I am too fat.
I am too big.
I am too manly.
These are the things I have been told over the past few weeks.
I am 6'2, 140lbs, have size 10 feet, and armpit hair.
I am not a PERFECT REPRESENTATION OF WOMAN.
Therefore I am not a woman.
Or woman enough.
...in the fashion world.
Over the past two weeks, my life has been curled into witnessing a massively powerful storm of love, hatred, alcohol, drugs, sex, parties, greed, identity, and trickery. It has been SO overwhelming I actually ceased writing this blog in order to process everything.
So let's return to where we left off.
1 week ago....
My agency sent me to a femme wear designer, the audition required tight black clothing and heels at least 6" in height. I'd only been practicing in 3" heels because who the HELL is seeking to cast a 6'8 woman? This isn't a basketball game!
I purchased heels at a place in which I was fully expecting to return after the interview. Out into the pigeon free streets of NYC, through Times Square, past the video billboards of women walking their bronzed long legs in tightly rippling strides on looped feeds that were plastered to various high end clothing conglomerate stores.
Into a building whose door was bullet proof but whose elevator had two of the buttons taped in place. The front desk man was lamenting about the loss of his favorite UPS delivery person over the fact that the building had switched to Fedex deliveries. He was very upset.
The whole place was very upset.
The designer sat in a small studio room playing light club music on an old boombox by the door...as if at anytime the RIGHT person might just WALK in and say "awwwwww yeah turn this up let's partaaaaay!" And transform the room into something more exciting.
The garments were actually impressively crafted. Most were black with fancy studdings and faux jewels embroidered into various pieces. There were shirts, pants, coats, and surprisingly no dresses.
The designer looked confused for moment as I entered in my collegboy styled jacket, but then waved me to a seat upon introduction. I shifted around awkwardly on the slippery fake velvet couch.
"Take this one and this one. Try them on for me please." The designer takes a shirt and miniskirt and hands them to the girl. She smiles briefly and strips to her bare essentials, handing him the previous outfit.
As he turns around to hang the clothing up, I see her face flash with minute panic. She's just realized that the miniskirt is very very VERY tiny. She blushes because there is no private space to change, so this process for her is public... It was only myself and the designer, but still... Public.
First she slips on the shirt, which hangs flowingly like something upon an apparition. Then she steps into the miniskirt and begins to pull it up. It can barely get past her thighs. Her brow furrows, and the designer turns around and watches her, smiling slightly. He doesn't offer a different article to try on.
She doesn't ask for one.
This is the silent pact of "Make it work" that the fashion world has. As in... Even if it hurts, wear it. You want the prestige right? Then just deal with it. Stuff your feet in those shoes, stop eating, hold in your stomache, choke yourself etc. If a model can't MAKE IT WORK then they don't belong in that garment.
The girl squeezes her butt tightly like a bad exercise commercial and rubs her legs together, wiggling and squirming, inching the skirt higher and higher. It gets to her waist, the zipper has scraped her hip so tightly that it's slightly prickling tiny drops of floorburnesque blood. She twists the skirt back and forth, scraping even more, and biting her lip... It makes it over the region and FINALLY the skirt zipper settles at her belly. The designer walks up, turns her around and proceeds to attempt to zip it. It's too tight on the first round. He asks her to suck in... And she does so. A deep deep sharp inhalation that matched the sound of the zipper clasping the skirt closed.
He asks her to turn around. Her face is barely moving. She's trying not to breath. She teeters on her heels, he asks her to walk and she does so mechanically. Her eyes barely blinking. Upon her return, he nods and smiles.
"Great! You definitely fit this one well."
Photos are taken, her face is red and flushed, her eyes flickering slightly. Then just like that it's over.
The miniskirt comes off. She exhales and inhales as if she's having contractions.... Through the lips. Attempting to be subtle. A skid mark scratch goes from her thigh to her belly button.
And she's off.
Suddenly it's my turn.
The designer says he likes my look, and toes lightly towards asking if I'm biologically a woman. When I say I am he says "of courrrrrse you are! Of course. Of couuuuuurse."
Then he gives me a pair of pants and a shirt to try.
The pants are size 2.
I KNOW they aren't gonna fit. And part of me wants to cry, because I know I won't fit ANY of these items. I know he knows I won't either. He's just being polite. And IM EXPECTED to make it work. It's a test. If I can make it into these little leg huggers then I can have a shot at being in this show.
"I think these might be a bit small."
