This is the second of a three part blog series. Be sure to check out ACT I here!
The new perception of my body gave me enough confidence so that when my sister (a model based in San Francisco) suggested I give plus-size modeling a try, I didn’t immediately interpret it as trick. I put together a comp card from a test shoot and left it with my acting agent in Portland, fairly certain not much would come of it.
Then it happened. MODE magazine got a hold of my card and booked me for a beauty editorial (holding a flute of “champagne” that was really Ajax mixed in water), my sister helped me book a shoot for Mervyn’s, and the next thing I knew, Ford’s 12+ division had me come in and they liked what they saw.
My timing could not have been luckier. In the late 90s, plus-size modeling was entering an exciting new phase, stepping into the fashion limelight with the advent of MODE and the rising celebrity of Emme. My career took off almost immediately and the strange, small fame that came with it suited my hungry ego better than I cared to admit.
But, it was knowing that other people -- who worked in fashion and weren’t related to me! -- thought I was beautiful, which had the biggest and most lasting impact on me. I still didn’t trust everyone’s adoration or completely understand why they thought I was beautiful, but I was thirsty for their attention and too scared of losing what professional acceptance I’d won to dwell in my misgivings. What I wouldn’t understand until later was how unmoored my new-found confidence really was. It quickly morphed into vanity, resurfacing old fears. This became an exhausting tug o’ war for me, especially given that modeling is basically a competition based on physical appearance. When I booked a job, I could shush my insecurities for the day. When I didn’t book a job, I meticulously cataloged my face and body to size up where I fell short.
Sometimes this inspection was done with my agent, which was a given part of both our jobs. I was measured on a regular basis and encouraged to work out or diet when my numbers shifted. I bought a wide assortment of undergarments that helped smooth out my hips and make my chest appear bigger. I was ceaselessly and acutely aware of how I looked, even when I was home by myself.
Written by the fabulous Tomiko for Curves with Purpose. Stay tuned for Act III.