Allie Ayers (left) and Olivia Jordan, Miss USA 2015, (right) pose for the 2018 Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. Photo: Taylor Ballantyne
Pageants have launched the modeling careers of quite a few queens. For example, this year during Sports Illustrated's #SISwimSearch, not one, not two, not three but six former titleholders and contestants made the Top 35 finalists out of nearly 5,000 entries. Olivia Jordan, Haley O’Brien Kalil, Maaliyah Papillion, Jasmyn Wilkins, Iyonna Fairbanks and Allie Ayers are all former competitors with the Miss USA Organization. Of those six, Jordan, O'Brien Kalil, Ayers and Fairbanks went on to make the Top 6 and will be featured in the 2018 Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition.
Pageants can be a foot in the door to launch your modeling career because they provide you with experience walking a runway and modeling in front of a camera. This will help you to stand out from other hopefuls who don't have any runway or editorial experience. (Find a Pageant Near You)
However, in order to succeed in your career as a model, you need to find which type of modeling is best for you. With an industry changing more and more each day, there is a type of modeling for everyone.
First off, the key to a successful modeling career is finding the right type of modeling for you. This article simply serves as a guide to help you navigate all of your options as you build your portfolio. These measurements are just averages and guidelines. There can always be exceptions. (Read: Here's What You Need to Book a Modeling Job)
In this article, you will find information about the following types of models:
Do you want to grace the cover of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar? When you hear the word "modeling," chances are this is what you think of. These are the big names that have built their brand as a model like Gigi Hadid, Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bundchen.
While it may be the most well-known type of model, it is one of the hardest forms of modeling. There is a list of requirements and characteristics necessary to be successful as an editorial model in the industry. One of the key differences of editorial modeling is that the model is more than just a pretty face. There is something unique and different about their beauty. There is something alluring about the model's beauty that puts you under a spell, making it difficult to look away. Essentially, their look is so unique they can market their look as its own brand.
One of the best examples comes from model Coco Rocha. Rocha has been dubbed by fellow supermodel Tyra Banks as the "Queen of Posing" and has been described as a "chameleon" in the industry. Rocha has created the demand for "Coco," not a "5-f00t-10-inch brunette with high cheekbones."
Coco Rocha modeling for InStyle Russia. Photo: Takay
Building this type of brand takes time and investment. This means the paycheck takes a backseat for awhile. There are a limited number of opportunities with fierce competition. As a result, editorial models often work jobs in exchange for exposure, connections or clothing used during the shoot.
According to Forbes, some the top earning models of 2017 include Kendall Jenner at $22 million, Chrissy Teigen at $13.5 million and Bella Hadid $6 million. However, these models have been working for years to become household names. According to Bizfluent, editorial print work can pay as low as $200 per day while Business Insider reports the average yearly salary for a model living in New York to fall at just over $48,000. Another important factor is height. The minimum height requirement for editorial models is 5 feet 9 inches. There is no height limit because the taller the better for many designers and agencies. Also, editorial models have very slender frames with the average being a 34-inch chest, 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips. (Read: Height to Weight Chart for Pageant Girls)
The top markets for editorial work lie in the four fashion capitals of the world: New York City, Paris, London and Milan. Some smaller markets exist in other fashion hot spots including Tokyo, Sydney and São Paulo. Since there are so few cities for work, travel is common with this type of modeling.
Coco Rocha modeling for InStyle Russia. Photo: Takay
A runway model walks the stages of designers like Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta at fashion shows across the globe. Many editorial models find just as much success on the runway as they do in print. As with editorial modeling, there is a slew of requirements to become a runway model.
First off, height is a larger factor. The minimum, like with editorial, is 5 feet 9 inches. However, many designers prefer models be at least 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches. Also, since models have to fit into the designer's clothes, not the other way around, runway models have the same average measurements of an editorial model at a 34-inch chest, 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips. As with editorial, the four fashion capitals of the world are home to the top markets for runway modeling. One of the tools required to succeed as a runway model is a killer walk. Your job is to model the clothes in front of a long audience. Gigi Hadid reveals her secrets to a million-dollar walk in an interview with W Magazine.
