The girl standing in front of me pulls the word “long” from her mouth like warm, rubbery taffy. She holds my arm away from my body after assessing the obvious: I’m 5’11, with the wingspan of a basketball player and the torso of centaur. Long doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The jacket they’ve put me in is a tidy size two, proportionally fitted for someone a good six inches shorter than myself, with narrow shoulders and a nipped waist. The sleeves crawl up my wrists, far away from my massive hands. The bottom sneaks towards my bellybutton. “Fat guy in a little coat” plays in my head.
“Yeah,” I laugh, “I’m pretty long.”
They’re looking for a genetic freak, someone who has kept the frame of a 12-year-old yet has grown to the height of Giselle Bundchen. Which is fine, if it weren’t for the fact they’re expecting me to be that person.
Fit modeling, where designers use your exact measurements to make their clothes, is a funny business. You have to be perfect in a generic, everyman way. Your shape is neither too round, nor too narrow. You’ve got to have the right thighs, the right hips. They take your measurements and assess your value as a mannequin and, if you’re lucky, you can make a lot of money.
Today, I’m not so lucky. Having recently changed their sample size from a four to a two, they’re eager to find their model messiah. But my ass is too small for the pants. My torso is too long for the bomber jackets. My broad shoulders pull at the caps of shirts. For two hours I am surrounded by a semi-circle of disappointed, lightly frustrated faces. The air of bizarrely crushed hopes floats through the room.
When we finish the fitting, I know I won’t be coming back, which is perfectly fine with imperfect me.–Jenny Bahn