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Becoming a Model: The Seven Types of Models

Becoming a Model: The Seven Types of Models

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The most important thing about becoming a model is determining which type of model you are so you don’t waste your time pursuing the wrong kind of work. If you’re a strapping 6-footer, you may have a difficult time getting hired for the European runway shows; they’re usually looking for thinner, more delicate models. On the other hand, if you’re slender and fragile-looking, you’re probably not going to be modeling too many bathing suits. In this guide, you will learn about what attributes make up each of the seven types of models, and what kinds of work each type does.

The Amazon

The Amazon is tall, strong, and imposing-looking. Think Gisele Bündchen, Jennifer Garner, and Uma Thurman.

The Amazon is tall, strong, and imposing-looking. Think Gisele Bündchen, Jennifer Garner, and Uma Thurman.

You’re an Amazon if …

  • You’re close to 6′ tall or more.
  • You have a powerful and striking physique, with wide shoulders; full breasts, hips, and thighs; and long, shapely legs.
  • You have large, pronounced features: expressive eyes, prominent cheekbones, and full lips.
  • Your hair is lustrous and full-bodied, and makes a statement.
  • Personality-wise, you’re outgoing, vivacious, determined, and optimistic.

The Amazon’s universal appeal adds up to a lot of modeling opportunities. Amazons often do editorial work, primarily because their image is very distinctive and compelling. They project a strong sense of personality that’s hard to miss, even on a crowded newsstand.

If you’re an Amazon, some of the modeling jobs you may be best suited for (but are by no means limited to) include bathing suit, lingerie, and sportswear modeling; product endorsements; and beauty stories in magazines.

Many celebrities also fit into the Amazon category. Heidi Klum, Beyoncé , Grace Jones, Uma Thurman, and Brooke Shields come to mind. Their strong features and bodies make them stand out as much on the pages of magazines as they do on movie and TV screens.

The Classic Beauty

Classic Beauties have perfectly symmetrical features: oval faces, almond-shaped eyes, slim noses, high cheekbones, and chiseled lips.

Classic Beauties have perfectly symmetrical features: oval faces, almond-shaped eyes, slim noses, high cheekbones, and chiseled lips.

You’re a Classic Beauty if …

  • You’re around 5′8″—Classic Beauties are usually not too tall. You’re thin but not super skinny.
  • You have an oval face, almond-shaped eyes, a slim and delicate nose, sculpted cheekbones, and medium-full lips.
  • Your skin is nearly flawless, with no blemishes or blotches, your hair is healthy and lustrous, and your teeth are perfectly straight and pearly white.
  • You’re polite, ladylike, and calm.

Classic Beauties are the envy of other models because they can do almost any kind of work. Magazines editors adore them and are constantly putting them on the covers and in the pages of their publications. Their beauty can make any product look good, so they’re also hired for advertising campaigns. They get many of the lucrative beauty contracts. Even as they age and other models their age have long since taken their last walk down the runway, Classic Beauties continue to work.

In smaller cities, Classic Beauties are in demand for all kinds of work: catalog, advertisements, TV commercials, and runway.

Famous Classic Beauties include Molly Sims, Halle Berry, Christy Turlington, Elizabeth Hurley, and Christie Brinkley.

The Barbie Doll

The Barbie is the kind of model with major sex appeal. She’s beguiling, often blond, and extremely curvaceous.

The Barbie is the kind of model with major sex appeal. She’s beguiling, often blond, and extremely curvaceous.

You’re a Barbie if …

  • You have long, thick hair—preferably blond.
  • You have big blue eyes, a button nose, and juicy, pouty lips.
  • You’re 5′5″ to 5′10″.
  • You’re slender, with large breasts, slim hips, and a cute butt.
  • You’re friendly, outgoing, perky, and not as naive as you seem.

The Barbie look goes in and out of fashion. But when it’s hot, you’ll see the Barbie on magazine covers and in lots of beauty and fashion advertisements. This type also does a lot of lingerie and swimsuit modeling. Top Barbies appear in men’s magazines, the Victoria’s Secret catalog, and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Many also have their own pinup calendars.

Barbie types include Adriana Lima, Pamela Anderson, Stephanie Seymour, Brooke Burke, and Carmen Electra.

The Chameleon

The Chameleon is always changing her look, trying out new hair colors, new hairstyles, new makeup—whatever it takes to stay on the cutting edge of style.

The Chameleon is always changing her look, trying out new hair colors, new hairstyles, new makeup—whatever it takes to stay on the cutting edge of style.

You’re a Chameleon if …

  • You meet the basic model qualifications: tall and thin body, and good hair, skin, and teeth.
  • Your hair, skin, and eyes are neutral-colored (brown or dark-blond hair, medium skin, brown eyes).
  • You have an expressive face and dramatic or unpredictable body language.
  • You’re not afraid of artistic experimentation.
  • You prefer to be in a creative environment more than anyplace else in the world.

