Sunday, 25 April 2010

Model Behaviour: The Result

Yes, I've decided to write this blog in the format of a tv talent contest. So, as you're all aware, last week our contestants attended a casting for a high profile shoot at a prestigious hair salon. They were put through their paces - quite literally - poked, prodded, photographed, interrogated, in some cases humiliated. The judges have been poring over polaroids all week, but now the results are in, and I can exclusively reveal that......I wasn't chosen to go through to the next round. Well, I assume I wasn't, since the shoot was on Friday and I wasn't informed of it until yesterday, so if they did pick me that was a hell of an administrative oversight.

Now is the point when I should be congratulating the winner, handing her a celebratory bunch of flowers....Screw that, if I had a bouquet I'd ram it down her throat. Yes, readers, there's a twist in the tale yet: the winner was my arch-rival, my stylist's new model. In three years I've never been able to give him a window, then one day she just walks in off the street...Now I know how Anne Boleyn felt.

(Un)Fortunately, this show is like the more latterday series of Big Brother, and just because a contestant is out, it doesn't mean they're out for good. I may be called back. Turns out the casting was for the catwalk show as well and tabloid rumours persist - producers emphasise that these are just rumours and you'll have to wait and see what happens for yourself in the next tension-packed episode - that I'm still being considered for that. It's all down to a leaked photograph of me that my mole on the inside saw stuck to a wall under a mysterious headline.

So it may be something and it may be nothing, but I'm back to waiting for a call. I do hope I get one. Partially because it's always nice to be chosen for something, even if it's not exactly what you wanted, partially because the shows can be quite lucrative and to say I need the cash would be an understatement. But I still had a sniffle yesterday when I got the news. It's silly because rejection is the name of this particular game and I knew that when I signed up, but this isn't just a random job I went for - I'm used to never hearing back from them. This was the same job that I've been up for half a dozen times and I've never got it. I've been working for (insert name of famous hair chain here, I'm not supposed to tell you myself) for three years and I've been picked for a couple of shows, a couple of presentations, not all of them paid either, but it was all towards the goal of getting that picture in the window. But I keep getting turned down flat, despite that I've basically dedicated my life to them for three years, had more cuts and colours than I can actually keep up with, and that kind of rejection is a lot more personal. It's a destructive kind of relationship; like a boyfriend who keeps dumping you so he can sleep with other women then taking you back when he gets bored.

What's bothering me more though, is the fact that they'll happily have me walk down the catwalk for them, but they shy away from using me for any kind of promotion that would involve people getting a close-up of my face. I'm aware that's a quite neurotic way of thinking about it, but the truth is I've long suspected that I've only ever got into this business off the back of the fact that I'm freakishly tall and thin, not because I've got the face for it, and that that's the behind the arrested development of my career. So this kind of serves as confirmation of that.

It doesn't sound like it, but I'm not actually moaning too much. I enjoy modelling, so getting to do any at all is great, and adds a much needed veneer of glamour to my otherwise terminally dull life. And like I said, I really hope I do get a call about this show. Just don't think this industry's all flattery, because it's not. I was insecure about my looks before I started modelling and I still am. And don't answer anyone in the same position as me moaning about their appearance with "But you're a model, you must be attractive!", because we will go into great detail explaining that striking (read weird/unusual) trumps attractive in the modelling world (which incidentally is the response that should be given to the people on the Daily Fail comments always saying they don't understand why Kate Moss is a model because they've "seen better looking girls working in Tesco"), and that a feature that is attractive in the modelling world, like extreme height, or even a big nose or gap teeth (Erin O'Connor, Lara Stone) does not always translate as well in the "real" life, where beauty is, contrary to popular criticism, much more narrowly defined. And possibly that you don't have to have the whole package to be a model if you have one desirable feature and are willing to work hard (though whether or not you'll ever make it to the cover of Vogue that way I guess is yet to be conclusively proved). And while that may dent the perfect fa├žade of modelling, it's a good thing.

