I do not believe a model should have to pay to be a model and join a modeling agecy database website! The agency might say it is more exposure for their clients for you to be on the website, but don't do that! That is nuts. I have grown as a model and over time now work with great agencies who do NOT charge me to be on their website or work with them. I do however give them my own marketing material, which I make myself.
I do believe a girl who wants to model will have to be prepared to make her marketing material on her own and at her own expense. Make her own compcards ( that and get her own photography and be more hands-on with her pursuits. More control over herself. And try to get some experience before approaching an agency. Like being an athlete it is better to show you can play the game, have played before you play with a team.
You do not have to be scammed by an agency to pay for photos through them or make a compcard through them. Make your own, and many print modeling agencies freelance with many models and this is how it is done.
However, I am sad to know that some agencies I have considered legit have turned into agencies that charge models to be on their website database. It is sad. Frustrating and it upsets me because I tell girls to work with these agencies and then what do you know they have turned into "another jerk agency like that." Yuck.
Girls, remember if you are making your own compcards like you should ( I use www.compcard.com and there are many headshot and compcard printing services out there, just google it.) then you should NOT pay an agency to put your jpgs or scan your compcards. I understand it is a digital world, but being an agent to me should involve more than just directing a client to the website, an agent should be pitching the models they have, and promoting them to the right jobs.
I work with two very legit agencies in NYC who do not charge me to model with them and I have booked great work with them, but there are many, many agencies out there who take advantage of the internet age and want aspiring models who are naive to pay to join a database! It is nuts, and do not do it.
Girls that are shorter should not expect to get a phone call every minute for a casting or go-see but there are opportunities out there and you should not expect to be babied, you should know ahead of time, how to pose, how to model. Do not think going into the modeling business blind and unaware is a good idea. Do your homework about what modeling is! If a girl has no experience at all it is very easy to get scammed. Even with some agencies that might at first seem legit.
There are legit agencies out there, it might be harder to work with them, you might have to keep submitting again and again but if you want something the fight is worth it.