I gazed at the mirror, expecting to see my own reflection in it, but instead I saw a stranger.
Her eyes were a beautiful shade of green, but her eyelids that were heavily shadowed in black and her lashes decked with mascara made them look unnatural. The dark red lip colour on her perfectly outlined lips and the delicate flush on her cheeks was the only colour in her otherwise pale face. Her blonde hair was gelled in a fancy up-do - the signature style of the world's most famous hairstylist. She was wearing a shimmering black gown designed by an award-winning fashion designer, and once she walked out of this green room onto the ramp wearing it, this gown would become a trend. She was so beautiful, but yet so fake.
I stared at the uncanny beauty of the girl in the mirror, unable to believe it was me. But I was not happy with it. In fact, I felt like a coward hiding behind a mask of makeup.
I knew there were millions of young girls out there who would give anything to get to where I am now. The fame, the money, the paparazzi, the popularity, the recognition - my life looked so glamorous from the outside. And of course, not every model gets to be a supermodel like I am now. Not every model can become a role-model for others. Not every model can become a trend-setter. I'm professional while flashing fake smiles for cameras and posing for photo shoots, but behind the scenes, I know that I would give up all this fame to get my old life back.
I remember the day, five years back, when I got the call that changed my life forever. I got the opportunity to become showstopper for a famous designer. I was so excited that day. I felt like this was all that I'd ever wanted. I started getting so many offers and I was almost always booked. At first, I was enjoying this thoroughly, living my dream. But eventually I realised what this industry is actually like. Since then, I have never had a diet of my choice, I have never left my house without my face covered in makeup and I have never stepped out in public without everyone goggling at me.
That day, five years back, simple old Ellie morphed into supermodel Eleanor Wright.
I could hear the drone of voices outside. The show was about to begin. In a few minutes' time, I would be walking down the ramp, wearing my eight inch heels, to the tumultuous applause from my fans out there who were eager to see what new style I was sporting.
I sighed. Really? Is this what my life has become now? Wearing things that other people want me to...styling my hair the way other people want me to... When was the last time I did what I wanted to do?
"Eleanor," said my manager, Kate. "The show is just about to begin. Are you ready?"
I nodded glumly. I was sick of my monotonous life. I watched as the other models walked out of the green room one after the other. Soon it would be time for me to follow suit. I had no option. The sponsors were paying me loads for this. It was my job, I had to do it.
Or did I?
An involuntary grin spread across my face as this reckless idea hit me. If I did this, it would mar my reputation, sabotage my future in this industry and portray me as an irresponsible and overconfident person. In spite of all that, I knew that it was so worth the risk.
I dashed into the bathroom and changed into my jeans and white shirt. I messed up my hair, wiped out my makeup and looked at the mirror with satisfaction. The girl in it was finally recognizable.
"Eleanor, what are you doing in there? Come out, quick! Oh my God, you just missed your cue!" Kate was banging on the door madly. I came out, smiling from ear to ear, to the infernal shrieks from my horrified manager. But I just couldn't help smiling. I had never felt so free, so real for years!
Throwing away my stilettos, I walked down the ramp barefoot, and the applause faltered. This was some shock for the audience, I'm sure. I walked right to the end, swinging my arms, not caring what everybody was thinking.
"You know what?" I addressed the audience, grinning hysterically. "I just realised that my fashion is not what you guys have been seeing all these years. My fashion is what you're seeing right now. This is the real Eleanor Wright, and I'm proud of it. I've had enough of this fake life. It's about time I started living the way I want to!"
There was a nonplussed silence. Everyone was staring. I laughed outright and said, "Watch all you want people, 'cause this is the last you're gonna see of me!"
And with that, oblivious to the many raised eyebrows and mortified expressions among the audience, I turned and made my way for the green room. I knew that I would have to answer to a lot of authorities. But for once, I didn't care.
That was my last ramp walk ever.