Model Citizen / by Jocelyn Harper

Golden Canvas shoot 2016, by Joanne Garcia

Golden Canvas shoot 2016, by Joanne Garcia

Modeling is a fun topic for me to write about. It just so happens I just had my first paid shoot for a clothing brand Golden Canvas, which opens up the gates for me to tell you about how I started modeling and the worst experience I ever had trying to model.

The desire to model started when I was living in West LA. It’s a pretty typical transformation to go from girl from the Inland Empire, a pizza & computer lover to West Los Angeles television assistant, exercise & smoothie junkie. My time behind the scenes on set had me craving to be in the spotlight. So I made a Model Mayhem.

I have always been thin, with a slightly athletic build. Never one to shop in the petite section, I never really thought actual modeling would be something I could pull off. I did a couple of fun trade for portfolio shoots with different photographers and had a great time. I loved seeing myself on camera with my makeup all done. It’s all fun and games until you can’t fit into the clothes provided at a shoot. One day on Model Mayhem, I received a legitimate high fashion shoot request. He asked my dress size, and sent me the details!

It was not going to be paid, but it was shooting downtown in the fashion district for a real jewelry and fashion line. They were going to do my hair and makeup. How exciting! I didn’t have a car at the time, so I hopped on the bus from West LA to DTLA with my different shoe options. First, we went to a downtown make up school where student artists proceeded to apply a mixture of gray and brown makeup to my face. Then, they doused my eyes in a sparkly black shadow, with a pale pink lip.

So edgy right?

I looked in the mirror and immediately was horrified. Are they serious? I told the guy coordinating the shoot that my face makeup needed to be darker. The problem was, they didn’t have makeup dark enough…not a single student in a makeup class had makeup that would work for me. So the student artist just kept blending the hot mess until it was time to go. I felt embarrassed walking out in the daylight, but I thought maybe the cloths and camera would make it look okay.

I was with another girl who had moved from Canada specifically to be a model. Her makeup was pretty tragic as well. We came into a very trendy building filled with little boutiques, and went to the second floor to a large room. There stood three very frail, silent people, one of whom was dressed in a slate gray tunic. I assumed he was the designer.

They appraised us we walked over, along with the project coordinator. There was a blonde woman in all black who said, “Wow that’s a lot of makeup.” The designer delicately plucked a couple of outfits for us to try on and sent us into a side room to change. The girl and I exchanged Instagram information in the dressing room and put on the clothes. The clothes immediately fell onto her body properly. For some reason the clothes were not pulling over my boobs. I looked at the tags and everything was a size 0. For being called boney and skinny my whole life, I have actually never ever been a size 0, 2 or barely a 4 for that matter. So there was no chance these clothes were going to fit right. The other girl was fully dressed and helped me struggle into the outfit for about 4 minutes.

*Knock knock* Are you two ready? The shirt looked like a piece a leather was being stretched over a car seat. It just wasn’t fitting. The skirt couldn’t be zipped. I looked like an entire ham was being stuffed into an ankle sock.

Sure, we are ready let the humiliation begin. When we walked out the designer’s eyes opened wide. Appalled to see his delicate and ridiculously tiny art being disgraced by this big girl (me, Jocelyn) he immediately snagged something “a bit roomier” and handed them to me, shooing me away. He quite liked the other girls outfit J and sent her back with another option.

Shoot from Model Mayhem Photographer, 2013

Shoot from Model Mayhem Photographer, 2013

In the back I told her, “I told the coordinator I was a size 4-6!” And she shrugged and said, “Well that one looks better.”

Was it better? Oh I wish! To this day I wish. But wishes don’t drop you 15 pounds in 30 seconds. The next outfit was a tank top and pants. My leg would not, could not enter into those tight ass pants. And I didn’t even squat back then. The tank top worked okay, so I just put on my own jeans and boldly came back out.

“Where are the pants?”
“Oh, they didn’t fit.”

Because they didn’t fit and I shouldn’t feel bad right because I told him my size before he hired me. Right?

NO. I felt like a week old banana. I felt like a dry piece of toast. All my least favorite things.

They gave me one more try. An all black tunic type of outfit. Both of these new items fit decently but, I definitely heard the designer’s assistant whisper something about how the clothes weren’t “hanging properly.” I got to try on my heels with this outfit, giving me hope that I would live to see a camera!

Then the menacing-blonde-jewelry-lady pulled me aside and with a sincerely petty smile told me, “I am so sorry. We just realized we only need one model for this shoot.”

I immediately looked at her and said, “You know, I told him my size before he asked me to come.” 
To which she replied, “I am sorry that is why I liked to do castings in person.”

I cannot remember how I responded. I was feeling pretty crappy. Pretty freakin’ crappy. And I had to take the bus home with this stupid makeup? I gathered my things, and the production coordinator profusely apologized, saying he would have me come for a different shoot one day. I went to the bathroom and began to wash my face. Then entered the other model and the blonde woman. She was taking off some of her makeup too. I said goodbye and headed for the bus stop.

The whole ride home I felt slighted. I felt wronged. And I felt fat! For literally the first time ever. So that made me feel like I would never model again. I got off of Model Mayhem for about a year, and then when I was out of Los Angeles, I wanted to capture my young days on camera. So I began reaching out to people for little shoots for fun, or for my website. Overall, that experience was just a small little slice of how cut throat the fashion industry really is, and I am A-Okay with out that. Do