There’s a line of models standing along the wall near the windows, ranging ever so slightly within a spectrum that one would define as being “beautiful.” I take my coat off, release my neck from the choke-hold of a scarf, run my fingers through my hair. I tug at my winter boots and replace them with a pair of expensive Balenciaga heels, making sure to roll the bottoms of my jeans so that my ankles look attractive. Every little thing matters. Except me, really. Except what I really am.
A foreign woman calls my name and I walk with her to stand in front of a row of people sitting at long tables, the kind normally used during birthday parties or weddings. Instead, theirs are covered with comp cards and sheets of paper, the remnants of three hours of model-rejection.
“I’m Jean Michelle,” says the photographer, and then she points to little index cards taped to the edges of the aforementioned tables. Fun! Confident! Quirky! Happy! I strike 34 poses one learns during ten years of catalogue work. Try to be creative, but be mindful of the clothes. Look like a person, but don’t be you.
“Okay, thank you,” Jean Michelle squeaks. The clients aren’t looking at me, only staring down at other comp cards or answering emails on their iPhones. They don’t ask me to try on the clothes hanging on a rolling rack behind them, which means I’m not in the running to book the job. A girl slides into my place just as I walk off the white cove of the studio. Replaced, just like that.
I leave, listening to the sound of a popping flash and Jean Michelle coaxing moves out of yet another girl.