How is Simone a model? She’s not even that pretty.
You’re right – I’m not. Let me tell you exactly why.
Here are all my insecurities, many of which I’m sure you’ve already noted and stated to your friend as the reason for “she’s not even that pretty, like…”
So here you go (skip past the bullet points if you don’t want a detailed list of all my physical insecurities):
- I’m 1.79m or 5 feet 10.5 inches tall which, as many have vocalised since I hit this height in high school, is too tall ‘for a woman’. Gigantic, enormous, huge, amazonian, to list a few of the common adjectives used. I wish I had the guts to wear heels more as they make everything look classier and leaner, but I’m insecure about my height most of the time.
- I don’t weigh 120 pounds – apparently a measure for women’s weight (on paper in a lot of Hollywood casting calls, in fact) but at my height, not even healthily attainable.
- I have eczema on my upper arms and have had red bumps on them since earliest childhood, like mini chicken pox.
- I have stretch marks that look like long white scars along my entire inner and outer thighs, all across my lower back, even smaller ones on my calves and breasts. My skin is scarred and far from perfect.
- I have cellulite on my hips and thighs – by age 50, I will for sure be like an old Italian nonna at the beaches of Sicily (if the beach part’s included, that’s fine though :))
- I don’t fit the ideal of any ethnicity, at least not according to what Hollywood (and in LA, my raison d’être, wants. I could never get cast for an Asian role in a commercial, because in the industry, the idea of an Asian is a girl with milky white skin, silky black hair, a boyish frame not an inch above 5’8, tops (all of which is decidedly not me).
- Yet my more “Latina” touches are not Latina enough because my eyes are slanted, my cheekbones high, my boobs and butt not big enough, so I can’t book those roles either.
- My eyes are brown, which I actually don’t mind, but society, ex-boyfriends and casting directors have all told me they pale (ironically) in comparison to blue or green eyes. Funnily enough, I personally find myself most attracted to brown eyes in other people.
- I have curvy hips and thighs, which I have grown to love. But in many situations, I still feel offended when people call me “thick” because to me, it connotes fat. And on a half Asian girl, we all know what that means…
- Severely hyper-extended knees from the same activity, making my legs look like hula hoop halves.
- My hair is poofy and wavy, I used to straighten it every single morning in high school.
- My cheeks look like a hamster’s, I’ve been called a chipmunk or, lovingly by my best friend, bugs (as in, bunny).
- When I gain weight, it goes all over, but especially to that awkward brastrap area making wearing tank tops look like someone squeezed the Michelin man into a Victorian corset.
- I have to thread my eyebrows and hair on my upper lip because, yes, dark hair grows there, too. My brother used to tell me I needed to shave my mustache. At the same time, I will never have to draw eyebrows on and have lashes for days, so pick your battles, I guess.
- My body is naturally curvy and soft – my breasts, my hips – soft. I don’t aspire to go to the gym every day as it’s just not me to do so, so soft my body will continue to be.
There you have it – these are all the things I am insecure about, all my blatant physical flaws. They’re not bad, my body is functioning healthily so there’s nothing to complain about. But on a pure physical level, I know there are a million women with better proportions, smoother hair, paler eyes, more petite frames, perkier breasts, thinner thighs, bubblier butts and fairer skin. There are millions of women prettier than me, and I’ll be the first to admit it.
And I’m not mad about it. It’s how it is, I was given these traits, I could diet and exercise much more, I could cut out everything but greens and juices from my diet, I could have thought more wisely about that last tattoo, I could get fake lashes every month and relax my hair but I don’t and I didn’t, so this is where I am.
Not that pretty.
And I want to say this because despite why so many of my former friends have turned from me in disgust over my seeming self-indulgence as a model since the beginning of this year, I don’t think I’m anything special. Not ugly, but a far cry from physical ideals in every aspect.
So why did I want to model then?
Precisely because I was so deeply insecure about my looks, so deeply in need to prove to myself that I am kind of pretty, too. That’s how bad it was.
We could go into the cliché sob story here about how I was bullied as a child and discriminated against in my sports teams for my looks blah blah (this is all true) but that’s not the point. The point is, I didn’t feel pretty then, and to be honest with you all, there are many moments to this day that I still don’t. I have my good days, but on most, when I’m sitting on my floor with chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of pasta, I acknowledge to myself that I will always be a girl with very normal habits, who will never be – especially since I started modelling so late in life – a top star. And I know it more than anyone.
Yes, modeling and acting is often seen as self-indulgent. Narcissistic. Who does she think she is?
