Hello, you wonderful people. When Bruce and I came up with the idea for Big Questions, it was because we know how hard it can be to talk about about insecurities, body image, relationships and self-esteem. We have been completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of trust and love and I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a part of this adventure. Big Questions is just getting started. Send us your questions here.
We knew it was inevitable, being who I am, that we would get a TON of questions asking how to become a plus size male model. The plus sized modeling industry, especially for men, is still brand spankin’ new. For the first time, a lot of people who never thought they could do it before are now considering getting into modeling. So, Bruce and I decided that this week we would answer one of those questions about getting into plus modeling.
How to Become a Plus Size Male Model
Nick H.: Coming from a city where there is not a lot of plus size modeling, and not having the best curated Instagram, I don’t know how to change it. I need help. What is your advice for me?
Plus modeling, especially for men, is still a brand new industry. Women’s plus modeling has been around since the early nineties, but really only became mainstream 5-7 years ago. The Men’s plus industry, in the form we know it today, only really started in late 2015. It’s still being shaped and defined and expanded every day. There’s no definite road map for how to get started, what to do about social media, what city to live in, or anything else. I am not a manager, I don’t speak for any agency, and I don’t represent any brand. But I am a model, so let’s give it a shot.
You mentioned that you don’t have “the best curated” Instagram. Whether you love social media or you hate it, there is no avoiding the fact that Instagram is integral to beginning your career as a model. I was discovered on Instagram. Your Instagram account will serve as your modeling portfolio more often than your official one will. It’s important that who you are online is the same person they see in real life.
Get Comfortable in Front of the Camera
Take a million photos, learn how to be comfortable in front of the camera. Do not take a million close up selfies and expect to get hit up for modeling gigs. You need to take FULL BODY photos so any potential agency, brand, or photographer knows what you look like and can imagine how clothes will fit on you. If you’re anything like I was before I started modeling, showing your full body is going to be one of the harder things to do. I spent most of my life trying to hide my body and appear smaller. I had to get over that quickly, learning to pretend I was comfortable with my body before I actually was.
Get a Wide Variety of Photos of Yourself
Make sure your pictures are a mix of high quality modeling shots and behind the scenes looks from your real life. Modern smart phones can take great shots, and all of them have a timer, so you can take full body shots pretty easily. You can buy a smartphone stand online for about $10. If you can, hire a photographer to do a test for a day, taking as many shots as they can in as many different outfits and backgrounds as possible. That way, you could have Insta posts for the next year if you want. If you can’t afford a photographer, see if you can find someone who is willing to work on barter, and always offer more than you are asking for.
Don’t beg for work; prove that you can do the work and that you should be doing it. This industry is built on people putting out love and forging their own path.
Then once you start getting photos you feel good about, reach out to every single brand, photographer, and agency you could ever want to work with. Become part of the community. Follow other models, comment on posts brands make, share love and give openly without expecting anything in return. Don’t beg for work; prove that you can do the work and that you should be doing it. This industry is built on people putting out love and forging their own path.
Be Prepared to Go Public
Most importantly, please, please, please make sure your Instagram is public. No one, I repeat NO ONE will ever request to follow your private account. If you want to be a model and live in the public eye, your Instagram has to be public.
Modeling in this social media-based world is about way more than just your looks. People want to know you. They want to feel connected to you. They can’t do that if you barely know yourself. Start the journey of learning to appreciate who you are physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Be confident not just in your own skin, but in your mind and soul. In the plus modeling industry, you are asking people to believe in you, and no one will do that if you don’t believe in yourself. Love the good aspects about you, but learn to respect and honor the not so great things too. You’ll be able to better manage those things in your personal and professional life.
Get Used to Traveling
You mentioned your city doesn’t have a plus modeling industry. Luckily for you that doesn’t matter. You can travel! When you are starting out, it is all about putting yourself out there. Most of the outreach, submitting for work, and social media interaction can be done from anywhere there is internet connection. Your whole job is going to be establishing your presence and making yourself known. You are a salesman, and you are selling yourself. Being willing to travel is the only way you can pursue a career in modeling. Opportunities will never just come to you, you have to be willing to seek them out.
Why Do You Want to Be a Model?
Lastly, know why you want to do this. There’s a lot of downsides of living in the modeling world. You are putting yourself out there for the world to judge you and ridicule every inch of your body, your face, the things you say, and the things you do. You are going to get hundreds of trolls harassing you online for merely existing.
As far as male plus models go, I can count the guys making a living strictly on modeling on one hand.
You are never going to know where your next job or paycheck is coming from. It’s a lot to put up with so you need to know why you want this. Do you want fame and money? As far as male plus models go, I can count the guys making a living strictly on modeling on one hand. Do you want people to love you and tell you you’re beautiful? Some people may tell you that, but don’t forget about the trolls I mentioned who will make it their mission to try and ruin your day.
Do You Want to Make a Difference?
Or, are you trying to model because you believe you can make a difference? No one in the world wanted to see a big guy be considered handsome, confident, and worthy of admiration more than my thirteen year old self. I needed someone like 29 year old me to exist. I model because I know that doing this makes a difference. Even if it’s just for the kid who goes by themselves to the middle school dance. I model for the boy who cried into his pillow after his first boy/girl pool party. I model for the boy who left an anonymous note in the locker of his secret crush because he knows there is no way she would ever like him if he signed his real name.
That’s How to Become a Plus Size Male Model
Whatever the reason you want to do this is, go for it, and be the best you can possibly be. Just know that the modeling industry is a lot of work, and a lot of heartbreak. But I love it, I believe in it, and I know it’s important. Representation changes the world. Good luck, and go kick some ass.