I’m going to be upfront here. I have been in the modeling game for quite a while. My honesty might get me in trouble and quite possibly jeopardize some job prospects, but I don’t feel I should have to lie about my age anymore. I have worked really hard for over 13 years and in any other job, I would have been promoted already, with a significant pay rise. Hell, I might even be CEO by now! Unfortunately, the profession I love does not follow standard business models; which is great at times, but not so fantastic when one (inevitably) gets older.
I am 26 years old, and yes, that is my real age. I was born on the 23rd of December, 1987. I started modeling at 13 years of age. Of course I understand how young I was – and looking back, I sigh with relief. Things could have gone totally pear-shaped and I do not suggest anyone starts modeling at such a young age. But I was lucky. I had the most amazing parents, who insisted I finish school (to any girls out there considering dropping out: finishing school is really important. Not only does it teach you to finish things, there are underlying lessons and developments that occur in that environment that are really helpful when one is flung into a life of uncertainty). I also had an incredible bunch of friends, who gave me no choice but to stay grounded.
I was discovered in Perth, in a competition with the lengthy title: ‘Vivien’s Live Perth City Face Modeling Competition’. Nicole Trunfio took out the title and I was runner up. Nic is still one of my closest friends and continues to model to this day, as do I.
Now, I am not putting myself in Nicole’s league; remember, she won, I was just lucky enough to be on the same podium. You see, I am not your standard ‘model’. At 174 centimeters, I am below the preferred height. I’m not naturally waif thin either, so this ride hasn’t always been cruisy for me. What I lack in height however, I make up for in sheer determination (some might call it stubbornness, and they are probably right, but if it’s got me this far, I don’t care what you call it!)
Height is not something that can be changed, and if you read Anya’s interview, she tells you all about that side of the business. Weight can be sorted out with a healthy diet, epic work-out plan, and balanced attitude. Age, however, I didn’t expect to be an issue…until it started to be.
“How old are you now?” asked my Japanese agent. “21,” I replied. “Ahhh no… You are 19,” he said, looking at me intently. “Oh… I see…”
Apart from finding that crazy miracle potion from ‘Death Becomes Her,’ I was fresh out of ideas for getting around this problem. Ahhh… ageing. At the risk of sounding like a washed up spinster; yes, it will happen to you, and no, you can’t avoid it (as yet).
Modeling revolves around fashion. Fashion is constantly being updated, redesigned and renewed, season after season. So too are the models. Being in fashion is great, however a meteoric rise to fame can be followed by an epic fall from grace as soon as fashions change. The trick is to be able to adapt to the changing surroundings. Changing cities/markets, hair colour, hairstyle, interests, side professions and even personal style can all help to reinvent the career of a model. (Failing all of the above, finding a famous boyfriend has always been a good career move).
I was lucky enough to build up a stable list of clients and friends as I grew up in the Australian fashion industry, and I can call most of this industry a great big family. They have seen me grow up, mature and develop and I too have seen their talents soar and evolve. At times, however, they do want a ‘fresh face’ and it can be hard to take, as there is nothing you can do about it.
What’s really great though, is the recent trend towards embracing older models (when I say ‘older,’ I mean mid to late 20s). There is something so admirable about a professional, experienced young woman, who knows her body and has a sure sense of self. Recent case in point; Gemma Ward opening Prada and Lara Stone closing the same show- both with children of their own and rocking one of the most influential shows at Milan Fashion Week. And it doesn’t stop there, pretty much the entire ‘Icons, New Supers and Money Girls’ list on models.com is made up of girls over 21.
Here’s hoping this is one trend that sticks around!