I’ve been modeling since I was 13 years old (LA Models, Ford, Industry Models). My mom got me an agent by sending a few shots of me to different agencies. She’s not a stage mom, not by a long shot. In fact, her reasoning for getting me into modeling was to “boost my self-esteem” after seeing how tough school was for me.
Modeling did boost my self-esteem. I actually booked pretty regularly. One of my first jobs was an editorial in Vogue Italia, shot by Peter Lindbergh. I was feeling so good about it, I would bring my magazines to school to show them to my friends. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing. What I was really doing was bragging about modeling to people I didn’t know very well.
Anyway, that was all I really got out of modeling. Along the journey, I met people who desperately wanted to model, wanted to make it their career. They took classes, had active profiles on Model Mayhem. All I saw it as was a way to buy more manga. I despised the job, and since I struggled with social anxiety, I dreaded photoshoots.
Commercial modeling wasn’t that bad, though. Sure, I had a photographer every once in awhile tell me I was “soft”, “too white”, or that my arms were too hairy, but generally it wasn’t the most evil job. I just never really fit in.
In fact, after ten years of this, I started painting my nails black. Then, I started getting tattoos. Piercings. Little ways of rebelling. And then…
I dyed my hair red. Whoops.
I finally feel like myself now. I still work with an agency, but I choose the shoots I want to do. I won’t book Target again for awhile (or maybe ever), but I don’t care that much. It’s time to do what I love: working as a host, surrounded by video games and cosplay. Empowering girls and guys who are bullied or tortured for their social anxiety or the way they love the things they love. No more comparing myself to other girls at castings, no more listening to how much they’re better than me at juice cleansing (fuck that shit, I made it through 3 days and wanted to die). No more manicure checks by my agent. I finally get to be myself and find the joy in modeling again.
To you girls who envy professional models, don’t. A lot of their life is spent making sure their entire body is in tip top shape. They under-eat, over-exercise, spend tons of money on manicures and fake tans (which smell like dog food). Their feet are gnarled from wearing heels since they were 11. They spend every day going to castings where they wait hours for someone to look at them and decide they aren’t pretty/skinny/curvy enough. It’s a sad waste of a life focused on appearance that could be used to do things that really make a difference. Because in all of the years of my modeling, I’ve maybe kept a single magazine, and even that one’s old, faded, and dogeared. That’s not much of a legacy to leave behind, is it?