I was a shy child and didn’t have many friends. I was (and still am) close to my mother, but I was once extremely reserved. My sister used to tease me and insist I was afraid of my own shadow, and at times I’m sure that was true.
While I didn’t have a whole lot of friends, I had a great imagination. I used to go through magazines and make up stories about the people in the ads and pretend they were my friends. That’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s the truth. I was fascinated by these people even though I had no idea who they really were. One day it clicked, and I realized I could be that same inspiration for another little girl if I was a model.
My mom was hesitant to start me in the modeling industry because she thought I was just too shy. I had my first photo shoot at 14-years-old, and she was blown away. I really loved being in front of the camera. Maybe it was that I was so reserved in real life that I felt the camera was a safe place to “play” and be someone else, but that’s what I loved. I love pretending to be characters, and to tell a story only with pictures.
It’s fascinating to me that photographs are so unique. Two people can look at the same photo and get something different out of it. I love hearing feedback about my work, and the mentality people think I had in the photo, and what different pictures remind them of in their own lives. When I’m in front of the camera I’m on an incomparable high, and seeing the stories that unravel from the photoshoots is always exciting.
Last night I had a chat with a long-time photographer friend who works in New York. “What’s your weight?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I replied, thinking to myself how irrelevant that question is considering weight doesn’t directly link to a certain measurement, and therefore can be misleading when booking models. I went on to tell him my measurements and that I wear a size 2 jean.
“You gotta be a 0!” he wrote back. I told him how unhealthy I was when I was a size 0 given that I’m 5’9”, a former dancer, and very into working out and health in general.
“Lol that’s what models have to be!” he replied. I was livid. I stopped responding to hold myself back from writing anything I might later regret.
If you look at agency websites, you’ll find that most girls range from a size 2 to a size 4 (which, in my opinion, is still too slim for a person who stands at 5’11”).
What made me want to be a model had nothing to do with the fashion or glamour. I’ve had photoshoots in dirty basements, closed down bars, parking lots, and in the woods full of insects, where the only part of the shoot that could be considered “glamorous” was having my hair and make-up done, and even then I’ve had mascara smudged onto my eyes and my entire head of hair teased into an afro, and while it wasn’t overly painful, but I’m the one who had to brush it all out that night. Not an easy task. Anyway, the reason I wanted to be a model was to have a voice and to be an inspiration.
Never would I want to inspire a girl to be unhealthy and think that beauty is defined by what size jeans you wear. A couple of years ago this photographer’s comments might have inspired me to starve myself and take laxatives so I would be skinnier, but I’m of a different mindset now, and all it made me want to do was permanently take his camera away from him.
At 5’9”, a size 2, and someone who works out 6-7 days a week, “fat” is the last opinion I have of myself. The industry is made up of a variety of markets; there’s commercial, catalogue, lingerie, high fashion, and so on. If I show up on an audition and the clothes are too small for me, then that’s just not the right market for me. That being said, I have never been in that situation, which also just means that my agents are doing something right.
It took a few years, and a lot of growing up, but I’m confident with myself now, and anytime I begin to think maybe I should be thinner I remember why I wanted to be a model in the first place. It had nothing to do with weight. It had to do with having a voice. I want to inspire people, not have people look up to me because I have pointy hip bones and a pretty rib cage.