"That's your problem honey. Either it works or it doesn't. I'm looking for confidence and beauty here."
But, I can't event get my foot though the thigh section. Seriously, my FOOT is too FAT for the thigh section of these pants.
I take a breath... I decide.... I'm gonna do this. I'm going to MAKE IT WORK. And we will see WHO feels awkward after THIS.
So I sit on the floor and inch by inch force my feet to the ends of the legs. Then I proceed to pull them up but they only go to my knees. It looks like I've just come off the toilet.
I pull the shirt over my head and my breasts don't allow the buttons to close. They bust though the neck like a bad joke. Vavavoommmm
I turn around and say "want to see my walk now?"
He shakes his head at me, but I walk for him anyways wobbling forward on stillettos in designer pants that suction around my ankles and a shirt that pretty much looks like the Looney Tunes graphic where Porky the Pig pops out saying That's All Folks! (Except porky is my tits.)
He asks me to try another item. It's a mini skirt. And boy was it MINI. He also gives me the flowy shirt.
The shirt fits, but now my shoulders are too broad. I can't move my danged arms anywhere without hearing a micro tear. I tried to put the miniskirt on, but it won't pull up past my knees. I try wiggling, but it's just not going to happen.
"You are too big for a woman." He says.
I look up at him.
"What's the average size for one?" I ask as I continue to wiggle.
"0-4 maximum. That's it."
"Thats the average size for a model you mean?"
"Yes models size 0-4... And women in general who are healthy are average that size. You are just.... Big. Really big. You might be better with a menswear designer..."
A model suddenly pipes up in the corner, she entered sneaking as I'm making a fool of myself in this getup. "Yeah, I think you would be much better a boy. Definitely a boy model."
"When I model menswear, I model it as a woman." I say.
She tilts her long silky dark hair. "Who looks like a boy right?"
"What makes me look like a boy?" I ask, I've given up on the miniskirt. And now feel emblazoned to make a point on how being female isn't all about how closely your life reflects that of a sorority cheerleader from a bad college flick.
The designer interrupts "Well, you just have a strong jawline, and your style... Features. You're just... If one of my clients saw you... They would say you were a boy. Or a drag- um... I mean, you are big. Big big big girl. Too big for girl stuff."
The model nods, "I totally thought you were a boy when I first saw you! I don't mean to offend you, you are very beautiful too! BUT, you'll find that the women market here is a certain size and look. I'm sure you will get SOME female work, and I think what you are doing is soooo..... Cool. Unique. I'm just saying you should like just stick to menswear."
The designer takes my garments. I grab my stuff . Shake his hand firmly and leave.
"I'll call you, don't worry!" He says as I leave.
I go down the elevator and stare at the duct taped buttons. I rap my forehead against the metal panels.
Why can't I just look like me and that be considered a woman?
Why am I considered too big?
I'm very skinny for my height....right?
The image of that girl hurting herself to fit a size she wasn't depressed me.
I desperately need work. Money. A roof over my head. Every day to be here has been a gamble thus far in all of these departments... Because none of them are stable.
I know that if I can't MAKE IT WORK there is a higher chance that this adventure will be very short and end very sorely. If I can't conform... I can't get stable gigs.
But how can someone CONFORM their physical body? Is that even possible?
Wait it is.
Lipo, breast reduction, starvation, drugs, tanning beds, makeup...
I went into the Planet Fitness changing room, and took off my clothing to shower. I found myself staring at reflection like a totally obsessed creeper. I've been working out every day to trim down, eating a modified diet, and putting different skin care products on that I've never needed before. It's been a totally committed bland life of get up, have a glass of water, workout, have a cup of food, go to castings, workout, have a cup of food, do bodycare, go to bed. That's it.
No socializing, exploring, touristing.
I've gone from a size 8 to a size 6 in two weeks.
I thought, as I was running on the treadmill, about this for hours.
I pushed myself harder, faster, processing my current situation.
I'd like to say that I came up with an empowering realization right away, but I could not. I found myself sitting in my own head, a fog of insecurity, self questioning, What Am I Doing Out Here.
It's not that I felt that I wasn't a beautiful woman or powerful AS a woman. I love who I am.
It was more that I felt that perhaps putting everything on the line to be here in NYC was a mistake. Perhaps there wasn't a market for me beyond the cliche gimmicks of genderbending. Or even, perhaps so much aspiration had been found in this industry that I feared failure would result in a mental shutdown.
I am human.
It wasn't until the next three days that things changed. Massively.