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Getting Started in Plus Modeling

PMM ARCHIVES: Plus Size Commercial and Real People Modeling…

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Originally published PLUS Model Magazine 4/01/2008

This Month’s Question…

I just want to know what agencies there are for women weighing 250 and up?  I am 359 and 22, and I see pictures of women who are big like me on the internet as well as magazines and TV.  How do I apply??

Larissa Answers…

I actually have some friends who do what you are talking about. These friends of mine are actresses who do commercials and commercial print. Even when I go to casting calls for ads, like diet drugs, all the people who are called in are over 200 lbs. and all are professional plus size actors.

There is no agency that I know of who caters specifically to people over 250 lbs., but most agencies have divisions that utilize what are called, “Character Actors.” However, there are agencies that are dedicated to talent that has a “Real people” look or novelty characters. Most movie production companies contact these agencies for background work on movie sets. Also, advertisers deal with those types of agencies when they are looking for a commercial campaign.

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As I have written before… please research agencies in your area. Look for plus size print, commercial, or talent agencies. Write a cover letter and attach a few snapshots. Find out if these companies ever have open calls to see talent. Take an acting class… you’d be surprised at what you’ll find out about the business! Also, some of the best plus size models I work with are actors or have studied acting. It only makes you better in front of the camera and helps you be comfortable at casting calls (instead of being a nervous wreck). The plus-size models I personally know (that are working all the time in NYC) go out to TV commercial auditions and commercial print casting calls…not just fashion go-sees.

Read the entire article here.

Visit PLUS Model Magazine to see the current issue.

Larissa Laurel is originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. She is an actress, singer, and plus-size model. Her modeling career includes fit, print, fashion, and showroom work.

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Out Now… Fit Model 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Working in the Fashion Industry

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Out Now... Fit Model 101: A Beginner's Guide to Working in the Fashion Industry

Fit Model 101, the new book by Alia Parise.

* Exclusive discount for PLUS readers! Use discount code is PMM15 for 15% off

In her fun and easy-to-read guide, Alia Parise offers practical insights into working as a fashion industry fit model. She guides aspiring models through the first steps, fit castings and navigating professionally. Includes checklists, terms and definitions used in the industry and measurement guides. eBook / PDF format. 50 pages.

More Fit Model 101 with Alia Parise:

Fit Modeling 101: Your Model Bag
Fit Modeling 101: Fitting During the Pandemic – Going Virtual
Fit Modeling 101 with Alia Parise
Replay – IG Live with Alia Parise

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Getting Started in Plus Modeling

The Difference Between a Signed Plus Size Model vs. a Freelance Model

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Updated 1/9/2019

Q: What is the difference of being a signed plus size model vs. being a freelance model and what is the proper etiquette?

Also, if I am given a contract with an agency do I have the right to refuse or at least think about it before I sign and what should I be on the look-out for?

A: The definition of being a signed model means you have signed a contract, usually for 1 to 2 years, stating that a particular agency (and ONLY that agency) will represent you.

This does not guarantee that they will find you jobs or even send you out. This is why you must read the fine print of the contract. If you have a lawyer or a friend who understands the lingo (in case you don’t understand it) you have every right to take that contract home and think about it or show it to someone who can decipher it for you. You need to be on the look-out for loop holes such as how much territory (distance wise) they have over you which is usually fifty miles of the area they represent. Another loop-hole is if they have the right to drop you if you have not booked any jobs in 3 months or 6 months. Also, if you have the right to back out of the contract with no repercussions, if you feel they are not representing you to your standards. If you book a gig on your own, due to being a signed model, they are still expecting to get their cut of 10-20% since you are signed with them.

A freelance model is represented by that particular agency only if they are sent out on a particular casting by that agent or booked a gig through the agent.

