Is Tess Holliday’s Modeling Career Short-Lived? This Booking Agent Thinks So…

Is Tess Holliday’s Modeling Career Short-Lived? This Booking Agent Thinks So

Is Tess Holliday’s Modeling Career Short-Lived? This Booking Agent Thinks So…

Many aspiring models think the modeling industry is glamorous and well-paid. Some think it only requires looking pretty and taking pictures. But there is a lot of work that goes into being a model and according to an article that went live this week, the pay isn’t as high as one may think nor is the world of plus size modeling an easy one.

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This week, Business Insider shocked the plus size fashion industry when they published an article where they talked to a modeling industry insider, who revealed the reality of the world of modeling.

The insider, who is referred to as “Claire”, did not disclose her real name to protect her identity since she still works within the industry. Claire worked as a scout and booking agent in the plus size modeling world for one of the world’s most famous agencies for five years.

And what she had to say was very eye-opening, particularly when it came to discussing size-22 model Tess Holliday and the shelf-life of her career.

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Model Tess Holliday

Claire disclosed that catalog work is where the money is at, especially in Germany, with plus size models making an average of $1,847-2,309 (£1,200-1,500) per day. However, she points out that this is the pay rate for popular models that the brands love to use repeatedly.

A magazine editorial shoot pays $385 a day on average (£250). Walking in a runway show pays around $231 (£150). A lingerie shoot for a day for a brand could pay $616-824 (£400-600).

Claire’s thoughts on the biggest misconceptions on plus size modeling:

“The biggest misconception about the industry is that it’s just ‘fat modeling’. Also, the other misconception is that it is about encouraging women to be ‘fat’, and that it has nothing to do with a positive body image or being healthy. Many girls would come in who were clearly unhealthy and think they could model. We have to be seen as promoting health. Some girls who are 5’10” and a UK size 16 / US size 12 could never be a UK size 10 / US size 6, unless they starved themselves. That is not what we wanted to encourage.”

From left to right: Robyn Lawley (size 12), Tara Lynn (size 14), Myla Dalbesio (size 10) – all considered plus size models

When asked if there was a size that would be deemed too “big”to model, Claire responded:

“For us, anyone above a UK size 18 / US size 22 wasn’t easy to promote. But at the time, there weren’t the clients that wanted that size. If a girl wanted to work, sometimes she would have to lose a bit of weight to get to a more commercial size. which was ideally a UK size 16 / US size 20.”

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A model walking in a Livi Rae Lingerie show, wearing the same panties as the thinner model on the right.

She also spoke about how thinner models are used to model plus size clothing, with “fat suits”” and extra body padding:

“In America, the girls had ‘fat suit’, or just extra padding they could strap on to make themselves look curvier. This was usually applied around the hips. A few wore all over fat suits as it was too obvious sometimes. And, of course, some use a nice padded bra.”


When asked about Tess Holliday and what her thoughts were on the longevity of her career, Claire had this to say:

“I doubt Tess Holliday will get much more work than the Yours campaign she has just shot. Her agent has been very savvy from day one about using social media to drum up interest in her girls, and to win clients. But again, I think the much bigger sizes don’t have staying power. It is a freak show. The buzz will die down again.”

“To me, as much as I’m not about body shaming and am about acceptance, Holliday is not a healthy size and I think it does encourage those who battle with weight to just say “f*** it” and not take care of themselves. It’s not a popular attitude, but it’s my humble opinion.”

“Granted there are a lot of bloggers out there like Holliday who are [UK] size 20+ and write about fashion and acceptance, and good luck to them, but I’m doubtful it they will ever stick in the mainstream long term.”

With so many plus size women embracing their bodies and sharing their experiences on social media as well as looking to plus size models and bloggers for inspiration, you may be surprised to learn that the industry feels this way. Maybe not.

We do see comments all the time where readers say “She’s not plus size enough” or “She’s too thin”. Until the brands themselves are willing to accept larger bodies than what they are accustomed to, these practices will continue. The mindset needs to change in order for change to happen in who you see modeling the clothes being marketed to YOU. There are brands like Monif C. and Ashley Stewart who actually seek out more visibly plus size models to use in their campaigns and to model on their websites.

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From left to right: Olivia Campbell (for Monif C.), Fluvia Lacerda (for PMM), Kris Yeo (for Monif C.)

We sincerely hope Tess Holliday proves the industry wrong, has a long, successful career and paves the way for more acceptance when it comes to models above a size 18. We are rooting for her and other visibly plus size models who are just as beautiful and professional as their thinner counterparts.

Customers want to see size diversity. It’s a matter of waiting for brands and retailers to catch up to this way of thought and give the customers what they want.

What do you think about what Claire had to say regarding the plus size modeling industry? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

Click here to read the entire Business Insider article.