This year has been a mixed bag. I have gone from feeling amazing and proud of my achievements; to being at the lowest I have ever felt. I have had to change and cancel plans – usually involving someone else’s hard work for me. I have never felt comfortable letting my team down, and to do it this year has only come from a place of complete necessity. And at every turn, I have had the most incredible people in the industry come out and support me. I cannot believe how lucky I am. I have managed to create not only work colleagues, but also truly real friends.
I spend a lot of time talking about the harder experiences I have had working as a model. However the courage that such honesty requires comes from being completely supported, in every aspect of my professional life. I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for these people, I would have quit and kept quiet. I would have been unsupported in my writing, and would never have had the strength to be honest about the life I have lived. This would have been such a missed opportunity for connection with so many people, and for personal reflection.
The first time I had a panic attack, I had no idea what was happening to me. I was alone, frightened and feeling like I might be dying. And after some prompting from my wonderful husband, I called my mother agent. He came straight around and stayed with me until I had calmed down enough to sleep. He made me feel seen and heard, and was beyond understanding and calming. In the fall out from that, he made sure that I had the breather from work that I needed. Throughout the year as my PMDD induced fear got scarier, he was always there to field my anxiety, and to adjust my chart accordingly. Never once did he pressure me to come back to work. My health always came first.
Moving out from there, all of my agents and agencies have been incredible. At the times when I was convinced that I was the worst person to work with, they always responded with love and understanding. They never once pressured me to get back into full time work, and were always willing to be flexible with my ever-changing health status - even when they had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. With each anxiety ridden phone call, came understanding and love. The guilt I felt at pulling out of an option was met only with care. Then when I decided to be publicly completely honest about my health, they were 100% on board and proud of me, no matter the feedback from clients. There was always the attitude of using my experiences for constructive work within the industry. I have the pleasure of working with some of the smartest and kindest people I know.
Then there are the incredible individuals I get to work with regularly on jobs. Once I had an anxiety attack on a trip, and so I had a sleepover with the hair and makeup artist. He left the dinner he was at, and spent the night comforting me. He was always there for me, on that trip and all the others over the years. Then there are the others who offer wise advice and help me to see the lighter, fun side of life. The people who I don’t even need to say a word to, they just understand. When I am feeling nervous after traveling, just seeing their faces puts me instantly at ease. I honestly cannot believe how lucky I am that I get to work with humans like this. They have kept me going, and are some of my favorite friends.
There is a wide spread belief that the fashion industry is full of scary, intense people who give zero fucks about the people they work with. That the models they have signed are just there to get them the money they need, and as soon as they show a human side, they are kicked to the curb. I’m sure there are individuals within the industry who do work this way – but I am yet to meet them. Every agent I have worked with has been loving, supportive and 100% in my corner. The negative teams I have worked with are in the minority. It is the pleasure of these peoples company that keeps me coming back to work. I do believe that there are areas within the industry that need to evolve in order to have the societies best interests at heart. But I believe that each individual within the fashion industry is well aware of this in his or her heart.
There is courage in a shared experience. My voice is one of an ever-growing group of women and men. This gives me hope, because I feel like there is space growing for good to be made throughout the fashion industry, a space that once occupied, will have trickle down effects to the world at large. And the vast majority of people I have worked with in the industry share the same mentality. They want to help, and are receptive, loving and intelligent.
There is a lot that goes on behind the surface 😀