By Stella Rose Gahan
In the fashion industry there are 3 categories of models. High Fashion consists of models that are generally a reflection of the “heroin chic” look that supermodel Twiggy inspired in the sixties. This type of modeling strictly ranges from 5’9″ to 5’11” with a tolerance of 1 inch. You might be thinking “what about kate moss? She is one of the most iconic models in fashion and she isn’t within that range of height.” Well, models like Kate Moss, who are 5’7’, are an extremely rare exception within the industry of high fashion modeling. Aspiring to be a model while being a height of 5’7’ can limit your opportunities in modeling but doesn’t diminution the entire industry as a whole. But while height can be sparsely compromised; the weight of models in this day and age isn’t as willing to find the middle ground. The weight of these models can vary from 90-120 lbs, depending on the proportion to their height. Dress sizes are generally 2 to 4, or even a size 0.
If you don’t meet these restrictions, than you can explore the commercial industry, which is more flexible in its expectations. Commercial modeling includes models from 5’6’’ to 5’11’’. The weight requirements are more flexible in the commercial industry because their audience is directed toward people that fit the standards of an everyday person.
If you are a aspiring model and fit the requirements of high fashion or commercial, such as height and the “look”, but not the weight standards, than plus size modeling is your only option. The requirements of a plus size model are similar to high fashion standards with the exception of weight. The weight of a plus size model used to range from size 12-18, but now the industry is considering a size 8.
One example of someone who never quite fit the industry standards is Myla Dalbesio, an American model and performance artist quickly gaining recognition. Born in Wisconsin in 1987 and crowned Miss Teen Wisconsin at the age of 16, was later scouted by Jeff and Mary Clarke, who wanted to pitch her as a “regular size” model. She is a size 8-10 and never fit into any of the various categories standards of modeling, though she is 5’11. She never completely belonged with the lanky, skin, and bones or the voluptuous, curvaceous type. Being what the industry calls an inbetweener model, Dalbesio had to conform to the plus sized model appearance by using hip and butt padding to help her fill out plus-size clothing. She struggled immensely to find her place within the industry.
The average woman is a size 12, but the modeling industry makes it very difficult for women with an average body size to work in the profession. We need a modeling industry with a variety of female bodies so that everyone can see themselves represented. To solve this problem we need companies to incorporate a more diverse set of body types so that women, and particularly young girls don’t feel like they need to conform in order to be noticed.