How a Model Makes Plans (Fashionably Late)

And I am finally settled in, on a flight, on my way to Sacramento, California.

Why Sacramento?

I’m on my way to USA Nationals! The track & field outdoor championships, where the best of the best in the country will compete to make the World Championship team for London 2017!

Normally, I have a little bit more time to plan such a trip. I mean, I woke up at 2:45am, watched Nick Symmonds’ last vlog before nationals (2x Olympian, 6x USA Outdoor National Champion), lamented that I wasn’t going (I’ve never seen the man run his signature event, the 800m), made my parents breakfast for sehri (the food you eat before sunrise in Ramadan, setting your fast), checked Kayak on flight prices as I was frying up the French Toast, finished eating before 4am, and packed my bags to get on a train to the airport at 4:43am. Bought my flight online at 5am, got to the airport, and boarded by 7am.

Meanwhile, you might be wondering “Why the hell did this girl wait so long?!”

Because, my friends, I never know my schedule ahead of time. Modeling doesn’t give you a predictable 9-5. And I am not a very good 9-5 type of person. I’m unpredictable, I’m passionate, I’m spontaneous, I go with the flow, having a set schedule would be nice, but I am an artist and a nomad at heart – I almost double-majored in visual arts & pre-med when my first year art professor insisted to me that I do so. The only set time schedule that I loved dearly was knowing that every day for 4 years in high school and two years beyond that in college, at 3pm, I would be running. I had track or cross country practice at that time every day, and it was probably the most comforting knowledge at that time. And if you realized what my day was like yesterday, you’d understand why I bought a flight first thing this morning.

So today is Thursday. Monday all day I spent as a stand-in on an A-lister’s TV show. 12 hour day on set. By the time I got home I was exhausted, passed out, slept through sehri (FYI: I am not fasting this week), woke up, and got to work. (This past weekend we traveled up to Rhode Island for a runway show, that is a debacle that deserves its own blog/vlog). I have an hour commute into NYC, so Tuesday I purposely didn’t submit for work since I had projects I wanted to get done. And oh, on Thursday last week my parts agent (parts modeling is the division of modeling that involves my hands/legs/feet/parts) lets me know that I am on hold for a shoot in Atlanta. For today. So I have to worry about possibly flying out to Atlanta first thing today. Yes, the money is always amazing, and of course it’s worth it, but with that possibility I already resigned myself to missing Nick’s race in case I was confirmed for the booking. And of course, you don’t want to book work on Wednesday in case you book the hand modeling job on Thursday because lord knows how long you’re going to be on set and will it be possible to get a manicure done in time if you book the job? From experience I know that’s a risky maneuver. So I did not book any work on Wed either.

Meanwhile, I was working on a project all day Tuesday when the emails started to come in. You’re being considered for a role on a pilot, please memorize these lines & script. There’s a commercial & print job you need to attend this casting for. Be on the alert, sending you casting details for another client first thing in the morning look out for it. Can you make it to the TV studio at 3pm to record a segment for a show? All the way uptown, of course. And, I still don’t know if I’m confirmed to shoot hands in Atlanta yet.

Get to bed, wake up, start to wash and blow out my hair (and I have a LOT OF IT so it TAKES FOREVER). when I see a VIP email pop up. It turns out two of my agencies are sending me to the same casting. Now, this isn’t usually a problem if both agencies are non-exclusive (I have multiple agents for parts work) – I’ll just give it to the first agency that contacts me. Both agents are well aware of the situation, and it’s never an issue. It’s a problem if it involves my exclusive fashion agency and a non-exclusive talent agency.

Now, here’s where things get a little complicated, and where I had half a heart attack yesterday morning. You see, just like pro runners, models have contracts they sign and can be sued for if they break the contract (obviously, it’s binding and legal). There are a lot of similarities between being a professional runner and a model – but alas, another blog for the future.

