The title of this article points to a pretty startling claim: that the notion of “petite modeling” is being used as a scam. “Scam” is a powerful word, with multiple meanings, so let’s define some things before we get started.
“Petite models”: in the fashion industry, “petite” refers to both height and girth; there is no such thing as a 5’4” 300 pound “petite model”, for instance. Legitimate agencies with “Petite Divisions” typically accept models up to 5’6” (on one prominent agency) or 5’8” (in another), and each has one or more exceptions that are an inch taller than what seems to be their normal height limit. In no case do they have a model in their divisions who appears to be more than a dress size 4.
“Scam”: use of false or misleading statements to create an impression which allows the scammer to gain some advantage. Some scams simply use deception to take money and give nothing in return. Some use deception to convince a mark that what they receive is of the claimed value. Some scams create false or misleading impressions and then cause the mark to take actions benefiting the scammer while failing to deliver an effective promised remedy.
The market for “petites”: There is no question that taller models have a great advantage in many important modeling genres. Professional runway, premier catalog and trunk show models are almost exclusively tall (5’9” and above”, occasionally 5’8”). High end fashion editorials are almost always shot with taller models (when models are used; when celebrities are used, height ceases to be much of a factor.) Even commercial print prefers models taller than 5’6”, and interviews with Las Vegas agencies make it clear that trade show and convention models may be shorter, but tall models are strongly preferred.
While runway, fashion editorials, catalog work and commercial print make up the bulk of model agency work, there are some agency specialties for which “petites” are in demand: fit models and shoe models, for instance. Agencies which service those markets (such as the two New York agencies shown in the links below) have petite divisions for precisely that reason.
Still, “agencies” do not define “modeling” and in fact a vast amount of modeling work, both professional and amateur, takes place outside the agency system. The popular fields of glamour and art modeling have no height requirements at all. Many “independent” designers use models in their shows and marketing materials that are far from fashion standards of either height or weight. Print modeling that is not cast through an agency also is tolerant of shorter models. And events like fashion shows at local malls (except for those cast and produced by agencies, such as the shows at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas) often use shorter models in the shows.
Other performing fields, like acting, singing and dancing, have no height requirement, and can be used as pathways to break into modeling once some fame is achieved.
The bottom line is that there are many avenues available to a short girl who wants to model; it’s just that high fashion runway and editorial modeling are not among them.
Further articles in this series will detail how the “scam” is propagated in petite modeling.