I was 16 when I started modeling. I wanted to do print work but my agent would only book me for runway jobs because of my height and proportions. My manager taught me how to walk in an empty department store bathroom. At first I liked runway because I found little rejection in my first year and I thought this was living the dream.
Eventually, there were a few things that began to weigh on me. I started getting really frustrated about not getting to control the direction my career was going. My voice was lost among agents and directors. And I wasn't fond of the constant criticism and scrutiny of my weight and muscle tone, among other things, which runway models must face. There were several times I quit, but something kept calling me back.
When you see that it is possible to roll out of bed only half of the month to make it to work, it makes it hard to stay away. For me, there is something beautiful about working two or three days a week and going surfing or hiking two days a week. Maybe that sounds as though I believe there is something beautiful about being lazy--but actually I do something super important on my time off. I'm dreaming. I'm such a dreamer! Every second I'm thinking about the dreams that I had when I was a child and I spend a lot of time trying to prove to that child that I remember her and that I am not a sellout.
Some people think models are hella stupid, or lack relevant skills, but I have done other things, just like my friends who are part of the industry. I earned a bachelor's degree in Business Management with the money I made, I taught English in Korea for a year, I traveled to 24 countries and half of the United States. I even worked in Human Resources for a while. I loved it, and thankfully my manager allowed me to have a very flexible schedule since I could never get used to a 9-5.
I feel lucky to say that I made it through the industry pretty unscathed by all of its evils. I never got chopped up by a plastic surgeon, I'm not disciplined enough to be bulimic, I never needed drugs and I didn't sell out. These are the ugly parts of modeling. Few things outside of the pages of the magazine, and the fashion shows and the after parties are glamorous. Modeling is a freaking beast of an industry. The real life stuff can eat you alive. I've seen vicious fights between friends who couldn't withstand the competition, some people fell off because of drugs, and the most tragic of all is seeing the people who sell everything that they are just for a chance at their big break--their bodies, their sanity, their beautiful hearts got devoured or mutilated by the hungry monster.
Now, I am married to a retired model. He changed his whole life and does not even think about that life anymore. I cannot do that. I will admit that it has made me selfish in one big regard. I refuse to have kids right now because that may mean that I won't have the industry as an option to go back to. But, in this industry you either keep it moving or you miss the train. Deep down inside all models know that day will come and if they are smart they will have prepared for it by building their brand, developing other skills, networking and so on. It will be the death of one life and the beginning of a new one. This rebirth can be a blessing if you plan for it and that is what I'm doing now--planning for my exit and for my future and the only one I am consulting with is my inner child who says she wants to be a writer.