For the mainstream, modeling is viewed as an alluring other world reserved for the tall, thin and beautiful. It’s the glamorous life sparkling with ethereal beauty, enviable success and excessive wealth. Many young girls stare wide-eyed at the cover of Vogue wishing on a shooting star that one day they could become the next Covergirl.
I, too, was one of those young girls. I remember being fourteen years old watching endless episodes of Model on the E! Network after school. I dreamed of swapping places with the gorgeous Josie Maran or Alek Wek as they strutted down the catwalk and gave behind-the-scene glimpses of their privileged lifestyle.
For my sixteenth birthday, my mom and I flew to New York City in hopes of knocking on the doors of major modeling agencies. We never actually got there but just being in the buzzing Big City ignited my dream even more. Soon after our trip, I enrolled in a local modeling class in Nashville where I learned the catwalk strut, make-up tips and fashion advice. I had hopes of attending the annual Acting, Modeling and Talent conference later in the year but anorexia thwarted my grand plans.
It wasn’t until 8 years later—-at a point where I felt more stable in my recovery—-that I stepped back into the glistening world of modeling.
I had been married to Craig for about a year when I confessed my dormant dream of giving modeling one last try. Many working models are high-schoolers and there I was at the ripe old age of 25. My time to make it as a model was quickly slipping away. So, I mustered up the courage to walk through the door of Vivien’s Models one spring afternoon. I was signed on the spot and at my first photo shoot within a few weeks.
Over the next two years, I got to experience the highs and lows of the modeling scene. I worked with some of the most passionate, inspiring people I’ve ever met. Genuine, heartfelt creatives. I met some beautiful (and much younger!) friends whom I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing make major strides in the fashion industry.
Getting all dolled up by professionals for the catwalk and fashion shoots was definitely the highlight of my experience. Being away from my husband and living in a hostel for four weeks while casting for Sydney Fashion week is something that still gives me the shivers. All in all, for me, modeling was a positive experience. Maybe because I didn’t do it full-time and probably because I only dabbled in it for a couple of years.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. The competition. Comparison. Rejection. Modeling definitely taught me a thing or two.
So, here it is:
5 THINGS MODELING TAUGHT ME ABOUT THE REAL WORLD.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYBODY
One thing I quickly learned in modeling is that I didn’t always fit the bill for every casting director. Sometimes they just wanted a blonde-haired model and mine was brown. Sometimes they wanted someone more exotic, and I’m All-American. That doesn’t mean I needed to change anything about myself. It was just that I simply wasn’t what they were looking for. I could have driven myself crazy trying to be everything to everybody but, in the end, I AM SIMPLY ME. Don’t ever change the favorable traits that you LOVE about yourself just to please somebody else. Never do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or uneasy to make someone else happy. Don’t compromise your beliefs in hopes of getting others to like you. It’s not worth it ’cause in the end, you won’t be able to please everybody. Plain ‘n simple.
DON’T TAKE LIFE SO SERIOUSLY
If you spent an afternoon on-set with a bunch of creatives or models, you’d quickly discover that they love life. Models are some of the goofiest, funnest people you’ll come across. Maybe it’s all those hours of ‘hurry up and wait’ but one thing’s for sure: Models don’t take life too seriously. As a model, you often don’t even know what the next day will hold. Spontaneous. Adventurous. Care-free. Yes, models are dedicated and professional, but they also know how to enjoy their job. When we take ourselves or life too seriously, we lose the joy of the present moment. We waste too much time worrying and not enough time actually living. Lighten up and laugh. One of those head back, deep-bellied laughs, why don’t ya?
WE ALL HAVE INSECURITIES
When I look at the cover of Vogue or Elle, I automatically think flawless, I mean, how hard can Kate Upton’s life really be? She’s stunning! But we all know Photoshop brushes away bumps and bruises and any trace of insecurity. Models are acutely aware of their flaws because these ‘flaws’ are often pointed out to them. Although I have met a few pompous models, most of the girls are not only humble, but they have glaring self-doubt. So, next time you are feeling insecure or uptight, remember that even the flawless model on the cover of Marie Claire has flaws.
JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS ‘NO’ DOESN’T MAKE YOU A NOBODY
A huge part of modeling is rejection. It comes with the territory of putting yourself out there at castings. I remember back to when I first started modeling, and it took me 3 months to book my first clothing campaign. I was actually quite traumatized at my first casting when I was told I walked wrong. I mean, how can I walk wrong?! Time after time, I’d hear a resounding ‘No!’ at my auditions. As time went by, I grew a thicker skin while realizing it didn’t have anything to do with me. If you don’t get the job, the guy or that something you’ve wished for, you are still valuable and loved. You are truly magnificent. Believe it. Claim it!
TRUE BEAUTY SHINES FROM YOUR HEART, NOT YOUR FACE
Have you ever noticed that people become more beautiful or uglier as you get to know them better? A personality definitely shapes how we view an individual. I’ve met some stunningly gorgeous models with the nastiest attitudes, and quite frankly, it makes them ugly! A giving heart, an honest smile, a compassionate soul. These are what make you truly beautiful. So, reach within and shine your beauty out to the world.
Looking back, my modeling days were some of my fondest memories. I gained confidence and invaluable insight into the captivating world of fashion and media. It’s made me a stronger person and allowed me to indulge my girly side at the same time.
Remember, the immense reservoir of kindness and love that lies within you will shine forth more beautiful than any lipstick shade or sun-kissed glow ever will.
//ACTION STEP: Today, compliment someone for something BEAUTIFUL about them that isn’t exterior. Think: a kind deed, a servant heart, an encouraging nature.
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