Today was the day I was had been nervously waiting for. I was finally going to do my first official photo shoot for a popular magazine. I have dreamed of this day for years. So far until today, my agency had only been able to get me into smaller shoots because I was still new but now over the period of a year I had been able to build up my portfolio. When I was first recruited it was really random and very unexpected. I had heard of stories like this but I never actually expected it to happen to me.
“Uhhhhh.” Sofia groaned in a very unsatisfied tone.
“We’ve literally stayed here for an hour doing nothing except laughing at stuff on our phones. Ethan whined making sure to add extra emphasis on his last sentence. “I’m bored!”
“How about we just go to the living room and binge on some shows on Netflix?” I suggested as I groggily stood up, not forgetting to bend and stretch my body. I was really lazy and didn’t change my position on the couch very often.
“Fine but you’re paying for the food, Sof and I will just stay here and wait since it is your house.”
“Fine,” I replied. I walked over to my desk, picked up and my purse and made my way out of my house.
Thankfully McDonald’s wasn’t too far from my place so the drive there and back wouldn’t be too long. As I patiently waited in the queue to place my order, the man behind me proceeded to engage in a life-changing conversation with me. He was slightly taller than I was and had his dark hair sprawled messily around his head. I guess he was around his mid-30s I wasn’t too sure. His attire looked quite casual, a plain black tee-shirt and loose-fitting jeans and a pair of loafers.
“Hello Miss, have you ever thought about being a model.”
“Um no, not really. Why?” I was very confused and slightly flattered.
“Well, I think you should reconsider that because you look amazing and have the look we’ve been searching for. How old are you by the way?” I couldn’t tell if this guy was actually joking. Is this a prank? I know I wasn’t ugly but telling me I had ‘the look’, nope.
“I turned 18 a few weeks ago. How am I meant to believe you, though?” He told me he was a recruiter for a semi-famous modelling agency. He then gave me his card and told me if to give him a call if I was interested.
Like any normal person would do I thought he was probably some creep who wanted to scam me and try to get some money out of me. So I decided to forget about it for a while. I went on with my life and at one point I had completely forgotten about it. That was until I was cleaning out my bag and his contact card fell out. Sofia, one of my best friend got way too excited about it. She literally pushed me to my laptop and forced me to do more research and the man was actually legit. His agency was a real thing and I internally face-palmed myself for not bothering to do earlier research. I doubt he would even look at me not to mention remember me.
I looked on their website for the closest day for any casting and to my luck there was one that was going to take place in the following week. I had been on edge for the week, freaking out and I got very close to pulling out. I don’t think I would have been able to get through it without my best friends. I had contemplated on whether I would tell my parents but decided not to. I didn’t want them to get their hopes up and I felt like telling them would make even more real. I mean how many times do you hear people getting recruited by a scouting manager at McDonald's. Not a lot in my opinion.
The night before I went to bed I was having an internal meltdown. I got up and went to my mirror and stared at my reflection. I don’t think I looked like your average model. I mean it wasn’t like I looked ugly but the only thing I found appealing about my whole body was my hair. I absolutely loved my hair took great care of it. It looked and felt very soft to touch, and was quite short when I occasionally chose to straighten it, I normally left it natural and let my afro free from the harm of heat damage. Plus, I was mixed-race, my mom was from Nigeria in West Africa and My dad was born and raised in England.
After a few more minutes of the silent stare down I had with my reflection I realized that I was quite happy being different from the ‘usual’ or ‘typical’ model. I mean if you want to go far I think you had to stand out from the crowd and have something special and unique about you. Times like this are when I really appreciate my parents especially my mom. She taught me how be comfortable in my skin and love myself. When we moved from Nigeria, to England we had to put up with a few rude parents at school and their equally as annoying children. Thankfully there were nicer people around so I stopped caring after a while. I really needed this mental pep talk. You can do this Moni and with that I turned off the lights and went to bed.
My lucky streak had thankfully not run out because once I got to the building where the auditions where being held the man spotted me. I did have to do a few test shoots but the man loved me so much that I got the gig and signed to the Elusive Modelling Agency. Words couldn’t even describe how I felt, I was already 18 so I didn’t need my parents signature or permission. Jonathan, the man who scouted, gave me some paperwork I had to go through and send back to them to complete it all. As I ran to my car, I called Sophie my best friend and I was in sitting in my car for about five minutes screaming my head off. I mean it’s not every day you get this kind of opportunity. I mean I was still in my first year of university and had a pretty decent childhood, I was fortunate enough to attend a private school thanks to how much my parents earned.
That night during supper I broke the news to my parents and I got very mixed reactions. I thought they’d both be super excited for me but I guess I was wrong. My mum was cool with it, she very happy and kept gushing about how she always had an inner feeling that’d I somehow become one. Despite the fact she only mentioned her confidence in becoming a model was when I was 10 and I think she was just playing around. I doubt she actually meant what she said. My dad on the other hand was not happy with at all. When I said I was going to develop my modelling career he started to rant about how it wasn’t a suitable career and how I was still in university and could better. I basically didn’t have his approval to carry on. Sorry dad but this is way to good to let go.
