I keep getting questions from women under 5’9″ and I had written something similar back in 2007. When I looked at these categories again, it reminded me of how many kinds of models there are.
Here is a breakdown of some modeling careers from my experience in the business:
Fit model: Mostly 5′ 7″- 5′ 8″, but have seen petite models used (height being 5-4″) and models being 5′ 9″ and over, (but past 5″8 is rarely used because the designers really want their clothing to fit women across America, so they take into account that most of the population is under 5′ 9″). Fit sizes are usually size 6 or 8 and 16 or 18.
Showroom model: I have seen petite, regular and tall women booked, it just depends on the clothes and the buyers whom are coming to look at the clothing line.
Commercial print model: I’ve seen women from 5′ 4″ to 6′ do commercial print, also all age groups. The client who books these models is looking for everyday people who do everyday things and not the high fashion model look. Think of ads for aspirin, paper plates, coffee, vacations, pharmaceutical companies, etc. The list is on-going and anyone who wants to go for modeling has an opportunity. There is even an agency in NYC that represents models and actors that can do funny things with their face, think of Jim Carey’s facial expressions.
High fashion model: This is the stereotype of “A MODEL”. These women are over 5’9″ and their size range from 0-4, maybe a 6 with the Plus girls being 5′ 9″ and over size 12-14/16. These women do the runway shows and the exclusive designer ads you see on bill boards and high fashion magazines. They sometimes do makeup and beauty ads, but usually they are left to what they do best…walk in a designer dud down a catwalk because they are built like a human hanger; or as with Plus models their height/weight is proportionate. Most of these models careers are over before 30 and most cannot do other types of modeling like swimsuit or commercial (the exception being that plus model’s careers last longer due to not looking older than their actual age…see girls a little padding in all the right places can help make you look younger!)
Beauty Model: These are the pretty faced women who you see in makeup, hair, and skin ads. The majority are tall, but again you can have a girl under 5″9. Look at Kate Moss or now all the actresses who are doing beauty ads.
Fitness Model: These women are fitness models because most are athletes whose bodies are earned through their hard work. Think of the ads for protein bars, yoga mats, Gatorade, etc. Also, I’ve seen all different heights at casting calls.
Parts model: This category is so unique. These men and women usually model one body part, i.e. hand model, foot model, leg model, etc. Think of ads for watches, hand lotion, nail polish, and footwear.
Web Models: These models, especially plus size models, have really carved out a niche for themselves. I have never seen some of these models do anything else, but there they are on web catalogs and websites. I see these women used for plus-size lingerie and costumes. They look great and must be wonderful to work with because I’ve seen these same models used for years. They might be local talent in some small city, but they are working!