Age, height and other physical requirements for models
The myth says that models need to be tall and thin - and it's true for all mainstream types of modelling, such as fashion and catwalk. For other types of modelling, it depends on what you are aiming at.
For the purpose of this page, I have assumed that you are going for gold, that is fashion modelling and signed up with one of the top agencies.
The following information is for female models (Information obtained from Elite Model Management; correct at the time of writing):
- Age between 13 and 24
- Height (girls 17 and younger): minimum 168 cm (5'6")
- Height (girls 18 and older): minimum 170 cm (5'8")
- Anyone under the age of 18 needs parental consent.
For boys, add about 15 cm (6") in height and a year or two in starting age. Boys mature later than girls.
For all types of modelling (boys and girls), you need a healthy, fit, well-toned, well looked after body, flawless skin, and healthy hair and nails.
In the past, weight requirements were simple: thin, very thin.
Size Zero Models
Size Zero - a craze and a controversy - is a women's clothing size used in the US. It is equivalent to a UK size 4. Size Zero bust size is 31.5 inches (80 cm), waist 23 inches (60 cm) and hips 34 inches (86 cm). To put this into perspective, the average waist size of a British eight-year-old is 22 inches (56 cm).
The organisers of the 2006 Madrid Fashion Week decided to ban skinny, size zero models. This far reaching and, at the time, revolutionary decision means that weight has become a rather more difficult question: many agencies no longer openly state their requirements. For the 2006 Madrid Fashion Week, a minimum BMI of 18 was imposed in an effort to promote a more healthy image and attitude. Milan followed suit.
In August 2006, 22-year-old Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos died after starving herself. She had tried to live on nothing but Diet Coke and lettuce leaves for three months. Six months later, her sister Eliana Ramos, 18, was found dead in her bedroom. She, too, had worked as a model and her death is also linked to malnutrition and anorexia. In November of the same year, 21-year-old Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died from anorexia.
The World Health Organisation, doctors and women's groups are concerned that the use of underweight models sends out dangerously wrong signals to girls, who look at models as role models. Fashion labels Prada, Versace and Armani have agreed to ban size zero models from their catwalks (Source). The World Health Organisation considers a Body Mass Index below 16 starvation.
As of 2007, the British Fashion Council (the organisation, which runs London Fashion Week) still insisted on a less responsible approach: No ban on size zero models but the creation of a task force to invent guidelines for the fashion industry. They also urged fashion designers to use healthy models. An inquiry reported in September 07 that up to 40 per cent of models could have an eating disorder and made a number of suggestions to promote health, yet ruled out a ban on size-zero models.
In 2012 Israeli lawmakers banned underweight models from catwalks and commercials and imposed a minimum BMI of 18.5 in an attempt to reduce eating disorders and promote a healthy body image.
Also in 2012 the 19 editors of the global editions of Vogue magazine pledged that they would only work with "healthy" models and to no longer use models under the age of 16. (Source: BBC)
Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index)
The Body Mass Index is the height to weight ratio of a person. It indicates whether you are overweight for your height or underweight or just right.
To calculate your BMI:
1. Measure your height in metres and multiply the figure by itself, giving your height squared
2. Measure your weight in kilograms
3. Divide weight by height squared
For example, a woman measuring 1.65m and weighing 63kg:
1.65 x 1.65 = 2.72
63 / 2.72 = BMI 23.2
According to the World Health Organisation, if your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, you are a healthy weight. A BMI above 24.9 indicates that you are overweight, below 18.5 you are underweight. The World Cancer Research Fund says that, in order to minimise the risk of cancer, "everyone must aim to be as thin as possible without becoming underweight". The BMI will be inaccurate for people over the age of 60 and for bodybuilders.
If the healthy female from the above example were to have a BMI of 18, the minimum required by the organisers of Madrid Fashion week, she would only weigh 49kg.
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