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Paint Me A Soul — Part Two

Over the next week for NEDAwareness I will detail raw, personal accounts of my time in the modeling and entertainment industries. These stories serve to inform and educate the masses about eating disorders, mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and what really lies behind the doors of the fashion world.

My remaining weeks in Los Angeles had been spent in sheer agony. In order to conform myself to the size that the esteemed modeling agency had asked, I had dropped to even more desperate measures than normal. Day after grueling day, I lived in hell. A blistering inferno that I couldn’t get out of.

Inside my mental blazes, I ran around in circles, unable to escape my insanities.

Every day I exercised for hours, binged, purged and locked myself in the bathroom to scrutinize my face and body. The only times I left my house were to get more supplies to fuel my obsessions. I took photograph after photograph of myself to see how much weight I had lost. In my mind, the more weight I lost, the more I achieved, and the more I achieved, the more valuable I was, to myself and to the modeling agency. My self worth was determined by people who only cared about my appearance and how much money I could rake in, but I didn’t care, I had no real love for myself.

October, 2008.

Christmas was only a couple of months away but the Miami weather raged on as if the summer had no end. As soon as I stepped off the plane in the sweltering Florida sun I sensed adventure, mixed with a feeling I couldn’t quite place. This undertaking would turn out to be one that I wouldn’t necessarily want to take.

I was instructed by the agents to come in the following day and sign my paperwork. I was overwhelmed by the move, the excitement of being in a new city and the fact that I was going to be a bona fide model! No longer would I just fantasize about being a model, I was actually going to be one. Pride washed over me and all at once I wanted to soar through the clouds and gaze at all the commoners in Florida. They would soon be seeing me on the billboards…I was a star!

The scenery the next afternoon on the way to the agency was quite a change from my safe house in Los Angeles. Girls and guys buzzed about on the white sanded beaches in barely-there bathing suits, rollerblading and confidently participating in a variety of sports. It was not going to be so easy to hide here. I pulled down my form-fitting skirt and withdrew my face as I passed through a dozen restaurants. The agents had informed me that I should wear something body-hugging, but now I was regretting it. I could feel a thousand unwanted eyes ripping off my clothes. I walked faster. As I entered into the sleek, two-story agency that faced the crystal ocean, I quietly took a seat and soaked in the moment.

I was the only person in the waiting area. All around me were large framed photographs of supermodels I recognized from the eighties and nineties. I was in awe. Did that mean I would be a supermodel, too? In my heart, I hoped so. I held my portfolio tightly and noticed a tall wall of composite cards. Rows of models that belonged to the agency were on display. I observed each and every one.

Wow, I thought. I wish I could look like her. I wonder what it’s like to be her, to be like that.

I became lost in the sea of faces and felt myself drowning.

Had I lost enough weight? Would they accept me?

I nervously tapped my foot but tried to appear calm and collected. My jittery eyes led to a second level that wrapped around to a glass enclosure. Inside a few agents stayed glued to their computers and telephones. They didn’t acknowledge my presence. I checked my phone; 2:49. The appointment was at 2:30. I bit my breath and quietly sat. In my stillness I was sorely reminded of one thing: how much I missed mom. In that moment I contemplated about what it would be like for her to be there with me, sitting beside me and cheering me on. I wanted her to be proud of me. I couldn’t wait to tell her about this opportunity, but most of all, I was tired of being…alone.