I am a SAG union member, and since my fashion agency doesn’t get much union work, I am granted the leniency in my contract of having separate representation for anything relating to acting and union work. This isn’t quite normal or common, but I also have a mother agency (another agency that functions as my manager for representation around the world) and I am finally at the point in my work where I am blessed to work with agents that are nothing but good energy. They all matter, but it matters most to be completely at ease with my mother agent, since he’s the one that does anything and everything with my management and representation across the US.

Of course, first thing yesterday, my fashion agency gets a union casting that I’m already submitted for through the talent division of another agency. This then becomes a HUGE issue. Do I give my exclusive agency the right to a huge money booking? Or does my SAG-affiliated representation get it? My talent agent is literally screaming at me on the phone to “fix it” and I’m like, I never thought we’d have a conflict! I’ve always been honest with you! “I know you’re honest and tell us what’s going on right away, but this is not a fashion casting and you need to figure this out!” I freak out and call up my mother agent, since he knows all of my contracts. He advises me that it comes with the territory of having separate agency affiliations (think of it as being sponsored by multiple companies, like Kara Goucher with Oiselle and Skechers, both apparel companies and they worked out a deal) and since it IS a SAG casting that I could argue it should be under the jurisdiction of my talent agency. I’m just like “I can’t deal with this I have to learn my lines right now – then I have two other castings and of course my fitness agency just called me for an additional casting today that I have to make downtown!” My mother agent laughs and is like, girl you can do it all! You got this!

I’m not feeling like I got this, I’ll tell you that.

I run an email to my fashion agency, excusing it from them since it’s SAG. Tell the talent agency I’ll book through them. Run an email to the parts agent asking if we know whether or not I’m booked in Atlanta yet. Try to practice my lines as I do my hair. Run and pack running gear for the fitness casting that I got last minute. Grab my ipad with my portfolio and comp cards. Get to the train in time with sneakers on and heels in tow. Do my makeup on the train. Rush to the first audition and unlike the script said to could you not use an Indian accent? American is fine. Well, there goes exactly how I practiced it pretending to be the most beautiful woman in the world Aishwarya Rai (google – for real, STUNNING) and the character is portrayed completely differently, so who know how that went lol… Rush off to the next one, where I run into a bunch of fashion model friends at the same time and hey surprise! The client wants to see my hands and gosh darnit I am a professional hand model so let me tell you I am good at this! I haven’t seen these girls in ages (I am a homebody during the holy month of Ramadan) and oh my god ladies you look freaking fantastic and can we make plans to grab coffee sometime soon? One of the girls from my agency shyly stops me and asks if she and I could talk please, about the debacle of the fashion show we were confirmed for over the weekend. I said of course.

We stop off at a Starbucks (and let me tell you, I really don’t have time to spare, thinking I have the next casting AND a TV interview to give, both in opposite directions) but she looks so sad and I am far too kind and caring of a human being to have said “I don’t have the time”. Human interactions matter.

She starts by saying she doesn’t understand how we were confirmed for a show, when our bikini digitals and polaroids were sent to the designer, they knew what we looked like, and when we got there we were berated for being too short, too fat, our asses were too big, why did she have boobs, why were our legs so big and why didn’t the agency just send 5’11”+ size 0 girls… The designer is Parisian, Paris is known for having very traditional old school mentalities. Which is absolutely fine. That’s their choice. This entire industry is based on your physical. It has nothing to do with your education level, how kind you are, what your hobbies are, or who you are on the inside. I am called too fat, too short, too tall, too muscular, not big enough, Kardashian bum, why are your hips so wide, those calves of yours though, we can photoshop your arms smaller, etc on a regular basis, sometimes all on the same day. You want the honest truth? It sucks sometimes if you’re already having a difficulr day but it’s really just how the industry is. You choose to be here. And if you’re not able to handle it, you can choose to no longer be here. I don’t cry over it, I don’t take what someone else says about my physical being as an indication that I must change it. Why should I? All I need to be is the strongest, fittest, version of myself. I do not need to have curves since “men like women with a little meat on them”. Eff that noise. If you’re changing something about yourself for anyone other than yourself you’re doing it wrong. If you’re letting someone else’s words affect your own self-worth you’re doing it wrong. Knowing WHO you are is more important than any other person’s evaluation of your worth, especially based on the physicality. I know some conventionally gorgeous women who are mean, evil, and spiteful – they become ugly to me. I don’t care what you look like. I care about WHO YOU ARE. If you don’t like something about yourself, change it. But no one is allowed to tell you what you should and shouldn’t look like. (I go into more on how the industry is on this Mashable documentary during NY fashion week.)

