Strawberry Feels: Why I Model?

So I’ve been an aspiring model for roughly two years. I’ve worked hard over the years, improving my craft and finding my particular niche. I’ve invested quite a bit of time and resources into it always hoping for my big moment, but never expecting it. Given the other kinds of art and entertainment I do work in, I’ve been asked a lot over the years why I invest so much into modeling. It’s a fairly simple question but the answer is complicated. I’ve thought about giving up a few times over the years but in all honesty, I love modeling. I love putting looks together, I love seeing the look on a photographer’s face when they get something good out of me, and I can’t even describe how good it feels to see a solid shot of me at my best. But there’s more to it than that, and I hope this explanation might also help anyone else out there pursuing far-flung dreams.

The photo on the left was taken in 2015, and that kid is a complete stranger to me. Truth is, he was a stranger back then too. I didn’t know who I was, or who I wanted to be, or really, what I wanted out of life. To be honest, back then I was just surprised I hadn’t killed myself yet. I was never suicidal, but I also never expected to see 25, yet there I was, and I feel even more lost than I’d been at 16. My number one dream was just that I didn’t want to be alone.

The absolute badass on the right is me two months ago. Fully aware of who I am, flaws, mental illnesses, and all, and making a conscious effort to improve. I’d finally been to Warped Tour, had more than 2 tattoos, and had learned how to be at least somewhat responsible. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m doing a hell of a lot better than the guy on the left. Also, I’m months into my transition, and the person on the left still thought he was a mostly straight guy. Also, I’m not alone anymore. I have a wonderful partner, an incredible best friend, and other people genuinely in my corner who are fully aware of who I am and accept me. The woman on the right deserves to have her dreams come true and will fight for them until they do. The difference between who I was and who I am is staggering.

But, to get back to my point, I model for the old me. I model for the me who loved herself, and I especially model for the me who hated herself. After about 20 years of hating myself, pretending to be something other than who I was, and sacrificing things in the name of fitting in, I finally love me. I’m slowly unpacking years of trauma and casting away the storm clouds. I’m becoming someone I’m proud of. So, modeling is an act of self-love. Not ego, but genuine self-love. A few years ago I thought of myself as Atlas, or a narrator only meant to illuminate the stories of others. Seen, and only rarely heard. I thought myself only fit to help others climb the mountain, rather than climb it myself. But now, I want to see the view from the summit myself. I want you to hear the stories I have to tell, I want to leave a mark on the world that is distinctly my own. So, that’s why I model, because I love myself now. I don’t want to be famous, but I do want to be a good representative of my communities. I want to show other late bloomers that they’re not late, just not as early as others. I want the little kid who wants a purple mohawk to know it’s okay. I want every kid unsure of their gender or sexuality to know it’s okay to explore and figure yourself out because you come out the other side of that journey something awesome!

I’d also like to say that there’s nothing more valuable on this journey than true friends who will support that journey with honesty, love, and patience.

“It just takes some time, little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride, everything will be just fine, everything will be alright”- Jimmy Eat World

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