In my experience, fashion models were supposed to be long, lithe, and light: like a flash of light or a splash of rosewater. We were supposed to be so small and unassuming that we’d float into a room, silently, be sized up, made up, dressed up, sent down a runway to float before admirers, float back, return the borrowed items and float back to our studio apartments in the valley. Never once were we meant to rest all of our weight on a single surface.
The body of a fashion model, in my time, was not meant to possess anything aggressive, including strength, sense of self or purpose. The bodies of fashion models needed to fit the item being sold upon it. So exercise was modeled to shrink us further rather than build muscle upon the bones. So I tried exercise that wouldn’t ever add strength.
I tried running: this was a great way to burn off the calories from food I wasn’t eating and I seldom developed any muscle. The problem however was that my legs, while very long and thin, were becoming strong. Nothing was less attractive to the men trying to keep me in place than my newfound ability to get away swiftly. My manager and the scout for one of my biggest accounts sat me down to explain that running is for sports models, not fashion models, and I should focus on less “exertive methods of weight maintenance.” Further, I wasn’t eating enough to maintain the energy for long distance runs so I wasn’t usually making it more than a few blocks at a time anyway.
A couple of great less exertive methods of weight maintenance were bikram yoga and barre. Bikram yoga was really only doable in the morning because by the evening, if I tried to twist up my body in a scorching hot room, I’d simply pass out. In the morning, after a cup of coffee, a banana and a cigarette, my body didn’t yet know that it was receiving the bulk of the day’s calories so it could do a little bit more. No matter how much my brain was ever into exercise, my body just never had enough caloric output to keep up. So bikram yoga in the morning was great. Barre was good but not more than once a week because of the toning capacity of traditional ballet movements accompanied by weights and cardio breaks.
Pilates was never good for me but only because I fucked the pilates instructor at our gym and could never return to his class after because I handle sex like an eleven-year old most of the time.
I tried boxing once but broke a nail so I vowed never to return. I don’t wear nails anymore, so I now do boxing twice a week and feel stronger every single time. Stronger is a positive adjective in my “adult life.”
One of the greatest parts of working as a sports/athletic model is that the companies that hire you want you to be strong and now that feminism is super trendy, they want other women to be inspired by your strength so they’ll buy the athletic wear that helps you look and stay strong. So my personal trainers are sports-minded rather than fashion-minded. However, there are of course parts I miss of being involved in the fashion world – like meeting celebrities!