A Freelancer can have many agencies working for them however; there is a proper etiquette you must follow. If more than one agency calls you for a go-see you must give credit to the first agency that contacted you. The other agencies who contact you, even 5 minutes after the first agency established you as “their talent” for that particular project, you politely say “I’m sorry, I have already been submitted for that project, Thank you so much”. Agents understand this and if they don’t like the fact that you are booking without them they will more than likely try to sign you! It’s business and if you become a hot commodity than someone will be more than willing to take their cut of your earnings.

Whether you are a signed model or a freelance model you are still your own small business and must regularly check in with agent/agency. Once a month you can shoot an email, write a postcard, or call to let them know you are around and tell them if you’ve booked something or taking a class (like a runway class)…so they know you are working and not at home twiddling your thumbs.

One more topic is website representation with an agency.

Even signed models are asked to pay a yearly fee of about $100 for the upkeep of their pictures on the agency’s website. You can request that this fee be taken out of your first job’s pay, so you are not coughing up money you don’t have. If your gut tells you the fee is too high or you don’t trust the agency, you can always wait to see or ask around on forums to see what other models may know about the agency.

The market in NY is mostly made up of agencies who like to freelance, while LA agencies like to sign when interested. It doesn’t make one better than the other, it’s just how business is done. Both ways still mean you have to work to get known or find jobs. So as long as you don’t forget that you still are your own business, you will be happy with whichever road the modeling world is offering to you at this particular time.

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Fit Modeling 101: Fitting During the Pandemic – Going Virtual

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FIT MODELING 101 - Fitting During the Pandemic – Going Virtual

Fit Modeling 101, by Guest Contributor Alia Parise – Fit Model and Graphic Designer. Follow in IG @lady_amalia_ and @aliaparisedesign

Fitting During the Pandemic…

This past year has been a serious roller coaster! All of our lives have changed with the pandemic of the Corona Virus and the regulations put in place to keep us all safe. For some of us, work slowed down or even halted completely. For others, like myself, work merely shifted and we had to go digital. In this article I will talk about my experience moving to virtual fittings and I’ll give you some tips and tricks on what I learned.

WHAT IS A VIRTUAL FITTING?

A virtual fitting is just like what it sounds: an online meeting where you fit the garments the client has sent to you. It is scheduled like a regular fitting, with Tech and Design present, to fit certain garments that come in and need changes and approvals. 

What has changed is that there is a new level of preparation needed: scheduling the pick-up and drop-off of samples, getting your equipment set up for the virtual meeting, making sure you have all the necessary tech info such as logins and meeting ID’s. Hopefully, this article can help prepare you for some of these preparations needed.

Please let it be known that it took me quite a few fittings to get everything right, so don’t worry! Everyone’s in the same boat you’re in, as we shift into a new working paradigm. 

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FIT MODELING 101 - Fitting During the Pandemic – Going Virtual

EQUIPMENT: GETTING SET UP

I was very nervous when I did my first virtual fitting! So, I was in the same place as all of you are or were. The first thought that came to mind was “do I have the right equipment?” I had an older laptop, one large shared space to fit in, no backdrop, and a nosey cat and dog. After several upgrades and tweaking my setup, I can give you a list of equipment that I use plus a few suggestions of what you can use in your situation:

  1. CLEAN BACKDROP: I have found that a light-colored backdrop is best for the camera; white is best, cream is good, but any light color will work. During a move, I found that a light blue wall worked in a pinch! I have a cream-colored folding screen that I can take out and put away, but when I started, I simply had a white sheet that I hung from my fireplace. I recommend an empty wall with enough space in front of it for you to put your laptop/tablet/camera and adjust them as needed.
  2. LIGHTING: Yes, lighting is key but do not panic. When looking for a space to set up your fitting, look at what natural light you have. Natural light is best to see the samples true to color, but I understand that many people may not feel comfortable near a window, especially if you are trying on lingerie or something equally revealing. I do recommend getting a ring light. I have a large one that can adjust the brightness and warmth of the light.

Quick Hint! If your ring light has a setting to adjust the color of the light, you want to put is in the middle between cold (blue) and warm (yellow) light. This will be the closest to natural light.

