My first modeling photoshoot at 14 years old. Photo by Ben Duggan.
La Cañada High School

Opinion: My experience as a former teenage model

When I was thirteen, I decided that my life goal was to become a Victoria’s Secret Angel. I looked at their glowing skin, luscious locks, and perfect bodies in awe.

“If I become a model like them,” I thought, “I’ll be perfect like them.”

Five years later, I can tell you that I was wrong.

I lost twenty pounds so I would look like a twig. I grew my hair out as long as it could get. I went to the gym every single day, sometimes twice a day. I was consumed by thoughts of food and restricted my caloric intake lower and lower.

The day I noticed my hair beginning to fall out was the day I signed with one of the biggest modeling agencies in Los Angeles. I was ecstatic.

My problems did not vanish like I thought they would once I became a model. If anything, they became worse.

People assume that models are the happiest people in the world – they get paid to look pretty, take photos, pose on carpets, travel the world. But imagine having every insecurity you’ve ever had pointed out to you by the people you want to hire you. Imagine your agents constantly telling you what you need to change about your appearance. Imagine feeling like your self-worth is only derived from the way you look.

I always dreaded going to meet with my modeling agents – I feared what they would have to say about my appearance. There is one encounter, though, that I will never forget.

Over the course of my “career,” I had a few modeling agents. When I was fifteen, my agent at the time called me in to check my measurements and see my progress. I starved the days leading up to the meeting in hopes that would make a difference in my measurements.

It didn’t.

My agent measured every part of my body: hips, waist, chest, arms, wrists, and thighs. She wrote down every single number and told me how many inches I had to lose off of each body part. Ironically enough, I was almost fifteen pounds underweight, but apparently there is no “thin enough”. The numbers she wrote on her paper have been burned into my memory – never in my life have I wanted to disappear more.

Modeling clearly was not healthy for me. Luckily, I have taken steps to try to reverse the damage that the industry has had on my physical and mental health.

Girls at my school often approach me and ask how to lose weight and what worked for me. They confide in me that they are trying to lose weight themselves because they hate their body. My heart breaks a little each time.

I do not think I have met a single girl my age who has a healthy relationship with their body. It disgusts me. It disgusts me to know that I was apart of a business that furthered this effect and drove girls to feel this way.

I have since abandoned my “dream” of becoming a Victoria’s Secret Angel. I have learned that I am worth so much more than what my reflection tells me. I am determined to tell my truth. I find my worth in the friendships I have, writing I publish and changes I make to the world around me.

I do not regret modeling, for it has made me stronger. I only regret not sharing my story sooner.