Model Closet No. 1


i am the walrus and i eat french fries.

The percentage of my life I have spent sitting in a closet surrounded by a herd of other half-naked models waiting for people to come in and weave our arms through narrow dress sleeves errs on the side of depressing. These are windowless, airless places covered in dust bunnies and lined with plastic binders. They range in size from the width of two rolling racks to, at the most, the equivalent of the his-and-her bathroom of a luxury hotel. These closets make even the most well-intentioned conversation tedious, every moment like the end of a bad relationship, where the minutia grates and digs. Often we talk about boys. Sometimes the news. Often, we talk about food. And as one might suspect, models talking about food can be obnoxious.

There are two types of models out there: the ones that eat and the ones that don’t. I know girls who consume butter by the spoonfuls and chow on pasta for dinner four nights a week. They are the genetically blessed freaks. The other girls fall into a gray area of mild to extreme struggle, where dieting and exercise are the keys to their being beautifully, if not forcefully, built.

In the closet today are two such examples. Mary is talking about steak and potatoes, about all the places she ate this weekend, about how hard it is for her to keep on weight. The dresses zip up easily on her, devoid of lump or struggle. Amy, the new girl, is young. She mentions how she puts weight on easily. You can see this concern in the extreme thinness of her torso, the bones of her arms. You can see it in the look on her face when she pulls a tiny dress over her hips.

It is this disparity that makes me cringe when the food conversation comes up. There is always a Have Butter girl and a Have Not Butter girl in the room, and the Have Not Butter girl lives in a more tortured, silent struggle. And it doesn’t matter which one you are; there’s always going to be a person standing at the closet door holding a sample-size dress and the expectation that you fit in it. What you have to do to get that zipper up is your prerogative.  —Jenny Bahn

photo by: Jenny Bahn

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