Yes, I actually was an OSU calendar girl. Maybe I want to remind myself of that since I am feeling a little fluffy here lately. The truth is, I was curious to see how many hits I will get on a title like this – I will let you know in my next post. I was also a fitness and hair model in college. I was a high school homecoming queen. I had all kinds of superficial labels working in my favor. But I was also voted friendliest and best personality in HS – making me sort of well rounded, or at least grounded. I could have probably been just about anything I really put my mind to. But I didn’t.
I didn’t have a clue. I kind of just let the wind blow me in any direction it might be blowing on any given day…never realizing that I had the power to make anything happen in life – until recently. I have mostly let life ‘happen’ to me. Or at least it feels that way. So…as promised…here are some confessions of an ex-calendar girl:
1.) Being a calendar girl, or a fitness model, or a homecoming queen does not grant you immunity to self doubt, and make you feel like you are actually beautiful. Most of the models that I met in the business had some serious insecurity issues. I, of course, was no different in that regard.
2.) Models are dumb and superficial. Yes…there are plenty of those out there. But this is not limited to the models themselves…everyone in the business seems to be this way…fake, superficial, and completely self absorbed. But there are exceptions to every rule and every now and then you would find someone that you could talk to about more than just hair, makeup and clothes. All of which I knew next to nothing about.
3.) Calendar girls are easy. Yes. Most of them probably are. Most of the girls I met were about as lost as I was, looking for significance and would do almost anything to find it or get some kind of attention. I would say about 10 of the 12 months that were in Key West for the photo shoot all had a sexual encounter while they were there. Even I did…I didn’t exactly plan for it or go looking for it…but when you are naive and living your life letting the wind blow you in any old direction – anything can happen. And unfortunately mine ended in an assault situation…because another thing is true about calendar girls…they usually don’t attract the “good guys”.
4.) Models live a glamorous lifestyle. Not true. Unless you have really made it and are flying around the world – this is a myth. It is pretty much a starving artist lifestyle. Let’s just say – keep your day job.
5.) Models starve themselves to stay thin. Some did, and it is a sad thing to see. But personally, I ate like a hog. A very unhealthy hog. At that age, metabolism is kicking. If you have the right body type and stay active…you can eat anything you want. Don’t believe any commercial you see for a product touting great weight reduction when they have a 20 year old modeling it. Now…38 is a different story.
6.) The modeling industry is full of sexual predators and exploiters. YES! This IS absolutely true. While there are some very reputable agencies…there are way more shady operations going on. If you have a daughter considering modeling…BE there. As horrifying as it may be to her – BE HER ADVOCATE. I am not saying to squash her dreams or not allow it…I am saying be her guardian. If she ever doesn’t get an assignment because you were there…she doesn’t want that job. Trust me.
7.) Modeling improves your self esteem. Perhaps it could. But perhaps it could make you feel even worse about yourself because the rejection rate is usually higher than the acceptance rate. It all depends on what they are looking for. And there is always someone prettier or skinnier or taller to compare yourself to. I mean – come on! This is a business based on looks…your self esteem is under major attack here. You better have some thick skin.
8.) Models take drugs to stay thin. Some do. I knew a few. But drugs or alcohol were used to help ease the pain of number 7 more than for weight loss. However, I am not sure drugs were any more prevalent in modeling than any other campus like environment.
9.) Modeling opens doors to other careers. Sure. Maybe. It could. What really opens doors – at least the right doors – would be self confidence, an actual skill set and, and a great personality. Looks really only matter if the career you are seeking is based on your looks…and even then…that is still in the eye of the beholder.
10.) Models think they are better than everyone else. Some may think or act like this, but I think the honest truth is that they are just as intimidated as anyone else. Modeling is a comparison business…just as you may be comparing yourself to their long legs and perfect cheek bones…they are probably comparing themselves to how you are better at any sort of thing than they are…like reading or thinking. ; )
Now, granted, I only modeled for a few years and never signed with any big agencies. It was just a hobby and experiment. But it did give me the exposure to know all these things first hand. My biggest reason for walking away from it was 1) I was technically too short to really go anywhere with it and I didn’t have the drive in me to ‘fight’ for my short rights, and 2) I really didn’t fit into that world. At least I wasn’t grounded enough to feel confident in being ‘me’ and stay in that kind of business. It does honestly cater to the superficial and I also had too many run ins with slime ball characters claiming to run legitimate businesses. It’s a business – and ‘you’ become the product or commodity – you run the risk of being used by someone just wanting to make a buck off of your look – or worse yet – seeing just how far you will go for the sake of the mighty dollar…it is all just kind of weird.
Here’s the real deal. Looks fade. If you base anything you do in life on your appearance – you are going to be sorely disappointed. Looks are not what it is all about in the real world, despite what all the tabloids want you to believe. Beauty honestly does come from within. At 38 I feel more beautiful now than I ever did when I had all that going for me. And truthfully – the best label I have ever been given is ‘mommy’. Because the beauty I am talking about is not the reflection in the mirror. It is about becoming comfortable in my own skin. Figuring out who I really am…which, by the way…I am not completely there yet…but I am closer than ever before.
Women can shine at any age. It just comes down to whether or not they choose to do so. It really is a choice. Did you realize that beauty is actually a choice?! I have met some physically gorgeous women and yet they were either so wrapped up in themselves or some kind of bitterness or self doubt that they were actually unattractive. And of course on the other hand – I knew a lady with no arms and legs who powered her wheel chair with a contraption she controlled with her mouth…and she was incredibly beautiful. She was driven and confident. She was not letting any handicap stand in her way of achieving a goal in the world…and she was really, really nice.
Some of the most beautiful women I know are plain, have wrinkles, wear jeans and frumpy sweatshirts most of the time, and some don’t even have their teeth anymore. But they have their sense of self and are grounded in all the places that count. They are real. They say the hard things. They laugh out loud and they love without regards to the possibility of rejection. They are vulnerable and yet strong. They don’t sugar coat the hard times, but they don’t dwell on them either. They have found out the secret to life…it is not all about them. I hope to one day be one among those beautiful girls. I am working on it and I believe I will get there someday…just because I chose to be.