This made me typical of
millions of teenage girls before and since. Especially the part where
it was never going to happen. Ever. There were several reasons for
this. One? Not tall enough. Two? Not thin enough. Three? Not pretty
Those irreversible handicaps didn’t kill my dreams, though. More fool
me. There was a girl at my school called Sarah Nursey* who was on the
cover of Dolly every couple of months and I was in awe. How could life
get any better than that, I wondered. Fame, fortune and unspeakable
When a friend did a deportment course at Chadwicks model agency, I
eagerly went to see her graduation parade. I knew this could be my
chance to be discovered so I took extra special care with my make-up,
outfit and hair. It was the eighties and I was sixteen so you can guess
how well I accomplished this.
Nevertheless, a scout did ask me to come into the agency for a chat. “Bring some snapshots” she said. The chat lasted about 30 seconds. “You have some potential but your height is a problem” she told me after flicking a practiced, dismissive eye over me and my crappy photos. “Maybe try an agency that specialises in commercials instead of modelling.” Brushed off like dandruff on a black jacket.
It wasn’t until I finished school that I found myself signing up with a midget model agency. Well, not technically for midgets but for short models. The premise was patently ridiculous because no fashion editor has ever declared, “You know what type of girl I want for this denim shoot? A short one!”
Not knowing this, I forked out cash for some ‘professional’ photos which were ghastly and involved a fedora and a swimsuit – worn at the same time. Then I went to a handful of castings and never got a single modelling job.
A few years later, the tables turned and I was the one holding the castings and booking models for magazine shoots. At first, I felt intimidated by these beautiful girls but it quickly turned to sympathy because even staggering beauty couldn’t protect them from inevitable rejection.
Instead of jealousy, I soon felt grateful that my salary wasn’t indexed to my thighs and cheekbones. I felt relief that my professional worth didn’t depreciate with every passing year and every emerging wrinkle.
Did you tune in to the debate about Australia’s Next Top Model? Not the one about the host, the one about the winner, a pretty 16-year-old called Demelza who was branded a bitch and a bully by the judges, viewers, media and her fellow contestants.