Model, Interrupted

As I’ve said before, I rarely take vacations. It’s hard to tear myself away from the city and all the exciting opportunities it offers. This holiday season has been an exception. At my childhood home in St. Louis, I’ve been reliving the days before magazine spreads. Instead of hair stylists and makeup artists, I’m spending time with family and old friends. The dogs barking out back have replaced the cabs honking down the street and the click of the dishwasher has replaced the clinkety-clink of the subway turnstile. The sounds bring a flood of memories. 

This old farmhouse is where I keep my past. The creaking floorboards and treasured antiques don’t change from year to year, even if I do. In the living room, a timeless space set aside for special occasions, my mother keeps shelves of my magazines and catalogs, each with at least one picture of me. Only a select few of these images live in my portfolio. Most of the others I would have forgotten if not for this stash. Flipping through the pages, I’m reminded of good and bad times, images I liked and those I was less enthusiastic about. There are plenty of odd ones too. How I could possibly forget a white bob wig or an apron sewing pattern? My mom likes to reminisce about the jobs that stand out, like an overnight shoot in a shopping mall. Awash in these recollections of shoots long past, I’m reminded of all the girls I’ve worked with. So many of them I never heard from again and they likely went on to lives outside of the industry. On the other hand, a few went on to be some of the biggest names in the modeling world.

Looking at my life and career from this perspective, I can’t help but wonder where I fit in to it all. I’ve identified with so many things in the past: my diet, my style and my work. Those aren’t me in the end. I love that my sisters don’t eat like me, and I laugh when my mom makes fun of my fashion choices. I can’t tell you how many times in the past week my mom has inquired about what my headband is “all about” and if she should get one. I am constantly humbled by the achievements of friends and colleagues. I’m a sister, a daughter, and a listener and my significance as a person and a member of my community is so much more to me than gluten-free, glamour, or Givenchy. Then again, sometimes it’s worth a trip home and away from the city to remind me of that.

Photo credit: Johnny Knapp

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