When I was 12 a popular model from the 70’s and 80’s came to talk to the girls at my middle school about possible careers in modeling. Anyone who was interested would get the chance to ask her questions and get advice. Surprisingly, I was the only girl that showed interest. She was kind and looked like the tall models of the 80’s. I admired her a lot, not because she was beautiful but because she took me serious. I told her I wanted to be a model and she helped me. No questions asked. She did tell me though that the industry would only accept me as a catalog model, but to a 12 year old that’s more than enough.
I remember one particular day where my mom picked me up to school and the model came running towards us with a paper in her hand. She got our attention before we got into the car and she started talking to my mother about my career. Growing up disabled has made it easy for me to pick out the people who are only complimenting me because they think it will make me feel “better” about myself. But this woman was different, when she told my mom that I had a unique look and good personality, I believed her. She gave my mom a list of agencies that she knew people at and her business card.
At 12 I was a tiny and thin kid that wore glasses and still secretly played with Bratz dolls, I even carried a matching backpack with the dolls faces plastered on it. I was awkward and shy and read too many fashion magazines. Looking back I’m still shocked that I was the only one that raised my hand in interest. I remember the popular girls thinking that modeling was stupid. But this professional model told me I had a chance and that if I really worked hard I could have it.
The deal between my mother and I was that modeling was only for the summer. The rest of the year was for school. So thankfully my summer break had just started and we could dive into modeling. The model gave us a long list and we went through everyone and everyone said the same thing. A disabled model could never work in the fashion industry. The summer ended and the model still gave us people to work with and the same things we’re said. The school year started and I had to give up my modeling dream until next summer. The next summer came and I kept trying. Countless adults told me that being disabled wasn’t fashionable and that models have to walk to do runway.
I got tired of hearing no and instead took an internship with a PR firm. I was the youngest intern there at 14 and I hated it. I hated taking phone calls and sitting in a cubicle all day. It was torture. The only good part was that it was paid, and paid very well. Even though modeling was a dream of mine I always knew that being a writer is what I wanted to do as well. I never felt the need to choose between writing and modeling because I would just do both.
I stopped looking into modeling agencies throughout high school and stopped talking to the model that “discovered” me at 12. I wasn’t angry with her, it wasn’t her fault but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t do something just because of my wheelchair.
When I was 17 I decided to try again. I was older and wouldn’t give up so easily. I also had worked hard in school so far to become a better writer and didn’t feel like I would be abandoning writing. It was the beginning of my senior year of high school and this time I was allowed to focus on whatever I wanted during the school year.
When I was a kid I thought that the photographers and agents were mean but nothing compared to when I was only a year away from being legal. Their criticism was harsher about my wheelchair and they never held back insults. So I stopped and focused on getting into college and doing a program for young journalists. I loved the journalism program but was also faced with my depression due to my recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
That’s when I decided to start a blog. I named my fashion blog “The Fashion Wheel”. It became popular extremely fast around school and then the city I lived in and after that cities I dreamed about visiting.
The way I saw it I could write and model for my own website and no one could tell me that I wasn’t beautiful enough. I was finally doing both of my passions. I graduated high school and finally felt like I belonged somewhere. The blogosphere. I made a nice amount of money from my blog. I worked with companies that I could only dream of. I got invited to amazing events and interviewed famous people and got sent free clothes and accessories. As I type this I realize now that I accomplished a lot at the age of 18. More than most people do in an entire career. I’m not bragging I’m just making an observation. I definitely didn’t appreciate my accomplishments back then.
I did that blog for 3 years. Then I got tired of telling people about the latest news in fashion. I got tired of interviewing designers about how they got into the industry. I grew tired of doing outfit posts, answering emails, and doing business meetings. I got bored. Even though I was apart of a network for bloggers (something like an agency) I still felt worn out. I needed something different. I know that I sound ungrateful but I don’t think that’s the case. I honestly believe that I got into the business side of the industry too soon. When I started blogging, blogging was still fairly new. Fashion bloggers were just becoming respected. I fell out of love with it though.
Soon I got signed to a modeling agency. They were the kindest people ever. It didn’t come without a fight though. Again agencies told me that wheelchair women couldn’t model and that I was wasting my time. One man even told me that I needed to find “spiritual guidance” to get over my dream. He then proceeded to mock me. Fortunately , I met a great agency that believed that disabled people could model in the fashion industry also. But unfortunately I started college again. I couldn’t make it work so I had to quit the modeling agency.
I’m not bashing the fashion blogging world, I’m only sharing my journey. Did I deal with awful business people? Yes. Did I deal with other catty bloggers? Yes. But the most important thing is that I had fun during those years. I made memories and friends. I established myself as a writer, even if I don’t plan on writing about fashion regularly. When I meet people and tell them I used to have a fashion blog a lot of them think it’s silly. But honestly for those few years it was honestly my career. I made money from it and did what I loved at the time.
If you’re interested in fashion blogging or modeling I say go for it! Fashion writing isn’t something I enjoy that much anymore. I find it to be exhausting. I actually quit my internship for a fashion company the beginning of this summer because I just didn’t have the passion for it. But if you do have t be passion for it, do it! The opportunities are endless. As for modeling and fashion writing for me, I still love fashion. I love to dress up and I love to take photos. Modeling will always be apart of my life. Fashion writing will be in my life again, not now though. Now I’m focused on S.A. the Writer and my creative writing.
If you read all of this, you’re awesome!