Who: Nicole Le Bris

What: Plus-Sized Model

Where: New York City

To me the whole modeling world is confused, especially if they categorize YOU as “Plus Sized.” What sizes are considered Plus?

Plus size starts where ‘straight size’ ends. There is no in between category, sadly. So it starts at about an eight, I wouldn’t doubt if some girls are even more of a six, believe it or not! I know it sounds crazy. But I guess it probably sounds crazy to those snotty high fashion people that size six/eight would be considered a fashion model. So they’re pushed up to the plus division. Those in between sizes don’t typically work as much as a solid size 4 ‘straight size’ model or a solid size 14 plus size model.

Do most girls start out in “normal sized” modeling? (Is “normal” even politically correct? What is a better word or what is used by Plus girls?)

I don’t think more girls start out as straight size models. I know a few that have, they can’t keep their weight down so they just switch them into the plus size division. But I think most of us plus models have been bigger our whole lives.
Recently some scandal has followed Crystal Renn for losing a lot of weight. She claims she is a size 8 and has lost weight because she started working out. What is your opinion on this whole thing?

Yeah Crystal definitely has had a lot of buzz lately. From what I understand, she thinks models shouldn’t be categorizied. I see why she says this, I just don’t see realistically how that would ever work. A designer or clothing store ususally caters to a certain woman, whether it be conservative, young, fuller figure or petite. To me it’s just not realistic to ask them to carry size 0-26. And since they don’t, not all models can work for all brands. A plus size line is going to go to a plus size agency, or division.

What pressures do you face from clients/agents? Do they ever ask for you to gain weight or reach a certain size?

I don’t face too much pressure about weight. I’ve had clients joke with me, ‘Nicole, don’t lose too much weight or we can’t lose you’ and I’ve heard them talk about not using a certain model because she gained to much weight. I’ve kept myself pretty consistent, between a size 12 and 14, so I haven’t had many issues myself.
What are the biggest advantages of modeling Plus?

Advantages of Plus modeling for me are probably similar to the advantage of being a straight size model… the glamour of it, traveling, working with amazing makeup artists and hair stylists, model rates at hotels/salons. To me being plus size is even better since I don’t think we have the pressure to stay unrealistically thin. Some models are just naturally stick thin, regardless of what they eat. But I know a lot of straight size models can’t eat certain foods and really limit themselves. I love chocolate, and cheese and wine, and all those yummy things, so it would be pretty painful for me to have to lose weight and keep it off.

What is the life span of a Plus model career?

Another benefit of being a plus size model is that we have a longer career span, for the most part. The models who work the most in the plus division are in their thirties. In the fashion world there definitely is an age limit, unless you’re a celebrity or public figure hired for a fashion campaign. Of course there are catalog models that work well into their fifties in both categories, but in plus size, I think models peak later than straight size. Also there aren’t as many plus models as there are straight size models. SO not as much competition. When I go to these castings where they mix us, I’m always amazed at how many skinny models there are, and they all look like eachother, 6ft, and stick thin. Women gain weight differently, and not a lot of us gain weight proportionally, so there are far less plus models, which means less competition.

Check out Nicole’s portfolio here: www.nicoleheidi.com

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