Hello, loves! This post is probably going to be the most candid I’ve been about myself and my body. I hope to share a story and perhaps help others. All I ask in return is kindness.
I recently have been cast in Fashion Week Columbus as a runway model. Trying to get back into modeling is something I have been debating for several months, as I’m not sure I could take the pressure of an incredibly bizarre industry. I say “incredibly bizarre” because it’s the only arena in which a size 4 or 6 is considered “bigger.” That’s just insane.
I’ve been extra timid to try my hand at modeling yet again because the last time I modeled, I was 19 or 20 years old and my body looked more like this:
And now, age 22 and 25 pounds healthier, as I reconsider modeling, I look more like this:
In the first set of pictures, my diet consisted of high-fiber cereal, salads and more salads, as well as a severe need for control over everything I consumed. Nowadays, throw anything at me that isn’t meat, and I’m most likely to eat it (with a glass of wine or a good brew on the side, to boot). At this point in my life, I am not willing to change my diet for the worse. I like how I look, I like how I eat, I like no longer having issues with food, and I am not going to go back in time. The post explaining my history with food struggles and how I got to where I am is for another day, but here’s a hint of it: In Honor Of.
Anyway, after much debate, I have decided to try modeling again with one rule: I am going to do it at the exact size I am now. I refuse to lose weight because that notion is atrocious.
So Monday night, I ventured to Columbus for a fitting. A fitting is where you try on designers’ clothes to see what looks best on which models, and to adjust the garments accordingly.
All the models (about 25 of us) gathered in the center of a dance studio. The fashion week coordinator helped the first designer select models, pointing us out, discussing us and then selecting the models upon which the designer and the coordinator agreed. The first designer pointed to me, and then the coordinator said, “OK, but she’s a [insert larger bra size here].” There was a grimace from the designer, but I was selected anyway.
The first outfit I tried on was a pair of gray pants and a long jacket. Unfortunately, the pants were far too tight for me and were passed along to a thinner model. I ended up with a short, black cocktail dress that I would wear any day, so I was happy. Was I comfortable with being talked about as though I were not a real person and being prodded at as though I were a mannequin? Not exactly, but I know that comes with the job.
I changed back into my own clothes after my picture was taken in the first look. This was changing in front of a room of strangers, mind you. Again, I know this comes with the job.
The second designer for which I was selected placed me in a large, striped cape. It’s actually pretty badass and I’m excited to walk it down the runway.
After having my picture taken in that, I sat back down and waited to see whether I was needed or wanted for another look. Someone eventually came over to the group of models looking for a “bigger” and “broader” girl. I was that girl. I tried on a pair of high-waisted pants and a corset. Though both garments fit, the designer and coordinator decided the look wasn’t right, either on me or on the runway (which, I’m not sure).
So I put my own clothes back on and sat down with the other models.
A few minutes later, a designer approached the coordinator saying, “We need a curvier silhouette for this dress.” The coordinator looked directly at me, pointed and said, “She’s the curviest one we have.”
Having been at both ends of the spectrum, the extremely thin and now the “curvy” end of the models, I wasn’t shocked to hear the coordinator say that. I expected it, actually. And honestly, I felt proud. Proud that even though I had once been curve-less and am now full of them, that I wasn’t waivering in my stance that this is now my size. (And I know, some of you may be thinking, “Kailey, what the hell are you talking about, you’re thin,” but I’m telling you, the modeling industry is insane.) Part of why I’m getting back into it is because I firmly hope and believe that women of all sizes–ALL sizes– will be presented in fashion and magazines. To not feature a full spectrum in fashion and media is an injustice to women everywhere. I also don’t believe in the saying that “real women have curves” because, uh, hello, we’re all real women.
The discourse between the coordinator and the designer continued with the designer saying, “No, not that curvy.” This may render a “WTF?” moment. It was a bit odd to sit there, listen to them, yet not participate in their conversation and pretend that I wasn’t listening.
In the end, I was called over to try on the dress that needed a “curvier silhouette,” and the moment I had it on, the designers all agreed that my body was the “perfect” one for it. That was my little moment of victory of the evening, for damn sure.
Why am I sharing this story with you? For those who may be struggling with eating or body image issues, I want you to know that your body can and may change, and that although it’s a struggle at first, getting to love your “new” body is a beautiful thing. I want you to know that if you feel hopeless and stuck right now, as I have before, that I am here to help you (with completely unprofessional words of semi-wisdom) and maybe offer a glimmer of hope. I am here to help you realize that whatever you want to do, whatever change you want to make for the better, is possible. I am certainly not the epitome of perfect health and body image, but I’ve certainly grown onto a healthier place. It’s taken me a while to realize that this is how I’m meant to look, and it’s taken me a while to love it. How did I get here? Patience and kindness with myself. False confidence until it turned into real confidence. Refection on how I used to feel. I don’t miss having dresses and pants hang off my frigid and aching body. Not one bit. I absolutely love being able to workout, run, dance and walk in the cold without feeling like I might pass out. And, truth be told, clothes look and feel much better now. I feel much better now. That’s really all that matters.
And for those of you who may be blessed enough never to have dealt with aforementioned issues, I hope that maybe this offers an interesting perspective on body image and growth. I was less confident a few years ago, questioning everything I ate, wore, said, wrote, thought, and constantly wondering what others thought about me and my body. It was all related.
Now, entering modeling again, I know that my body is going to be evaluated by relative strangers. The difference between now and a few years ago is that I’m not willing to change. This is me. If someone doesn’t like it, they can choose another model, and I do not and will not take that personally. And when someone wants a “curvier silhouette,” I’ll be here, game to model and rock whatever I’m handed.
Ciao for now,