So yeah, here's hoping for a call.

UPDATE: Yeah, I didn't get a call.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Model Behaviour

Given the name of this blog (cue confusion amongst those reading this on my Facebook page), I figured it was about time for a post about modelling. So allow me to walk you through a casting for a hair modelling job with a well known salon.

The first thing I usually feel upon walking through the door at a casting is a wave of envy accompanied by feelings of intense inadequacy (which can be verbalised thusly: "ohmygodthey'reallsobeautifulwhatthehellamIdoingherethey'regoingtolaughinmyface"), and last night was no exception.

My stylist's new model was there already, which added a new dimension to the competition - not only are we all competing for the same job, but we're all jostling for position as top dog with our respective stylists. I'm the incumbent on my patch, having seen off dozens of bright-eyed girls who disappeared after one haircut (lightweights), but I was still reduced to a jealous wreck by how beautiful this girl was. Her make up - flicked black eyeliner, glossy red lips - was clearly professionally applied, which seems to me like cheating, but this business is cut throat. Still, moral victory aside, I suddenly felt woefully inadequate in my flaky mascara and clear lip gloss.

The most irritating thing was, she was inexplicably popular with all the other models and stylists, despite the fact that her personality was totally abhorrent. She was wearing lacy knee socks and a headband for crying out loud, skipping around the salon like Alice in bloody Wonderland, dancing, singing deliberately off-key and being generally obtrusive. If I had any contacts in the criminal underworld I'd have sent out for some Ritalin and dosed the bitch. That's the second thing that struck me - having spent some time away from the scene recently, I'd forgotten just how vapid and self-absorbed most other models are. Great beauty often comes at the expense of some other characteristic, most commonly humility, intelligence or just not being really, really annoying.

Blow dry finished, I was whisked upstairs to join the queue of models all lining up to be judged like prize cattle. My stylist had somehow managed to procure me the number six, despite there being 50-odd people ahead of me, so to the front of the queue I went. "You - get in here" bellowed a female voice, no sooner than I had assumed my position. They don't much go in for niceties round here.

Standing at the far end of the room like a firing squad was a gaggle of the salon directors, including the man we all had to impress, whose official title, I believe, is Divine Master of the Universe. The whole process is designed to throw you off, with someone asking to see your card, someone taking your photo and the Divine Master of the Universe running his fingers through your hair and talking about cutting techniques all at once. I had to stand against a screen and pose for a few pictures holding up my model card like a prisoner number before they attached it to a polaroid (what is it with fashion people and bloody polaroids? No one looks good in them.) and then it was over almost as soon as it had begun, and I was making my way out of the door as the authoritarian voice yelled "NEXT!". Despite all my earlier feelings of inadequacy I left with a little superior glow because they didn't ask to see me strut my stuff down an imaginary catwalk (a horrifically unedifying process), the Divine Master of the Universe airily dismissing the suggestion, saying "we know she can walk". Sometimes it pays to be an old hand.

Of course, the glow didn't last long, and arriving back at my house a couple of hours later I was wracked with doubts. I don't think I opened my mouth in any of the photos. You're supposed to always part your lips slightly, but I have a tendency to purse mine and stare at the camera with what at the time I'm sure is effortlessly cool intensity, but always, always turns out several hours later when I try to recreate the expression at home in the mirror as a perfect representation of "sullen and uncooperative. And possibly constipated".

So for the next few days, maybe weeks, I shall waver between hopefully recalling all the nice things that were said (they always say nice things, they've been trained to smile as they kill) and crippling self doubt, remembering all the things I should have done differently. My fate, as is too often the case, is in the hands of a crack team of award-winning hairdressers. Wish me luck.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Things I have learned since Friday

As requested by Gordon Brown......

1.) If I am home all day, I can easily get through 10+ cups of tea.

2.) I am incapable of getting through this amount of tea without spilling at least half if it down my thigh.

3.) I have a very high sugar tolerance - the amount of chocolate I have eaten should have sent me into a diabetic coma.

