Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Who Are We?

I just got back from my gig in NYC. It was for a modeling and acting convention that is held in NYC and Los Angeles yearly. I did makeup and wardrobe styling for one of the modeling agencies that participated.

There were thousands of teens with dreams of fame and fortune. Some of the parents were more driven about it all than the kids. A few kids, as happens every year, will be picked up by major modeling and acting agents. They are the faces that will be on the magazine covers and movie screens in the next few years.

Every year the local agency I go with has several girls and guys who snatch a lot of the agency spots. One boy in particular garnered so much attention that his local agent was bombarded most of the night with calls from New York City modeling agents requesting they get first shot at signing the 16 year old.

I'll admit, he's incredibly beautiful with his chiseled jaw line, his black, waist length hair and perfect smile. One agent wasn't sure if he was a girl or a boy he's so gorgeous!

But just as he was this year's hit at the convention, thousands of kids will go home with nothing to show for their efforts. And all of the money and hopes their parents placed on them. The convention is not a cheap endeavor. It's not a scam by any means. Every year a few golden teens become the next Halle Berry or Elisha Wood (both discovered at modeling/talent conventions).

But for those who didn't garner the attention for whatever reasons, it's a painful ride back home.

To guarantee a coveted spot with a top agent, the girls I work with start preparing a full year in advance. Teachers are brought on board to transform them from Central PA high schoolers to model material. Everything from eating habits to understanding current clothing trends is taught. I come in for the makeup and wardrobe tutoring.

By the time they get to the convention, they really are prepared despite how nervous many of them are.

Several of the girls I worked with this year obsessed constantly over everything from the cut of their jeans (Do you think the skinny jeans make me look hip heavy???) to their natural genes (Should I straighten my hair and lighten it so the agents will notice me more?).

For some reason, hair was a big ordeal this year. The hair stylist was a friend of mine. She's amazing at what she does. But repeatedly I heard one young woman stressing out my friend about the styles chosen for her.

As much as the young woman was annoying, I couldn't help but think about how hair plays such an important role in our society. It's part of the bigger issues about image and how we're perceived based on something as fleeting as our looks.

To switch gears here for a moment, I'd like to relate a few stories.

A male friend who is part Native American (the other part is German)has the most beautiful hair I've ever seen on a male. Thick, wavy curls that grow down his back and drive the girls crazy. But he had to cut it down to a conservative style a few years ago. The reason? Clients wouldn't hire him for his photography services because he looked too "ethnic".

I can't tell you how much that pissed me off.

An African-American media personality told me not long ago that she was forced to straighten her hair for her job. She would not be considered for an on-camera role if she didn't take out her natural curl. Grrrrrr.

When are we going to stop this craziness?

No wonder that 18 year old was driving my friend crazy about her hair styles. We're conditioned to think we have to be or look a particular way (dare I say a homogenized way) in order to be rewarded in our society.

I'm not sure if that girl got any agent call backs. I left the convention early to have some down time in the city with friends. But the entire ordeal left a weird taste in my mouth.

I wish we could finally realize that physical beauty isn't a particular hair color, eye shape or body shape, even.

Okay. I'm done. Just needed to get that off my chest. Enjoy the India Arie video. She's so right on.