You can get a small one to start and upgrade as needed. No ring light? No problem! Bring in lamps or what other light you have available in the house to shine on you. 

  1. CAMERA: Your camera depends on what you have available. I started on my laptop which was a little old and didn’t have the best camera. I moved to a tablet which is now much better but occasionally has its drawbacks as well.
  1. LAPTOP PRO’S & CONS: You can type on a laptop much easier and therefore it’s easier to log into meetings. The laptop is also more stable physically, you can set it on a chair or table and not worry too much about it falling. Depending on the model, the camera is hit or miss. When fitting full length garments, you will have to adjust the camera and stand back pretty far for clients to see.
  2. TABLET PRO’S & CONS: Definitely not stable physically! You will need to have a tripod for it or a steady place to set it and make sure it does not fall over. I highly recommend a tripod with a tablet mount if you are going to go this route with a tablet or an iPad. The tripod is easy to move up and down, and back and forth as needed. However, you will be doing more moving around yourself as a good 95% of the clients you fit with will be on laptops so their view will be horizontal while your view will be vertical. You can always rotate the tablet so your view is horizontal, but I prefer a vertical view so I can see full length.

Quick Hint! When fitting, pin your camera view so that your laptop or tablet acts as a mirror and you can see what you need to adjust.

  1. EXTRAS: You will need safety pins and a measuring tape. You may not need the measuring tape that often but occasionally Tech or Design will ask you to take a quick measurement. You will need the safety pins more. On camera, Tech and Design can see where garments need to be pinched out/taken in/ or let out and they will take pictures for reference, but a safety pin put in place will be very helpful once the client gets the garment back.

AN EXAMPLE FITTING

Now I would like to give you an example of what a virtual fitting would look like. Included are tips I have learned along the way.

  1. The client will confirm a time and date that work for all involved parties. Allow yourself time to receive samples and put together your set up. If you live in a shared space (housemates, SO’s, pets) let them know about your fitting so they will not interrupt. I usually secure my cat in another room just because he’s nosey, but the dog just sits on the couch to watch. 
  2. Once you receive the samples from the client, familiarize yourself with the order of trying them on. Some clients will send you a schedule for individual garments especially if they have different Design members signing on at different times. I usually coordinate all bottoms/full length garments together, so I only need to move the camera once or twice.
  3. Do a trial run with your camera and lighting before the meeting. Simply turn on the camera in selfie view and adjust as needed. The camera should be about chest height for tops and midriff height for full length and bottoms.
  4. Log into the meeting with the link the client provides. Make sure you have a contact you can text or speak with in case you are having problems. I like to log in 5-10 minutes before hand in case I need to troubleshoot. Make sure your phone is on vibrate. I do vibrate not silent because sometimes another Tech will try to get in touch during a fitting.
  5. Once you log in, always ask if everyone can see and hear you.
  6. During the fitting, have your measuring tape and safety pins nearby. Use the camera like a mirror and adjust the garments as needed or as the clients ask. Also have a chair nearby for the occasional sit test or you need to sit close and low to the camera for close up views for the client.
  7. Once the fitting ends, make sure you exit properly. Sometimes the online meeting will need to continue without you especially if they are fitting with an additional model. 
  8. Pack up the samples neatly and coordinate with your contact about sample pickup. Don’t worry about folding the samples exactly the same way they were sent to you. The client will typically steam them once they get them back.  Remember to send your invoice in immediately after the meeting or as soon as possible.

***I have done this many times! Always make a point to send the invoice for the virtual fitting as soon as you log out of the meeting. In the chaos of packing up the samples and making sure they get back to the client, I have forgotten to send the invoice. I have ended up sending it a day or two later when I remember. On that note, keep very meticulous records of your fitting schedule. My calendar is a life saver! ***

LAST NOTES

Going virtual can be intimidating at first, but please remember that the clients are often new to this process as well. You can always upgrade and improve your setup and it will be an excellent investment. You will quickly learn what works and doesn’t work for you. I prefer to fit on a tablet, my co-worker prefers her laptop. I lay my samples out on a table, she hangs hers on a garment rack. I have a large ring light because I have a very dark area so now, I can fit any time of day, and my co-worker has a studio with a lot of natural light so she prefers to fit in the late mornings and early afternoons.

