Fashion modeling may seem like a glamorous career choice, but teen models face intense competition for available work. The modeling industry also has unscrupulous individuals who try to play upon the dreams of naive young people. An aspiring teen model should familiarize herself with the basic requirements for professional models in order to avoid falling prey to a modeling scam.
Agency vs. School
All teen models need to understand the difference between a modeling agency and a modeling school. Agencies such as Wilhelmina Model Management, Elite Models, Ford Modeling Agency and IMG Models hire models for paying jobs. All modeling agencies must have a license and most will schedule casting calls during standard business hours. Schools take money to train aspiring models and charge for supplementary services like a portfolio of professional photos or a model website. Models, regardless of their age, should remember that it's not necessary to hand over a credit card to secure paying jobs.
The major modeling agencies generally require that models be at least 14 years of age. Parental consent is mandatory for all models under 18 years of age. Minors do not have the legal capacity to sign contracts or make business decisions on their own behalf.
Professional models are significantly taller than typical teen girls. The Elite Models website states that models that are age 14 or 15 must be between 5'7" and 6'0" tall. Girls who are age 16 to 22 must be between 5'9 and 6'0". The Wilhelmina Model Management website says that all models must be at least 5'8". Ford Modeling does not list specific height requirements for its open calls, but asks models to provide their height, weight and full measurements.
Modeling agencies generally do not have specific weight requirements for their teen models. It is true that models are thinner than the typical teenage girl, but there has been a growing effort to make sure that professional teen models remain healthy. Wolf's Models Guide reports that Israel has required all models to have a minimum Body Mass Index of 18.5 since 2012. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. The same year, all editors of the various international editions of Vogue pledged to work only with healthy models.
Aspiring teen models don't need to spend thousands of dollars for a professional portfolio of photos. Professional hair and makeup services are also not necessary. Wilhelmina Model Management's online submission form explicitly states that professional photos are unnecessary and that models do not need to wear makeup in their submitted photos. The agency requests one clear body shot and one clear face shot. Ford has four categories of photos requested on its online submission page: full length, waist up, shoulder up - forward and shoulder up or 3/4 profile. IMG's website requests that models submit shots taken outside in natural lighting with the model wearing a basic color top and bottom.