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Once upon a time I was a model. For about five minutes.
I was a sophomore or junior (who can remember?) in an all-girls boarding school outside New York City. Like many girls that age, I was trying to discover who I was and who I wanted to be. I’m not sure whose idea it was, mine or my parents, but I remember coming into the city to have a well-known photographer shoot my ‘portfolio’ in his studio. It was a huge loft space with lots of natural light streaming through oversize windows, and it was also relatively quiet. I remember it being just the photographer and an assistant. I brought my own clothes and jewelry which included dresses from Bill Blass, Yves Saint Laurent, and Givenchy (my Mother’s), as well as my own oversized Fiorucci earrings. I only vaguely remember the costume changes – hair up, hair down, the chair – but I do remember well taking the shoot outdoors under an overpass somewhere near the East River and my eyes welling up with tears from the sun.
With portfolio in hand, I arrived at Ford. They immediately sent me to have my long locks cut short with bangs. That remains the only time in my life that I wore my hair short with bangs. I was hustled to a photo shoot where the photographer had me stand on a roll of white paper and then said, ‘go.’ Having never been to modeling school (was there even such a thing?) I had no idea what to do and was paralyzed with fear. Neither my nerves nor my Aries charm softened the photog, who proceeded to yell at me and scream about how he was ‘used to working with professionals!’, and ‘who has Eileen sent me now?!’’, type of sentiments. All the while, a ‘face of the eighties’ – a young girl herself – was crying in the bathroom.
So any dreams I had of being a supermodel were clearly dashed, and I’ve carried that unease in front of the camera with me to this day. I did have a second shot at my image in the glossies nearly 25 years later when I was asked to promote Hearts On Fire diamonds through this blog, in a nationwide ad campaign two years ago. My older self was no more comfortable in front of the camera, but was more secure in recognizing an opportunity and placing any past fears aside. That experience was also memorable for all of the kind and supportive people around me and for the super patient and understanding photographer.
I recently rang in another birthday, and with it came the flood of memories past, the acknowledgement of who I am and who I was, and the dream of who I am yet to become. Hopefully a model citizen. Definitely not a model.