Modeling: Not As Easy As It Looks

If you have seen even one season of America’s Next Top Model, you will hear these catwalk hopefuls tell Tyra, Queen of You and Everything Else Ever, “I had no idea modeling was this hard!” I have seen every episode of the show. Yes, I actually kept watching even when they came up with Pot Ledom (read it backwards) and booching and tooching (you don’t want to know), so along with realizing I deserve some sort of huge prize, I have had this drilled into my head: Modeling is tough. It’s all about finding the light and not losing your neck and no claw hands and sexy inhale and a ton of other rules that I understand conceptually but cannot actually do.

I recently had the chance to throw all of these modeling edicts together when I did a Refinery29 shoot about new hairstyles for curls. First, hair and makeup artists got me  all dolled up. I love when multiple people are working on me because it is the closest I will ever get to being Beyonce. I had so much fun that as soon as I finished, I texted my friend, “Now I just need to grow five inches and lose 30 pounds so I can do this full-time.”

Unfortunately, even if I had been born with leggy glamazon proportions, I would actually not be able to model as a job. For starters, during the Refinery29 casting, all I had to do was take a smiling and non-smiling picture. When I broke into a smile, I was so nervous that my lips were quivering like they had been switched with pre-cry Claire Danes’.

I was so taken aback by how my mouth was betraying me that I forgot everything Goddess Tyra has ever said about smizing. This was my MOMENT! And I was blowing it.

Imagine my surprise when I actually got asked to do the shoot. The day is mostly a blur, but I do remember having a very clear “What the eff am I doing here?!” pause. I don’t even take selfies unless something major happens, like I get bangs. I’m just not much of a picture person. So, of course the logical decision was to go to a casting call for the chance to get tons of professional photos taken of me.

There was a lot of mental, “Okay, Zahra, you’ve been smiling like that for two minutes. Change it up” happening. I constantly had to make an effort to tilt my face in little increments, make my smile bigger by degrees, then go to the beginning and start it all over again. I also tried to smize without smiling but that was just a big dose of bitchface that seemed to slightly scare everyone on set. So even though my day of modeling was very fun, it was pretty tough. Not that I’m surprised. Tyra’s right about everything.

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