Everyone’s situation is different as we continue to work during the pandemic, and everyone must adjust accordingly. I hope this article will help you as you move forward in your career. I am glad that I can pass on my knowledge and tips to others so that your transition will be easier. I wish you all the best.

Fit Modeling 101: Your Model Bag

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Fit Modeling 101: Your Model Bag

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Fit Modeling 101: Your Model Bag, Always Be Prepared!

Fit Modeling 101: Your Model Bag, by Guest Contributor Alia Parise – Fit Model and Graphic Designer. Follow in IG @lady_amalia_ and @aliaparisedesign

Always Be Prepared! Supplies for Your Model Bag

Being a fit model is both similar and different from being a fashion/print model. The main similarity is that you do not want to be caught without supplies! But as a fit model, what supplies do you need? Here is a comprehensive list from a person who is always prepared for anything!

Let’s Talk About The Model Bag

The Model Mag

I personally carry a large black tote (or duffel bag) that is stain resistant with a flat base. You want stain-resistant or a fabric that is easy to clean. You will most likely keep this bag in the trunk of your car, the bottom of your closet, or an easily accessible corner, etc. so it should be durable. Let’s also mention the various clients’ offices that may have hardwood, carpet, or even concrete floors! You want your bag to have some sturdiness to it so it can stay looking nice and clean as it will deal with many types of surfaces. 

My model bag tote also has several outside pockets for all the little things you will need to carry, which I’ll mention shortly, and one to two inside dividers for organization. I also recommend a shoulder strap in addition to handles for when your bag gets a little heavy.

Undergarments

Undergarments

Okay you need the basics: nude and black panties and thongs. Some clients want no lines, some want the natural look, so always carry both. You will also need a molded cup bra and an unlined bra. Again, the clients will usually specify but always have both on hand. 

If you can fit more than one bra size, in other words, a 40DD=38G, bring examples of the bra sizes you fit to show clients the comparison if the occasion arises. I fit a 40DD with one client and they were surprised and interested to know that I could fit a 38G with another brand, and they kept it in mind for future fits.

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SPECIAL NOTE! When you fit with a client and they measured you in a specific bra, because they need your bust to be a specific measurement, always wear that same bra when fitting with that client. If you need to change that bra or wear a different bra for any reason, let them know.

Shoes

Shoes for your models bag

You will need a pair of flats and a pair of heels to go in your model bag. Go to the fitting in what shoes you are comfortable in but always have the other pair on hand. Trust me! I had one client that was very impressed that I carried my heels with me so they could see how long garments looked with heels. 

If you want to wear sandals, wear a pair that is easy to slide on and off. No extra straps, buckles, or ties that will take time to do and undo. As a personal recommendation, please no flip flops. You want to appear as professional as possible. If you have worked with this client for years and it doesn’t bother them, that is a completely different story. 

Clothing for Your Model Bag

Model Bag clothing

I usually go my fittings in skinny jeans and a cami top for ease of measuring, but always be comfortable. If this is not your go-to, pack a pair of leggings and a tank top. You will want to wear something that is easy to change in and out of, but the idea is for them to see your body.

PRO TIP: Do a little research! If you are fitting with a brand name client, try to go to the casting or fitting, wearing their garments. Fitting with a client that does activewear? Show up dressed for the part in athletic leggings and a sports top! 

Lady Extras

cup inserts or pads

Let’s face it, we’re not all symmetrical! You might need to bring cup inserts or pads. Go to a few fittings and get a feel for it. And you might need lady supplies. You don’t want to face any surprises! Especially if your fitting runs for several hours. 

models bag

And the basics for your model bag: deodorant (spray or regular – make sure it won’t leave marks), hair ties or clips, and band-aids (if you’re slipping in and out of shoes many times they come in handy!)

