Early Beginnings in Fashion: Unhealthy Habits and Prepping for the Runway
This is a continuation to my story, here and here, leaving out many details but trying to get to the point (maybe later on I’ll write a book, and maybe a book is not what you want right now, so I’ll leave it at this). There are many highs and lows, but in no way is this a sob story. This is a fantastic life and journey, and the lows are equally as important as the highs. Here is my story.
At this point I was signed to Paul Rowland’s “Image” (editorial) section at Ford Models in NYC, and I was on my way back home to Los Angeles. The plan was to finish school and graduate early, all while preparing to hit the runways, a year or two down the line.
I did just that. Only there was a problem.
When I was first signed to Ford New York, I was 15 going on 16. I was young and naturally slender, but now that I think of it—my habits really weren’t all that “healthy.” Although I was blissfully unaware of the big weed that was growing, through sheer delusional habit, I was eating only fruit. Specifically, large amounts of clementines, meticulously counting their calories during my algebra class rather than actually paying attention to the teacher. I remember every day pulling out my paper lunch bag and rolling out my clementines onto my school desk (as the teacher displayed a lesson on the projector, thus dimming the lights). I would think up scenarios and make plans, thinking “Okay, today I’ve got three. That should cover breakfast and lunch, and maybe two more for dinner.” It was a game at the time, and it was fun. I liked challenging myself. I also loved wearing black—particularly this one outfit; it was a black dress, fairly short, which I belted for a slimmer waist, and wore black tights with underneath. The black tights made my legs look like spider legs, and I loved this. At that time, I really was in my own world (at least, that’s what It felt like, although I’ll guess that my peers could observe the same) and I was excited about this new opportunity and bright future that was promised to me—nothing could get in my way.
But eventually I grew older—like they’d wanted. It was better for the runways, to be a little older. However, just like my age, my hips grew too. It’s hard for me to remember the exact timeline of events—I don’t know if this is because many things have happened since then, my brain does not want to remember those times, or I simply suck at remembering this far back. But I’ll write and see what comes.
It was all fine and well until about a year after my New York trip. It’s the classic model problem. What is the problem, you ask? Becoming a woman! I wasn’t a child any more. My body did not want to remain 14 and it wanted more than fruit. My metabolism mistrusted me and held on tight for dear life to any carb it could find. New York was calling my name but it hated me all at once. It wanted me, but only if I was ready to give it my all, which in this case nearly cost me my all. Every time I stepped foot inside the Ford Los Angeles offices, I was measured (not to bash—all of the agents that were there are currently not, and, this was a customary thing to do at the time and still is in most agencies). I remember saying, “Hi!!!!!!!,” in my high-pitched voice, and then a few minutes later walking into another room, with one of my agents. They always had a measuring tape with them, along with paper and pen. First was the bust. I’ve always had smaller boobs, so there’s no problem there. Waist, same. Hips—ah. The agent would sigh and blurt out the number “35.5” (K—WHICH FOR THE RECORD, TODAY IS A PRETTY DANG GOOD NUMBER FOR MY HIPS). The agents were always so upset that I couldn’t seem to drop my hip measurement down. It felt like the end of the world, but how funny is that? That an INCH determined my success? Alas, ’tis the game. Twas the game.
I remember my agents saying things like, “Well, have you been working out? Because some girls work out for 7 hours a day. Some girls really want it bad. You can do more.” I was already exhausted. But I wanted New York so badly, because I knew that it’s where I belonged. It was always difficult working (or lack thereof) in L.A. because I wasn’t commercial enough for ads, but I wasn’t tall or thin enough for high fashion. I was in between. To me, I was a muse. If I were to become well-known, it would be because I was a muse, and I was good at what I did, and always got the job done. In my mind, I could do both commercial AND editorial. That seemed like a huge strength to me. But at the time, social media models hadn’t come into the scene, and it was very black and white. You were either commercial or high fashion. Those were the options for me, anyway. And because I had a New York agency waiting for me, and because it was my dream to inspire the world in some way and create a larger basis, that’s the path that I chose. And so, I worked. Hard.
I started taking a college class after high school so that I could build enough credit to leave early. My school days ended around seven or eight, and then I’d go to the gym for four hours and come home around midnight. On the weekends that I did have off, I’d take the metro (no car) to Downtown Los Angeles and spend them with my best friend Jeffrey (a fantastic makeup artist whom I originally met as a 15-year-old model, while he was a photographer). He understood my situation and believed in me like no one else did. We’d dream about the types of people and models and artists we wanted to be. We wanted to change the world, inspire, create, and . . . I believe we both still hold those dreams. We studied muses like Dovima and artists and dancers and photographers. We’d sit for hours going through magazines . . . Discussing runway shows. We took photos (over and over and over—that’s how I learned my angles! “Chin up!”) and played with lighting, put makeup on each other, and dreamt of making a scrapbook among other things, which hopefully we will still one day put together to look back on. I was his muse and he was my support and best friend. He still means the world to me. Jeffrey was and remains a crucial part of my story and life.
When hours at the gym weren’t enough, Jeffrey stepped in and signed up for a membership to be able to train WITH me. At one point, he was driving from Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena almost every night. I can’t believe it, now that I think of it. He must have really loved me. He did. We’d swim together, hike in the rain, he’d try to suggest eating a whole bunch of leaves, sometimes entire artichokes (for the record— NOT a good idea) etc. We had no clue, neither of us were nutritionists, but we sure tried. And while I certainly became fit—I wasn’t dropping enough weight. I was muscular, but I wasn’t runway thin. It’s like . . . I was a Penne pasta, when I’d ideally be slinky like angel hair. I gave it my all, grasping at straws, probably trying to crash diet three days before meetings, but by then, it was show time. So, it was . . . “Just show up. Get on that plane and show them who you are and who you will be.” (And looking back, I remember feeling so tired. But I always had a vision that burned like wildfire inside my heart. To me, a matter of one inch off of my hips was a joke. It was serious, but in broader terms, it wasn’t. I knew that I never wanted to be a hanger. I knew that I never would be. I also knew that I would model for Vogue and that I had the potential to. I knew it like I could see the future. I promise. But would others see what I saw? That was the big question.
Pt. 4 Coming Soon…
Mentions: I will always be grateful to Jeffrey. His hand in my life comes a few more times, so you better keep reading. I have had angels in my life, I truly have. He has been one of them.