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Sick of Criticism
I’ve modeled ever since I can remember. The lights, the backdrops, the hugging of random strangers I’ve never met before…it’s been my life. I’ve always been tall and tiny. Seem like opposing adjectives to you? Think again, ‘cause that’s how they like it where I’m from.
Unfortunately, the sun in the moon can’t stay in the same sky, and I can’t stay big and small at the same time forever. So 16 years into my modeling career, I gained weight. Apparently, that’s like “crime of the century” when you’re a model. My mom, who was never really a mom to me, more of a manager, started nagging at me. She was all, “Go out for a run, Thalia, you look like a goddamn hobo.”
I, of course, responded with the ever so graceful, “Go eat a sandwich, Mom, you look like a freaking stop sign.”
Then it was my agent’s turn. I waltzed into her office one day, sweat pants and t-shirted out, because she called me in to talk about future jobs. She took one look at me and stood up, thrusting a bunch of stuff into her patent leather handbag.
“I take it you want me to leave?” I asked, eyeing her keys as she snatched them from the purse.
“No,” Sandra informed me, “you and I are going on a little field trip.”
So, where did we go? If you guessed to see my personal physician, Dr. Windlock, so Sandra could ask him to give me a pregnancy test, then you were clearly in the waiting room that fateful afternoon. The second she uttered the words “Thalia here’s pregnant, I think” I rose to my feet and walked out the door.
“We can talk about this!” she cried, running after me. “We don’t have to tell your mom, you know. Abortions can be done in private!”
I whirled around, disgusted. She peered up at my face and shrunk a little. “Well, hey, I always thought you were pro-choice.”
“I AM NOT PREGNANT!” I exploded, throwing my hands in the air, exasperated, and stormed through the waiting room like a funnel cloud on an unsuspecting, lazy evening.
My mom was waiting at home when I arrived. I didn’t walk back; didn’t want to give them the pleasure of me being active; I fetched a cab instead. She was standing there, arms crossed, her face as serious as it could get after her Botox appointment, and I knew I was in for it. But when I crossed inside the house, I could see my ex-personal trainer, Sonia, sitting there, clearly confused.
“You told me Sonia died,” my mom accused. Sonia looked at me, eyes wide with questions.
I stood there for a minute, stunned. “YOU believed me!” What an idiot.
“Of course I did, Thalia, you’re my daughter. Mothers are supposed to trust their daughters,” she informed me coolly.
I groaned and collapsed on the cream colored couch. “No, Mom! Mothers are supposed to search their daughter’s room and read their personal diaries! They’re supposed to make the money to support the family! They’re supposed to tell me not to worry about what I look like; that I’m beautiful whether I’m a size two or a twelve!”
My mother frowned and pondered this for a second. “Well, we’re different. Being different is good.”
“Yeah, Mom, being different IS good. Being superficial is not!” I shouted at her. Poor Sonia was quietly inching towards the door, praying she’d get out before someone noticed. Of course I didn’t say anything.
I glared at her and ran to my room. I didn’t come out for three days, except to use the can or get a soda, till my mom finally barged in one day, throwing open the blinds and yelling, “Get up, Thalia. You have a shoot today, and you can’t get out of this one. They need you in the front for that magazine you’re always in.”
I sighed out loud and rolled over. She sauntered over and pulled me up by the arm. “Ugh, Tally. Take a shower. And hurry. You have half an hour.”
Figuring I smelled pretty crappy, I rolled out of bed and drug my feet to the bathroom. I didn’t shave or anything dramatic like that; they’d just wax me at the shoot anyway.
A painful hair brushing session and one awkward drive later, I arrived at the shoot, curly haired and Converse clad. The stylist, Geophrey, frowned at me. Seems like something I’ll need to get used to in the days to come. “Thank God you’re early, Thalia. You need some serious work.”
As predicted, I got a waxing job, not just in the leg section but in areas I’d rather not discuss. After that there was the hair (long story), makeup (tacky lipstick), wardrobe (painful shoes), and touch ups (for perfection!). Geophrey frowned when I struggled into the blood red dress they’d laid out for me. “That time of the month, eh?” he questioned sympathetically. I just gave him a weak smile and an untruthful nod.
I’d never met the photographer before, who was admiring the camera in her hand. I figured she must have been new; I’d been with this company since I’d turned twelve, nearly five years ago, and I’d seen them all by now. There were other girls loitering around, giggling and antsy. Some of them were my age, others older, and a few younger. But, with the makeup, we looked about the same age.
I’d been told I’d be front and center, rocking those photos like a celebrity, but the new photographer glanced at me and (you guessed it) frowned. She leaned over and whispered to the short, hour glass shaped lady next to her. Then, they both eyed me apprehensively.
“Thalia Wilde?” they addressed me. I nodded and walked over to where they were sitting, expecting I was wearing the wrong dress or something. But I was wrong:
They told me to stand in the background. I told them to shove it up their butt.