Random but Useful – From Real Experiences

models bag accessories
Protective gear for your models bag
  • Measuring Tape: occasionally you need one, whether you need to measure yourself or if the tech people need an extra.
  • Safety Pins: Seriously! I have been to more than one fitting where they were not prepared and fit me with straight pins! Ouch!!
  • Washable Marker: on occasion, they need to mark your skin where garments should lay, and a washable marker can do wonders. An old reliable Crayola works great!

Last Thing!

Binder
Binder

Carry a folder, book, or binder to carry your invoices and model cards in your model bag. This is a good idea in case clients give you their business cards or other paperwork. And don’t forget your pen!

I hope this was helpful to all of you! It is a pretty in-depth list for newcomers but once you get into your groove, you will know what you do and don’t need to carry with you. I wish you all the best!

Fit Modeling 101: Terminology and Your Role in the Production Process

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Fit Modeling 101 with Alia Parise

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Fit Modeling 101 with Alia Parise

Fit Modeling 101: Terminology and Your Role in the Production Process

Fit Modeling 101, by Guest Contributor Alia Parise – Fit Model and Graphic Designer. Follow in IG @lady_amalia_ and @aliaparisedesign

Fit Model Alia Parise

So now you are a fit model! Congratulations! Now what? Some of you may have some experience in the fashion industry, some may not. Here is a quick overview of some fashion production terms you may come across and knowing these terms will help you give concise and helpful feedback for the designers and technicians.

Plus Size Fit Model Shares What It Takes In The Plus Modeling Industry

One Thing First About Fit Modeling

I have met many fit models and we have all had the same initial question: what do I say? What do they want to hear from me? So picture this: they have hired you to be a hypothetical customer for their garments. They want to hear what you like and don’t like about the garment you are trying on: is the armhole too small? Are the sleeves too long? The pants too tight in the seat? Are the buttons on the chest popping open when you move around? 

You may think “I don’t want to complain or sound whiny.” I understand, but remember this, if you are looking at the garment in the store and there is some little detail that would prevent you from buying it (loose button thread, twisted hem, itchy fabric) that is information that will help them.

“You are being hired to help the company lessen returns.” – Shalon Dozier, The Dozier Agency

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The company you are fitting for wants as few returns as possible. Anything that will bother you as a customer, they want to hear.  

Okay! For this article, I’m going to cover the stages of fitting a sample.

Your First Fit

fit modeling 101 examples

As a fit model, a First Fit is just that: it is the first physical sample of that garment that the design and tech teams have received from the factory based on designs and patterns. For this first stage, you should question every little detail about the garment that bugs you! The more changes they make with the first sample, the fewer reiterations and new samples they have to make.

Again, you may not want to sound like you are complaining so here is where you use a bit of diplomacy.

Here is an example:

The waistband is sitting really high on you and its unflattering. Personally, you think it’s ugly: DO NOT SAY THAT! That is not helpful.

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You say: “Is this garment supposed to be high waisted or empire style?”
Designer: “High waisted.”
You: “Well, it is sitting at an odd spot on me, can it be lowered?

In fit modeling, your comments should be constructive without being derogatory to the designer’s style. It may not be your style, but you should give comments as if you would buy it.

Terri Murray Speaks About Fit Modeling

Second/Third/Successive Fits

model Alia Parise

With the successive fits, it is helpful if you remember what the previous comments were. If you do not, that is okay! You can always ask the Techs what the changes were from last time. Then you should check everything that bothered you about the garment before.

Special note for plus size fit models!

Often within a company, the plus styles are based on a style that sells well for their standard/Missy sizes. They want to be consistent, so occasionally you might need to ask how the same style looks on their standard/Missy model so they do not look too different.

