When I was offered a spot as a model in my favorite boutique’s second annual fashion show, it was like receiving my letter from Hogwarts. But as the day of the show approached, I became nervous, palpably so. I felt like I hadn’t prepared at all. The outfits had been chosen, sure. But was I supposed to have dieted? Instead of dedicating time to walk practice, I’d done a few laps in the halls of the elementary school where I work, hoping not be caught mid-strut by my students.
I should have known, though, that the show’s organizers wanted me just as I was. Upon arrival, I was met by beaming women clutching iced coffees. It was clear that they were run ragged, but instead of complaining, they soothed my nerves and lead me to my station. Their sorcery had turned an industrial kitchen into a backstage area with space for 20 models decked out in event posters and gifts. At each seat was a framed image of our respective names and an affirmation chosen for each of us. Photos from our fittings were arranged like fly-ass playing cards; gift bags contained earrings and a hand-written letter explaining why we’d been chosen for the show.
As the rest of the models arrived, backstage began to look like a United Colors of Benneton ad. We ranged from high schoolers to thirty-somethings. From day jobs to side hustles, I was in awe of the working lives of these babes. There were small business owners, designers of up and coming fashion lines, and sports players. Very few were professional models, but you would have never known when the lights went down and the show began.
Rather than a lump sum of nameless bodies, we were like a Voltron made of creative women. Each of us was being celebrated for exactly who we are, whether tall and slim or otherwise. I didn’t feel like a token older, curvier woman. I’d been chosen for my character and confidence and was told so (in writing). I felt so cared for, by both the other models and the women running the show. Though the show’s aesthetic called for a minimal makeup, the artist had been given a tip that I might not feel comfortable without my signature swipe of red lipstick. They’d thought of every detail, and I’m blown away by their dedication to making sure that our crew was comfortable with each creative decision.
Even as I was ready for the show to begin so I could stop thinking of all the ways I might end up splayed on the runway like Carrie Bradshaw fashion road kill, I was completely unprepared for the shock of having 300 pairs of eyes on me. Though I like to take fashion photos for Instagram, being seen from every angle while maintaining my Blue Steel was jarring. Luckily, my friends hid in a back row lest I see them and break character. The first walk left me breathless and shaking, but I felt more confident with each outfit change. As I walked, I caught snippets of conversation from the audience. If you’ve never heard an audible gasp as you strut by, I highly recommend it.
Since the show, I’ve been asked to model for a local magazine, and feel more comfortable showing up to art and fashion events that I previously would have avoided based on nerves or lack of knowing people there. People have approached me in public to give props on my performance in the show. To say I feel warm and fuzzy is an understatement. I’m overwhelmed by the support from the Momni family. Watching women celebrate women, not only at events, but every day is heartening. My ride or dies have always encouraged my ventures, but women I barely know cosigning me? Now that’s something notable. I’ve been riding this high for a month now, and that energy has spurred on some creative pursuits that I’d once thought a pipe dream. As Drake raps, “I might be too strung out on compliments/overdosed on confidence.” But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, especially when I want every bad bitch in town to feel the exact same way.
Written by Anna Claire Hodge; PhD, accomplished writer, and monthly columnist for The Boutique Next Door. Find more of her work on her website, www.annaclairehodge.com, and follow her endeavors on Instagram @to.thine.own.self.be.trill.