Historically, the modeling industry has prioritized height over almost everything else. Aspiring models were once required to stand over 5’9” just to get in the door at leading agencies. But thanks to shifting cultural standards and the body positivity movement, shorter models are now claiming their place at the top of major runways and photoshoots.

These “petite models” under 5’7 are dominating editorial spreads, brand campaigns, and high fashion catwalks. Talent and star power now trump outdated height requirements. Though discrimination still exists, exceptional portfolios and relatability increasingly influence casting decisions in 2023.

Importance of Diversity in Modeling

Diversity and representation are crucial for the modeling industry moving forward. Fashion influences culture, so welcoming more diverse models promotes positive social change.

  • Promotes acceptance by showcasing different races, body types, gender expressions, abilities, etc. This helps tackle discrimination.
  • Appeals to wider audiences and consumers by depicting non-exclusionary standards of beauty. Brands can increase sales and market share.
  • Pushes creativity and innovation in fashion by bringing in new perspectives. Designers can make revolutionary concepts mainstream.
  • Inspires audiences to embrace their authentic selves without changing to fit unrealistic standards. This boosts self-confidence and mental health.
  • Attracts more aspirants to fashion careers once they see possibility models who mirror them. This raises industry standards overall.

The growing visibility of models of different heights, sizes, ages, and more signifies fashion understanding humanity in all its variations.

The Rise of Petite Models By The Numbers

  • Over 60% of American women stand under 5’7” 
  • Around 45% increase in models under 5’7 over the past 5 years 
  • Approximately 12% of runway models are under 5’7 

This data shows the sizable market share shorter models claim. As more women demand genuine representation from brands they buy from, those labels respond by casting mini-models who mirror their customers.

Several standout petite models lead the charge for diversity and inclusion—not just of different heights but sizes, abilities, backgrounds, and more.

Here are 20 short models dominating the fashion industry 

Halima Aden – 5’5”

Halima Aden is considered short for a runway model. But she made history in other ways, too. Halima Aden was the first model to wear a hijab in the Miss USA pageant. She stunned in cultural attire on international runways. She also became a Vogue Arabia cover model.

Born in a Kenya refugee camp, Halima Aden’s meteoric modeling career empowers women of all beliefs. Signed with top-tier agencies, she continues to work with elite brands, from Rihanna’s Fenty to Dolce & Gabbana, while staying true to her faith.

Jillian Mercado – 5’2”

Traditionally, 5’2” is very short to be a model, but Jillian Mercado has been rewriting history. Apart from her height, she is also a model with muscular dystrophy. She has done campaigns with Diesel, Beyoncé, major magazines, and so much more. She is thriving as a model and outspoken advocate for disability representation. 

Instead of accepting narrow beauty ideals, Jillian Mercado forges her own path in fashion. Though using a wheelchair due to her medical condition, modeling agencies sought out this natural talent rather than overlook her. Jillian now collaborates with the most in-demand companies to promote diversity.

Zoey Elyse- 5’2″

The 5’2” tall Zoey Elyse is an Arizona native signed with Wilhelmina LA. Zoey Elyse strongly believes that models should be judged on skills and not size. Regardless of her height, she was featured in Teen Vogue and All Saints shoots.

Zoey Elyse is living proof that petite models possess equal gifts to shine. Though initially facing rejections due to her 5’2 frame, her capabilities eventually won over scouts. Now repping major brands, Elyse speaks out to support aspiring models facing the same discrimination.

Lottie Moss – 5’5”

Lottie Moss is the younger sister of the famous model Kate Moss. She is 5’5” in height and was signed with the same agency, Storm Models. Though she did not meet the traditional height standards for a model, she was sought after for her edgy style and name recognition.

Similar to her renowned sister Kate, Lottie Moss embodies the contemporary it-girl model. With nearly 400k Instagram followers, she leverages social media to promote body positivity and land regular modeling gigs.

Twiggy –  5’ 6”

Twiggy is an androgynous 1960s icon mocked for her skinny frame. On top of all the bullying, she went on to become the face of the decade. She covered every top fashion magazine imaginable.

With an exaggerated eyelash look and extreme thinness, Twiggy revolutionized modeling. Though initially ridiculed for looking underdeveloped compared to curvier supermodels, Twiggy’s waifish appearance eventually became synonymous with that era’s cultural style.

Kate Moss – 5’7”

Kate Moss marked the “Heroin Chic” look of the 1990s. Regardless of not meeting the usual height standards, Kate Moss became the highest-paid model of her time. She remains an editorial and campaign favorite even 30 years later.

Kate Moss entered modeling in an era obsessed with glamazon personalities like Cindy Crawford. But Moss’s controversial rock ‘n roll image enraptured the industry and youth culture. Now an icon for multiple generations, her legacy cemented 5’7 as a leading model height

Kaia Gerber – 5’7”

Kaia Gerber is the daughter of legendary 90s supermodel Cindy Crawford. With her supermodel mother, she has been modeling since age 13 with the elite agency IMG Models. She also became Young Model of the Year by age 17. 

With Cindy Crawford’s signature look passed onto her daughter Kaia, this rising model attracted instant fame. Despite being on the shorter side for runways, Kaia oozes with poise and skill. She is now the face of luxury labels like Omega, Jimmy Choo, and more.

Zoe Kravitz – 5’2”

Zoe Kravitz may only stand at 5’2”, but her fierce presence and undeniable cool factor have made her a force on the fashion scene. 

The daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, Zoe has brought her acting talents to modeling walking for brands like Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein. With her trademark feline eyes and punk rock style, Kravitz shows that height hardly matters when it comes to captivating an audience.

Lily Rose Depp – 5’3”

Lily Rose Depp is no longer just “Johnny Depp’s daughter.” Though she is only 5’3” in height, Lily Rose Depp became Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel muse. She quickly grew into a model, actress, and indie icon. 

Lily Rose Depp has walked many runways regardless of the traditional modeling height norms. Initially known for famous bloodlines, quick wit and dedication to developing acting talent soon made Lily-Rose Depp a star in her own right.

Sofia Richie – 5’6”

Sofia Richie is the daughter of the famous musician Lionel Richie. With a height of 5’6”, she developed a distinctive style of her own. Sofia Richie has earned contracts with Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Chanel.

Her achievements also extend to having her own successful clothing line, which she is secretive about to the media. While Sofia Richie’s designer wardrobe and reality TV introduction offered privilege, she leveraged the opportunity to build a business empire, fame, and fortune herself.

Charlotte Free – 5’7″

Charlotte Free is 5’7” tall. Although not considered short, she still does not meet the minimum height criteria to be a model. She has modeled for many major designers and walked runways a ton of times. 

Known for her rebellious pink hair and abundance of tattoos, Charlotte marches to the beat of her own drummer. She’s a muse to Moschino’s Jeremy Scott and has walked the Chanel runway multiple times.

Georgia May Jagger – 5’7″

Georgia May Jagger is the daughter of the famous American model and actress Jerry Hall. While her height is 5’7” and not up to traditional modeling standards, she is a very sought-after model. 

With her signature gap teeth, Georgia May inherited her model mother, Jerry Hall’s captivating beauty. She’s worked with Sunglass Hut, Volcom, and Mulberry and appeared on over 10 Vogue covers internationally.

Emily Ratajkowski – 5’7″

Emily Ratajkowski is 5’7” in height and started modeling at a very young age by signing with Ford Models. Most people recognize her from the famous movie “Gone Girl” in 2014.  

Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” helped put her on the map for her topless appearance in the music video in 2013. But Emrata has gone on to become a multimedia empire, including modeling for fashion heavyweights, acting in films like Gone Girl, and designing swimwear. Emily Ratajkowski also authored New York Times Bestseller “MY BODY.” 

Lila Moss – 5’5″

The Moss family is brimming with models. Lila Moss is 5’5” tall and is the daughter of the famous British model Kate Moss. Lila’s Aunt Lottie Moss is also a model defying height standards in the modeling industry. 

Continuing their mother Kate Moss’s legacy, Lila Moss possesses ethereal beauty and poise that helped her become the face of Marc Jacobs Beauty. She’s also modeled for Versace, Vogue Italia and i-D. She has walked various runways and appeared as the face of famous brands. 

Iris Law – 5’5″

Model Iris Law is 5’5” tall, which is not the traditional height standard for models. She is the daughter of the English actors Sadie Frost and Jude Law. Defying the height laws of the modeling world, she is one of the most in-demand models today. 

The inheriting model looks from father, Jude Law, and mother, Sadie Frost; Iris Law mixes delicate features with an edgy, punk style. She’s modeled for Burberry, Miu Miu and starred in campaigns for Calvin Klein.

Camille Rowe – 5’7″

Camille Rowe is 5’7” tall and became popular after her cover shoot for Playboy in 2018 and walking for Victoria’s Secret. She modeled for various brands and runways in her career. 

With French and American roots, former Victoria’s Secret model Camille blends Parisian charm with California cool. She’s modeled for Dior, H&M, and Walkers Shortbread and appeared in Playboy France.

Adwoa Aboah – 5’8″

With roots in Ghana, Adwoa Aboah is a British model who is 5’8” tall. She gained fame after she was on the cover of the December 2017 edition of British Vogue magazine. She was voted as the Model of The Year in 2017. 

With her trademark freckles and close-cropped hair, Adwoa uses her unconventional looks to champion greater diversity as the face of Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang.

Rose Bertram – 5’7″

Rose Bertram is 5’7” and started out in the industry at the young age of 16 after signing with Dominique Agency. She became a familiar face from a photo shoot with Juergen Teller for Jambox. 

Known for her voluptuous figure and bountiful curls, Rose has leveraged her 1.2 million Instagram followers into partnerships with Sports Illustrated, H&M, and L’Oreal Paris.

Josie Maran – 5’7″

Josie Maran is 5’7” and started modeling at the age of 17 with Elite Modeling Agency. Her first appearance on a magazine cover was for the Glamour magazine in 1998. She has done various commercials and advertisements. She also appeared in various popular movies such as The confession, Need for Speed, etc. 

A Maybelline international spokesmodel who also appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for three consecutive years, Josie later founded her own eco-conscious cosmetics line.

Eva Marcille – 5’6″

The 5’6” tall model Eva Marcille is famous for winning America’s Next Top Model. She has appeared on the cover of many prominent magazines, and she has acted in movies and television shows. 

After winning America’s Next Top Model Cycle 3, Eva used her reality show clout to walk for Marc Bouwer and model for CoverGirl and DKNY. She later pivoted into acting and appeared as a Real Housewife of Atlanta.


The growing number of successful petite models proves that the fashion industry is evolving. Traditional height requirements now share space with diversity and inclusion of all body types. These exceptional short models demonstrate skill and personality can outweigh physical proportions.

As more average-height women see themselves represented, brands also expand their customer demographic. The body positivity movement calls for genuine depictions of beauty beyond the tall, thin archetype.