How to Become a Plus-Size Model in Australia

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The fashion industry is finally embracing diversity of size and shape, which means a career as a plus-size model is now both possible and attainable. Aussie plus-size stars such as Robyn Lawley, Jennifer Atileme, and Kate Wasley have led the way, forging rewarding careers and showing aspiring curve models how to do it.

More than ever, there’s a demand for beautiful people who look like the people they’re selling to. As modelling icon Tyra Banks once said, “Perfect is boring. Human is beautiful”. Kick-start your fabulous plus-size modelling career right here, right now, with StarNow’s how-to guide.

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What is ‘plus size’?

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Plus-size models work for all types of brands, pose on fashion runways, and sell all types of services, products, and concepts. In other words, plus-size models do all the kinds of work standard models do. If you look at the career of Aussie plus-size superstar Robyn Lawley – featured on the covers of Elle and Vogue and hired by brands like Ralph Lauren and Barneys – it’s similar in trajectory to other top models.    

In the Australian industry, “plus size” basically means anything above a size 10 – which, incidentally, is most of the population! As in standard categories, plus-size models are usually 5-feet-8-inches to 6 feet in height and have a proportional body shape. Plus models look healthy, fit, and, as with all model types, are usually outrageously beautiful or striking.

The term “plus size” has proved controversial. Famous US plus-size model Ashley Graham has spoken out about the term, opposing its use as a way of ‘othering’ bigger models. Many agencies now prefer to call plus size ‘curve’.

Famous plus-size Aussie models

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We all need role models, and there are plenty of plus-size models who have had great careers while also promoting body positivity. Studying the career paths of people whose careers you aspire to is a terrific way to kick-start your own. Here are three Aussie stars you should know about.

1. Jennifer Atilemile

Where to follow her: Instagram: @JenniferAtilemile

Jennifer was scouted at 15, but when agencies told her to ‘eat more salad’, her mum said no, and off she went to university. But when the industry started to embrace diversity in all its forms, she was signed immediately. She became the first Australian plus-size model to sign with Victoria’s Secret. She’s also walked the runway for Bloomingdales, Tommy Hilfiger, and Christian Siriano.      

She said recently, “Being a spokesperson for something you’re just born as is really exhausting, but I know I’m changing lives, and somewhere a little girl is growing up and is going to see a girl who looks like them.”

2. Bree McCann

Where to follow her: Instagram: @BreeKMccann

The face and body of ASOS Curve, Brisbane native Bree McCann was scouted while on holiday in New York. She acknowledges that brands are now actively looking for diversity but says the life of an international top model isn’t easy. She told Style Magazine, “You have to learn early on to back yourself, protect your best interests, adapt fast, and navigate life in different countries. There’s a whole mechanical side to modelling you rarely see, and for me that’s the challenging part.”

3. Kate Wasley

Where to follow her: Instagram: @KateWas

Perth native Kate Wasley appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2018. She also became activewear brand Lorna Jane’s first plus-size model.

How to start your career as a plus-size model

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1. Be honest with yourself 

It’s important to have self-belief, but it’s equally important to be honest about your capabilities. If you’re 5 feet tall, it’s unlikely you’ll be a high-fashion runway model. Also, if you don’t like to be away from home, then the life of a jetsetting top model may not be for you. 

Ask a friend you trust to evaluate your capabilities – or even better, ask an agent who has professional modelling knowledge. Top models aren’t just pretty faces; they’re also hard workers who exude charisma, passion, and friendliness.     

2. Do your homework 

Doing some research into the field you want to work in is important. What kind of model do you aspire to be? There are a few areas plus-size models work in – fashion, commercial, and editorial – so find out what would suit you best. Look at the work of other plus-size models you admire, look at how they pose, and practice your own poses in the mirror or get a friend to take some snaps. Take time to study what makes them successful.     

3. Use social media 

Dig into the social media accounts of plus-size brands, modelling agencies, and models. Post your best shots to your own social media and tag them to try and get your beautiful, fabulous face noticed.    

See Also: Top Social Media Platforms for Influencers

4. Create a portfolio

To be taken seriously as a professional model, you need a portfolio of pictures that show you at your best. At the very least, this should include a high-quality headshot and full-length body shot showcasing your unique look and style. Also include details such as contact info, age, height, eye colour, and other body measurements. Your portfolio is a chance to show off the reasons why you should be hired as a model, so don’t be shy.   

5. Get an agent

Australia has a thriving modelling scene based in many major cities. Agents are based in Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as Sydney and Melbourne – although it’s in these two larger cities where the focus lies. Some of the top agencies that represent plus-size models include Bella Management, Vivien’s Models, Chadwick Models, and Brooklyn Management.

When you’re looking for agent, do your homework. Do they have a curve department? Who do they represent? What’s their reputation? Do they book the kind of jobs you can see yourself wanting to do? What ethos are they projecting? Do you click with their staff? Check out their agency websites for their submission policies and scouting approach. 

Note that no reputable agent will ask you for money up front. They make money when you make money, and they should be investing in you. 

See Also: How to Become a Model in Australia