Here’s the thing; I always knew I wasn’t meant to be chubby.
For starters, in my youth I was quite certain that my pudginess was all a dream and that for sure the next morning when I woke up for school I would be sans cellulite and be like, phew, what a nightmare those oversized Winnie the Pooh t-shirts were. Which brings me to my next point: fashion.
I like to think I have a keen sense of style, yet, for us curvy girls, (also combine budget restrictions) I am vastly limited with what my body could actually: a) squeeze into and b) not offend someone with fupa overload. And it’s so disappointing because I really love clothes and I especially love over-sized sweaters. But over-sized sweaters only look good on waifs. When I wear an over-sized sweater, I look like the portly ship captain.
This brings me to my modeling career. Since a young age I had a love affair with the camera, both taking photos and being the star of them. I was always jumping in front of my much cuter sister, Savannah, who got all the camera time with her Shirley Temple curls and mischievous grin, and doing desperate jigs and yelling, look at me!
Then I have photos where I am holding wildflowers while overdressed with a practiced look of affected indifference that I knew models had. So, naturally, when I had just wrapped on “The Biggest Loser” and a friend of a friend asked me to participate in a vintage model shoot I brushed it off like oh, if I have the time I could maybe swing it, but secretly was checking become a model off my bucket list.
I couldn’t wait for the day of the shoot. I had wanted to model since childhood but had given up somewhere around the first grade when I realized I was chubby. It didn’t matter that later in life plus-sized models really had a good thing going for them, as far as I’m concerned plus-sized models still looked like Marilyn Monroe. They have amazing womanly curves, while my curves are fake curves. Meaning they have the appearance of curves while swathed in clothing, but were I to disrobe, you would see that my curves are all stretch marks and dimples of cellulite expertly held in check by Spanx or high-waisted extra tight leggings.
The woman in charge of the shoot told me that I could have my make-up done there or to save time (since a lot of girls would be there) I could have someone else do it for me. As someone who has only ever worn mascara and basically doesn’t even know what make-up is, I asked one of my sisters to come with me day of to get me primped but also to be privy to my modeling debut.
The fashion shoot was for a vintage clothing line on Etsy and we were getting ready at the proprietors house, then moving to a warehouse where a photographer would be waiting to snap away. When my sister and I arrived at the house and I spotted racks of clothing, fabrics strewn about, hairspray spritzing and women moving from room to room swiftly and importantly while hardly giving me notice. I felt a breathlessness I’m sure Kate Moss knew well. I was a model.
Until I walked into the kitchen and saw the other models.
The models were teenagers. Maybe even tweens. I went into this modeling thing arrogantly thinking I was now skinny at some 160 pounds. All these girls were at most 100 pounds. I should have known that even at 160 pounds I was still plus-sized in the modeling world.
Who had failed to mention that I would be modeling with tweens that needed to eat more cheeseburgers? I thought that might’ve been important information to share with me before I boarded this supposed modeling bandwagon. I felt very misled and wanted to back out right then. But I felt that would be very rude and I feel badly about letting people down.
I should’ve just backed out then. Mistakenly, I still retained some hope that I had achieved the skinny and there would be darling vintage clothes for me to model and some cool photographs for me to then attach to my modeling debut bucket list file.
Nope. The twigglettes got the best dresses, outfits, skirts and pants. I was modeling the marm-like business-suits and overly floral empire waist dresses. Each time I had to go back in front of the photographer, I lost more and more of my confidence and stood pouting instead of sashaying or smizing.
By the time I was handed a mumu—the last and final blow to my already fragile ego—I was in an absolute rage. The tweens were gaily laughing and flirting with the attractive male photographer who was closer in age to me. He gave me no notice. I could not believe in my post Biggest Loser, size 8 days I was being handed a mumu to model. It was akin to being mistaken for pregnant again.
The only thing that comes to mind when I see a mumu is a prairie wife who has made a lot of bread and pastries for her hard-working farmer husband and as she rings the triangle attached to her porch to alert him to dinner, her mumu blows in the breeze on her short and stout frame. She is lovely, of course, but she is ensconced in a tent of fabric that tries to pass as some sort of dress. No self-respecting woman or model would be caught dead in a mumu.
As I angrily marched up to the photographer to have my picture taken in that hideous monstrosity of non-fashion, I fully dismissed that modeling was right for me. As the photographer began to snap pictures I stood rigid with distaste and in no way working the mumu. Finally he lost patience with me and told me to relax, have fun, move about so he could get a good shot. Clearly neither the mumu nor me were looking good.
“In a mumu?” I snapped.
He snickered. As he knew it. And I knew it. A real model would never be given a mumu. After giving up on me and the mumu I stormed off and put back on my normal, non-model clothing and went to the front of the warehouse to huffily eat grapes and cheese and wait for the other better models to finish modeling their Madonna jeans while entertaining the photographer.
That was the beginning and end of my modeling career.
But what I did know was this. If I were to be a model, which of course is semi-preposterous, but let’s say I was, I do know at my core, that I should not be modeling mumus. It’s the equivalent of knowing not to “put baby in a corner.” Some things are not meant for me and mumus are one of them. So this is why, modeling aside, I know I am not supposed to be chubby. I may not ever be model-esque enough to be pull off what truly lithe people can, but I certainly will never be placed into the mumu category ever again.