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These Models Make Money with Hands, Feet

A hand model in a vintage Palmolive commercial. (YouTube)

A hand model in a vintage Palmolive commercial. (YouTube)

Gisele Bundchen, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss are some of the super-models of the fashion world.

But there are other highly paid models whose faces you’ve never seen.

These people work in “body parts modeling,” a specialized area of the modeling business. You have probably seen their beautiful hands, exquisite feet or fabulous earlobes in advertisements for elegant gloves, designer shoes or expensive earrings.

“Parts models are in huge demand from companies who want the perfect hands, legs, feet or other body parts to advertise their product,” writes Vanessa Helmer, a modeling expert, in a blog on

Hands, feet and legs are the most requested body parts for both men and women models. But, Helmer notes, if you have beautiful eyes, hair, earlobes, lips or teeth, you can market those, too.

It is quite a profitable business. reported that top parts models earn around $1,000 per day for TV commercials, and between $2,000 to $5,000 a day for print work. A female parts model with great legs and feet can earn about $75,000 a year – and even more in New York City, which is home to major advertising agencies.

If a modeling agency represents you and finds you modeling work, the agency will take a commission ranging from 10 percent to 20 percent, reports

As with super-models in the fashion world, there are top-of-the-line parts models who get high fees. An example is Ellen Sirot, one of the highest-paid hand and foot models in the U.S. She appeared on a TV show called “The Big Idea,” hosted by Donny Deutsch.

Sirot said the very highest-paid hand models can earn as much as $10,000 a day, but “feet modelling doesn’t pay as much because there aren’t as many foot jobs.” Top foot models can earn from $500 to $2,000 per hour, she added.

It is not enough to have beautiful hands and feet. You have to be able to “act” with them, too, said Sirot. You need those parts to show emotions and feelings to successfully sell a product.

During a photo shoot, feet may need to act “like they’re getting a chill up the spine,” in order to create the right message for a particular product, she explained.

To succeed in this area of modeling, you have to keep your hands or feet in exquisite shape. Sirot said she wears shoes one size too big to protect her feet. She said she never wears high heels or pointy shoes – except when she’s modeling.

Nicki Donohoe, age 37, is a hand, foot and leg model in Great Britain. She told the Daily Mail that she goes to great lengths to protect them. She wears cotton gloves when she leaves the house -- even when she’s sunbathing. And she moisturizes her hands and feet “up to 10 times a day to keep her fingers and toes in tip-top condition.”

Donohoe does about two body-part modeling jobs a week and has appeared on television ads around the world.

The former makeup artist told the Daily Mail that being a body parts model is “the hardest work of any job I’ve ever had.”

I’m Mary Gotschall.

Mary Gotschall wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

fashion – n. the business of creating and selling clothes in new styles

exquisite adj. very beautiful or delicate

fabulous adj. very good

earlobe n. the soft part of the ear that hangs down from the bottom

commercialn. an advertisement on radio or television

commissionn. an amount of money paid to an employee for selling something

spinen. the row of connected bones down the middle of the back : backbone

moisturizev. to add moisture to (something, such as a person's skin)

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