Unless, of course, it’s your job to fit into clothing. And even then, there’s a healthy way to do it by eating right and commencing exercise. The majority of models in the industry start out because they are genetically smaller and the right sizes to book work. There’s a difference between being #skinnyfat & being #floofy. And at the end of the day, you’ve just got to be healthy.

For this particular client, my hips were too big. I was measured at a 34.5” hip. I measured at 35” a month ago and the agency said drop the inch. Shit happens, I haven’t been able to work out due to injury, my body goes back down within two weeks of training, and it shrinks to proper modeling shape when I’m in full mode training.

Now, *I* know this about myself. I couldn’t care less that they said what they did. Yes, to my face (in French, but you know what someone is saying). I am not fit. I am not in top shape to be working right now. I’m well aware. And if I was at the best shape I could be and they still said that, I’d shrug my shoulders and say oh well, there isn’t much more I can do other than something unhealthy. And I’m not about that. I’m proud to be here to take care of my body and be fit without drugs or disordered eating. That’s what I believe in and it will not change.

But this girl wasn’t at that point of self-realization. The words still stung. I told her that there are going to be clients that are going to be that way, and that we always have the choice of whether or not we want to work with them. If you know you’re healthy, and you’re fit, then who cares what they said – it’s what’s on the inside that counts. No one can take that away from you.

I gave her a hug, and we had to rush out, since I was going to be late to the next one. Change into running gear and do drills on camera for a new athleisure company. I barely made it in time, then get a text from the producer that the TV show is filming tomorrow. “Well, I might have to fly out to Atlanta to shoot tomorrow”… yes, it’s 3:30pm and I still don’t know if I’m going to Atlanta.

My new Victoria’s Secret sports bra and good hair day has me feeling CONFIDENT! and even though I’m completely out of race shape, my body isn’t all there for work purposes, I’m in a good mood. I catch the train back home hoping to go to prayers with my parents in the evening, and at about 5:30pm I find out I’m not going to Atlanta to shoot, I’ve been released.

All of a sudden, I get home, lay down for a nap at 7pm, solidly pass out dead to the world, and wake up at 2:45am, lamenting that I’m going to miss Nick’s last professional 800m race.

When it rains, it pours. #ModelLife

 

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ayshamirza

Aysha is a sometimes writer, full-time cheerleader for #TrackNation who has an affinity for modeling on high-fashion runways in Vogue and formerly coached Olympian Kara Goucher on the art of the selfie in her spare time. Her educational background involves a serious love of science and medicine, with a dual-degree in Cell Biology & Neuroscience/Psychology, and accompanying research in Stem Cell Biology. Founder of #MuslimModelsMatter, #StrongInMyMakeup & an advocate for #RunnersAgainstCheating, Aysha believes that #StrongLooksDifferentOnEveryone & won't hesitate to remind others of this truth. She is based in NJ/NYC and currently coached by Rob DeCarlo. Her most epic run was her first marathon, NYC 2013. But her heart is rooted in racing 5ks, cross country and as a miler on the track, where she happily earned 2 NCCWMA silver medals representing the United States in the 1500m & 800m August of 2017. Current dreams include racing at the Olympic Trials exhibitions one day. Oh, and a BQ/Boston Marathon when she backs off the return to speed. You can tweet her some love and contact her with @ModelAyshaMirza.

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