Surviving Catwalk Modeling

  I used to be runway model. I was discovered when I was 15. During the Fall and Spring collections I was on the show circuit: Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Paris, Rome, New York. One fashion week in each place.

It was insane. Before the season started we ran around to auditions. They weighed (up to 50 kgs) and measured us (up to 34-25-34) and if we passed, had the ‘look’ they wanted and modeled well, they’d book us.

It was very competitive. If a girl could try to trip another girl or make her look bad in some way, she would do it. Lucky for me, I didn’t get this treatment. I had no competition. I was one of the exotics. 

Arriving in a city, we had to go around to each designer we were showing  for fittings  and outfit selections. On show day, we had to be at the hall at 7am for makeup and hair call. After that were was a rehearsal , then lunch break (what a joke. None of us ever ate) followed by 3 shows with an hour in between each show.

After shows, we went out to clubs and parties with the big clients, the buyers, various celebrities. We always got all-access backstage passes to concerts, free entrance to clubs, free designer clothes to wear (we were their walking advertisements) And free drugs and alcohol.

There was always champagne backstage. I would try to stick to sips of bottled water or iced coffee until just before the last show of the day. It was crazy backstage when the show started. Models were running around only in underpants or stockings . Each model stood by her rack of outfits and we had dressers to help us on and off with our changes. Makeup and hair people were touching us up before we swished out onto the catwalk. We looked so cool. You’d never know the bedlam that was going on backstage.

It may look easy but it’s very demanding work. The long hours, the physical exertion, the dieting. On top of that, I didn’t sleep well but sleeping meds never worked for me . I could only sleep for 3 hours. By the second show, I’d be light-headed.

The staff seemed to have an endless supply of coke and uppers so when they saw me get spaced out, they would give me something, washed down with champagne. Everybody did that. It sometimes made me very edgy and quick-tempered. But the staff always soothed and babied us. I think we were all like skittish race horses.

By the end of the day, we would still be flying on drugs and a performance high, so we all went out on the town. It was kind of required, really . We were expected to make at least one stop to a club or party before going back to the hotel. That's when I really started drinking. (I love TNT: tequila and tonic)

I usually had just one day off after 5 show days straight. Then we would fly on to the next city to do their fashion week. During a season, I would do 4 or 5 different designers in a fashion week of each city. It was a very fast life. I’m retired now. 


My liver couldn’t take it.


[Thanks to friend X for editing this]

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4 Responses Mar 10, 2009

The hunt is on!!!!!...DD

"My first book was released in October 2008. It will be translated to English later this year. I'm working on my second one in English."<br />
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I will wait in line or order early if I may. Please let me know the title of your books. I do like the perfect pitch of your words. Ever word whispers “true”…DD

The first thing I learn is that your story could be told by some one in New York, Rome or Paris. <br />
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Life in modern China is not so different then the west. <br />
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I want you to know that I do like the way you present your self in your Avatar picture. However at age 65 and happily married, your beauty does not mean so much to me as it may to other men. Lol. I am very impressed by your intelligence. I have read many posts and yours is very sophisticated. I feel that I can enjoy learning a lot from you<br />
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I hope you have earned enough to retire and or use your contacts to find a career that that you enjoy...DD

I had a brief relationship with a fashion model called Melanie. She worked out of NYC but came from Vancouver. When I met her in an hotel in NYC she was nearing the end of her career, was worn out ( she was 26) and wanted to become and environmental campaigner. i would never have got a look in as her world was as u described and at 5' 11" she was an inch taller than me in her bare feet. But she was jaded, I have an Irish accent and studied ecology a lock of years back. It was a conflict for me because I knew she was too beautiful for me but for a while I struck a chord with her.