Even though smaller fashion shows take place throughout the world year-round, the biggest week for runway models comes in the form of Fashion Week in the fall and spring. These are the shows where top designers debut their new collections for the season. As with editorial, unless you are a household name, these shows serve mainly for exposure. Many models receive compensation in the form of free clothing from the show and gift cards for the brand.
Pia Wurtzbach models for Sherri Hill during New York Fashion Week 2018. Photo: Getty Images/Albert Urso
While editorial modeling is about building your name and brand, commercial modeling is just that, modeling. These are the models that book any work not associated with high fashion. This includes product advertisements, commercials and work as an extra. Since commercial models are just everyday people, there are no strict size, height or shape requirements.
Another great aspect to being a commercial model is that you have many more options in terms of locations. The top markets for commercial modeling include New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle. In addition, there are secondary markets located in Atlanta, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston. While extremely successful commercial models may find work in other top markets like Paris, Milan and Asia, overseas travel is not generally associated with commercial modeling. Due to travel expenses, most agencies typically work with commercial models who live full-time in their respective markets. (Read: Here's What to Look for in Modeling Agencies (And What to Stay Away From))
Now, just because your name is not in lights does not mean you are not successful. A commercial modeling career can be a money maker. According to Bizfluent, commercial models earn an average of $75 to $150 per hour or $400 to $950 per day. In addition, there is a higher demand for commercial models, which means more jobs. If you show up to bookings on time, are pleasant to work with, follow directions and dress in an appropriate fashion, word will travel of your professionalism, resulting in regular bookings.
Miss Pinellas County USA 2018, Leja Apple, poses with the final results of a commercial modeling job for Fruit of the Loom. Photo: Facebook
There is a whole commercial market for those whose modeling careers may be getting a late start. A mature model is someone over 30 years old who is capable of everything expected of a standard commercial model. The need for mature models continues to rise as marketers and advertisers understand the need to accurately reflect their target audience in their advertising. For example, at 89 years old, Daphne Selfe holds the record for the world's oldest professional model. She started modeling in 1949 and has not stopped since.
A few other notable names in this category include Marie Helvin, the 65-year-old whose lingerie photo shoot went viral, smashing stereotypes of ageism across the internet. There is also Veruschka von Lehndorff, who graced the runway from the early 60s until 2010 when she retired at the age of 71.
Daphne Selfe. Photo: Camera Press/John Swannell
Teen Teen modeling is one of the most popular industries. This is also the age many famous editorial models are scouted, such as Linda Evangelista, who caught the eye on a scout when she entered Miss Niagara Teen Contest in 1978. (Read: Top 10 Teen Pageants of 2017)
Teen models range in age from 14 to 17 years of age. Given that teens are still growing, there is a bit more flexibility with the height requirements. Girls ages 14 and 15 must be at least 5 feet 7 inches. Girls ages 16 and up must be at least 5 feet 9 inches. Granted, these height requirements fall more for a teen who wants to try her hand at an editorial career. There is also the commercial market, which, as mentioned above, has no strict height requirements. There are not strict weight requirements for teen models. There has been a movement within the industry in recent years to provide extra protections for teen models to keep them healthy. However, keep in mind, if an editorial career is your goal, the average measurements are a 34-inch chest, 24-inch waist and 34-inch hips.
Miss California Teen USA 2017, Jaanu Patel. Photo: Gail Bowman Photography
Child models are considered from three to 13 years of age. As a form of commercial modeling, they can be any size or height. With a child model, agencies are looking for someone who is comfortable on a set around many strangers, takes direction well and has a boatload of personality. Pageants are a common avenue to break into child modeling since it provides runway and walking experience as well as gets children comfortable in front of an audience.
