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A model life

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

A model life

Andrew Ryan

When I was young, my father would encourage me to do modelling. Like any father, he thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world, I was his gorgeous princess etc, but I never truly went for it because I didn’t quiiiite trust his judgement (he was my stupid dorky dad after all), and I was more interested in theatre anyway. He didn’t press it, never signed me up for competitions and couldn’t afford to get me photo-shoots or anything, so the idea was left, and I went about my childhood with the understanding that being pretty seemed like it was a good thing to be, but I wasn’t much interested in it and always wanted piercings and tattoos anyways, so fuck you Dad etc.

But when I was about 20, a model scout at a café approached me and she asked if I would come in and chat with her. I remembered what my dad and various boys said about me being the most beautiful girl in the world, so I agreed, and I walked across the huge floor of the office later that day trying to look collected and not terrified of rejection, hoping I could maybe cash in on what other people find attractive in women. But when I sat down with the woman who gave me her card she looked bored and vaguely disappointed, and she sighed and said “Oh, I thought you would have been taller. You’ve got a good face but you’re not tall enough. We’ve got one girl on our books who is about your height, but she’s absolutely stunning… sorry sweetheart, thanks for coming though.” None of my dreams were shattered that day (though the daddy’s girl in me was a bit pissed of that I wasn’t actually the most beautiful girl in the world) but ever since then I’ve come to realise the lives of people who put their whole being into modelling as a career must be pretty fucking shitty.

An ex-boyfriend of mine was a model for a while. He was (still is I assume) blessed with stunningly good looks; a tall, skinny Korean boy with curly hair. I think he did runway occasionally, and he definitely did advertising campaigns a little. He was on the books of some agency and they wanted him for so many things, but he loathed it all. I didn’t quite understand it at the time- I was pretty young and naïve and thought it seemed kind of glamorous and getting paid heaps to do fuck all was a great idea, way better than the shitty hospitality work I’ve been doing since forever- but his personality didn’t match up with what was needed in that line of work: to be a completely vacuous blank slate and not talk and not put in creative output outside of what you’re doing with the shapes of your body. I find it weird enough overhearing people I’m serving at the bar talking about my eyes or my lips or my neck or whatever bit they like the most about my physical appearance, but walking in to work knowing that those features are what is getting you money in the first place must twist a model’s mind into a pretty distorted shape. It must be so rare for people to come out of the end of a modelling career without being totally messed up about it. I guess it makes sense that for a time I was in a relationship with a boy who had the opportunity to go pretty far with it but chose not to. He plays in a pretty good band now, and seems happier for it. Integrity for the win.

But then you’ve got people like Beckaa from The Shire, who are the complete opposite. HAVE YOU SEEN THAT FUCKING SHOW? I’ll save my 800 word rant about just how fucking retarded the 10 minutes of it I saw the other night was for another time, but suffice to say that my jaw ached from how hard it dropped for those 10 minutes. Anyway, this lass Beckaa wants nothing more that to be famous- which is why she is involved with this god forsaken show- and her plans to get there are through modelling. Sure, she’s half arsed-ly studying media so she can be a radio or tv presenter, but she wants to drop out and focus on pageants and all that stuff… she’s had a nose job, is getting a boob job, and her daddy pays for it all. Plastic fucking surgery, are you fucking serious? I’m having a lot of trouble expressing just how unattractive I find this idea. Wanting attention so badly that you’ll take a knife to your face and body to shape it to look the way you think other people want it to look so you’re appreciated only for that, leaving whatever is left of your mind and to rot in dumpster behind the hospital along with the shaved bits of bone from your skull and all the blood soaked gauze… it is such an abhorrent idea that I can’t talk about it anymore.

I’m sure there are plenty of professional models out there doing things right, not being totally fucked and contributing to society at large in better ways than just having their taut, tanned skin out to sell clothing and food and drinks. But they’re rare. Very rare. And these rare ones have the jet setting glamorous celebrity lifestyles that dickheads like Beckaa crave, and thus a generation of dumb shits will pay hundreds of dollars to fuckwit no talent photographers to get shots for their portfolio in an attempt to gain that same level of celebrity. But it doesn’t mean anything. None of it means anything except that our society is fucked up enough to allow them to give it a red-hot go. Which is shit. Models, you’re all right, just don’t be dicks about it. The end.