Were your first few years of modeling hard? How did you manage to stick it out?
I got scouted to model on the street when I was 14, and started working when I turned 15. We had to wait for my self-cut hair to grow out, and for my braces to come off. I was also extremely shy and nervous – I have memories of sitting in my first meeting with my agency, bright red, feeling terrified that someone would talk to me. It was many years until I actually had the confidence to be comfortable around strangers; something that modeling definitely helped me with… But the combination of my introverted state with zero experience or interest in fashion made for a tough first few years of modeling.
The hardest part of my early modeling years were not the long hours or constant travel that comes with modeling. Truthfully I have always enjoyed that aspect of modeling – I love traveling and seeing new parts of the world, and the actual work that comes with modeling I find really rewarding. The hardest part for me was the feeling that everyone else was in on something that I had no idea about. I couldn’t understand why I was modeling – everyone else around me seemed so much cooler and more confident. If my opinion was asked about which photo or piece of clothing I preferred, I learned early on to say the opposite of what I actually liked; in order to be with the majority opinion. To be fair I never developed an opinion that reflected what everyone around me thought – the only difference is that I stopped caring about it.
Therein lies my answer to the second half of your question. The older I got, the less I cared about trying to be “cool”, and subsequently my enjoyment in everything increased dramatically. The more I opened up to the people I worked with, the more relationships I developed within the industry; resulting in some of my most rewarding and closest friendships. I stopped worrying about whether people would “find me out” as a fraud in the industry – and that became a part of my success. The less energy I invested into worrying about fitting in, the more energy I had to put into other aspects of my life. I developed interests outside of the fashion industry, met a lot of amazing friends, and kept my job completely in perspective.
I think to be successful in anything you need to first be completely your own person. You need to be secure in who you are, what you like and what you will not stand for; and that only comes from looking within. Modeling is no exception to this rule – not in my experience anyway. You don’t want to look back on your life and realize all the time you wasted on focusing on your perceived “flaws”. I can guarantee that no one else cares as much about you as you do; and that is a huge comfort to me!