Why I’m Afraid To Write About Modeling
“See you later, Barbie,” said Mr. X as I tucked the chair under my desk to leave his nearly all-male class.
Barbie is tan. Barbie is blonde. The circumference of her neck is approximately the same as her waist measurements, and her legs are impossibly long, and ever-so-shiny. Barbie always smiles with perfect symmetry; Barbie doesn’t worry about whether her eyelids look too heavy in that photo or whether her nerves show through on camera.
Barbie is plastic.
I’m not Barbie. She’s never someone I’ve wanted to be.
I am a model.
This label, “the model,” is a lottery ticket that elicits a different, unexpected response from each person when they find out about my modeling.
“How much money do you make?”
“Do you eat or are you on a crazy diet?”
“Do you ever like, binge on a lot of ice cream?”
“Do you get in fights with the other models?”
“Is your mom really controlling?”
I don’t blame people for relying on stereotypes; there haven’t been many honest depictions of the modeling industry in today’s media, especially because the industry is so fast-paced and ebbs, flows from season to season. If six years ago you’d have asked me about what models are like, I probably would have said the same thing.
It doesn’t make me angry anymore, just disillusioned. I can take as many AP classes as I want, I can write and sing my own songs, tell stupid “punny” jokes, and some people will still only see me as “the model.” It’s something I’ve come to accept, for better or for worse.
Now, it’s college application season, which means I have endless opportunities to exercise my finger muscles via essay writing. The question I’m asked most frequently is “Are you writing about modeling?” It would make sense that I would do so, considering I’ve spent the past four years dedicated to my career, and I certainly have adventures to write about.
Believe me, I tried to write about modeling, but I couldn’t get past one paragraph I felt good about submitting.
The truth is, the extracurricular I am most proud of is the one I am terrified to write about.
I’m scared of writing about modeling because I don’t want to seem ungrateful; modeling has been an amazing opportunity I wouldn’t have traded for anything. I’m scared because I don’t want to seem jaded, complaining about something that inevitably is only skin-deep. I’m scared to write about the positive experiences I have had, because I don’t want to come off as gloating or superficial.
I’m scared of being misinterpreted. I’m scared of being seen as Barbie.
I know colleges don’t want to see somebody who is scared.
In a way, I’m the least scared person I know. I can walk in heels for an audience of hundreds. I’ve talked and auditioned with world-renowned designers without even breaking a sweat. Public speaking is my best friend, not my worst enemy.
And at the same time, I’m only afraid of myself, because I don’t know which “Juliet” the admissions officers will see: the real me, or the glossy, retouched plastic version.
I suppose in the end, it won’t matter, because the college that accepts me will inevitably believe in my authenticity.
But for now I’ll continue to be Juliet, flesh and blood and feelings included, and hope that others will see me as just that.
See you later,