Headshots and photoshoot competitions in pageants help children feel comfortable in front of a camera. Former pageant queen Eden Wood held over 300 titles throughout her pageant career before retiring at age six.
She walked in New York Fashion Week in 2016 and again this year.
Eden Wood models during New York Fashion Week. Photo: Eden Wood Official Facebook page
"Aw, you have such a cute baby." "She has such big eyes! Oh, and look at those cheeks!" "She is such a good baby! You are so lucky!" Any of these ring a bell? If you find people constantly complimenting your baby's appearance, a baby modeling career could be on the horizon. The only requirement for being a baby model is to, well, be a baby. Agencies generally classify a baby model as someone under two years of age. The most important factor in succeeding as a baby model is a great attitude. A moody baby will not do well on a photo or commercial shoot for hours at a time. The average baby model makes between $25 and $75 an hour per job. Major print campaigns do pay more, with an average of $125 per hour.
The average baby model can expect to book two to three jobs per month. It is important to prioritize what it best for the baby above anything else. With that being said, it is best to work with an agency that specializes in baby and child modeling. Certain types of pageants, like those dubbed international model searches, can be a great avenue for meeting agencies like this since they are expecting to see contestants competing in this age this group.
Leniylah White, 2017 Baby Miss Sunburst Florida. Photo: Newborn Arrival
Petite For all the short ladies, there is also a market for you! There is great success to be found for those falling under 5 feet 7 inches in areas of commercial modeling, including swimsuit, lingerie and parts. One of the most famous petite models is none other than the queen herself, Miss Universe 2012 Olivia Culpo. After a successful reign filled with photoshoots and glamour, Culpo used that momentum to launch her modeling career, booking jobs with L'Oreal and Kipling.
Most recently, Culpo was announced as a swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated and even walked in New York Fashion Week!
Being under the desired 5 feet 9 inches mark, booking runway jobs is going to be tough. However, as Culpo proved, it is not impossible. It is important to note that Culpo is exactly 5 feet 7 inches. This is on the tall end of the petite measurement scale and just shy of the standard minimum for runway. Culpo's beauty combined with her royal walk makes that measly two-inch difference seem non-existent.
Olivia Culpo walks for Sally LaPointe at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Olivia Culpo Official Website
According to the International Journal of Fashion Design, the average American woman falls between a size 16 and 18. However, runway models, with an average 24-inch waist, are size 0s. This disparity between the runway and real world has come under fire in recent years, creating a rapidly growing market for women with more realistic body types.
Some huge barriers have been broken by plus-size models in recent years. One of the most noteable is Ashley Graham. Since starting her career in 2001, she has started in numerous ad campaigns for Lane Bryant, Levi's, Addition Elle, Bloomingdale's, Elomi lingerie, Evans, Hanes, Liz Claiborne Macy's, Nordstrom, Simply Be and Target. In 2015, Graham was featured in an Swimsuits For All advertisement in Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition as part of the #CurvesInBikinis campaign. The following year, Graham became the first plus-size model to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition. Most recently, she has served as the backstage host for Miss USA and Miss Universe at both the 2016 and 2017 pageants.
Miss Angola 2017, Lauriela Martins, (left) and Host, Ashley Graham, (right) backstage during the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant. Photo: Miss Universe Organization/Benjamin Askinas
Let's not forget about the guys. Male models can be just as successful careers as their female counterparts. Males models typically range from 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 2 inches in height. The standard measurements for a male model are a chest measurements of 39 to 40 inches and a waist measurement of 29 to 32 inches. Agencies look for men that are fit and lean without too much muscle. The goal should be to look ripped with your shirt off but lean in clothing. Modeling is one of the few industries where males often make less than their female counterparts. Males, on average, make $150 per photoshoot. High-end campaigns pay $8,000 to $15,000, while those fortunate enough to become runway regulars can achieve six-figure salaries.
