She's a Professional Size 6

The Trade Secrets of Fit Model Kelland Morrow

Like a warm-blooded mannequin, she has the perfect frame for trying on 100 sample outfits a day at Wet Seal’s headquarters in Foothill Ranch. Life as an in-house fit model makes for hours of wardrobe scrutiny and perpetual thoughts of, “Is my body OK?” It’s steady work making strangers look great in an outfit, and explains why one brand of jeans hugs you better than another—that company’s fit model is built more like you. “I get really happy when I see someone who looks good in something I helped make. I just think, ‘Yay! I contributed to that!’ ”

Might I ask your dimensions?
My biceps are 10½ inches, my bust 35½, waist 27, high hip 33, low hip 38, and my thighs range between 21½ and 22, depending if I hike or do the stair climber. The knees are supposed to be 14; mine are 13½. I’m also a little tall for a fit model. I’m 5-foot-7¾ and the maximum is usually 5-foot-7. They just take into consideration I have long legs. 

What’s the difference between being a model and being a fit model? 
I get to eat. I’m a healthy, natural, curvaceous size 6. Modeling may demand a size 4 or size 2. I get to stay healthy and indulge in extraordinary desserts—I just have to maintain my measurements at all times. 

How do you keep a size 6?
Mostly, I do yoga, and I just got back into the gym. If I lift too much, I get too bulky, and if I watch my food intake too much, I get too skinny. But I eat really healthy so that’s helped a lot. I have to stay consistent, and 135 pounds.

So you’re constantly thinking about your weight?
My work adds a lot of pressure to the way I look at myself. The moment I’m filling out my jeans more, I’m like, “Oh my god, what’s going on?” I get a little militant. 

What if you want to be a different size? 
I’d have to find a new job. I loved being a size 4, because I’m most confident there, but it’s a little too skinny. If I have to weigh five more pounds for my job, so be it. 

What’s the shelf life of a fit model? 
There’s a woman at BCBG who is in her 40s. As long as you maintain your shape, you’re OK.

Hazards of the gig?
I’ve been pinned through my skin with big metallic fabric pins. I’ve had my neck zipped up in a zipper, my side zipped up in a zipper. The worst thing was my foot getting stabbed with fabric scissors—they weigh a good 3 pounds. I had to go to urgent care and get a tetanus shot. 

Do you have privacy when you change? 
At each company there’s a little area where models won’t be exposed. But one time a UPS guy walked in and I was out in my bra and panties. He was so embarrassed. Poor guy, he didn’t turn red—he turned purple!

Anything you don’t like to model? 
Ugh! Bathing suits! You really have to psych yourself up. But my least favorite is fitting denim; if I get a manicure it’s ruined and turns blue. My fingers get filled with lint, I break nails, and the texture of it irritates my skin. I’m just over denim—yoga wear for me! 

Do we ever see you in an ad?
Companies will do an entire photo shoot with me, but it’s never actually published. It’s to see what they’ll be putting on the print model. I’ve tried modeling—it’s so annoying! There’s heavy lighting, thick makeup, and you pose in sexy positions that are uncomfortable. ... I’m really not missing anything.

How’d you start fit modeling?
I have a friend who was a receptionist at Bebe, and I told her I hated my job as a receptionist at this IT firm. She suggested I come into Bebe to get my measurements taken. I eventually took over for the main fit model and have been doing it ever since. 

How’d you learn the trade?
When I worked in Los Angeles, I was trained by this crazy, fierce, amazing, talented Italian pattern maker. In Italy, fitting clothes is on the same level as being a doctor. She started teaching me how to make patterns, and why you can’t do certain things with fabric and stitching. A lot of newbie fit models will say, “This is tight here,” or “This doesn’t fit right here.” I’m like, “OK, drop the armhole three-eighths of an inch.” I speak their language. 

So, for a size 6, you are the mold? 
What’s really weird is I have my own mannequins. I went to a movie studio and had this red laser scan of my body, which made a foam thing, which made me into mannequins. They’re used for making patterns and tailoring clothing, but live fit models give the best feedback.

Three bits of advice for someone wanting to date a fit model?
Don’t ever tell her she looks fat because that is her daily second-by-second thought process. So to hear things like, “Go work out”—I want to slit your throat. Definitely give her lots of foot massages, and let her indulge every once in a while on something disgustingly delicious. She’ll love you forever. 


Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue.