How I Got My Job: Tia Duffy, Plus Size Model

Reckon you’ve got what it takes to be Ireland’s next top curvy girl? We've got the downlow on just how to go about it.


You’ve got the curves and the confidence. So what’s next? We spoke to Dublin-born, size 14 Tia Duffy, who’s been a curvy model for four years. Signed to Assets, she’s proof that you don’t have to be cookie-cutter to succeed in this industry. We’re finding out what it takes to make it in modelling.

Name: Tia Duffy
Age: 26
From: Finglas, Dublin 11
Signed by: Assets Models Dublin/ Derek Daniels PR
Studied: Teaching at Trinity College Dublin
Twitter: @duffy_tia
Instagram: @tiaduffycurvymodel

How did you get into modelling?

I entered Simply Be’s Plus Size competition four years ago and made it the final out of thousands of entries. Soon after that I attended an open day, and I was the only plus size girl at the casting. Since then I’ve been represented by Assets.

Do you need a particular look to make it in the industry?

Casting directors are looking for diverse, natural beauty, so it helps if you look naturally distinctive.

Companies are starting to use plus size models more and more

What sort of challenges have you faced?

One of the biggest challenges at the start was to build up clients. At the time there were only a handful of plus size models in Ireland and very few companies that would book a curvier model for a shoot. I did struggle at the start with my size, but now I’ve 100% confidence and love my body! I wouldn’t change it for anyone, and I feel at my happiest when I fit into my perfect size 14.

Is it harder for a plus size model to make it?

It’s 100% harder! Smaller models have their client base already, whereas I’m constantly trying to find niches in the industry for women of different shapes and sizes. All models do work hard though, plus size or not.

What’s the best way to deal with those challenges?

When I returned to Ireland after modelling in New York, I researched every stylist here, and contacted them to see if they could use a curvier model for work. I deal with the challenges by reaching out to companies and stylists.

Do you think things are getting easier for plus size models?

The plus size scene is booming abroad, but for plus size models in Ireland, work can still be very slow. Internationally, plus size is definitely getting easier. I think Ireland just needs to catch up. I’ve been booked for editorial, catwalk, beauty, lingerie, swimwear and commercial work, so every job really, and companies are starting to use plus size models more and more. So far, there hasn’t been a section of the fashion industry that I’ve been excluded from, which is very positive.

What are the best bits about the job?

People assume that the industry is full of rude, arrogant people but I can trash that stereotype. I meet inspiring people who love and have the same passion as me. One of the best moments was when I was doing a photo shoot on a pier over looking the Brooklyn Bridge. I remember thinking, “I’m a working model in New York City.”

And the worst?

The thing I stress constantly is that more Irish stylists and companies need to use curvier models.

Want Tia’s job? Here’s how to get it

• Start researching modelling agencies in Ireland.
• Get the times and dates for open days.
• Take a few simple Polaroids and turn up with them.
• Most importantly, be confident and always be yourself.

What does your average day look like?

Last week I did a beach shoot and an editorial shoot in the city, so it can vary a lot. When I’m not doing a shoot I spend my time emailing companies and journalists trying to get more clients to book curvier girls.

What can plus size models hope to earn?

It varies widely, but in Ireland you could expect to earn between €1,000 and €15,000 per year when you’re starting out. The money tends to be better abroad; in New York for example, you could earn anything between €15,000 and €60,000, depending on how popular you are.

I take things in baby steps and always have. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

What sort of career progression is there in modelling, plus size or not?

It’s opened up so many doors. I’ve trained as an actress and find that the two industries aren’t that far apart. I’d love to progress into some type of work for television, fashion or media.

What do you think’s been the key to your success?

The three Ps: Passion, Patience and Persistence. I take things in baby steps and always have. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Credits: Photographer: Evan Doherty; make-up: Stacey Murphy