Lessons Learned as a Fashion Model

Friday, I fulfilled a childhood dream…I became fashion model for a day. My breast surgeon–during one of my regular checkups last winter–asked if I would like to be in a charity fashion show that the hospital was hosting. I was flattered that she would ask me, and thrilled to get the chance to play dress up with other breast cancer survivors; so needless to say, I said yes.

As the day approached, I started to question my sanity in this decision, but was determined to follow through–primarily because I really am extraordinarily grateful to my surgeon for saving my life and would do almost anything to show my gratitude…even if it means stepping WAY out of my comfort zone (which by the way, most public ANYTHING requires me to step way out of my comfort zone). While I realize that I dreamed of being a model when I was 13, as a 48-year old mother I am a lot more realistic (and timid) in my self-expectations, and strutting up and down a stage is NOT in my normal day-to-day routine. Nor do I really have such daring public displays on my bucket list (and no, hang gliding is NOT a public exhibitionist), so modeling isn’t really essential to my feeling accomplished when I get to my deathbed.

Friday, as I said, was the BIG day, and we started off bright and early. My wonderful hubby helped me get the kids off to school so that I had time to get my shower and get dressed without panicking. We had to head out by 8:30 in order to be at the event site by 9:30 (North Atlanta rush-hour is treacherous!) Once there, it was a long day of meeting the other models, meeting the event coordinators, getting our clothes from the clothing sponsors, having our hair done, having our makeup done, learning how to walk, learning how to pivot, waiting, talking, more learning, more talking, a light lunch, more waiting, more learning (you try teaching 15 mid-life ladies how to walk like a model!)…and then, BAM! the big moment arrived and we were out of the dressing room and heading for our big debut.

Our incredibly lovely, poised and talented modeling coach, Trudy, was very patient with all of us novices and lovingly guided us in the finer arts of “gliding” across a room and “striking a pose” to put the clothing at the best showing. Who had any idea there was so much to learn in order to walk, stand, and look “pretty?” She stressed several things over and over again as she guided each of us through the motions that would help us look more like real models than the scared, excited mothers (and some grandmothers) that we were; and as I lay in bed Saturday morning–enjoying a blissful moment of quiet rest after a very hectic day–I thought about how Trudy’s lessons on modeling apply to life in general.

Keep your head up! When you’re literally learning a new way to walk (and sometimes when you’re just doing ordinary, everyday walking), your desire is to watch your feet to make sure you don’t trip or stumble–especially when you’re walking in high heels! A model has to keep her chin up and her eyes on the horizon so that people focus on the clothes and not on the extraordinarily interesting carpet (it must be interesting because the model keeps watching it). In life, if you spend your days focusing on the ground your standing on and not looking around you, you’re going to miss out on a lot of life and joy happening all around–unless of course, your overwhelming passion in life is to compare every ground substance you walk on.

Keep your knees soft! Sounds weird, right; but basically, it refers to whether or not you’re maintaining flexibility in your stance, not standing too rigidly, and also not “locking your knees” when you stand still. Back in my high school band days, the band director would remind us not to lock our knees when standing at attention, because you could pass out if you stand with your knees locked for too long. Apparently, locking your knees can pinch an artery that runs through your leg which can cause blood flow to constrict, causing you to become faint. In addition to this, when a model locks her knees she loses the appearance of smooth, graceful motion and it becomes impossible to smoothly move her feet and legs into a graceful standing stance. In other words, she looks awkward and clumsy–and it creates opportunities for tripping and stumbling instead of gracefully posing. Flexibility is also key in many areas of life. As the saying goes, you have to be able to “roll with the punches” and if you’re stiff-legged, stiff-necked, and inflexible this becomes difficult at best.

Don’t drag your foot! When turning around and “striking your pose” to face the audience, you have to draw your front leg in toward your body, so that you’re not standing with your legs spread eagle on stage like an awkward, gawky goose. However, if you’re putting too much weight on the front leg you end up dragging your foot, which looks clumsy and can cause you to wobble, or even fall. You must shift your weight slightly to the back leg, while maintaining your soft knees (see above) and glide the front foot in toward your body all in one smooth motion. If you’re dragging your foot, there is nothing smooth in the motion and looks just awful (trust me on this one). Often in life you can’t drag your feet, either. Sometimes, you just have to step out in faith, not waiting for the waters to part, but fully relying on God to part them as you move forward…don’t drag you feet!

Feel beautiful and have fun! Oh my gosh, here’s where it all made sense for me. When Trudy got to this part of our training, the whole thing clicked. I remembered why I was there in the first place; why the teenage me wanted to dance and glide and smile and walk and pose; why I write this blog; why I sing at the top of my lungs in the shower; why I watch the rays of sunlight as they dance through the trees in the early morning dawn; why I laugh like a crazy fool at the silliest jokes; why I love getting sloppy wet kisses from little babies–because I want to have fun! Because when I see all the beautiful things that surround me in this world, when I live life out loud, when I laugh and cry and have fun–I feel beautiful! So my prayer for you today is that you will open up your eyes and your heart and find new and exciting ways to see the ordinary things around you, experience the ordinary in extraordinary ways, so that you, too, can–feel beautiful and have fun!


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