Maybe everything you ever wanted to project onto a girl you thought embodied a lot you don’t care for came to life in the form of a girl with a good degree who turned Instagram-wannabee-cool. A loser, a failure, a superficial airhead living in LA with her small dog, how damn predictable. A walking stereotype of this generation’s narcissistic victims. You’re so above that, I know.
Or maybe you’re projecting onto me a lot of hatred you have for things you’re afraid to confront.
My life is not glamorous. It was 100 times more glamorous in college and in high school than it is now, but I’m here because I want to be, so I don’t mind. But I’m not going to accept the hate stemming from misunderstanding, because if we don’t understand something, isn’t it only right we feel curiosity, or at least neutrality?
Why do you think I have my dog? (Aside from the fact that she’s adorable and stole my heart within two seconds at the adoption fair). Because I’m here alone. Homesick for my family 12 hours away. With literally no reason to be here except for a crazy dream of breaking into a crazy industry (acting, not modeling).
Why do you think I act? Because my grandmother, my big role model, was an actress. I worshiped her, spent my childhood days with her. I inherited her love for films, for interpreting characters. My middle name, Leigh, comes from Vivien Leigh. I act because it’s one thing I do alone that allows me to escape all time and space. I live in my own world and acting allows me to do so to a degree that makes my own planet feel safe to live on.
Aside from my work, there is not a single thing holding me in this town. If I could do this from somewhere else, closer to my best friend (Papa) and my warrior angel (Mami), I would.
Why do you think I have a dog. So there’s a living spirit around me when I blink back tears from how much I miss real, trusted, human interaction.
I suffer from anxiety. Since I was a child, I was debilitatingly shy, panicked in crowds, couldn’t talk to strangers. If it weren’t for Lola, I wouldn’t leave the house except to go straight to and from a job or casting. At the last alumni event for my university, I felt pressure in my chest and couldn’t wait to leave – that’s how introverted I am, that’s why I can write much better than I can talk, that’s why acting is my passion because I can escape the walls of my real self, I can be the people I silently observe on a daily basis and empathize with so deeply but am too afraid to approach first.
So yes, I’m not very pretty. I’m not that great. I’m not rich or well-connected. I’m here alone, a bit too tall, a bit too awkward, a bit too insecure, but a bit too crazy and in love with dreams to give it all up. I work as a cashier and delivery driver, I make my life look better on social media than it really is because it’s an unofficial portfolio for all entertainment people at this point.
The only difference between me and anyone is that I work my butt off, I came here to hustle and that’s what I do. But I don’t think I’m great at all. I have to force myself to go to auditions sometimes, because I know I’m about to walk into a room full of gorgeous, talented people with better self-esteem than me. I see hundreds of girls daily with better looks. The only thing I have is that I’m willing to sacrifice so much for this, I’m willing to work hard. Other than my work ethic, I have nothing on anyone.
Not looks, for sure. I rate myself average looking with relatively even, though slightly strange facial features, long limbs and no acne. I’m no Gisele, no Kate, no Naomi. I knew that, way before you ever hoped I would realize it.
I always knew.
Sometimes I sadly look at the girls with more perfect bodies, no scars, and defined lean muscles. If it looks like I have that on photos – trust me, it’s good angling and editing on the creative team’s part. If you saw me in real life, you’d know.
I know I’m a far cry from perfect, but I have a big heart and courage. So if someone does find me beautiful, it’s not for any physical trait, but for the energy I give off. Some like it, some don’t. But don’t mistake energy for beauty.
I’m emotional. Not beautiful.
But if you find emotions beautiful, I can be both to you.
Sure, everyone is physically appealing to some people, we all have different tastes. But I will never be the girl with 100k followers and the confidence to walk into a bar of strangers like “WAZZAH! I’m the hottest thing since instant hash browns came out of McDonald’s!” Shy yet wild, raw and odd, exotic yet not really radical at all. I’m not thick enough to be in on the curve-model revolution, nor do I fit an ethnic ideal – the grey zone is my zone, the weird in-between, the twilight zone of something undefinable. So I may have my niche, like we all do, but I’ll never be mainstream pretty. I am so far from that ideal it would be silly to try. I gave that up long ago in pursuit of other things.
I pursue things I can strive towards, accepting what I can’t be with as much grace as my young soul can muster. I strive to be a good person, to better myself, to do no wrong, to work hard, to do something every day that my future self will thank me for, to be grateful for every blessing, to see setbacks as valuable lessons.
That’s what I strive for. That’s the ‘beauty’ I want now. The beauty that stems from the warmth of your soul, the openness of your heart, the innocence of your eyes. Wise beauty, charming beauty, savvy beauty.
to grow a beautiful soul inside this imperfect body
please, don’t deem ugly what you don’t understand.