There have been a few things in my life I’ve been paid to do: babysit, make cold calls about auto insurance, be a cashier in a department store and a grocery store, work as a psychology research assistant and lab coordinator, and coach and counsel students as an academic and career advisor.
I can now add modeling to the list.
Believe me, I am the last person who would ever have thought I would be asked to model and actually get paid for it. It seems I have perfected the art of how NOT to be a model. Let’s review, shall we?
— At 30, I still leave the house most days wearing NO make up. If I wear any, it’s foundation and that’s it. Maybe lip gloss if I’m up for it. I’ve just never been interested.
— I will ALWAYS choose comfort over fashion. They’re not mutually exclusive, of course, but given the opportunity to look at my wardrobe, you would never say “Heather” and “fashionista, fashion forward, or style icon” in the same sentence.
— I wear my hair in one of two ways — with a part slightly left of the middle and down or pulled back in a pony tail. I’m completely incompetent at doing anything else with it. HOPELESS.
— I’ve gained a few *cough* extra pounds in the last several months between my “No Macaron Left Behind” mission and visiting some of the best cafes, bakeries, and casual dining spots Sydney has to offer.
Somehow, despite all of that, I was offered and decided to accept an opportunity to model women’s corporate wear just two weeks ago.
Ironically, I had just returned to the flat after meeting a friend for lunch and macarons (47-50, but who’s counting…) to find a message from Lauren. A friend contacted her, saying she desperately needed someone for a paid, full-day modeling job the next day. And bless Lauren’s heart, she sent a few photos of me to her friend who responded positively. Bless her friend too.
Immediately I started rambling about all of the reasons I shouldn’t accept, even though Lauren and her friend believed in me — I don’t like my new hair cut, I’ve gained a little weight, and even on the rare days I feel super cute, I could never fathom modeling. But curiosity got the better of me. And when Lauren’s friend called, emailed, and texted, I had to respond, right?
During our brief phone conversation, I heard Eleanor Roosevelt whispering in my ear “do one thing every day that scares you, Heather”. So I told her yes. Even though when she said to bring black heels or flats I had to tell her I currently own neither. Or when she said to wear whatever makeup I normally do, I had to tell her it’s just foundation…she paused and sounded slightly hesitant when she said, “Well I’ve seen photos of you, so just do what you normally do.” When I mentioned that I had NEVER done anything like this before, she assumed I felt reassured when she replied, “Don’t worry, the photographer will tell you what to do.” Although Eleanor’s voice had encouraged me to say yes, no amount of inspirational quotes could keep panic from setting in as soon as we ended the call.
WHAT IN THE WORLD HAD I JUST AGREED TO?!
— The next morning I arrived at the spot where I would meet the photographer 45 minutes before I was due to ensure I was on time. Thank goodness, because they had given me the wrong meeting spot and the photographer had to come pick me up and bring me to the correct location!
— My nerves were calmed slightly as the photographer and I chatted the entire car ride from the wrong meeting spot to the correct one.
— The company’s building was lovely and air conditioning greeted me as a lovely treat. I remarked how thankful I was for the air con, to which the photographer replied, “Oh, but we won’t have any in the warehouse.”
— We entered a massive warehouse and made our way to a tiny room with a small cardboard sign on the door that read, “Shoot in progress, please knock.”
— I was told the job may take 8 hours. When I saw two FULL racks of clothes to try on, I wondered if that would be enough time O:-)
— The photographer took me to her computer and said “Let me show you what some of the other models have done.” You mean the real models, right?! What am I doing…
— Five minutes later I realized how easy my job was going to be. There was no posing, nothing fancy. I knew it wouldn’t be runway or editorial work, but I assumed it would be similar to catalog modeling. Instead, I simply had to stand in three positions to showcase each article of clothing from three vantage points. I smiled, I had nice posture, and I stood in the next position when the photographer cued me.
— Five minutes later I started to freak out again as five employees gathered around the computer to assess my test shots. They whispered. They stood huddled for longer than I felt comfortable with. What if they said, “Um, thanks for coming in Heather, but we need to go in a different direction.”
— A few minutes later the photographer ad I were back in action. I may not have been their next star, but apparently I wasn’t a total train wreck either.
— We started at 9am and by noon I had tried on and the photographer had shot two racks of clothing. THREE HOURS instead of the eight that were allotted.
I left the gig feeling NO more like a model than when I accepted the job but extremely proud of myself for trying something new. Opportunities to step out of your comfort zone in completely unexpected ways don’t present themselves often. I figured the worst that could happen would be for them to send me away the second they saw me. That didn’t happen O:-) But even if they had, at least I would have said, “Heck yes I’ll give this a go” to test something out I’ll most likely never do again.
Later that night I met up with Lauren for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant.
And after dinner I had another first — my first dance class in Australia and my first Bollywood class ever! Taking Bhangra or Bollywood lessons is on my bucket list, and the hour-long class was hopefully the first of many to come.
Lauren, thank you for helping me have a day full of firsts! Can’t wait to see you again in April ♥