“Why can’t girls and women without a standard size 2/4/6 or 12/14 be a model? Size 8, 10, 16, 18 and everything above can be just as beautiful, right? Surely there are anough women with these sizes and measurements!”

I often bump in to these questions, just as I did last week during a discussion about size-24-model/blogger Tess Holiday.

Body shape diversity

On the one hand I completely understand these questions; why couldn’t women size 8, 10, 16, 18 and any size up be a model? 

Diversity in model land in terms of body shape, and thus the image that we see in the media, is a phenomenon I praise and would love to see further develop.

On the other hand: diversity in terms of body shape is a tat difficult. Yes, we have Tess Holiday, contracted at Milk Management, with her size 24. This doesn’t mean though that anyone with a size 24 can be a model.

This is not because modeling agencies think women with size 24 are less beautiful or because they want to bully these women; it’s solely because a size 24 woman doesn’t fit into the size requirements from the fashion industry.

tes s
Tess Holiday on Instagram

Sample sizes in the fashion industry

The fashion industry requires straight-size models to be between 5.8 and 6 and wear dress size 2/4/6. In most cases, plus-size models need to wear a size 12/14 (the plus-size sample sizes ranges from a size 8 to 16). You can see what this looks like at the above featured image by Terry Richardson for V Magazine. These requirements are logical, as the fashion industry works with sample sizes 2/4/6 and 12/14.

Samples can be seen as prototypes. Logistically and production-wise it is handy for the fashion industry to work with the same sizes. Furthermore, sample sizes are for instance easier to compare with each other than comparing a size 6 with a size 16. 

The samples of designers and fashion brands will amongst others find their way to PR agencies for promotion. Stylists, hired by a magazine for example, borrow clothing for their shoots from these agencies. You understand that it is very difficult for a model with a size 8/10 to fit into a size 6 or to fit in a size 14 as a size 24 model. This is exactly the reason why modeling agencies work with models with standard sizes: 2/4/6 for straight-size models and size 12/14 for plus-size models. Models with these standard sizes are much easier to book jobs for than models with any other size.

Different sizes for models

Easier, nòt impossible. Indeed, there are brands that have samples in size 8/10 and there also may be brands that make samples in sizes above size 14. I don’t dare to say for sure, but this may have been a reason that Tess has managed to get signed with a modeling agency while she is a size 24.

I dó dare to say quite firmly that for other women wearing a size 54 or other non-standard model size, chances are very little to be able to work as a model. There are just too little brands that produce samples in non-standard sizes. As such, there is no logic for modelling agencies to contract models with size 24 or other non-standard model sizes. They will, after all, have little or no work. And if there would be a market for models with non-standard model sizes, modelling agencies would never contract a large number of these models. Those current handful of models wearing a non-standard model size contracted at modelling agencies are an exception.


Tess is model wearing a size 24. The fashion industry, however, works with sample sizes: 2/4/6 size for ‘standard’ collections and size 12/14 for plus-size collections. In order to work as a model, in general, you must be able to fit into these sample sizes. Indeed: in principle. That’s because there are exceptions and Tess is one of them. Actually, this means that it ìs possible to model with a non-standard model size, but that chance is very small.

* Note: I wrote this article with my knowledge and seen from my vision as a straight-size model. I am not a plus-size model, nor a booker or a fashion designer or fashion brand. Per modeling agency size requirements may vary a bit.  This article does not aim to give an opinion about (aspiring) models with non-standard model sizes, but is solely intended to be informative.

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About Author

Hey! I'm Angela; a 30-something mommy and a now REAL #fitchick, digi nerd, photo & film shooter hobbyist, MSc specialized in Health Education, marketingspecialist and an international fashion model for 20 years. I've worked for eg. Viktor & Rolf, Nivea, Escada, Elle, Vogue and Glamour.

I write about everything that I find worth sharing. Go ahead an take a look around. Don't hesitate to share your thought sor opinions. Enjoy!

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