I quit modeling / Chapter #01

I quit modeling. In fact, I have already done it countless times in the past — but only in my mind. It took me over two years to call myself a “model” — paradoxically, just before I finally decided that I would quit for good. Every now and than I would come to my agency, saying I wanted to end my contract. Yet, they always managed to persuade me that I should stay. I needed money for my studies, so I did. But it was such a struggle. I’ve never wanted to be a model, although I was constantly told to be — not only by friends but also by strangers.

But first: how did it all begin?

When I was a kid, 7–8 yo I think, I was walking with my mum and sister in a shopping mall. There was a gathering around big white wall that grew up in the middle of passage. It drew my attention because there were lots of children, waiting in a line for their turn to stand in front of the wall and have their photo taken.

We stood by with my mum for a minute or two. We were just about to leave, when a middle-aged woman approached us. She smiled, trying to look friendly I presume, but for me, she did not inspire confidence at all. Introducing herself as an agent, she explained briefly what was going on behind her back, describing it as if it was the best thing that we could’ve hit: a casting, rarely organised, yet, we were lucky enough to be in a right place in a right moment — she concluded, persuading my mum that I should take a part.

None of us felt like it was a good idea, but in the end, we decided that there’s no harm in trying. I didn’t want my sister to stay apart, so, together, we went, one by one, had few photos taken … and that was pretty much all. Woman who caught us before, took my mum’s email and informed her that she’ll get the decision when their team reviews all the digitals. After few weeks, when I actually forgot about the whole thing, the decision came. They liked me. In email they asked for more data like height, age, full name and surname etc. It was said that it’s a big chance for me to start my career in modeling or acting in commercials.

I remember sitting next to my parents, looking at them reading the verdict and trying to figure out why am I not happy. The only thing I felt was anxiety and fear. Moreover, they didn’t like my sister, which seemed so unfair to me. Nonetheless, I still felt a bit uncertain — maybe that is what should happen? Maybe I should try? Deep inside I knew I didn’t want that. At all. My mum made this decision on my behalf: she did not respond.

At first I was upset but when I look back to this, I know I couldn’t be more thankful to my mum for making this decision. She saved my childhood, she saved me as a person.

I’ve always valued education and internal features (such as kindness, empathy, morality) more than external appearance.

I remember when in primary school, everyday we would sit in a circle on the carpet, talking with our teacher for an hour. Once she asked us the basic question that everybody ask children: who would you like to become when you’re an adult?.

Boys picked some really cool careers to pursue: firefighter, scientist, policeman. Jobs in which it really does matter who you are as a person. I was proud of their choices and visualised them becoming who they’d love to be with joy. Now, it was girls’ turn. Who would you like to be when you grow up? — the teacher asked once again. Model! the girls exclaimed. I was shocked. Only few of them would choose to be an actress or singer.

Among others, there was one girl who really, really impressed me. “I want to be a saint” — she said. Little laughter circled the line we’ve created around the carpet. I looked at her with pride and admiration.

I wanted to be a writer.

I turned 19

My modeling journey started shortly after I turned 19.

I graduated from high school and started to look for holiday job. Got an intern in upraising startup — cosmetic brand focused on natural ingredients and active social media promotion. Applying for a position where I’d be responsible for contact with influencers, bloggers and celebrities to promote brand’s products, I ended up as a main day-to-day graphic designer and copywriter for more than a year, hah! … But that’s for another story.

Particularly at the same time I started my internship, another girl came to the company. We quickly became really good friends and during one of our shared lunch breaks, she asked me if I was a model. “Never in my life” I laughed. She was surprised. It turned out that she’s one since almost 10 years. Without asking me, she showed my Instagram pictures to her agent. He contacted me, saying that they want to see me in person.

Back in that time, I actually started to consider sending some snaps to few agencies. I needed money because earnings from the internship couldn’t even cover my basic expenses. I was tall, naturally slender and photogenic. My mum always kept telling me that we should always try to make the most of what was given to us. So when they contacted me, I thought that maybe it’s a sign. Of course I didn’t want to drop off everything and throw myself into modeling. I just wanted to check how it is.

After reading tone of articles (Is it true what they say?), looking at hundreds of models’ photos (I don’t want to look like this!) I’ve made my mind and went to the agency. They took my very first polaroids (I was wearing a swimsuit hand-made by my grandma, just to boost my self-confidence) and measurements. Yup. The first problem occurred. “You’re way too big” — the agent said.

I couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve never felt fat. Nobody would tell me that I was, either. But here I was, standing in my bikini, discussing my body as if it was just a piece of meat. I remember how awful I felt in that moment. Some part of my brain was screaming that I should run away, leave it and never come back. But obviously I’ve ignored it. I’ve always been highly self-rewarding.

“I will do this” — I said to the agent, “I will loose weight”. It was not just a matter of few kilos, it was 10 kilos of my “excess” body.

But I don’t give up. If I say I will do something, I will.

Back in that time I even had no idea where to check kcal on products’ packages. I was eating healthy, because my mum taught me to, but I was eating as much as my organism needed to function properly. Yet, suddenly I had to start controlling every single thing that comes to my stomach. I had to analyse, rethink and, most often, put away so many things I used to love to eat. It was a nightmare.

I remember myself sitting with my boyfriend, who was really supportive to me in that time, staring at a pie, freshly backed by my mum and crying my eyes off because I could only have one tiny piece, instead of few, that I would normally have.

I started running, at first only half a kilometre, working-out at home with youtube videos because I couldn’t afford the gym. I was reading tone of online articles on how to loose weight, how to eat more consciously, what is fattening and finally — how to deceive my stomach, how to make an illusion that it’s full, when it was not, even in a half. I started to drink litres of water, just to keep the feeling that I had eaten enough.

I lost 10 kg in 2 months. The fear of food was growing. My parents were terrified.

Filled with sadness, but still proud of myself, I went to see my agent. I was happy that finally all of my efforts will pay off and maybe I can finally start to earn. How futile my hopes were. The agent took my measurements. “We are really impressed on how you’ve changed and worked” — he said “Yet, you’re still too big”.

I put my clothes on, said goodbye, went out on the street and started to cry. I hated it. I’ve already felt weak, had menstruation problems and I felt like I was not myself anymore. I couldn’t loose any more weight — at least that’s what I thought at that time.

Straight from the agency’s office I went to the nearest bakery and bought myself few cookies. “No, it’s not for me, I’m not going to do this, never” — I would repeat myself. I gave up on strict diet, gave up on hard work-out, felt free and happy again. But after one week or two, I would look on Instagram pictures of other models, how they travel, how happy they are (or seem to be) and let the illusion of this beautiful but very brutal world nest in my mind again.

Many times this circle would repeat over and over again. Too many tears were shed, too many moments of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence came across.

But it was just the beginning …