Name: Taylor Rhoden
Agency: Bridge Models
Claim to Fame: Rhonden won an international modeling competition with lingerie and swimwear brand Curvy Kate.
In the minds of most people “model” translates to tall beautiful woman and Taylor Rhoden was among them when she entered the industry. But possessing one of the most important assets in the industry ironically threatened to restrict the beauty’s career. In an exclusive interview the international model spoke to HelloBeautiful about breaking into modeling, loving her body’s uniqueness, and being told she was “too tall” to model.
“To be completely transparent the modeling industry isn’t all that I thought it would be,” said Rhoden, who recently quit her full-time job to pursue her career. “I’ve had some great experiences. I’ve gotten to walk in fashion shows. I’ve gotten to work with great clients but one thing that’s always kind of hindered me which sounds crazy is being too tall,” she revealed. “I think the general population thinks that for models you have to be real tall and like the taller the better, you know. I’m 6’2 and that’s honestly difficult for the modeling industry.” The height of a runway model without heels usually caps out at just under 6 feet tall. Rhoden pointed out that most models she encounters are, “5’9 ,5’10 and once they put on their heels their 6 feet or whatever.”
“So being flat footed 6’2 has always been a barrier for me,” she continued, adding that, “it’s something that I’m still trying to break through.”
Rhoden began her career in one of the few niche areas of modeling where height is irrelevant after receiving some encouragement from her cousin. “I entered a modeling competition back in 2015 when I was still in college and I ended up making it to the top 14 out of like 13,000 women. I was surprised that I had an extremely validating experience because I did make it so far.” She decided to invest in her modeling career, inspired by placing so high in her first competition. “That was the segway into modeling for me after that I started trying to build my portfolio, trying to get comfortable behind the camera, testing with friends and other photographers that I knew.
I think the best experience honestly has been me being able to travel to London and do some work over there I mean there’s just a ton of experiences but being able to travel internationally and get paid doing what you love that by far takes the cake. I moved to LA to freelance and once I was in LA I entered another modeling competition. I won my fourth one maybe.”
That competition was for Curvy Kate a huge lingerie brand based in the United Kingdom. “A lot of women entered it and I was just really shocked that this was the one that I took the cake. They partnered with an agency by the name of True Model Management and they’re located in New York City and I also got signed to another agency so they ended up partnering with them and because I won that competition I got a contract.
So once I got signed I made another move to New York City and that’s where I live now and that’s pretty much how it all started.” Soon she was getting a taste of what it meant to be a legitimate model on her first major shoot.”
“When I first started modeling I had no idea what I was doing and I had no idea that I would start out as a lingerie swim model. I was confident in my body but I never thought I had the shape that was gonna look good in stuff like that so my first shoot was a bit intimidating, however it was also libertaing at the same time because I had never saw myself in stuff like that.”
She continues, “My body type was so sexy and it looked so good in stuff so it was an empowering moment for me. I learned to embrace it because at the end of the day it was gonna be shown to who knows many people. Once it’s put out on the internet that allows for anybody to see it critique it and criticize and so it allowed me to have a really strong back bone one and it allowed me to love myself as a whole like here I am, bare bottomed.”
She was excited about beginning her career with such an established, diverse, company but she was frustrated to learn that it would be hard to get work in other spaces due to her height. “They kind of want to pigeonhole me and put me just in lingerie. Because with lingerie, it kind of really doesn’t matter how tall you are. I felt like I’m always getting stuck in stuff like that and I’m always wanting to do more high fashion but they just don’t make that for tall tall women, like super tall women,” she said.
Realizing that her height was not quite the asset she assumed it would be was painful for Rhoden. “You know what, I was actually hurt when I heard that I was too tall. That was something that my agents have even mentioned to me not to throw them under the bus but it’s something that was said to me quite a few times throughout my time with them. It’s a little hurtful because I feel like as an agent no matter how tall short or whatever outside the norm you should be pushing through and trying to make that the norm.” Today she is signed to an agency that specializes in highlighting their clients’ uniqueness.
She is not giving up on her dream of working with brands who offer more than lingerie and swimwear. She continues to show off her own looks and stage her own freelance shoots. “One of my dream brands, because I’ve been wearing their clothes for such a long time, is ASOS. I love ASOS! I think they do a really great job with catering to tall women and tall people, both men and women. They just really focus on body diversity as a whole, so that’s something I really stand behind.”
Castings and meetings aren’t the only place she has experienced mistreatment since she started modeling. Technically fulfilling the requirements of a “plus model,” she has seen the discrepancy they experience first hand. “I’m also on the curve board or the plus board. Sometimes when you’re on set and there’s a mix of body types I’ve noticed that the curvier women they’re not giving us much love and attention and affection, making sure that you’re pampered and that you look good. They kind of just slap whatever on you and go ‘Okay here you go, go take your pic.”
She routinely speaks up about the mistreatment in a respectful manner, refusing to accept the bare minimum. She reported that the feedback to her comments are generally positive because she starts out positively, “I’m extremely outgoing, I’m very personable, so I love to just let that shine through. I try not to think about how tall I am, what body type I am from the next model, i really just try to shine and I find that with doing that I’ve been received really well people.”
She credits her mother for getting her to use her her voice and embrace her stature. “I grew up with a mother who told me to embrace my height to love it. She told me never to be the shrinking violet. I used to be self conscious about it but I just had to fake it until I make it. My mom was not going for that no confidence ‘I don’t like my height.’
I have always been a little noticeably taller than everybody else, my peers even when I was in ballet I was always an inch taller, it was nothing crazy. When got into elementary school, even middle school it became really noticeable and I think that’s when you could kind of see the difference because as a kid you don’t really care how you look or how tall or short you are. I think it’s really people around you that make you self conscious make you really aware of your body. You know body image was not a huge thing for me until then. She told me stand tall, stand proud and with my head held high and it just really just stuck with me. I used that everyday to keep me feeling confident about myself and my height.
She has been proud to share that strategy with others long before starting her own platform. “Through me just kind of exuding that confidence I’ve had so many young girls and older women come up to me and ask me how do you walk with so much confidence and how do you this and that so I think that’s another thing that keeps me going just seeing how much of an impact it has.” Today she is branching out on her own by finding a way to connect with others who have been unfairly judged for their body types. She and her friend Jamie Lea are, “trying to start a platform called Too Tall For What.”
“I’m really excited about it,” shared Rhoden. “The name says it all Too Tall For What. People are always saying we’re too tall for something. I don’t think we’re too tall for anything. We’re using that platform to showcase different outfits and different brands that have a tall collection and cater to tall womens fashion but also to talk about tall issues.” Those issues include, “tall beauty, tall dating, shopping while tall, everything that happens to tall women.”
“We just want to talk about it and put it out there and create a community for all women, but especially tall women to give their opinions share advice and have a support system,” she explained.