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At what age do models retire?

Models have long and demanding careers that require them to maintain strict exercise and diet regimens in order to keep their bodies looking young and fit. However, as models age it becomes more difficult to meet the physical demands of the job. So at what point do most models decide it’s time to retire?

The modeling career timeline

Most models begin their careers in their mid-teens. The average age for a model to start working is 16 years old. Models are discovered through model searches, model competitions, by applying directly to modeling agencies, or by being spotted in public by a modeling scout or agent.

Once a model is signed to an agency, they will start going on castings and auditions to book jobs. At first, new models tend to book more commercial or catalog jobs that have less stringent requirements on height, age, and experience. As models gain experience and exposure, they may progress to runway shows, fashion editorials, and advertising campaigns for major brands.

A model’s career tends to peak in her early 20s. This is when she will earn the most money working for top designers and brands. Most models end up retiring sometime in their late 20s or 30s as they find it harder to compete with younger talent.

Factors that lead to retirement

There are several factors that typically cause a model to retire:

  • Age – As models enter their late 20s and 30s, it becomes more difficult for them to find work as most brands prefer to hire younger models.
  • Weight gain – Keeping their weight down is a constant struggle, so any weight gain can make it hard to find jobs.
  • Height requirements – Some models end up being considered too short for runway as height requirements increase.
  • Competition – There is always a flow of new, younger models entering the industry.
  • Industry changes – Trends change quickly in fashion. A model’s “look” may go out of style.
  • Career change – Many models decide to retire and pursue other interests and careers.

While some famous models like Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, and Beverly Johnson have worked into their 40s and beyond, this is quite rare. Most professional models switch to other careers by their mid-30s at the latest.

Average retirement age

While every model’s career trajectory is different, most end up retiring sometime in their late 20s to mid 30s. A model’s career is often short-lived compared to other professions.

According to one analysis of models’ biographies, the average retirement age is 28 years old. Very few models continue working past the age of 35. Continuing in the industry into one’s late 30s or 40s is extremely rare and challenging.

Some sources cite an average model retirement age closer to 32 years old. But it is generally agreed upon that most professional models do not work much past age 35.

Age models tend to retire

  • Early to mid 20s – Some models retire early if they burn out from the pressures of the industry or decide to change careers.
  • Late 20s – Many models retire around age 28-30 as younger competition increases.
  • Early 30s – Retirement in the early 30s is common once it gets hard to book jobs.
  • Mid 30s – Very few models continue past age 35.
  • Late 30s/40s – Extremely rare for a model to still be working in her late 30s or 40s.

Famous models’ retirement ages

Some well-known models publicly announced their retirement at the following ages:

  • Gisele Bundchen – 34
  • Adriana Lima – 37
  • Heidi Klum – 39
  • Tyra Banks – 38
  • Cindy Crawford – 40

As you can see, most retired before age 40. Only a handful of iconic supermodels like Cindy Crawford have worked into their 40s while maintaining successful careers.

Early retirement situations

While some models work well into their 30s, others end up retiring much earlier. Reasons models may retire early in their 20s include:

  • Burnout – The pressures of the industry lead to mental exhaustion.
  • Eating disorders – Intense pressure to be thin can lead to disorders that ruin careers.
  • Career change – Deciding to change professions and leave modeling.
  • Pregnancy – Starting a family makes maintaining model weight difficult.
  • Height issues – Runway models may be deemed too short to work as height requirements increase.

While early retirement is less common, these scenarios do sometimes cut short a promising career prematurely.

Late retirement situations

At the other end of the spectrum, some famous models have worked well into their late 30s or 40s, retiring much later than the average model. Reasons models may retire later include:

  • Iconic status – Top supermodels maintain fame allowing extended careers.
  • Strong work ethic – Continuing to work hard at diet and exercise allows booking jobs.
  • Personal brand – Using fame to launch product lines or businesses.
  • Reduced competition – As competition dwindles with age, some models maintain careers.
  • Connections – Industry relationships help book jobs despite age.

Models who manage to work past 35 often have great personal drive and leverage connections, branding, and lower competition to compensate for increasing age.

Second careers after modeling

Most models transition into new careers once they retire. Some common second careers for models include:

  • Television host or anchor
  • Acting
  • Entrepreneur / business owner
  • Writing books
  • Fashion designer
  • Modeling agent or scout
  • Lifestyle branding and blogging

Models gain valuable skills in self-promotion, networking, and managing a personal brand. These skills translate well into many new career options after modeling.


While making it to the top tier of supermodels allows some women to work into their late 30s and 40s, this is extremely rare. Most professional models retire sometime in their late 20s or early to mid 30s. The most commonly cited average retirement age for models falls between 28-32 years old.

Models face immense pressure to maintain strict weight standards and continuously fight rising competition from younger talent. These factors eventually force most models to retire as other career options become more appealing. But some models successfully extend their careers using strong professional connections and continuing to diligently work on diet and exercise into their late 30s.

For the few who make it to icon status, modeling can be a lifelong career. But for most, the modeling lifespan is relatively short, requiring an early transition into new ventures once youth and competitive edge declines.