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Modeling Scams

Want to avoid plus modeling scams? We thought so!

If you do nothing else, PLEASE read this section carefully before you make ANY attempt at plus size modeling. It’s a long read, but well worth the time since it can help you to avoid modeling scams and common mistakes made by aspiring models that cost them $1000’s.

It breaks our hearts to hear about people scammed or “Mislead” by unscrupulous organizations. These organizations will tell you what you want to hear in order to make a sale — they are very good salespeople. Now, go back and read that last sentence again and then commit it to memory! What you need to do is sift through what they are saying and use your better judgment. Avoid modeling scams! Turn off the ego and turn on the brain!

Here are several ways people try to scam aspiring models and ways that you can avoid modeling scams:


Never, never, NEVER get talked into spending a lot of money on pictures or a portfolio before you have an agent. YOU DO NOT NEED, NOR DO AGENTS EXPECT/WANT, YOU TO HAVE PROFESSIONAL PICTURES OR A PORTFOLIO WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THEIR DOOR (unless you have already been a working, professional model)!

To submit yourself for consideration to a legitimate agency, all you need are 2-3 good, recent photos. One of these should be a full body shot that shows your shape and the other a head shot that shows your face and teeth.

These photos can be taken by a friend or family member and do NOT need to be professional. You can also work with a photographer to do a TFP (test for proofs). Make sure that any photos you submit to an agency are clear, flattering, recent and not overtly sexual in nature. More about this in STEP 5.

Once signed by a legitimate agency, they will suggest a few professional and reasonably priced photographers for you to see to get test shots to build a comp card. And yes, the model pays for her photos and comp card reproduction once she is signed by a reputable agency.


Never pay an agent/manager to find work for you or to be part of a “Book.” Legitimate agencies work on a commission (10%-20%) received AFTER they book a job for you, NEVER before. Also, when calling agencies, if they are overly friendly and eager to see you, be suspicious! This is the reality — getting an agent to see you can take a lot of hard work.

Model Searches

Beware of model searches that you hear about on the radio, see in the newspaper and the back of magazines. These events can draw 1000’s of aspiring models and most are told, “You’re perfect! You have what it takes! Let’s get some pictures taken and get you in front of top agents at our upcoming event.” Ultimately, a “Free” model search costs you big bucks. You have to pay a fee to attend the event and a fee for the “Appropriate” pictures and if the event is far from home, you could also be paying for a hotel.

We know people who have spent between $500-$6000 (Yes, we do mean $6000 – that was not a typo) on a model / talent search. Heck, do you know how many pairs of shoes you can buy with $6000! Most people who pay these fees rarely, if ever, get agency representation and walk away disappointed, disillusioned and broke.

We would say that no one ever gets discovered at a model search? No, they do. Many of the searches do bring in legitimate agents and some people do get signed. It’s the law of odds – If you have 1000 aspiring models at an event, the odds are that someone will be “Discovered.”

Modeling Schools

Sometimes a model search is just a disguise for a modeling school who is also posing as an agency. During their “Search” they see 100’s of women and say something like this, “All of you can’t be chosen…we only need a few women …those chosen will automatically become a part of the agency upon graduation from the program…”

After the search, the aspiring models all go home to wait for a phone call. When it comes, it sounds something like this, “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted! You should be very proud of yourself. You were chosen over 100’s of other women! Now, we need a commitment from you immediately in order to hold your space in the program. How would you like to pay for it?” Programs like this can cost anywhere from $900-$2000 plus a portfolio upon graduation (which they don’t mention at this time) Approximate cost? Inflated rates for these programs can run anywhere from $800-$2500 + the portfolio/pictures.

Some aspiring models do end up signing up for these programs and walk away with some great skills. However, no one can guarantee work upon graduation and many of these school/agencies do not have the reputation that a great agency needs to get clients. Therefore, they have no jobs to offer! The real questions you should be asking them is:

“How many people graduate from their program per year?” (If they graduate 1000 people per year, this would saturate the market!)

“How many graduates find work in the local area?”(If there are only 125 jobs per year for their 1000 graduates, the odds are not good that most of them work!)

“What companies are hiring models from them and what kinds of jobs are they booking?” (Many times they will book their models to hand out samples at local conventions — you would not need to go to a modeling school to get this type of work!)

“What companies have hired models from their agency recently?” (Many times they will have a graduate from 10 years ago that went on to do something big — in may not even have been their school/agency that got them the job, but they will market the heck out of them as if they did!)

“Are these companies hiring plus size models?” (Out of the 125 jobs they are booking, how many are for plus size models?)

“How much money are the models making?” (Many times they book their models on “Freebie” gigs and call them “Jobs.”)

If you have the money and enjoy educational experiences like this, then by all means sign yourself up. But be realistic in your decision and use your better judgment. If you are looking for modeling instruction to help boost your odds of landing an agent and/or booking work, look into low cost reputable workshops.

Internet Agencies & Talent Promoters

Be very careful of what you sign up for on the net! I have seen some organizations charging anywhere from $100++ to be “Listed” with their online agency / talent promotion websites. Walk away! I’m not talking about online portfolios, we are speaking of companies who say they will “Promote” you for a fee.

What you should consider is an online portfolio with one of the bigger companies like or… But more on that in the next chapter!


The bottom line is that you need to research all job postings, agencies and contests thoroughly! Contact any of the following organizations to check their validity:

Avoid modeling scams with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The BBB is a private, nonprofit organization with offices all around the country that can provide you with a report on local businesses.

Avoid modeling scams with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC is a government agency that is headquartered in Washington, DC and enforces laws to protect consumers. The FTC makes sure that the company has a clean reputation and has not been involved in unscrupulous or questionable business practices as well as letting you know if there have been disgruntled customers. You can reach them at 202-326-3650

Avoid modeling scams with the State Attorney General
This is the chief legal officer of the state and can tell you if the organization in question has been charged with any crimes involving false advertising, money, drugs or sex.

Read more about getting started as a Plus Model in the
FREE Venus Diva Plus Size Model Learning Center!

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