Supermodel Christine Alt's Plus-Size Modeling Advice
Plus-size supermodel Christine Alt's advice to wannabe plus-size models who want to sign with a big agency like Ford, Willhemina or Karin is not for the faint of heart: "Forget it. Go to college. Get an education," she says with a laugh. Seriously, though, there are several misconceptions about modeling, and Alt wants to set the record straight.
"It's not as glamorous as you think it is," she says convincingly. "You are not picked up in chauffeur-driven limousines and drinking champagne all the time. You're not going to be wined and dined." "It's a business," Alt says emphatically.
If you are determined to go for the big-time, beware of agencies that want you to plunk down money for a portfolio. Instead, says Alt, "Go outside with nice natural hair and makeup, good sunlight, and have someone who knows how to work a camera - not a professional - take a beauty shot and a full-length shot." And no cheesecake, please. "Wear something that shows your shape," she says. "Not lingerie. Not a bathing suit, but something that shows your shape and shows your legs."
Photos in hand, "Make duplicate copies and send them to all the agencies that handle plus-size," Alt advises. "Along with the pictures, send a letter, 'My name is such-and-such, I am 20 years old, I wear size 14-16, my measurements are this, my eyes are blue and my hair is brown. I like playing tennis' or something about you. Include your return address and a telephone number where you can be contacted."
By all means, avoid going to a modeling school. According to Alt, "If you have what it takes to be a model, you don't have to go to school." If, after sending your package to the agencies, you get The Call, they will ask you to come in for test shots. Remember that you have to pay your own travel and lodging expenses to get to the agency. "They will fix you up with photographers and hair and makeup people to test." You'll pay the artists themselves a total of approximately $400 for your test shots.
"The thing to remember is," Alt continues, "you may be gorgeous and look awful in photos. Or you may look awful in person and be gorgeous in photos." Even if you are the hottest thing since sliced bread and you're still rejected, "You shouldn't take in personally," she says. "It could be because your look isn't 'hot' now, so you could try again in a couple of years. You just may not have a marketable look at that time."
Even if you're willing to try your luck, the requirements for the major agencies are very narrow, so to speak. "You have to be between 5'9" and 6' tall, and the most workable size is a size 14," says Alt. "If you are the perfect size 18 according to industry standards, you could be a fit model, but you still have to be 5'9"." Saying she often gets an earful from shorter or bigger women who want to be models, Alt quips, "I don't make the rules. I just report on them."
But if you are altitudinally challenged according to the hoi poi of the fashion industry, all is not lost. "You can go to your local department stores or specialty stores, and sometimes do informal modeling or fashion shows where they're willing to hire models who are not with agencies."