In the world of modeling, looking like a drug addict is out, and looking like a hamburger addict is in.
The beautifully busty Kate Upton – who also just happens to be the spokesmodel for the Carl’s Jr. fast food chain -- has fast become the hottest model in the land. Right behind her are the curvy Brooklyn Decker, who went from Sports Illustrated cover girl to the star of several high-budget Hollywood movies, and the athletic Bar Refaeli, currently starring in commercials playing tennis in a brand of undies.
None of them is 6 feet tall, and none of them come close to fitting into size zero skinny jeans.
“Men’s magazines are making models stars,” model manager and publicist Nadja Atwal told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Plus the women with big buying power today are over 30 and usually wear at least a size 6 and above. So to shove 17-year-old, size zero models in their faces makes little sense.”
Richard Blandino, Bookings Director at GQ, agrees that skeletal models don’t cut it anymore. GQ helped cause a sensation when it featured Upton on its July 2012 cover, and a video of her doing a dance in a bikini called the Dougie during the shoot was so hot, it was momentarily banned from YouTube.
“I look for a healthy body with curves in all the right places. Another huge factor is personality. The more recognizable the model, the better,” Blandino told us. “People are really interested in what happens behind the scenes at a photo shoot – who the models are and what they are like. In this new digital age, the more the model has to talk about, the better.”
Being a “commercial” or “brand” model was once considered second rate compared to the high-fashion clothes hangers selected to strut and pose for the world’s top designers. Those days are over. Today, in many cases, designers pay runway models just a couple of hundred dollars per fashion show, and many work for free clothes, or for nothing but an additional credit on their resume.
“When I started out in the business, all agents I met were against men’s’ magazines like Maxim and GQ.,” said top bikini model and Poland’s “Next Top Model” host Joanna Krupa. “Now many model agents beg for it, because now the industry is based on big names, and the stick figures that are no-names make no money.”
“I know many models that are told to lose weight even though they were already a size 4 by 5’11 height,” Atwal added. “They refused, and while they now see that they may not land a high-fashion spread or runway show, instead they land a Maxim cover and a $100,000 television commercial.”
Krupa was once one of those “rejects” who refused to bow to agency pressure.
“I had tons of rejection because agents were so stuck on stick figure fashion models when I first got into modeling, it was very hard to find an agent that ‘got it’ and had a creative and open mind,” she recalled. “All I can remember is them saying that I was too short or too sexy, so my manager (Atwal) and I decided to do it our own way.”
Even skinny-loving Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour is coming around. Upton was featured in the July issue, wrapped up in Michael Kors and Altuzzura.
“In recent years, there has been an interesting shift where models starting out on the commercial side and have had a chance to cross over to high fashion – it used to be the opposite and usually if you started as commercial model you didn’t cross over,” said Liane Mullin, co-founder of the model-centric website Modelina.com. “Alessandra Ambrosio and Miranda Kerr are perfect example of this. They both were well-known commercial models and over the last few years have walked in high fashion runway shows such as Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton.”
So with curves back in, all pretty girls have to do now is hang out and eat pizza and watch TV, right?
“There is nothing easy about being curvy,” model Jessica Rafalowski said. “It’s not like you sit around eating cupcakes all day and suddenly you are considered sexy. It is about eating more of the right foods, healthy foods, and keeping your bum in the gym regularly. There are no short cuts or crash diets.”
According to reigning GUESS girl Julia Lescova, the biggest change in the modeling industry is that there is now room for all types of figures and faces.
“Some still prefer the skinny/sick look but I won’t change myself for that. There is work for everyone,” she said. “It is more important to be happy with yourself than trying to please everybody’s tastes.”