How did I end up here?

Some kids dream about their professions from when they’re really young. But in all honesty, I didn’t grow up wanting to be a model.

I went through many phases like most 049young teens did, changing their minds on what they wanted to be when they grew up.

From dreaming about being a marine biologist when I was about ten because I love the ocean, to wanting to be a presenter, a singer, and even ‘hosting’ my own radio show with my old cassette player- I have wanted to do it all.

I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have dreamt that I’d currently be in the position I’m in now.

As a girl, I went to a private school in Melbourne’s inner east. I never had what all the other girls had.

It’s natural to want what you don’t have, and when at the time it was the difference between being in a friendship group that meant I was more accepted than the one I was in at the time, I essentially tried everything I could.

Let it be known, however, that girls can be really mean. Unfortunately, so can women.

I wanted pretty much everything I couldn’t have, and at the time, I thought that maybe if I became a model I’d have the trendy clothes, I’d be the popular one, and my life would be way cooler.

I was never the ’skinny’ one either. I remember developing quite a lot earlier than my peers, and very soon I was a 15-year-old girl, with E cup boobs and the hips to match.

I can’t remember the exact moment I thought ‘maybe I’ll be a model’. I don’t actually think there was that lightbulb moment to be fair. I just remember my first modelling experience in Year 11.

Processed with VSCO with 5 presetIt was the second cycle of Australia’s Next Top Model, and after rejecting my natural body type and presenting myself as a size 6-8, 178cm tall teen, I thought I’d try my luck. I know it was the allure of a glamorous lifestyle that lit my fire.

At this stage of my life, I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was an unhealthy size 6-8, my boobs were gone, my bones were protruding, and even though I thought this was what I wanted, it still wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t happy.

Lucky/Unlucky for me (like a choose your story Goosebumps book) I was scouted while waiting in the line for ANTM. On meeting with the agencies I was asked to lose another two dress sizes to be put on their books.. ‘Darling, we think you’d be phenomenal internationally,’ I remember the older white haired woman telling me from the other side of a luxurious desk.

This was where my mother stepped in. She said no.

I hated her at the time. But in hindsight she saved me. I had such an unhealthy relationship with my body, and with food. From counting calories to bingeing and purging; at my lowest I weighed 57kgs, and I thought I still needed to lose more.

There’s a reason that today, you won’t find scales in my house.

Obviously, as a young teen does, I hated her at the time, and I kind of gave up on entering the industry for a while, because I thought you could only be a model if you were skinny.

I first sent off photos to my agency after several years of coming to terms with my natural body shape, I’m now a 14-16.

It wasn’t easy. I tried for a few more years to fight my natural size, to try and conform to the standard of beauty that had been set for women for decades. There are days still today I have to remind myself of this, and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

70% of adolescent girls have body dissatisfaction. That’s 70% too many! If I can inspire one young girl or woman to love her body, I’m already winning!

It’s been a whirlwind since signing with my agency, and truthfully it hasn’t all been as glamorous as my Instagram makes it out to be. It’s been hard, but so freaking rewarding. I’ve achieved things that I never thought a woman like me, at my size (and colour), would ever achieve, and I’m so proud.

I was reminded again of why I’m in the industry the other day on set, when we broke for lunch and two 16-year-old girls picked over, and joked about their tiny ‘model sized’ servings of lunch, then taking turns visiting the bathroom after, checking their eye makeup in the mirror on the way out.

Processed with VSCO with 5 presetSo many of my followers have emailed me asking how I got into modelling, or for advice on becoming a model, so this is why I’ve just bared my soul a little bit, as well as shared my journey (it’s also not as easy as you think to talk about).

Here’s a little bit of advice/wizdom.

Not everyone makes money from it. If you’re getting paid, you’re already successful.

Sometimes it’s really hard. And I’m talking mentally and physically. There are whole weeks I don’t work, and then some weeks I do every day. It’s talking down that negative voice on a two-week break from work and telling yourself ‘you got this’ and ‘you’re still killing it’.

You may just not have what it takes. And it’s not you. It’s the industry/brand. Maybe you’ve been knocked back by the industry, but don’t give up on it if you really want it. You could be a blogger, an Instagrammer, etc. There’s so much opportunity for you to do you in this industry.

If you really want something enough, you’ll have to make sacrifices, but you’ve got to follow your heart. I moved interstate literally on an adrenaline rush gut feeling that it was the right thing to do. I’ve barely had enough money at times to make rent. I’ve had days where I’ve questioned my choice to move and thought about throwing in the towel completely. But then I see the positive reaction I have on other females, be they family or friends, or simply complete strangers in countries on the other side of the world; I then remember my goal, and what I set out to achieve, and I’m right again.

My mantra is dream, believe, achieve. You’ve got to believe in yourself to achieve anything ❤️

7 thoughts on “How did I end up here?

  1. Well done Jennifer. You have always been a winner, an intelligent beautiful girl inside and out and one who could be successful in any direction you choose. I was rooting for you for Xfactor because you can sing too! I am glad you are happy and greatly admire your work in being a wonderful role model for young women. X Claire Berger

  2. Jennifer, what a moving and humane article. You have bared your soul to us and shown a flipside of the industry that seems to be so brutal and selective. A bit like the “B” side of one of your old cassettes. The “A” side was full of bubbles, smiles and good times and the “B” side wasn’t ever played because it didn’t fit the mold. Congratulations on penning a revealing, compassionate and gutsy article. You must have a supportive family, and that private school education did not get wasted. Well Done

  3. Thank you for telling your story. It’s come at just the right time for me. I’ve recently been signed with a top agency in NZ as a plus size model and I’m overjoyed. I have no idea what to expect next…what’s the best way to prepare myself for my first ‘real’ job ?

    1. Oh amazing! Firstly, congratulations! Being signed is such an incredible feat. I think there’s no real way to prepare, I think you’ll be overwhelmed, but you’ll learn so much. I’m constantly learning and evolving each job I do. I guess the one tip I can give you is to not compare yourself to other models; they’ve been doing it a lot longer than you have. But the most important thing is remembering YOU were booked on the job, and you’re supposed to be there just as much as them! ❤ Best of luck xx

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