I first posted this on my facebook page after watching Cameron Russell’s TedX talk on youtube this morning. I felt like I finally had to say this publicly, because many people may have the misconception about ex-models.
I often get asked, “Do you miss being a model?” The answer is always a firm NO.
Why not? Usually my quick answer to them is that I earn a lot more money doing what I do now than I did modelling.
That’s true, but behind it there’s a stronger reason that made me quit modelling.
Models are insecure. They are made to feel insecure. I was always made to feel insecure. There’s never a thing as the one perfect model. I spent five years following everyone’s instructions, believing their views and perspectives about my body and looks, and never believing in myself.
My hair would be too short/long/straight/curly, or my legs too long to fit pants/gowns, or my face too angular, eyes too small, boobs too small/big. There were the never ending requests to lose one more inch or get rid of my tan.
I spent years worrying about my thighs being too big if I ate another bite, or if I would be able to land another gig. I let my self-worth be validated by what the industry was telling me. It was frustrating that whenever I followed an agent’s/photographer’s/stylist’s advice, it would be met by a negative comment from another insider/client (e.g. “oh you looked better with long hair”).
I didn’t know who to believe. My mistake was not believing myself.
Unlike Cameron Russell, I didn’t win the “genetic lottery” of being caucasian and looking a certain way, but like her and many other models, even though we were glossed up, we could still be the most physically insecure people around.
The day that I started to work toward other skill sets was the day that I could validate my own existence instead of giving that power to everyone else.
I stopped spending all my days focused on how I look, and started to focus on what I am. Who I am. What I could be.
I started to enjoy all the activities that I couldn’t while I was modelling, the simplest one being that I could spend time in the sun, at the beach or doing sports, without worrying about how it would affect my bookings for the next month.
However, I don’t regret the years I spent working as a model. It gave me a great head start, on-the-job learning, connections and opportunities for the work I am doing now. I am grateful to the people I met and the chances they gave me to work in fashion from another angle.
Because of what I had experienced, I know how the models that I work with today feel. I believe in treating all of them with respect. I know that they aren’t just the person in the image on the screen, but a real living, breathing, feeling, thinking person too. (Watch Cameron’s TedX video at 5:39 to know what I mean).
To anyone who is still wondering why don’t ex-models miss their job, I would like to say this to them:
The glamorous, glossy images that you see of them ISN’T them. It is a product of many other talented industry professionals working at creating an image, a dream, an ideal for viewer.
Many models have their own bigger dreams and aspirations, which modelling only is a stepping stone for them to make their leap from.
credit for thumbnail image: Jeff Chen. One of the last images from my modelling days.