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Nothing Personal (just your earlobes)

Zuzu Tadeushuk

When newer models ask me for advice about modeling (not that I’m an expert by any means, but occasionally it happens), I always tell them it’s imperative to learn not to take personally the losses and gains of jobs, especially in runway. The competition for work is great (there are so many stunning girls out there), the frustrations frequent, and the only way to avoid chronic devastation is to detach yourself emotionally from the “confirmations” and “releases” of bookings: in reality neither have anything to do with you, but rather with your height, your hair color, the relationship (or shall I say rivalry) between two casting directors who won't both hire the same girl, or even the shape of your earlobes (as in the case of a Vogue jewelry shoot I was considered for a few months ago)! To be disappointed over these arbitrary circumstances would be foolish— and useless. 

Then this week my doctrine was put to the test. This week was New York Fashion Week, and my ruminations— maybe premonitions?—of the previous journal entry proved eerily close to the reality that has come to pass. Somehow— from a combination of scheduling conflicts that tied my hands, a trending hunger for catwalk populations of edgy, unexpected faces that I can’t satisfy, and an industry-wide disinterest in models who aren't seasoned enough to be someone yet no longer new enough to be no one,— from such an agglomeration of circumstances, and probably others I’m not aware of, I struggled to book shows this season. Walking for only three brands (three wonderful brands, to be sure, but three nonetheless), I received an unprecedented opportunity to try my detachment theory. And I found it tricky— like many things, easier said than done. It’s hard to dismiss something as being “not about you” when getting booked for or dropped from a runway show seems so directly about… you. The earlobes, though; the rivalries and heights and hair colors, must all be remembered at these moments. You’ve really worked yourself up over nothing: this modeling job, you remind yourself, is just that: a job, holding no more significance than any other service we perform to pay the bills. Stripped of the thrilling idea of glamor and prestige, it no longer warrants any special emotional attachment. After all, it’s not glamor and prestige that matter— those come arbitrarily to those of good earlobes and certain hair colors. At the end of the day only diligence and perseverance are meaningful. 

After thus praising perseverance, I will now seem riotously hypocritical when I tell you that in light of my meager New York fashion week I have decided not to continue on to Milan. Phony two-faced shrew, am I right? But let me explain. I believe there’s a certain time and place for perseverance, and a certain time and place for prudence, too. Spending my money and energy abroad in the pursuit of a show season that has given generous indication of not wanting me to pursue it would be sheer foolhardiness, and so I have strategically resolved to stay home. (Well, not exactly home… I have a job scheduled next week on the other side of country, but any place in this hemisphere is close enough to home for me)! 

After contemplating this all for the past few days I have come to view it in a contented light, if not altogether a celebratory one: it takes reality-checks like these to keep us grounded in so potentially heady an industry. It takes my career to falter to remind me of all the myriad pursuits that interest me outside of my job— and of the importance of maintaining these pursuits through smooth sailing and rough alike. The great seas of fashion may be expansive, but they do have shores, and distant ends that wash against other untold lands. Now my own advice of not taking things personally has been put to the test and proven effective, though challenging, and I can continue to dispense it when asked without any doubt of its validity. Other counsel I can offer? Well, ice-cream flavor pairings is an issue I’m quite well-versed in… (hint: pistachio and bubblegum goeth not well together). But that’s a blog post for another time…

In doing some "fact-checking" for this piece I discovered that most of Europe is actually in the Eastern Hemisphere, which was a convenient but unexpected fact.