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PP – Pre-Production Sample

This sample is almost ready to be cut and sewn at the factory, so at this stage they cannot make too many changes. Especially no big pattern changes! The fabric has already been purchased and any minor pattern adjustments will affect their costs. You will want to look for the little things: bad sewing, crooked hems, back length needs an inch, etc. 

If they are major problems with the garment (ie. measurements are very off, wrong fabric, requested changes not made) they will sometimes request a second PP sample.

Alia Parise, virtual

TOP – Top of Production Sample

This sample comes from the factory in the beginning of production so they can check the factory’s quality. No major changes are possible at this point so you will mainly be checking the sewing quality.

Again, if there is a major problem, it needs to be brought to Design’s attention immediately!

Here is a worst-case scenario example that actually happened to me:

This company ordered a style of top in four different colors. On me, all four tops fit differently and all four had different sleeve lengths. One top even had two different sleeve lengths! The left sleeve was past my knuckles and the other was 3/4 length. In this case, Design and Management was called in to review the garments and found them unacceptable and the order was cancelled.

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QC – Quality Control

These garments have been finished, shipped, and stocked in the company’s warehouse. The QC is the last step before the garments are shipped out to customers or distributors. No changes can be made but they can watch for certain call-out that might be reasons for returns: loose buttons and threads, uneven ties, crooked stitches, etc. 

Some QC you try on will be reordered in the future! Either in a different color or in a slightly altered style. Here is where you mention that some issues could be fixed for the next order.

Last Notes on Fit Modeling

Just a few last notes for you!

1. Get a feel for the designers’ style and aesthetic and that will help you give better feedback! Does this designer tend to make their garments higher waisted? Looser fit? It’s the little details that help you improve!

2. Roughly eight times out of ten, there is nothing they can change about the fabric. So, if it is itchy let them know, but due to costs, they may not be able to change that. Depending on the company, their first and even second and third samples may not be the final fabric.

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3. Remember you are fitting for an average size. You might be bigger or smaller in some areas that other people your size. If you are on the tall side, remind Design and Tech that you are tall, and that garment should also accommodate a shorter person. Keep this first and foremost in your mind, especially if you know there is an aspect of your body that is not “average.”

Okay! I hope this was helpful to all of you interesting in fit modeling! Yes, I know I threw a lot of information at you, but you will be okay. I did not know all of this at my first fitting or even my twentieth, but you will learn as you go along and pick up all the little nuances on the way. Wishing you all the best in your fitting careers!

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Getting Started in Plus Modeling

Aspiring Plus Size Models – Facial Expressions

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Aspiring Plus Size Models – Facial Expressions… I was recently asked by an agent about how I choose models for cover, editorials, etc. A lot goes into the decision making process, but I can tell you that one of the main things I’m looking for is how the model connects with the camera. This is one of the primary things I’m looking for when choosing models for PLUS Model Magazine.

You can be the prettiest girl, and signed with an agency but if your eyes are dead – your pictures are useless. Facial expressions and practicing how to use your face and your eyes in particular to connect with the camera is paramount.

The muscles around eyes can be manipulated, did you know that? Raise your brows up and down for me. See, that was using your muscles! The key to making sure that you are using your eyes as well as the rest of your body when you are modeling is “FEELING”. You have to FEEL an emotion and let it speak through your body from head to toe, but mainly through your facial expression.

You should begin a daily routine of practicing facial expressions in the mirror. You should be able to express happiness, anger, surprise, shyness, excitement, boredom and sadness.  Have someone take snapshots of you when you are ready and critique them, put them next to photos of models on the internet and see if the look is similar. You must practice! When you are hired for a job, this is not the time to practice. The client expects you to know how to model and need limited input.

Another great way to practice emotion is by taking an acting class. Acting classes are great because the assignments or workshops involved help to get you in touch with your emotions. Modeling is very much like acting without the script.

If this is a career you are seriously pursuing, you must practice and test often in order to be ready for your big break.

Here are some samples of facial expressions aspiring or new models should be practicing.

 

 

 

 

 

Models

www.dorothycombsmodels.com

 

 

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