Model Jordan Barrettt on the November 2017 cover of Harper's Bazaar Thailand. Photo: Jordan Barrett Instagram
Male models with beards
Speaking of male models, there is a whole market for gentlemen rocking facial hair. Beard have become a phenomenon in recent years with hundreds of styles and products. Beard style and maintenance are a must. Regular trips to the barber shop and applications of beard oil will keep your facial hair photo ready. It is also important to rock your beard, whatever style, with complete confidence. Keep in mind this is a very specific look. This look is marketed by a limited number a people, which may means fewer jobs. The same specifications apply here as with the overall male modeling industry.
Mister International 2017, Paul Iskandar. Photo: Raymond Saldana/Klickbox Photography
Swimsuit modeling has wiggle room in size and height requirements. The average measurements for a swimsuit model are a 32- to 35-inch bust with a large cup size, a 22-to 26-inch waist, and a 33- 35-inch hips. In terms of height, swimsuit models do not have to be very tall with some models measuring at only 5 feet 5 inches. Swimsuit modeling has been evolving in recent years to include more bodies types and sizes in campaigns. For example, Target announced its swimsuit campaign would be Photoshop free in 2017 and feature new styles for women of all sizes.
The campaign even featured Miss Teen USA 2010, Kamie Crawford. Pageants provide a great start to break into the swimsuit modeling industry. Pageants like Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss America all feature a swimsuit competition, giving you experience modeling a swimsuit in front of a live audience and giving you the confidence you will need in the swimsuit modeling industry.
Miss Teen USA 2010, Kamie Crawford, models for Target's swimsuit collection. Photo: Target
Strutting down the runway of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show would be the opportunity of a lifetime for any model. However, while this may be the peak of lingerie modeling, you do not need a rail-thin frame to be successful in this category. The average measurements for a lingerie model are the same for a swimsuit model at a 32- to 35-inch bust, a 22- to 26-inch waist, and a 33- to 35-inch hip. The average cup size is a C. However, girls with a smaller cup size can be just as successful. Many swimsuit models often double as lingerie models.
Lingerie modeling, like swimsuit, has been evolving in recent years. Companies like Aerie are trailblazing this by having campaigns like #AerieReal. The campaign has customers post their unretouched photos in the company's clothing on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ArieReal. Then, the company features the photos as advertising on the landing page of the site.
Miss USA 2015, Olivia Jordan. Photo: Instagram
These are the ripped models you see in advertisements for companies like Nike and Under Armour. Often, fitness models are personal trainers and/or athletes who have added fitness modeling to their resume. This often comes as a result of working for fitness companies, supplement manufacturers and athletic wear companies.
Fitness models are models who are very athletic, fit and toned. The height averages anywhere from 5 feet 4 inches to 6 feet. The requirements are more relaxed than others types of modeling because it is more about body type instead of measurements.
USA National Miss 2017 Kendra Hale models fitness wear from Kandice Pelletier Swimwear. Photo: USA National Miss Official Facebook Page
This one may make you scratch your head a little. Those commercials for hand lotions, foot creams or mouthwash, well, the people those body parts belong to are considered models. Parts models only model specific body parts, such as hands, feet, legs, eyes and backs. They are often modeling some type of product. For example, a hands model can book jobs for nail products and jewelry. A foot model can book jobs for products like shoes or socks. Since the modeling is about the body part, it is important the body part only meet certain size and aesthetic requirements. A model's height does not really mater in this instance, so this presents a great opportunity for petite models. Their hands and feet are often smaller and more appealing than those of taller models, meaning they are more likely to fit sample sizes.
Miss Teen USA 2009, Stormi Henley models for Eli Halili Jewelry and Design. Photo: Stormi Henley's Official Facebook page
Product or promotion models are essentially brand ambassadors for a company. They shoot advertisement campaigns as well as promote a company's product or service at trade shows, conventions and live events. Pageant titleholders serve as product models through their work with sponsors during and even sometimes after their reign. For example, the Miss Universe Pageant has a sponsorship with CHI Haircare. During her year of service, Miss Universe promotes the product at her appearances and through promotional photo shoots.
