The pedestal crumbled from underneath me and I fell to the ground I hadn’t seen in years.
“ayo girl. U wanna model my new cloting line?”
The random Instagram “clothing designer” who undoubtedly printed his shirts off Café Press (and I ain’t knocking the hustle, so relax) slid into my DMs and shattered the last living part of anything that resembled my former self esteem.
Damn you, Random Instagram Clothing Designer! DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL. Don’t you know I was at Vogue castings? Don’t you know I walked in high heels up and down a hallway for six hours a day, practicing for the moment Karl Lagerfeld would pluck me out of obscurity and thrust me into the fame I once believed I deserved? I signed to Ford Models, my dream agency, years ago. I’ve modeled all over the world. Now I don’t have the “clout” to get myself into a room and it seems the only designer who wants me is Random Instagram Clothing Designer.
I wanted to work as a model for a long time. The thought of being a part of something bigger than I am was enticing. Growing up in Alaska, I realized it was a pipe dream until the Ford contract was sitting underneath my hand, waiting for a pen to bleed my loyalty onto it. I remember shaking, thinking it wasn’t real.
And it was hard, ok? I was working non-stop with little to no pay, hauling skin and bones across cities that were foreign to me. It was arduous. Some days, I had so little cash on hand that I would smash chick peas and flavor them with salt, hoping to hold over my stomach until a casting would lead to a job. There were weeks on end with nothing. At that time, Instagram was not nearly the behemoth it is today. I wish I could’ve seen the future.
Pretty soon, castings were changing. Instead of a list of past clients and agencies, I was asked how many followers I had and if I ever made YouTube videos. “I’M OLD!,” I would shriek to my younger sister, “I don’t know how to do any of this.” Instagram, a platform I had once appreciated for its thievery of Twitter jokes and puppy pictures, became a full-time job.
This is not to say I’m upset – I know where the opportunities came and where they left, but your girl is tired. I, too, have felt the barrage of highly curated and beautiful Instagram accounts lay waste to my very core. I, too, have deactivated my account after binging and gawking over the lives I do not and will not ever have. I WANNA GO TO THE BURJ KHALIFA! I WANT MY LIPS DONE FOR FREE!
But the door is closing on me and I think I’m helping it. Is my worth really tied to followers and engagement? AND THE ANSWER IS YES. A resounding yes. And I think that’s crazy, but times change.
So, um, ayo dude, ya, I wanna model ur cloting line. What do I have to lose? I was once in the Vogue offices, for crying out loud.