A girl’s self approval relies heavily on external affairs. The fashion industry pre-approves what can be accepted as beautiful by defining what isn’t, by implying that a female’s skin can only feel comfortable when it meets someone else’s standards, when it looks like blurred pores plastered to billboards, or suggests the features of the singular representation displayed on runways.


I tend to blame Kate Moss for the size zero industry.  Shrinking those who work within it to fit even smaller pieces of cloth and creating less accessible options for what is industriously beautiful. Although never openly diagnosed with anorexia and denying all claims of this, it has been speculated that her tiny figure is not possible without starvation. But regardless of a diagnosis, her career has since altered the eighties’ industry that preferred women with feminine curves in favor for what is hazardously thin on most female frames.


The industry seeks models with 34 inch hips in circumference– add or subtract an inch, but preferably subtract. The smallest my hips have ever been is 35 inches of bone. I am convinced my agents would have encouraged me to chisel part of that last inch off in order to continue my “promising career,” but only if I had suggested it first.


At a shoot, another model had taken out a metal tin filled with half-chewed mints and pale pills. To keep the weight off, she shrugged. I sat, noticing the blue veins swimming in my legs. My thighs flattening, creating friction between the unshaved stubble on the two masses. The pills seeming to hide her flaws, and at sixteen, perhaps they would, mine too.



According to my agents I could have, and probably still can afford to lose five to ten pounds. “Thin out a bit,” they would say despite visible bone. Both hips, bottom ribs, sternum out. Wearing a size zero comfortably, I often found myself squeezing into sub-zero sized clothes to be willingly critiqued for paychecks I wouldn’t see for months.

In advance, clients were told I am 5’10, 125 pounds with 35 inches of hip. But I’d arrive for the call time to be handed clothes in the shape of a stitched trash bag or saurian wrap indenting my skin with texture. A silent expectation would say, change here in front of the hands. I was often told I am too tall, too short, too this for the job as my skin tugged with the zipper.


It wasn’t until middle school when I began recognizing my flaws the industry would not like. My masculine jaw that makes my face look wide with flash. My inset cheeks that bubble outward when I’m flustered, turning a burnt rose color. My uneven earlobes. My linear belly button that isn’t an outie or an innie.

I still don’t understand why I worked in an industry that always reassured I could never meet its standards.


To prepare to work in New York, I exercised twice a day, went on two juice cleanses in less than two weeks, took fiber pills before and after every meal for over a month despite the bottle warning not to take for more than three consecutive days. My hips needed to be a half inch smaller if I was going to make it in New York. A week or so before my flight, I didn’t eat for almost seven meals, I had lost eight pounds, nine ounces after the initial loss of water weight. My skin rashed from stress and my hips swelled almost two inches under the patchwork of hives.


It is easiest to consider yourself beautiful, to compliment yourself, feel content if your features fit into the selective constructs the industry sells as beautiful. My blonde hair, blue eyes. Strangers remarking, that must be natural; it is— the shortest conversation understood. An agent once told me even this was unimpressive among the rest. My hair needing to be not so yellow, my eyes the wrong tint of blue and almost green in certain lighting.

At my first casting in New York, a scout told me, “it doesn’t matter how pretty your face is; you can’t fit in the industry if you don’t fit in the clothes.” She then criticized my diet which includes fruits when it should be primarily vegetables, too much protein, and worst of all fats, such as avocados. The agency she speaks on behalf of offered me a contract a week later. They were confused at my hesitation.



My social medias consist solely of carefully constructed, over-processed images, humble brags, and blatant lures for compliments. The angles my hips look linear, lacking any hint of curve. Rarely smiling because it looses the angle of my jaw, and if it is sincere adds a slight hanging chin. A bad joke deflecting my self-doubt etched underneath. Later, I still delete images that reveal any hint of these insecurities or imperfections. Even in the remaining posts I look nothing like Kate Moss or the industry she created.


According to Kate Moss, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” However, I tend to find mashed potatoes and broccoli tastes better than the white spit of skipped meals.


I was advised by a client to stick my sweat-smearing fingers toward the back of my throat, don’t stop until you hit the hanging bag. This would get rid of my after-lunch bloat was the explanation. The fear of darkening my teeth, which I was already suggested should be whitened at least two shades, stopped the taste of salt at toward the front of my tongue.

I was never successful in New York. My impending failure labeled by agents as a consequence of my lack of motivation to maintain the necessary measurements– not, the industry’s unrealistic standards. There is little tolerance for complaints of clients acting as advisors, suggesting I test what is starvation and what is working in the industry. The distinction between the two a slurred sounding of words and circumstances.


Most visits, my doctor tells me I am underweight. He might be right. But now in her forties, Kate Moss has 35 inch hip. As far as I know, this is the largest her hips have ever been.  I tend to wonder if this steady settling is the result of diet, exercise, or metabolism.


You’re beautiful, I’ve been told. My face dampened with an escaping humidity. I found it difficult to establish eye contact, blistering a thanks. My eyes leading them to my 35 inch hips.


Photographs by Colin Hand; Makeup and Hair, Diana Dubuque.

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