This also ties into Instagram modeling, which you can read more about here: How to Find, Book and Prepare for Your First Modeling Job.
Miss Universe 2017, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters models CHI Haircare at the #GlamitSA event for her homecoming in South Africa. Photo: Miss Universe Official Facebook
Just because you have a disability does not mean you will not succeed in pageants or modeling! As the demand for diversity grows, agencies are starting to feature more models with disabilities. This industry does not have the same strict height and weight requirements as the runway and editorial industries. Madeline Stuart has smashed down walls to become what the press calls “the world’s most famous model with Down's syndrome.” She started her career in 2015 after an incredible weight loss journey and has since walked in many shows including twice at New York Fashion Week. She has also been featured in dozens of publications, including Vogue and Woman's Day.
Another trailblazer includes Mikayla Holmgren, who made history as the first woman with down syndrome to compete in any Miss USA state pageant when she took the stage at Miss Minnesota USA. Holmgren did not make the cut finals nights. However, she still took home the Spirit and Director's Awards!
Madeline Stuart. Photo: Cici Ziets
Models with tattoos
At one point in time, it was required to have clear skin to be a model. However, with the advancement of photo technology and makeup, a few tattoos can be removed from the final photo. That being said, for those would are heavily tattooed, there is also an industry for alternative models. These models sport unique looks and are often heavily tattooed with piercings.
In fact, there is even a pageant that awards the beauty of tattoos. The Miss World Inked Pageant, based out of Dallas, Texas, was founded to showcase women and their art. The pageant is open to anyone in the states or overseas over the age of 21.
Alternative model Catherine Mcneil. Photo Shawn Brackbill
Models with red hair
Red hair is always a great asset because it is unique! It stands out among a sea of brunettes and blondes. But, be weary, it is not a common look. Therefore, it may be harder to land some more commercial roles.
Models with red hair should follow the height and weight requirements listed in the industry they are getting started in.
Former Miss New York USA 2017, Hannah Lopa. Photo: Miss Universe Pageant
There is a stereotype in both pageants and modeling that everyone has a perfect everything. However, this is far from the case. In fact, some of the most successful competitors and models have found their success because they, in fact, are not perfect and have embraced their quirks. A common misconception is that models have to have a perfect smile. However, a slight tooth gap can bring enough personality and charm to an editorial set that it becomes a signature part of the model's look. A few who have found success with their imperfect pout include Lily Aldridge, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Georgia May Jagger.
Another feature some are self conscious of is a large nose. However, a large nose can be your friend with the right angle. While a profile shot may be harsh, the slight turn of the head will result in a fabulous picture. Most famously, Barbra Streisand has not let her nose get in the way of an amazing career. Perfect skin is also not a must. Freckles can be absolutely beautiful. Sabina Karlsson, Kate Krueger and Fo Porter are just a few of the many ladies who have embraced their freckles as part of their looks.
Now, stretch marks are generally considered a fear of many. A variety of things can cause stretch marks, including pregnancy, rapid weight loss and physical growth. While many celebrities and models have posted on social media about embracing their stretch marks, the fashion industry has not quiet caught up and frequently edits them out of the final photo. However, the British fashion brand Missguided recently featured models in a swimsuit campaign without retouching their stretch marks. If you have stretch marks, don't let that stop you from breaking into the modeling industry. You could be the next icon to break the standards!
Model Fo Porter. Photo Love Yaz
There are many categories and types of models. From print to runway, there is something for everyone. Pageant can serve as a foot in the door for a successful modeling career. Head over to our pageant directory to find a pageant for you!
Now that you know the type of model you will succeed as, it's time to get booked! (Read: How to Become a Model (And How to Get Your First Job))
Tip: "Focus on your inner beauty and never give up!"Learn More