Don’t. Ever. Quit.

Modeling started as a dream when I was 8, but that doesn’t mean that this road was easy. As an 8 year old, you believe in yourself and are unaware of society’s beauty requirements. You believe that famous people come by money easily. You believe that everyone around you will help you make your dream come true. You can dream so, so big and do not realize what it will take, what it will cost you to get even part of those dreams to come true.

What I have been through has shaped me, molded me, strengthened me, and has made me into the person I am right at this very moment. By the way that I dress, you might not believe that I have come a long way from being the weird, nerdy, goth girl with frizzy hair and braces — yes, the kind that sat in the back or the classroom and prayed that nobody would talk to her, because it seemed every time I spoke it was fuel to their fire. You might not hear it in my laugh that I have faced a lot of adversity and harsh criticisms from others, including an ex husband who constantly tried to remind me that I was not skinny enough, my ears were too big, and that I needed to get this idea out of my head. And, you might not be able to tell from the way I smile that going down this road has truly opened my eyes to the depths of  human cruelty, because even people you trust can break your heart.

Many people out there would love to see you fail, so they fill your head with doubts. “What are you thinking? … You’ll never get there. … Find something else to do because you’ll never be a model.”

Even more love to laugh at your expense. “I told you, you couldn’t do it! … Why did you do that? Now everyone knows you’re a fool! … You’re so stupid! … I cannot believe you think you can do this!”

Some people may even participate in the destruction of what you worked so hard for. “I heard that she was really a b*tch, she doesn’t deserve this opportunity. … Let’s tell everyone she’s this, that, or the other, and then nobody will want to work with her! … She thinks she’s just so amazing, well, it’s about time someone brought her down.”

I have definitely heard and experienced my fair share of childhood and even adulthood bullies, back-stabbers, and flat-out liars try to dictate how they think my life should go. And, it never once was easy to admit that this person was not good to be around, that this person was not who I thought they were. I trusted them, befriended them, loved them, so there is no way that someone I cared for could be so cruel. It can be especially difficult for anyone who is like me: overly trusting, kind to a fault, loyal to her loved ones, and determined to finish what was started. You commit so fully to your dreams, and you believe everyone around you is as positive and heartfelt in their endeavors as you are. But, the reality of how some people can treat you, even use you, can leave you feeling quite hopeless.

But, when you commit to your dream, and you are determined to see it come true, you have to make the choice to stick by it — no matter what. So what if everyone around me is telling me I can’t do something? I see thousands of people in magazines, online catalogs, commercials who’ve done it — why not me?

When I found my love for pinup modeling almost ten years ago, I received instant bashing. I was too skinny, not curvy, no tattoos, no piercings, too flat — I was not good enough. I stuck with it anyway despite the rejection, despite all the echoes of my past commenting and flooding my head, despite all the fear in me telling me to “just quit.” Honestly, to this day there is still a struggle, both internally with all my insecurities, and externally from “the scene,” but I love what I love, and I’m true to myself in my endeavors.

No matter what has happened to me along the way, no matter the severity of cruel words, and no matter how many people out there tried to dash my dreams, I have never allowed anyone to take away what makes me happy. For me, being in front of the camera is where I feel the most….free. I have had opportunities to travel the world to model and fly in amazing aircraft and pose with classic cars, to be in magazines, catalogs and commercials, to be in pageants and meet some truly inspiring people along the way — and there is not one person on this earth capable of erasing those moments.

Life is too short to not enjoy what makes you happy, to not chase those dreams and dare to do something great. That’s what you need to remember when the naysayers are getting you down, when people are trying to tear you apart, when others cannot stand to see you so happy – you remember why you started this in the first place. Remember what inspired you, how you felt while you were creating this magic, and the excitement and freedom you feel in doing what you love. That is what truly matters: you and your feelings.

Don’t let the opinions of others make you and your efforts feel insignificant. Everyone has an opinion, but that does not mean that just because they are your best friend, or because they own an agency, or because they put a ring on your finger that their opinion is any more valid than yours. There will be struggle no matter what you do in life, but don’t ever quit on your dreams.

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