By Audrey Habib
I am a baby. I know this because everyone tells me so; make up artists, casting agents and even the others models. I understand where they’re coming from, I entered the industry 23 days after my 13th birthday, scooped up by a photographer at a shopping mall while gnawing down on sugar and dressed in a frumpy school dress. Little did I know that a month later I would be climbing the stairs up to my first shoot with my pink newborn hands clutching the banister as my heart pulsed in my chest. I am now a year and a half into this new exploration, which makes this my first ever job.
If, a year before I was scouted someone had come up to me and asked if I was interested in modelling I would have looked around like a stunned deer for the cameras, thinking it was all a prank. As a child, I was healthy but chubby, with glasses which were the wrong shape for my face and a bob with a fringe which made me look middle aged. Then puberty, for lack of better words, hit me like a truck.
In the hazy summer time between primary and high school I went from the strong built friend to the tiny weak one. I shot up like most of my peers but my muscle disappeared and I became something I had never been before; thin and objectively attractive. I struggled with this as I had never been a pretty face or the skinny friend and it made me feel uncomfortable and like I was an imposter in my own skin, mix this is with a bunch of other teenagers and you’ve got an uncomfortably self conscious girl.
I then spent the first year of high school in a destructive cycle between thinking I was too fat or too thin. Trying to decide if I wanted to have either a curvy or skeletal frame, both unattainable for my body type. I refused to look at my own body in the mirror, yo-yoed between weights and had ‘food issues’ like many other girls my age. Terrified of others opinions I removed myself from social interactions and felt utterly alone.
Then only a few weeks after I turned 13 I was scouted and I was suddenly part of the industry. My confidence slowly returned one shoot at a time as I knew I had to get in touch with my body and keep healthy to succeed. I felt happy again because unlike what the media will tell you the industry is full of warm nurturing people and they made me laugh and feel at home. I returned to my friends with open arms and my mental health shot through the roof no longer hiding my body under loose clothing and keeping my eyes down in the hallways.
And this is why I thank the industry and hope I can live in it for as long as possible. While fashion may get a bad wrap it took in a child who was lost and confused and showed it a family and the path home.