How high heels, accepting reality, hard work and looking in the mirror helped to make me a model.
Maybe one day I'll meet Kate Moss, I bet she'd be a lot taller than me. But being pint-size hasn't meants I can work with great brands and magazines, go to castings at Hearst, Conde Nast and stand in line with the lank giraffe models. I stand next to them all the time. My height is obvious. Or lack of. But normally at my castings I ask myself "what are THEY doing here?" Because it is a casting typically for my body parts.
I've found a way into the modeling industry through parts modeling, and over the years I have worked with great brands and magazines, you may have seen my foot in Macy's on a huge wall near the Easy Spirit shoes? You may have seen my hands in Bon Appetit magazine, or my legs in the Victoria's Secret catalog?
I put to use what I do have. But putting to use what I do have involves putting away the fantasy. The thought of being on the runway, working with fashion modeling agencies, being taken care of in this industry. I could work as a model once I accepted and noticed the truths of the short girl. Print modeling is the area to pursue, it is the area of modeling where every day looking people and attractive people with spunk and personality model lifestyle products. It welcomes all types because the print modeling world works off the products and services that all types of people use and buy. As great as this sounds print modeling is being a lone solider most of the time. It is working mostly non-exclusive with agencies and often being more of your own agent than anyone. It involves showing up to castings because you have the will to try, and want to, not because someone is your cheerleader and preparing you for the casting or job. It is making your own comp cards, marketing them to the right agencies, growing your portfolio, seeking out your own modeling work, gaining tearsheets, hunting for them, ripping them out of magazines carefully, letting each lead to the next. It is a process of years. It is like starting a little business of yourself and assets. But if you market yourself properly with professional photos, the right marketing mindset, and the ambition and availability to try, you can get yourself some work as a model. I don't care how tall you are. Height is not everything in the modeling world. But you have to see it that way and act upon it that way.
The more you notice about yourself, your assets, the better. I talk about this in my new book Short Stuff: on the job with an x-small model, and I talk about the hustle, the day in the life on the job working with brands and magazines, going to castings, and putting yourself and your assets out there in the right ways, to the right people, and opportunities.
I think noticing yourself is the most important thing you can do for yourself. In any pursuit, passion or career, or life. So I might not be super tall, but I have great skin, so I might not be able to get in the door with Ford, Elite, etc, but there are MANY print agencies out there, actually many more print agencies than fashion agencies, it's just that the media only talks about fashion.
You gotta notice yourself and work with what you've got! I wear heels, I love heels, but I have become over the years more comfortable with my own height, or.... my natural height in riding boots which only gives me about an inch or 2 more. As an author I promote the short chicks and I have become more comfortable with saying, Yes I am short. I am most happy in heels, but I know I am the shortest one in the room, usually even with heels on!
I wear super high heels at events, and even in meetings, running around, sometimes at certain castings, but I am not being hired for my height. I am being hired for my other assets, my energy, my smile, my hands, my body, even my legs, and having a nice even skin tone has helped.
For my modeling photos I have learned to stretch my body, to arch, to naturally and in a pretty way work my limbs to appear longer in photos, and here are tips on that, but I don't market myself as anything that I am not. I don't try to be a fashion model, I am not one. Fashion is an industry based on measurement, but I still have used my legs in modeling, alot! Especially with shoe modeling my legs are often and always in the shot, working the show, the angle, my legs to look a bit longer for photography and marketing sake for the product campaign, etc.
I also have looked in the mirror alot, I still do, and study my body. How it moves, what it looks like what I move a certain way angle, I will sometimes stand naked infront of the mirror or in a bikini and just watch my body, because for castings for body and parts modeling, it is good to know my body, ex: how my arm changes when I move it a certain way. I like to see the mirror's perspective because THAT is the camera's perspective.
Sure having a nice body and skin tone has been helpful but skin is not everything in modeling, and modeling is more about lifestyle than anything. Sure there is the glamour, fantasy in fashion which is fun to observe, and enjoy looking at, but that is a small percent of the photo shoots, campaigns and production that goes into the marketing and advertising worlds of selling products and models holding the product or using it. Most models are not supermodels, most are print models who have personality to help sell a products image. They are modeling accessories, technology, skincare, beauty, or for products in the areas of fitness, health, home goods, cars, beverages, food, oh yes coffee, and in the tampon commercials! Look around your house. Each item you own was most likely marketed to you by a model who was not a fashion model.
On this blog, soon, I am going to be showing you day in the life images that I see throughout my own day that represent "print modeling" and "commercial print models." An ad on a bus, in a magazine, in a store window.
Showing you that print modeling is alive and moving and accepts all ages, colors, shapes and sizes. You just have to notice it.
Something that is also good to notice and accept is the reality. Print models can make nice money, but print models are not jet set typically. Print models can model until they are grandmothers, but that doesn't mean they will model every single day and be sent on 10 castings a day. Print models still wait 30-60 days to get paid from a job. Print models are marketing their personality and other assets beyond height mostly. Print models experience a more hands-on pursuit. Print models are everywhere you look.
This is how I end the book Short Stuff: on the job with an x-small model:
It’s OK to be short. But not short-sighted.
“I only know I am short when I stand next to something tall.”
I know that it’s one thing to be short; and that it’s another to be short-sighted. I might not be a tall supermodel strutting her stuff on the catwalk, or posing in high fashion clothing for high fashion magazines – but that’s not everything in modeling.
Remember, striving as a modeling isn't about just knowing what you want to model, it is about knowing what you’re good for in modeling – knowing where you can realistically find opportunity and chasing it. Make sure you’re considering all you COULD DO, not just what you may not be tall enough to do. To be successful as a model it really takes a marketing mindset, a perceptive eye, knowing what is marketable about yourself, and being ambitiously realistic. Notice how I said nothing about height; it just takes enough will to try in the right ways.
I love surprising people and the looks on people’s faces when they meet me and ask, “But you’re so short. I thought all models were tall?”
I usually tell them with some sass in my voice, “Height isn’t everything in modeling when you focus on the other assets you’ve got.” Not matter your height, aim high, because the higher you aim— truly the more you get!