Faking Fabulous

I recently had the opportunity to write a guest post for Dangerously Luxe — a fashion site for all bodies with a wonderful, welcoming vibe. The theme of my post? Celebrate your personal fabulosity!

In the piece, I explored finding your own fabulousness, qualifying that you really can’t find it until you stop comparing yourself to others.

Considering the nature of genetics and the fact that nothing is ever “even” to begin with, it’s a fruitless enterprise. Add in the smoke and mirrors involved in creating the media images most of us obsess over and, well, it’s just plain silly. Because none of it is real.

Here’s a little peek behind the curtain:

I’m a professional plus-size model. As plus talent, the vast majority of my bookings are for catalogs and circular ads. The items I wear are not exactly haute couture. In many cases, they’re barely ready to wear.

There is no limousine service to the shoot; there are no free clothes at the shoot; and there is not even an occasional party after the shoot (a shame, because we curvy girls would actually eat the hors d’oeuvres).

With or without extras, it’s a nice living and I’m grateful for it. All that’s really required is that I show up on time with clean hair, clean face, nude nails and a well-stocked model’s bag.

A professional makeup artist layers on primers, concealers and foundations to get me camera-ready. Cheek and eye color, liner, mascara, highlighter and a fine setting powder finish the effect. The application is flawless for film. But the slick of makeup it takes to achieve that “natural look” is positively appalling. It’s not exactly a face you could rock out on the street. Well, unless you’re okay with people staring — or possibly approaching you for pricing.

Because my hair is temperamental, I sometimes supplement it with a hair piece or fall that I carry in my model’s bag. If I could stand to wear what I call the “big wiglet” in my real life, I would — because it looks great and is pretty convincing in person. But it’s heavy and itchy and hot and unbelievably uncomfortable. Extended wear, therefore, is not an option.

If hair and makeup are artful deception, then clothing is the big lie. Nothing fits properly. Almost everything must be modified in some way. Higher-end clients may employ a seamstress to custom tailor pieces on set; but those occasions are rare. Adjustments usually involve strategically clipping the garment with clothespins or clamps, pinning in make-shift seaming or cutting the item wide open right down the back and securing it in place with tape — often directly onto the skin. At the end of the day, it’s more off the back than off the rack. Ouch.

Nothing illustrates creative styling more effectively than the front and back covers of Patricia Heaton’s book Motherhood and Hollywood (2003).

The photographer and his assistants do the rest, making sure lights are set for the most favorable projections and camera angles configured to ensure the nicest frame. I maintain my mark, smile and shift from one position into another while another assistant stands off to the side watching closely, ready to call “Hold, please!” any time it’s necessary for him or her to step in and fix the fall of the clothing. It’s fortunate that real life doesn’t work this way. It’s tedious (not to mention mildly annoying) — and so disruptive that nobody would ever be able to get anything done. Seriously.

Even after all the prep work and careful execution, things still may not be perfect. Digital enhancement to the rescue! What used to require hours of airbrushing expertise is now easily accomplished with a few keystrokes. Complexions are brighter; teeth are whiter; blemishes are a thing of the past. But sometimes the computer dudes get carried away. I’ve been PhotoShopped into oblivion twice now, receiving tear-sheets with plasticized versions of myself that even I did not recognize. Weird.

Despite these kind of experiences — or maybe because of them — I’m able to see what’s really there. I can look in the mirror, smile and recognize my own personal brand of beauty behind the makeup, under the hair and beneath the clothes. It’s imperfect and charming. I like it.

We’ve all got a little something special going on. The key to finding it is letting go of the comparative thinking. Once you stop worrying about what you think you might be missing, you’re free to discover, nurture and celebrate the things you have.

So find the beauty in you.  Appreciate it.  And revel in the knowledge that you don’t have to fake fabulous when you’ve got something that’s totally, completely and utterly real.


  1. Catherine says

    I love this post! Every once in awhile, while flipping through a fashion magazine, I have to stop and remind myself, “Wait. People don’t actually look like that in real life.”

  2. Jennifer says

    Catherine, you would NOT believe the additional weirdness I have been privy to — behind the scenes. Sincerely.

  3. Joy says

    What a fabulous post. It’s so interesting to hear things from a professional model’s point of view. I had no idea that much makeup is used —

    “letting go of the comparative thinking” — excellent advice. Thank you!

  4. Jennifer says

    Thanks for your comments, Joy! If you get a chance, check out the inspiration for this post — a guest piece I did for Dangerously Luxe. Here’s the direct link: http://www.dangerouslyluxe.com/2011/01/25/guest-post-focus-on-the-fabulous/


  1. […] of you may remember a post I wrote last February called Faking Fabulous.  In it, I shared some of my personal modeling experiences, focussing on the many varied […]

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