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Model Behavior

Melissa Rayworth
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tagged: career
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Young models all over the world are literally starving for attention. One military spouse refused to go down that unhealthy road.

Jewels was a 14-year-old tomboy, an athletic girl more interested in playing outside than looking in a mirror. Her parents thought a few modeling classes might make her “more ladylike,” and Jewels—now a 33-year-old Air Force wife—thought it might be fun.

It didn’t take long for the teachers at Barbizon and the modeling scouts who comb the Midwest seeking pretty girls to see her beauty and personality. Soon she was booking photo shoots and runway appearances for companies like Dove, David’s Bridal, J.C. Penney and others. Within three years, she was on the road—modeling jobs were giving Jewels her first glimpse of life outside her hometown in Oklahoma.

At one point, “I left with long brown hair and came home with a blonde bob and bangs,” she says. “My parents didn’t even recognize me.”

Jewels was a radiant size 8, healthy and fit. But in the twisted world of fashion modeling, that was becoming a problem. Lose weight, the experts told her, if you really want to be a successful model.

Most girls who saw Jewels in those days probably envied her beauty and her body. They probably criticized themselves for not looking more like her. But she was struggling with the pressure to be even thinner.

“They’re very critical when you go in for a ‘go-see.’ They say, ‘You’re too fat.’ Or ‘Your nose is too big.’ It’s so harsh, Jewels explains. “You’re young. You’ve got your agent saying, ‘You need to lose this much weight, so you get more bookings.’ I was in high school dealing with that. ... It hurt.”

 

Taking a Stand

If aa glamorous modeling career meant unhealthy weight loss, she didn’t want it. Seeing her today, as a confident Air Force spouse, it’s no surprise that Jewels took a stand. But it must have been difficult for a young woman raised in a culture that rewards beauty and thinness, and encourages the pursuit of fame, to say no.

“My family was very thankful that I stopped,” she says, “because they saw how it was affecting me.” No longer modeling, Jewels channeled her love of beauty into work as a makeup artist for Clinique. Knowing how she had felt when agents and casting people criticized her, she was excited to help other women feel positive about their looks.

Finally, she was enjoying her own natural beauty. “As you get older,” she says, “you get more and more comfortable in your skin.” Healthier and happier, she also fell in love: I married a wonderful man who loves me no matter what size I am.” That man happened to be in the military.

 

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