4.) I enjoy the film 13 Going On 30.

5.) I do not enjoy that new Specsavers advert - it makes me want hurt people. Specifically the people who made it.

6.) If I can't get a newspaper I get really, really agitated.

7.) I can complete an entire case on CSI for the Wii in an hour and a half.

8.) Patrick Kielty is much funnier than I thought he was.

9.) My body spray does not taste as good as it smells.

10.) Thinking of things you have learned since Friday is hard when you haven't left the house.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

13 going on 30

I just watched the film 13 Going On 30 (Don't judge me. It's a Sunday, I'm bored, and I don't need to justify myself to you!) and it was really nice to see a positive representation of being 30. The British media, not to mention trashy chick-lit - I aim this straight at you, Helen Fielding, of dubious Bridget Jones' Diary fame - so routinely paint 30 as the misery year; desperately trying to find a man before it's too late if you stupidly haven't got one already, desperately trying to keep him if you do; worrying about your age, losing your looks, getting cellulite, blah, blah, blah....It makes me, and I'm by no means unique here, worry about reaching that age, for fear that my entire world will come crashing down around my ears.

Anyway, this film, showed 30 through a 13-year-old's eyes as exactly what I imagined it would be when I was a teenager - excitingly grown up, with a glamourous job, after work parties and drinking cocktails in bars, flirting with hot men in designer suits. No weighing herself daily and bitching about being *still* being single (of course it ended with the obligatory wedding and happily ever after, but we'll ignore that part).

Of course, she was a high flyer at a magazine; life probably wouldn't be as exciting if she worked in a bank, but considering high flyer at a magazine is what I'm aiming for, it suits me fine to believe it's all champagne and designer heels, despite the fact that I know full well a staff position at Elle pays £13,000 a year.

And at the moment I'm having issues being single at 26, let alone 30, because it seems that everyone else got engaged or at least settled down in their early twenties, and the men in bars are all 19-year-olds blowing their student loans on cheap lager which is ultimately going to end up mixed with a half-digested kebab all down the front of Topman's finest. And I don't really fancy men in suits. But maybe I'm just not hanging out in the right places yet.

The point is, even if the reality's not quite as glamourous as Hollywood would have us believe, we shouldn't neccessarily believe the doom and gloom pushed on us by bitter old tabloid hacks either. Watching that silly piece of Hollywood fluff has given me a whole new sense of perspective just by making me remember how I used to think before I got so damn cynical. And I'm kind of excited at the back of my mind now, not specifically about turning 30, but about the future in general; I am going to get a good job, I'm going to move out, I'm going to go to parties - what's not to like?

So here's my uncharacteristically optimistic advice for the day: next time you're feeling down, try and remember how your-13-year-old self would have felt about the situation. It might not solve your problems, but you might end up feeling a bit better.

Friday, 2 April 2010

A word of advice

As I've already stated, I judge you by your taste in music. All of you. Yes, even you. As such, and since I am bored, I thought I'd share with you seven bands/artists you should be listening to if you wish me to consider your existence worthwhile. It's all about quality, not quantity with me, there are surprisingly few bands I really, really love, which is probably a good thing as I'd have even less money than I already do if there were. It was going to be five, but I couldn't get it down that low though. In no particular order and with a song recommendation:

Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now! - G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N
Manic Street Preachers - Peeled Apples
Art Brut - Emily Kane
The Smiths - Nowhere Fast
Suede - Killing Of A Flashboy
The Rakes - 22 Grand Job
Nightmare Of You - I Want To Be Buried In Your Backyard

Thursday, 1 April 2010

And this is why I love Topshop...

It's another one about age and fashion...

I'm a bit put out today, as I've discovered I'm not allowed to shop in GAP. Well, not, not allowed, I don't think they have sensors on the door or anything, but I'm undesirable: their target market is 18-25.

