plus size modelling assignment. It’s an exciting time and you’ll no doubt have a mild case of butterflies in your stomach in the lead up to the shoot. Don’t worry, here are a few things that you can do to set yourself up for the perfect first modelling session.

Stick to your normal routine. And by that we mean don’t try to do anything outrageous like skydiving or bungee jumping in the days leading up to your shoot. The last thing you want is to have strained muscle on the day of the shoot. So even if you’re planning on something simple like a fishing trip the day before the shoot, we’d give it a miss just in case.

Don’t eat anything weird. As much as you may want to try that new noodle place in your neighbourhood, we’d advise against experimenting with food or drink in the lead up to your shoot. Nothing will ruin your day quite like a dodgy stomach on the day of the shoot.

Stay off the caffeine. Coffee is heaven for some but it’s also something that could leave you feeling all jittery and it may even make your nerves worse. Stick to herbal teas on the day of the shoot or even a hot chocolate but give coffees a miss just for the day that’s in it.

Our final tip for having an amazing photo shoot is to know where you’re going. Sounds silly, but if you don’t know the area that you’re going to or you’re not sure about parking or public transport, you could easily find yourself arriving late or getting lost and not arriving at all. This would be disastrous as there’s a lot of planning that goes into a shoot and money too. So make a plan for how to get to your shoot and leave at least twenty minutes earlier than you had planned to. If you’re early, that’s fine.

Join Us

If you have any questions or would like to know more about auditioning or even becoming an actor, feel free to give us a shout here at Hunter Talent. We’d be more than happy to have a chat with you to see if we’re a good fit for each other. Even if you opt to sign with another agency, we genuinely hope that the advice in this guide helps you along your way.

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