I am what could be considered an ‘anti-model.’ I’m everything a model shouldn’t be. Yes, I’m tall but I’d have to be over 9ft to be a size 12.
You get the picture.
About ten years ago, on one of my many forays into the world of internet dating, I went out with an Australian guy. Fairly good looking (he’d say gorgeous, but more of that later) and we had a relaxed, fun evening in a London bar. I remember there being a brewery on site but have no idea what it was called – the venue was his choice. Beer or beer Madam? Erm, beer please.
An hour into our date two men approached us. Both wearing suits. Both proffering professional looking business cards. They worked for an advertising agency. They went on to ask me if I’d considered modelling before. I looked around for hidden cameras. I laughed. They didn’t. I asked if this was a joke because, quite frankly, it isn’t funny. They assured me it wasn’t. My date looked a little put out that they weren’t talking to him but, as I sucked my stomach in and looked around for a member of my family to come running in, I pretended I hadn’t noticed his face drop. When no camera crew showed up, I asked the men what they wanted.
“Can we take a Polaroid of you? We’re representing a very well known vodka company who are looking for models.”
They hadn’t even finished saying ‘vodka’ and I was up those stairs like a rat up a drainpipe.
Now, just to reassure you all, and my kids especially in case they’re reading this, my clothes remained on. For the Polaroids and for what happened two weeks later. Praise the Lord.
After they had taken a couple of face shots, my date nudged me. Expecting a kiss, a pat on the back or at least a “you scrub up well,” he whispered in my ear, “well aren’t they going to take a picture of me?”
Oh dear. I asked the suits, they looked at each other and said, “yeah, yeah, course mate.” My date was appeased for now.
Two weeks passed and I honestly hadn’t given that evening much more thought. My date had however. I would get a daily phone call from him asking if the ad guys had been in touch. “I was an escort back in Australia you know,” as if this somehow made him more attractive and told me that the ad guys would be “mental” to turn him down. I think I was mental to have dated him in the first place.
Then the ad man called me.
“You got the job,” he said.
“What job?” I said.
“The modelling job for Smirnoff,” he said. “Hello? HELLO?”
Suffice to say, I was a little shocked.
“You’ll get £300 and all the vodka you can drink at the shoot,” brought me round.
The shoot took place in Soho. The nice part. I was told to bring the clothes I was wearing the night they met me, which consisted of a black knee length leather skirt with purple and pink long sleeved striped top. We are talking ten years ago here, so a little imagination is required. I turned up at the bar at lunchtime and, sure enough, it was a real photo shoot. Right up until I reached the front door I’d imagined my best friend jumping out in front of me and shouting, “Ha! Gotcha!”
I was nervous as I walked in but I think I blagged it well. Until, that is, I saw the other models I’d be working with. There were six of them. The first two I met were a couple. An Italian couple. Who both worked for Vogue. I kid you not. The next was a 6ft 4” black, French male model. Mmmm. Then there were two mixed race girls with beautifully huge afro hair. The last model was an English guy. A little forgettable but I’m sure he was gorgeous. The one thing they all had in common? They were all professional.
And then there was me.
The doubts had now begun to set in but I was determined to not let Team Normal down.
After I had my hair and make-up done I was escorted to the Wardrobe Department (aka a clothes rack outside the Ladies toilets) by the two stylists. They looked at the clothes they had brought with them, looked at me, looked at each other again, rolled their eyes a little and then asked if I’d brought my own clothes. I got the hint. Nothing would fit me. Relief all round when I showed them my own clothes.
The brief was that we were a group of friends on a night out. We had our glasses filled up continually with drinks, some hardcore Drum & Bass on the stereo to dance to (James Brown just didn’t work out) and we were told to flail our arms and legs around so that it would look like we were dancing in the photos.
I looked like I was having a fit.
Truth be told, I felt like a prize idiot. But a very tipsy one, so I totally went for it.
The others just all looked so cool and I felt like a fat lump. But I took heart from the fact that the ad men had wanted me there. They had said I looked like I was having such a good time when they met me, it was the image the client wanted to project. The fact I wasn’t a stick thin model was irrelevant.
I don’t know what the other models thought of me – no-one talked to me all day – but I think my presence may have just stuck in their skinny little throats a little. Yes, they’d be going back to France, or Italy, for their next shoot and I’d be going back to my life as a working, single mother, commuting to London every day.
But for one day – I rocked.
As for the Australian man I dated? He asked me to find out when he was needed. I never called back.
The posters and fliers appeared in nightclubs countrywide a month later. My sister-in-law saw them and promptly wrote my telephone number all over them and the Aussie was quickly forgotten.