I left and didn’t speak to my dad for 2 weeks. One afternoon, while I was in my dorm room watching 90210 on Netflix my phone rang. My dad finally decided to break our silent streak and was the first to call. I was dreading the call and hesitated before I finally decided to answer it.
“Hello, Monisola.” You know it’s serious when your parents call you by your first name.
“Hey, dad.” There was an awkward silence for a few seconds.
“So I’ve been talking to your mother…and I think you can continue your modelling business.” The frustration in his voice was clear but I wasn’t going to mention anything.
“Really? Thank you so much.” I squealed, with happiness.
“As long as your school work doesn’t go down. You’re a smart girl Moni, I don’t want to see all your hard work go to waste. If your grades get worse I’m sorry but you’ll have to stop pursuing that modelling career. Is that clear?”
“Yes, dad. Don’t worry I think I can handle this; I mean how hard can it be right?” I laughed.
“Okay, I love you dear. Goodbye.” the call ended.
I had a smile plastered on my face for the rest of that day.
What was I thinking, modelling was not as easy as the pictures and short videos I watched make it seem. Constantly trying to get the right pose, countless hours for some shoots, heels. I think I have a love/hate relationship with those things. One time I spent around 3 hours in heels for a shoot and I had the worst blisters after that. I somehow managed to keep up my grades while balancing the ever busy life of a blooming model. There were some- a lot of sleepless nights and last-minute efforts to submit my assignments on time but I did it.
Today was my final pay off of all my hard work. I was a bit nervous when I arrived at the building for the shoot but the photographers, make up artists and the rest of the crew around were so fun and kind I was put at ease almost instantly. I immediately went to get my hair done then my clothes and my make up was the last thing. I looked absolutely gorgeous. They chose to keep my hair natural and I was quite happy with that, my make up was quite elegant as well as my clothes. My first outfit was this stunning floor length golden dress with two slits at the sides that went up a few inches below my crotch. My jewelry was a bit simple as well but it was because the dress was not to be overlooked. I doubt anyone would though; it absolutely gorgeous, too bad I couldn’t take it home with me. I was doing the shoot with two other girls and guys. They were also pretty chill and professional but after the first hour we loosened up and got more comfortable around each other.
Lukas, one of the guys doing the photo-shoot with me was pretty funny and would pull faces when he was off camera and I was trying to pose for serious photos. I laughed a lot because of it and got told off by the photographer a few times. Once the shoot finally came to an end I gave him a good slap on the back of his head, slightly messing up perfectly done platinum blond hair. I got to see a few of the pictures they got and I was in love with them and couldn’t wait for the magazine to come out.
“Bye you dork, don’t forget to text me.” I hollered at Lukas. He was my new favourite person.
I was very tired, I had spent most of the day in heels and now I just wanted to lie down on my comfy bed and sleep. They said the magazine would be out in about two weeks or so and that they would send me my best photos.
The two weeks had flown by and Sofia and Ethan were both with me. We bought a copy and wanted to look though them and look at the photos. I wasn’t planning on what I would see next.
We each said as we stared jaws dropped a person in the magazine. This looked nothing like the photos they sent to me. It was me yet at the same time, the girl in the magazine wasn’t me. This girl had lighter skin, smaller thighs, and a slimmer waist. That wasn’t me. I exercised regularly and had a somewhat healthy diet but I wasn’t extremely over-weight. I was a UK dress size 8 which is a 4 in the US. I wasn’t that big, yet they had to make me smaller. I had curves, a trait I had taken from my mother’s side of the family and I was proud it. Why had they lightened my skin? I mean wasn’t my own good enough? Why did I have to seem lighter? Hell, they somehow managed to give me a freaking thigh gap. As far as I know I wasn’t born with that feature and these people were able to manipulate my body and turn it into something that wasn’t me.
“Moni, calm down I don’t like that look on your face. I mean it could have been worse.” Sofia said as she tried to comfort me.
“Why should I Sof? I mean the people there were so lovely and they had to do this? Does that mean they think I’m ugly? Was I not pretty enough to not have my body retouched?” I mean I have done a few smaller shoots and nothing like this ever happened.
“Hey don’t say that you look beautiful and the people who retouched your photos are just crazy and too stupid to realize it.” Ethan chimed in as he tried to make his best friend less sad.
“You know what, I’m not even going to sulk about this. What these people did was unacceptable and I’m not going to put up with it”. I unlocked my phone an opened up Facebook.
“Um, Moni what exactly do you plan on doing?” Sofia asked, cocking her head looking very puzzled.
I didn’t even answer her, I just started typing away on my phone. You don’t do this to people and it just isn’t right. Once I had finally finished typing up my and chosen the pictures, I gave it one last check before hitting post. I was quite close to a hundred thousand followers on my Facebook so I know people will definitely get to see it.
Sofia and Ethan looked quite concerned yet proud of me when they saw my post. My only response was a sly smirk.
My phone was ringing, I picked it up to check the time and caller ID. It was 2 in the bloody morning and Sofia thought it was a good idea to call. She knows how much I love to sleep. I didn’t bother answering it but minutes later it began to ring again. Knowing Sofia, she wouldn’t stop till I answered.
“What?” I moaned.
“Moni, something really big just happened.”