Model Aspirations This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“Julie, they are ready for you now.”

Jamming my sweaty palms into my jacket pockets, I nervously enter the audition room. This is the room where two people observe me like an experiment to determine if the mouse (me) is special enough to be called back for further testing.

My time here is always a blur – I just do what I am told. Runway walk, check. Pose innocently, check. Pose fiercely, check. Smile naturally, check. Tuck in my tummy, check. No smudged mascara, check. Confidence, check. Cheerfulness, check. All traces of discomfort or sadness left at the door, check.

For years, this was my life. It all started the summer before eighth grade. My parents had gotten some professional photos taken for them. I thought modeling was fun but never took it seriously until one day when a friend of my parents said my photos looked like the portfolios real models use.

So when a national contest came, I convinced my parents to take me for an audition, and I was selected. I was told I had potential. They said that for only $900 I could attend a weekend event where dozens of the most prestigious modeling agencies from around the world would be present. At 13, my hopes of international fame and fortune (not to mention access to top-notch designer clothing like Zac Posen and Versace) clouded all judgment, and I begged my parents to let me go. We have never been rich, but they saw my enthusiasm and begrudgingly agreed.

I waited impatiently. I imagined being signed by Ford Models and Elite Models and Wilhelmina Models – of course they’d all want me! For months, any boredom or disappointment I faced was pushed aside, because I would soon have the chance to be a real model. I would grace the covers of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar, and I would be happy.

Of course, I wasn’t signed, but what hurt the most is that Elite Models told me that they would take me if I grew to 5'9". At 5'5.5", that would take a miracle. I wished for a growth spurt. Milk helps bones, right? I drank a gallon a day.

I could not imagine giving up my dream. I didn’t have to model for Chanel, but surely Macy’s would be easy. So I made an appointment with a local modeling agency. When the agent asked me to pose, I was so awkward that I almost considered walking out, but wouldn’t give up that easily. The agent then demanded $500 for classes, $500 for a photo shoot, $300 for comp cards (business cards for models), and other expenses. My parents, jaded from the $900 national contest, only agreed after hours and hours of me begging.

The agency sent me out on few auditions. With every day I did not receive a call, I grew more depressed. My passion had grown to full-fledged obsession, and the monster inside me had become so hideous that I could hardly think of anything else. If I couldn’t model successfully, I thought I was going to die.

The final straw came in July. Since I wasn’t tall enough to be a runway model, I decided to focus on commercial modeling. There was an open call in New York City. I convinced my dad to take me. The three-hour drive was filled with apprehension, and after waiting hours, I barely spent two seconds in front of the Ford agent, only to be told that I was too short. The ride home was excruciating – all those years of frustration finally came rushing out like a dam being unplugged. I was inconsolable for weeks.

Years later, I know that the trip to New York City was actually a godsend. It helped me realize that I was not cut out for modeling. I didn’t actually love modeling, just the idea of it. At 13, I recently had lost the chubbiness of elementary and middle school. I was considered a freak and an outcast. Not only was I ugly, but I was unlikable. I had no talents – my aspirations of becoming a famous singer were quickly crushed by my mother – and I desperately sought an escape from my classmates’ disapproval and my complete lack of a life.

I just wanted to be special, and I was naively determined to reach an impossible goal. I learned the hard way not to depend on only one thing for my happiness. The experience has helped me develop a thick skin that will help me for the rest of my life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 8 comments. Post your own now!

otherpoet said...
Jan. 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm
I really enjoyed reading this article. You have a strong voice and you allow your reader to relate to you and your experiences. Everybody's been told they're not good enough, sometimes you just have to believe in yourself! Excellent writing, keep it up!
Allie97 said...
May 26, 2010 at 3:48 pm
I can really relate to this article because i have always wanted to be a singer and not really sure that is going to happen but a girl can dream right? Being known is crucial for not really snotty or anything i just want people to see who i really am and share my (well im not really sure about this friends tell me im a good singer but idk...) talents with the world...this is a great article...keep trying...everyone has their place!! :)
Let_It_Be replied...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm
I belive I WILL be an actress because I have one many auditions, and many plays, so I now have tons of experience. But it will take effort and I know that, but it is one of my only talents so I will not give up at all. I have confidence.
RayKay said...
Nov. 16, 2008 at 8:03 pm
WOW. Really good Story. I can totally relate. Im an aspriring actress/dancer/model and ive been scammed more than enough times. One thing i learned is to never give any agent, management or agency money, until you make money. Im signed with 2 modelling agencies and a management, neither of which have been fakes. But, for now, i keep my head in real life too, and i dont go to EVERY audition, or Every callback, because i ahve to have aregular life too, otherwise, when im rejected enough, i wont ... (more »)
darcmari17 said...
Nov. 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm
i love this story i just hope i dont turn out going through that cause i got into a modeling thing this summer
Geese Meese said...
Oct. 1, 2008 at 8:14 pm
I really like it, even though I can't really relate because I'm a guy. I thought it had a really good story line. Good Story
pinkpalace77 said...
Aug. 30, 2008 at 12:04 am
I really liked this piece. Not only was it good writing, it's on a topic many teens can relate to. Thanks for posting this!
cabeyyyyyx33 said...
Aug. 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm
Your article is really good ;] I sort of feel like you, not with modeling, but I have an obsession with getting into Broadway =p. Even though you gave up doing modeling - people said you had potential. If you go on a few auditions every 2 months, you never really know. It doesn't have to be your whole life, but maybe one day the right job will come to you and the company will sign !

I know I don't even know you but I just hate to see people quit cold turkey, you know? Haha, we... (more »)
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