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How to Become a Plus Size Model

Ever since I was a kid, my biggest dream was to become a model, and if that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer at Sea World or a princess—ambitious, I know. I grew up reading fashion magazines, and I would see ads in the back of Seventeen Magazine and Cosmo Girl for the Barbizon modeling school. I would beg my parents to let me enroll, but they declined time and time again. Standing just under four feet tall and a bit on the chubby side, I knew that I looked nothing like the models in the magazines or on America’s Next Top Model. But that didn’t stop me from asking, “Why can’t I be different and be a model? Why do I have to look like them?”

I never really understood why my parents were hesitant to enroll me into the Barbizon modeling school or take me to casting calls, until one day, my dad finally gave in.

I was 16 years old, and I had grown to be five feet two inches tall. I was ecstatic for my first audition, but my dad was rather silent on the car ride over to the hotel where the casting call was held. The agents looked me up and down, and turned to my father asking him if I would grow any taller. He regretfully shook his head, “No.” Then, they looked down at me and said, “Better luck next year,” knowing that even next year, I probably wouldn’t have the slightest chance. I could tell that my dad was sad because I was disappointed. But during the car ride home, I kept telling myself that this wasn’t the end for me. I wanted to be a model, so one day I would be.

Fast forward to two years later when I am just about to graduate high school, and I have realized that modeling, dolphin training, and being a princess weren’t realistic, and that I actually had to choose something I could study in college. I chose to major in journalism, and I kept my love for fashion at the forefront of my mind. I took on any fashion assignments and internships. I eventually landed my own fashion column in my college’s newspaper. I wasn’t a model, but I was involved in a different sector of fashion. I still wanted more, though.

So, I started my fashion blog, Natalie in the City, in 2013. I had no idea my blog would open as many doors as it has. Within the past year, I have been able to work with huge brands and I officially launched my modeling career. Yep, this girl—who is still five feet two inches tall and now weighs more than 200 pounds—is a model. And it all started with my blog.

I modeled for Meijer's body positive campaign earlier this year when the brand made an effort to make their sizing more inclusive of larger sizes!

I modeled for Meijer’s body positive campaign earlier this year when the brand made an effort to make their sizing more inclusive of larger sizes!

I get emails and comments asking how I got into modeling, and well, the answer is my blog! I started taking pictures of myself, writing about my outfits, and building an audience and following on social media, which put me in front of leading brands looking for fresh faces. And yes, even though I don’t fit the standards (height and weight) for a typical plus size model, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t work for me. With brands like Ashley Stewart and Torrid hosting model casting calls, it’s a prime opportunity for women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds to get into modeling!

Here are five ways that you can launch your modeling career! They aren’t easy and won’t land you gigs overnight, but if you stay persistent, sky is the limit!

  1. Start a blog: Having a presence, voice, and a loyal following online can open so many doors for you. Whether it is modeling, a book deal, or working with brands to help them enhance their image or change it completely, having a blog can put you in front of the right people in the fashion industry. Having a loyal following and audience is very attractive to a brand when they are looking for influencers or new models to cast. If you model their clothing, they will gain your audience’s attention because they have included you. It gives you a certain edge over a professional model who may not have a social media presence or loyal following. I have loved having a blog because it entertains two of my favorite hobbies: styling and writing. However, blogging is not for everyone, and it can be very time consuming. If you are wondering how to start a blog, you can download my free guide: Are You Ready to Start a Blog? Or you can email me at
  1. Turn your Instagram into a modeling portfolio: I have seen many girls start out their modeling careers on Instagram by simply posting photos of themselves and getting reposted by brands and huge fan pages. Start by finding a local photographer who shoots editorial or fashion. I love working with photography students because they have such a unique and unfiltered perspective, which makes for breathtaking and powerful images. Once you have some photos, start researching relevant hashtags that apply to you, your vibe, your look, and your goals. Also, research Instagram pages that have a huge following and like to repost up-and-coming models. Another great way to gain exposure is by tagging the brands you are currently wearing in your photos. These brands have giant followings, and one repost could gain you hundreds of followers overnight, which means more exposure for you! If you love this idea, but don’t know where to start, emulate another model who frequently posts on social media.

    Big Fig Mattress hired me as a model to launch their product. This was fun! I got to lay on a bed in PJs all day!

    Big Fig Mattress hired me as a model to launch their product. This was fun! I got to lay on a bed in PJs all day!

  1. Enter brand-hosted casting calls: Brands like Ashley Stewart and Torrid annually host casting calls to find the next face of their brand. Thousands of women enter these competitions, but it’s a great way to get in front of the brand and meet other women who have the same ambitions as you! I have met so many other bloggers during model casting calls and gigs whom I have stayed in touch with. Developing this network of women who have the same goals as I do has helped me stay motivated and my connections have also helped me book modeling gigs! My model and blogger friends mention me to brands and networks when they can’t make a gig or if they think I would be a better fit, and I do the same in return. The best way to meet your future model girl squad is to attend casting calls or connect with them on social media!
  1. Attend an open casting at a local talent/modeling agency: If you live in a major city or close to one, research which talent or modeling agencies are based in your area and find out when they host open casting calls. Usually agencies will list these details along with the materials you will need to bring (a headshot) and clothes you need to wear on their websites. You can also call the agencies and ask them for this information. These open casting calls can be intimidating. I find that modeling agencies have the strictest requirements for the models they sign. So, it could be more of a challenge to get in with an agency if you are just starting out and don’t fit the usually height and weight requirements. However, during these open casting calls, you can always ask for feedback from the agents, and they usually provide you with great tips and suggestions.
  1. Create an online modeling portfolio: Similar to having a blog, having an online portfolio could also land you modeling gigs. I always suggest building a website on Wix or Squarespace because it is fairly easy to achieve a clean and professional design on those platforms. You will need to work with a photographer to shoot some images for your portfolio. So, before your big shoot, study images of models or watch a couple of episodes of America’s Next Top Model to learn how to pose and what angles work best for you. Be sure to include a biography, important contact information, and relevant links to your work or social media pages. Having a link to your online portfolio that you can put in your social media bio is also great if you plan to launch your modeling career on Instagram or another social platform.

    In June, I modeled an Eloquii swimsuit on Chicago's local news station WGNTV.

    In June, I modeled an Eloquii swimsuit on Chicago’s local news station WGNTV.

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