True Story: I Was a Child Model

I know what you’re thinking: How do I know her? Why does she look so familiar? Did we go to school together? No. It’s probably because I was a child model.

When I was a kid, I had really low self-esteem. So low that my mom would order me self-help books on tape out of a catalogues and she’d teach me to stand and look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I love myself. I was supposed to do that every single day.

So it was really surprising to me when in 1992 I was discovered as a model in the mall near my house in suburban Michigan.

And you know what it’s like when you pray everyday for something like this to happen. And then it does? My pre-teen prayers went something like, “Please god, let my nose grow into my face, and please give me some boobs. Oh and also, I’d love some proof that I’m pretty.”

One day I’m at the mall with my friend grabbing some koosh balls from spencer gifts and scrunchies from Wet Seal. And two really pretty older girls approach us. And they asked us if we were models. And I literally started giggling. The same reaction I have when I’m really uncomfortable – you know like when there’s an earthquake or you have to go to the bathroom but you’re on a hike or something. And we look and there are these gorgeous girls standing in the window of the gap frozen like living mannequins. These two girls told us we could book awesome modeling jobs like that too. And they gave us pamphlets for Milane’s Modeling Agency.

I went home and told my parents. Cause what better way to gain more confidence then to become a model? We made the phone call and enrolled me into modeling class, which I’m sure is what happened to Kate Upton too when she got discovered.

In modeling class we learned how to do our makeup, how to do our hair, how to dress ourselves for our body type and how to catwalk. There were lots of fun sayings and catch phrases in modeling class like ‘sex sells’ and ‘less is not more,’ which at the time felt like very hot tips. I felt like I was in a secret society, like I had just been granted access to something big!

To graduate from the program, we had to model in a live show and catwalk down the runway (in a Marriott conference room). And we also got to stand in the window at the Gap at the mall like a frozen mannequin. And finally when you finished this program you got a one-on-one consultation with THE Milane of Milane’s modeling agency presumably to talk about my future as a so-called supermodel.

So only a few short months after I was discovered as a model I was back at the same mall, posing in the same Gap window as one of those beautiful living mannequins. But it didn’t really feel awesome. Instead it felt really awkward. And I couldn’t stop laughing (again from extreme discomfort), which was deemed very unprofessional, yet in retrospect completely appropriate.

After school I would come home to practice my trombone, and then my catwalk. And I’d throw on my favorite song of 1992 (Right Said Fred – I’m too Sexy) which was so amazing cause it just perfectly summed up my awesome new life as a model.  I’d stuff my bra, and cram my feet into the highest stilettos I could find. And I would WORK it.

During the live show I looked fierce and was ready to show off my walk: Shoulders back, hips forward, and a face that screams I’m basically dead inside.

Then AT LAST there was the final consultation with Milane where I was going to get the news about my future as a model. After months of preparation – makeup, hair, and standing like a lifeless piece of plastic I was ready to hear if all my hopes and dreams of becoming a model were going to come true. So my mom and I sat in her office… And Milane informed my mom that without a doubt I could have a promising modeling career. I would need to do two things however 1) I needed more classes and 2) I would have to get a nose job.

My mom was absolutely horrified, and dragged me from that lady’s office and told me that I was perfect exactly as I was.

I wish I could tell you that never stood in a storefront window again. Oh, but I did.

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