Body positivity and using curvier models is very popular right now. We've made strides, yes, and it's exciting to see a bit of wobble and cellulite in the mainstream media right now. I thought times were changing, but it took getting cast as the biggest plus size model in a NYFW show and treated like cattle to realize how much farther the business has to come.
The men and very thin women, some of whom were amazing and others who could barely move in front of an audience were given special treatment. They got to watch while the rest of us battled to be there, despite all of us making it through the exact same casting process. If you don't want to cast me, that's fine. Rejection is part of the game and I'm used to it. But don't waste my time.
I was so excited to be there. So excited to be included in a runway show that for the past however many years only included size 2's. But after five hours of waiting in that dingy old ballroom in a midtown Manhattan hotel, it became apparent that I had entered into complete chaos. Maybe this production company had a case of Daddy Money, incredibly poor management, or perhaps they're just trying to keep old school model abasement alive. But whatever the case, the show turned out to be a complete disaster for me.
The timeline of the day went something like this:
9:30 AM: Get off the train for a 10 AM casting call. Text friends to complain that this was the one day trains actually cooperated so now you're super early. No one responds besides boyfriend, as it's Saturday morning and they're sleeping. Go and get coffee the size of head.
9:35 AM: Find Panera bread, be impressed with their Ipad ordering system. Feel badly about the jobs lost in such a process. Don't have time to go to another corporate coffee factory. Feel semi famous when my name came up on the screen saying your $5 lactose free concoction is next.
9:45 AM: Walk into hotel where the show is being held. Sign in as a model. Receive questionable looks from more polished looking staff when identified as said model. Regret not wearing makeup and a fancy outfit when peers are visualized. Apparently this is the type of show that you wear makeup to get your makeup done and then you bring your own makeup to touch up your makeup. Makeup.
10 AM: Curse zits on your makeup free face. Adjust flannel shirt. Feel awkward.
10:15 AM: Casting director enters. Yells at everyone to sit tight while waiting for the producers. Threatens to never work with anyone again if they walk out. Snarls about a law suit if anyone takes selfies while the models are changing. You realize there are many, many teenagers under 18 present. Sigh inwardly.
10:30 AM: Producers strut in with the confidence of a thousand suns. Proceed to walk around importantly for the next 20 minutes.
10:50 AM: One producer yells at all of the female models to move to one area of the room where there aren't enough chairs. Curse your hips as you are partially sitting on two other teeny models squished together on chairs.
10:55 AM: Wait.
11:15 AM: Still waiting.
11:30 AM. Hey guys, just waitin' here.
11:35 AM: Producer comes around with model tags. Feel better for approximately .002 seconds. Take more sinus congestion medication because you work with children and are in a permanent state of sinus headache these days. Clutch your cold coffee and hope you know what's going on soon.
11:45 AM: Producer comes and grabs the tallest, thinnest girls "randomly" from the first two rows. They are sent into hair and makeup. You are waiting. 2 hours under your belt at this point. Information? Nope. Nothing.
12:00 PM: Your left foot fell asleep before it became lunchtime that you will apparently not be served at this point despite lunch and dinner being promised to you. When "standard" models are involved does that mean that that little box of mini muffins in the corner will be opened up when everyone feels like they're going to faint in a couple hours? These are the questions. You ask the model next to you to lean over so you can re-cross your legs. She scowls.
12:10 PM: Confirm the same questions with the girl sitting next to you. Begin painful small talk. Watch her eyes widen as you tell her your age. You are made aware that she's a sophomore in high school. Go back to pouting on your phone. Wish it had been at 100% when you left, as charging seems like it might not happen today.
12:15 PM: Casting director comes in to tell everyone to warm up. Everyone gets up to start walking the runway. More than 100 girls go twice while they 10 male models who have already been cast stare at asses as they walk past. We are told to sit in our seats until called.
12:30 PM: Continue waiting. Stomach rumbling. Wish you had brought snacks.
12:45 PM: Some other models show up and start walking. They don't have model tags but are still somehow allowed to stay. Wish you had slept in and had the audacity to be three hours late.
1:00 PM: Certain "special" models are already being dressed on one side. Some girls filter back in from hair and makeup while others are out in the hall talking to designers and other people. We are told to sit in our seats. Many girls stay out in the hallway. It becomes clear that girls are taking matters into their own hands to talk to designers into using them for their shows and are showing themselves into hair and makeup. You wonder if you should do the same. Your headache keeps you in your place.
1:05 PM: Producer walks through the ballroom yelling obscenities at the casting director. Fires her in front of everyone and tells her to get the fuck out. You start to question everything.
1:10 PM: Angry producer yells at everyone to sit down, instructs models in the hallway to stop harassing designers. We are told the designers will come to pick us at their convenience.
1:15 PM: We are directed to begin walking again. This time, two at at time while smirking designers stand at the end of the runway and grab you if you're interested. You make the long strut back to the beginning every time.
1:30 PM: You start to see a theme. The thinnest, most made up girls are being picked, while the few larger or shorter girls walk over and over and over again. Some girls are wearing minidresses with full faces of makeup on. Apparently this is successful. Smart. You wish you had known this was really just a second casting. You wonder why the designers weren't there on the day when you walked and were cast in the show.
1:45 PM: We are instructed to keep walking over and over again because new designers will be there to select models. You don't see anyone new at the end of the runway. You walk 6 times and then sit back down and continue waiting. You shake your head at the ridiculousness of this, feeling equal parts disgusted and wanting to leave.
1:50 PM: You go to talk to one designer who is a friend of a friend. She regretfully informs you that you are too large for her pieces. At least you have one answer.
2 PM: You ask a couple of the people who work there who the plus size designers are what to do if you haven't been cast. They tell you they're looking for an answer. At this point the majority of girls are in separate groups getting measured or sent to hair and makeup at this point. You're not exactly sure how or when this happened. About 15 girls remain with you, confused and without any information about when that's going to change. Most of you are around a size 12 or 16 years old and scared.
2:15 PM: One of the people that you asked for help comes back. She informs you that the one plus size designer is full. You wonder how and when this happened amongst the chaos. Wonder if you should've taken matters into your own hands instead of following instructions. The answer to that in this business usually seems to be a yes. Regret getting out of bed.
2:20 PM: Continue waiting. Casting director is nowhere to be found, models are still walking for a couple of different designers. You walk a few more times and sit back down.
2:30 PM: The same girls are continually not being picked. You decide you've invested enough time in humiliating yourself in public. Some of the girls are trying to force their way in with designers who don't want them. You decide walking for 20 seconds probably isn't worth all of this degradation. With relief, hunger, and an angry smirk you mentally tell this production company to go fuck themselves, and walk back down to the subway.
2:45 PM: At least an express train comes right away. It's the little things.