Saturday, August 17, 2013

Things I learned that week I was a model

I like this girl's commitment. 
As a freshly 30, struggling actress in Los Angeles, I’ve got it pretty tough. Los Angeles is a young, good looking city. I mean, really good looking. Even our “uglies” are by most standards acceptable sexual partners. Youth is of GREAT value. This is mostly because it is the hub of the entertainment industry. Any hometown hunk who gets told he has talent is here. They’re all gathered in one place, making most of us feel inadequate. I’ve been totally fine with this. I’ve lived here for almost three years, feeling adequate most of the time. In fact, I haven’t given it much thought and I’ve been pretty happy with my body and the way I look until…. I booked a modeling job.

“I’m not a model,” I said. “Are you sure? You remember what I look like, right?” I asked my old friend who works for a prominent Japanese Motorcycle brand. He contacted me and asked that I do some print and catalogue work for them. He insisted that I had a look they were trying to go for, “cute” and more “conservative.” “Sure.” I said. I mean, who was I to pass up a great job booking just because I didn’t think I was the “model” type? They wanted me, didn’t they? I’d give it my all! I’d jump right in with confidence!  I’d go on a DIET!

And boy did I go on a diet. I went on a diet so hard, I was THAT
There's a person in this picture!
girl who said, “no thanks. Do you know how hard it is for your body to break that down?!” “Are you kidding me? That’s a carb.” “Don’t eat that in front of me.” “We have to eat now because Oprah says you can’t eat past 8pm!” I actually skipped the burrito and had shrimp cocktail at my favorite Mexican restaurant because it was literally, the only thing on the menu I could eat and I had NOT ONE, single chip with salsa on it. Screw what everyone else thought!  I was a MODEL! It was the first real “diet” I’d ever been on. It’s not as though I ate poorly in the first place, but this was first time I NEVER cheated. Not once!  Well guess what everybody, it worked. It F-ing worked. I dropped weight so quickly it was sad. Sad because it meant that eating incredibly clean is the ONLY way to really lose weight. I know now that I’m officially trading skinny for pizza and I’m totally fine with that, but I digress. I was ready for my modeling job.

I was so excited on my first day of a four day job. I came in fresh faced, with no make-up and my hair thoroughly flat-ironed. I felt so good about myself and was ready to rock a leather motor-cycle suit, some aviators, and a fan. That was not to be. Here is what did happen:

This is a "plus size" model. Oi. 
I showed up to find 4 other models, much younger than I, tanner than I, and much thinner than I, with the exception of one “plus-size” model. Who, coincidentally was actually “too thin” to be a plus-size model at a size 12 (the smallest plus-sizes are usually 14, her agent often lied to clients about here size) and was also brought in to this shoot make it a little “more conservative.” If she was too thin to be a model and I was too fat, where the hell do we fit in? I came in to this feeling so good about myself, but here are some things I learned about myself during this shoot that left me feeling not so good. Some were implied, but some of things were actually said directly in front of me, in no particular order….

-          My hair is difficult to style and “simply does not photograph well.”
-          “Oh, she has bangs. Oh man, that’s so specific.” (On day 2, they figured out how to pin bangs back. Amazing.) “Well, see if you can make her like a, Zooey Dachanel type.”
-          My skin is too pale and I “could not be photographed against a white background.”
-          My legs “have no definition.”
-          My “boobs should be bigger for my body type.”
-          We had to hide my cellulite.
-          I “look like a medium, but I’m actually a small. Wow.”
-          I have one tooth on my left side that is slightly askew.
-          I have very dark circles under my eyes.
-          I have wrinkles around my mouth.
-          I “surprisingly have a lot of nice poses.”- (my ONE compliment.)
-          After day one, I wore black leggings for the rest of the shoot. (In other words, we were hiding my legs.)
-          I’m “old for a model.” (Not too old though, just old.)

I also learned  the other younger, thinner, tanner, real models spoke of their “numerous” flaws in such a matter-of-fact way, I started to believe all these things were important to acknowledge because it came with industry and it was their job to know how to pose to hide said flaws. It seemed important to me to acknowledge that my “flaws” were, in fact, too numerous to be a model. I was referred to as the “comedian” on set because I was certainly, no model. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. It’s hard to play dress-up and take pretty pictures and not have a great time. It’s just that, I didn’t feel like a model and I wouldn’t realize it until later, but I did not leave that shoot feeling very good about myself. My friends and family were so sweet following the shoot, congratulating me and telling everyone around, “my friend here is a model.” But I hated it. I had way too many flaws. This job was a fluke. If they’d only been at that shoot with me, they’d know I’m no model. You tell people you’ve done some modeling and they look at you differently. Immediately, they look you up and down and analyze every inch of your face. I’d say “no, no, no… hahahaha… I’m not a model. I just got lucky with a booking.” In other words, “stop f-ing counting my many, many flaws. I know they’re there! STOP LOOKING AT MY FLAWS!” But I didn’t realize what I was really saying at the time.

This photo shoot was two months ago, but I was inspired to write today after someone told me I was pretty a few days ago. It was then I realized I’d spent the two months eating like shit, never going out, never dressing up, and never doing my hair. I postponed headshots and photo shoots for my website because I just didn’t feel like it. I certainly, did NOT feel sexy. I realized all of this when I received the “Pretty” compliment and instead of my stock, silly, charming response of “I know! Ha!” I politely said, “thank you” and immediately thought about my many flaws and that this someone was clearly just being nice…. That’s when I knew, my self-esteem was shot to shit, all because I was a “model.”

This girl is technically a model... for sturdy sinks.
One “modeling” job and I forgot what it meant to be beautiful and sexy. It was the label, “model.” It was my experience with “models.” It was when my worth was placed solely on my looks that I forgot I was talented. I forgot I was smart, I forgot I had a blog… The silly thing is, a “model” is defined as someone who is hired to promote or display a product in some way, but I (and I’d say most) have turned it into this thing most of us can NEVER be. I was a freaking model by its very definition, but I couldn’t handle it. The best thing I’ve learned is that I am not most confident and sexy when I’m feeling thin, having a great hair day, or wearing great clothes. I feel most confident and sexy when I’m exercising my talents and intelligence. (I'm feelin' randy at the very idea of posting this blog!) And when I feel talented or intelligent, I want to take care of my physical self, because I and my body deserve it. Everyone does. 

Nuff said. 


  1. This is such a great post, Andrea. I remember once, when I went out as "slightly burly man" for an air conditioning company commercial, I lost my bearings & I wandered into the area where models auditioned for things. A lady, sensing I didn't belong, was nice enough to say, "are you lost?" It was like an issue of VOGUE had come to life. I've never felt so short, hairy, pudgy & Italian in my life.

    1. Thanks, Charlie! It's definitely a different world! I'm glad I get to live in the real world. ;-)

  2. From time to time, you will have to health supplement this cash flow people make from a modelling expeditions through your model jobs. Summing up, Modelling Work can be quite fulfilling.