Chameleons do a lot of editorial work, mainly in the fashion capitals, which allows them the freedom they need for creative expression. They often team up with the most famous photographers. (Some Chameleons become muses to certain photographers because they work so often and so closely together.) You may also be hired for runway work, creative ad campaigns, and art photography. Because of their high level of creativity, Chameleons can have a tough time in smaller markets, where most of the work is doing catalog. The best bet for a Chameleon in a smaller market is to find a look that appeals to the local clients and stick with it. Avoid the outrageous—bright orange hair, radical haircuts, and strange outfits.

Famous Chameleons include Linda Evangelista, Charlize Theron, Naomi Campbell, Carolyn Murphy, and, of course, the most famous Chameleon of all, Madonna (who did some modeling early in her career).

The Exotic Beauty

Exotic models hail from the far corners of the globe. They often face great obstacles, even danger, to break into modeling.

Exotic models hail from the far corners of the globe. They often face great obstacles, even danger, to break into modeling.

You’re an Exotic Beauty if …

  • You possess the basic physical requirements of a professional model: tall and thin body, with good skin, hair, and teeth.
  • You have exotic facial features: distinctive eyes, a pronounced nose, healthy hair, and an extra-long neck.
  • You have an exotic name or come from an obscure foreign country (or just seem like you do).
  • You have an uncanny ability to survive and overcome the most impossible obstacles.

Exotic models are often very much in demand when they first hit the fashion scene. They’re promoted as the “It” Girl of the moment, and they get all the prized modeling jobs—magazine work, runway jobs, and even advertising. Because they can easily become a passing trend, Exotics must be very clever, hard working, and lucky to maintain a lasting career. They may come in with a big bang, but they can disappear just as quickly when the initial fascination is over. Some, however, manage to be continually alluring and captivating.

It can be tough for an Exotic Beauty to find a lot of work in a smaller market, where clients tend to want to hire models who appeal to (and look like) their customers. The exception is cities with a large local population of people of the Exotic model’s background—for instance, a Latin model in Miami.

Exotic models include Iman, Eva Longoria, Yamila Diaz, Salma Hayek, and Lucy Liu.

The Oddball

With their unique, quirky beauty, Oddballs defy the conventional definition of “beauty.” They may have unusually large or small features, or very short or very long hair, but somehow they stand out from the crowd.

With their unique, quirky beauty, Oddballs defy the conventional definition of “beauty.” They may have unusually large or small features, or very short or very long hair, but somehow they stand out from the crowd.

You’re an Oddball if …

  • Your body structure is similar to a model’s (5′5″ or taller, thin, and well proportioned).
  • You look unusual or distinctive in photographs or are attractive in a unique way.
  • You exude a strong sense of personality, and people love being around you.
  • Your personal style is very fashion forward, which makes you stand out.
  • You have an overwhelming desire to be a model, even though you know you don’t meet the standard requirements.

Right now, Oddball models are especially in demand for editorial work in the big fashion capitals—New York, Paris, and Milan. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way because your career as a model may be very limited (for instance, working for only one client) or short lived.

In a smaller market, the Oddball’s best bet is to try to maximize her commercial appeal with a classic haircut and makeup that makes her best features stand out and her “oddball” features less noticeable.

Keep a positive attitude. Sometimes when your looks are out of the ordinary (especially when you’re surrounded by Classic Beauties all day), you might start to feel bad about yourself. But remember, other models may have great careers because their looks are more conventional, but your odd qualities are the secrets to your success. Work to improve yourself as a talent and a person. Surround yourself with agents and managers who can help you make the most of your 15 minutes of fame and hopefully further your career.

Oddballs include Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker, Twiggy, Lauren Hutton, and Gemma Ward.

The Athletic Girl Next Door

The Athletic Girl Next Door is pretty and healthy and has a wholesome look that appeals to many consumers.

The Athletic Girl Next Door is pretty and healthy and has a wholesome look that appeals to many consumers.

You’re an Athletic Girl Next Door if …

  • You’re 6′ tall or taller (or just look like you are).
  • You have a strong, muscular body, and a pretty, photogenic face.
  • You’re an athlete and want to continue your sports career while earning extra income.
  • You’re competitive and driven, yet fun to be around.

If you’re an Athletic Girl Next Door, you may be best suited for (but not limited to) modeling bathing suits, athletic clothes, sportswear, and other athletic products, in both editorial and advertisements. Magazines and advertisers use Athletic Girls Next Door when they want to project a healthy, natural appeal, or just want a more sporty look. Catalogs are another potential lucrative source of work, although athletic models aren’t usually found on the fashion runways because their bodies can be too muscular for the clothes.

In smaller markets, the Athletic Girl Next Door type is one of the most popular types of models. Her healthy and wholesome looks appeal to just about everyone, so clients such as catalogs and local advertisers love to hire her.

Famous Athletic Girls Next Door include Elle Macpherson, Anny Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Cameron Diaz, and Gabrielle Reese.

Once you know which model type you are, you’ll have a better idea of the best strategy for pursuing a career, whether it’s modeling in a local market or in one of the fashion capitals. Good luck!

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Model, Second Edition, by Roshumba Williams with Anne Marie O'Connor