Now, I must confess, I do not, and have never owned an item of clothing from GAP. I've always found them overpriced and incredibly dull - I know they sell themselves on basics, but chinos and white t-shirts, really? That keeps them a market force? Also they have those horrible "greeter" people. Even when they just say "good morning" they're annoying. They don't really care whether or not I have a good morning and I, frankly, do not care whether they live or die - do not involve me in your web of lies!

I couldn't shop there if I wanted to anyway, given that they don't stock any size even close to small. I went in once, years ago (when I was still a valued potential customer) after hearing that they stocked a mystical new size, some "size 0" (as I say, this was years ago, before the media hysteria started in earnest). I approached a shop assistant, and she told me that while they did stock this new size 0, she wouldn't recommend it for me as she was wearing size 0 jeans from their new range, and she usually wore a UK 14. Oh, and their "Tall" jeans only came in standard 31" length - epic fail. And thus concludes my most successful ever visit to GAP.

So, while GAP's restrictive age policy has little effect on my life, this standard of "18-25" does. I hate arbitrary markers. You often hear the words "young people" and "18-25" bandied about in relation to fashion. Which is ridiculous, because I have never met anyone who on the morning of their 26th birthday awoke, burned all their clothing, went to the corner shop (naked, presumably) to buy one of those cheap lifestyle magazines that makes all it's money through adverts for mail order clothes companies aimed squarely at people who have given up not only on fashion but on life, called the number of the first one and said: "Send me a consignment of your finest elasticated waist jeans! And a couple of those cardigans with pearl-effect buttons that come in such exciting colours as "wheat" and "olive"! Ooh, and a plastic head scarf, I hear it's going to rain this week and the moisture plays havoc with my perm." Like I said, arbitrary markers - pointless.

I don't know anyone my age who doesn't shop in young fashion chains like New Look, Miss Selfridge etc because, well, why wouldn't we? We're young women who are interested in fashion. Truth is, I don't even understand where it is we're *supposed* to shop. If the assumption were just that we're more likely to be working and can afford better quality than so-called "throwaway fashion" it would be fine, but none of the "older but not old" type shops I can think of fit the bill; Oasis and Warehouse are expensive and plain, Zara is 90% boring office wear (I refuse to subscribe to the concept of office wear, despite working in an office. I wore my favourite grey dress to work yesterday - my friends will know that my favourite grey dress is legendary in its beauty, and its short, tight, straplessness - albeit with thick black tights and a jumper, that was my concession towards respectability. No one's complained yet.) and Dorothy Perkins manages to walk a fascinating tightrope between "designed by and for your auntie" and "my Cod, I'd look really tarty in that". Interestingly, if the Fail is right - remember, I said if - Zara's target age range is 20-28, so I have two years left in which to shop in a chain I have so far dismissed as far too old for me. Hmmm.

Largely none of this affects me because I prefer slightly mad independent clothes shops or vintage (sadly, I do not own any vintage, but still I prefer it) but I have to admit, I have a bit of a thing for Topshop. I do not know how they have managed to hang onto their reputation as being really cheap - I do not know anyone, I don't think, who considers £45 for a plain pair of jeans especially cheap - but cod, their clothes are *fun*!

I was reluctant to research their target market, because of all the fashion chains, Topshop has the worst reputation in terms of being labelled "teenage". Hence the manufactured outrage in some sections of the right wing press when Kate Moss launched her range there, because she's supposedly such a bad influence on the "impressionable young teens who make up its clientele". Plus, I read a piece in the Observer not long ago about how going into Topshop if you're over 25 is apparently "daunting" because everyone is "too young, too thin or too trendy". Nice stereotyping there - by that logic if you're over 25 you are also old, fat and unfashionable. Generalise much, fashion writer?

So, leaving aside the fact that I've just felt moved to write a piece about ageism and I'm only in my fucking twenties, I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, when I unearthed this recent quote from Topshop's creative directer: "Our target market is women aged 15-30, but internally (I don't understand what they mean by 'internally', but meh) our target is women of any age and any income who love fashion."

I knew there was a reason why I loved Topshop :)