Beauty behind the curtains and flashlights!

At Sujju’s suggestion (in his blog at http://sujitkc.blogspot.com/2006/04/debate-on-beauty-pageants.html), I write today about what happens behind the stage in the Glamour World……since I have been on the other side of the fence for some reasonable length of time, I take this opportunity to write about what backstage is like in Fashion World. And again, at Sujju’s suggestion, I shall give a very unbiased opinion of the backstage.

Well, my modeling days were rather nice, for many reasons. And horrible, for some other reasons. After a while of the fame and the associated glitterati, I got disillusioned and forgot about the whole thing. It didn’t agree very well with my personality and I was happy walking the roads as a normal woman compared to being a model and walking the ramp!

The first brush with the catwalk in College happened with the Freshers’ Fashion Show where I wore possibly the skimpiest outfit for the Western round. The compliments flowed in and I enjoyed the feel of the whole thing. It was nice to hear the catcalls from the seniors (I was in an all girls College, mind you). I was declared a natural at the whole thing! It sounded Music to my ears actually……..

So, in College, just like many others, I got into modeling for a little extra money and glamour. That attraction for getting to wear trendy and stylish stuff (and getting paid for it) draws most of the girls to modeling. And at that age (17-20), most of the girls have a rather lean frame (which kind of qualifies for modeling these days). I was no exception!

So, I decided to try my hand at this. When I joined Miranda House (my College in Delhi), I was an extremely study-oriented person. Books were my world and Art was my window for exploring things outside my world. Modeling was something that never even occurred to me. But being in Miranda House makes sure that you get an opportunity to do EVERYTHING you can possibly do. According to my seniors, I had a good figure and I ought to try my hand at modeling.

So, I decided to try it. Just like all the others, I started off with Auto Fair (one of the events in Delhi that beings lakhs of people together). Daewoo was looking for girls to model (read flash smiles at people who came to see the stall). So, I applied and made it. We were supposed to report to the Office two days before to understand what we were supposed to DO (I write do in caps because there was literally nothing to do). We were given the outfits and were asked to report to the venue on the stipulated date at 8:00 am.

We went and were there, dutifully, until 6:00 pm. This was my first experience with SO MANY people looking at me with very different looks on their face. Some were appreciative, some were lewd, some were indifferent (these were the ones who intrigued me the most and I have reasons to believe that these were the ones who were GENUINELY in love with automobiles :D), some were puzzled (as to what these girls were doing standing next to the cars when they had nothing to do with the cars or their specifications), some were disgusted (these were mostly older Aunties and uncles who must have found the whole thing very irrelevant and out of place), some were amazed (these were the girls in the age bracket of 10-18)…………………….and many more.

And a few days later, I was recognized by one boy in the bus as the “girl who modeled for Daewoo”. I can’t lie by saying that I was not happy! I was on the ninth sky! For the first time, I understood the amount of fame that comes walking with the professions in glamour. Partly because you are so VISIBLE……..and partly because there’s nothing much that needs to be done (this was my perspective as I knew nothing of the rigorous exercise schedules of models, I was naturally lean) to look your best! Make-up and good clothes do it!

The fame did get to my head, for some time, at least! I did some amateur modeling for one or two small Fashion Shows. And that gained me some recognition. It was a dizzy feeling and I felt great about the whole thing. But that was after the Fashion Show. While it was happening, the backstage was a hub of activity, HECTIC and CHAOTIC. And stressed out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was in the College Fashion Team (called Silhouette). We participated in the IITD Fashion Show and I was backstage as well as on the stage! The theme was “Egyptian Culture” for round one and “Animal Kingdom” for round two. Since we weren’t funded by anyone, we designed our own clothes. THAT was an AWESOME amount of fun. I think I’ve never been more creative in my life. We designed outfits out of paper, tube-light covers, polythese, card-board, brown cover sheets, newspapers, cloth…………………..everything that we could afford to use!!!!!! And wearing those self-designed outfits was fun! And it made us all co-ordinate very well with each other.

Everything was so pleasant until the day of the Fashion Show arrived! We had some 15 mins to change from dresses from Round 1 to dresses of Round 2. Since there had to be a change in make-up, accessories, clothes, there was total chaos behind the scenes! There were angry abuses in the green rooms, shouts of disgust…………..oh! It was horrible.

And the result? We lost some of our good models for the next year’s Fashion Show. There were some very tall models in our Hostel. ANd they became the envy of the shorter ones. There was always this undertone of hatred in the green room while we got ready to flash our best smiles in public. I felt so hypocritic!!!!! To the world outside, I wore a million dollar smile when inwards, I was simmering at not having been made-up properly because there was this CENTRAL model who needed better make-up than mine. Those were the times when I experienced the first GENUINE pangs of jealousy. I wished ill upon the central model. Sometimes, in a fit of rage, I wished her dead! I felt tremendous remorse ten mins later, but at that moment, it felt like she was taking away MY moment of fame by being dressed and made-up better than me! I was not myself!!!!!! And I hate myself for those moments now…………

Once we were on stage, there were loud whistles (I, fortunately or unfortunately, hail from a College that is adored by the IITians of Delhi), claps, catcalls………….even guys photographing us while we walked from the green room to the stage)…….it was all very very flattering. Following all this, there were phone calls made to us (I could never quite understand HOW these IITians managed to find our whereabouts)…………and it was like walking in the air………….

Then, there was this once when I had to opt out of a Fashion Show as I had this sudden bout of pimples due to an allergic reaction to some cream a beautician runned upon my forehead. It was very heart-breaking to be told that I can’t model for that show as they needed a GOOD skin for the Show. That was when I fell with a thud to the ground. I realized the hollowness of the whole thing. How superficial all of it was! It didn’t dishearten me for long though. Once my skin became better, I continued to kind of pull across a stunt here and a stunt there.

And all this came to a grinding halt when I went through an incident that was an eye-opener!!!!!!!!!! I shall not be specific as to what it was but in short, it was exploitation at its extreme in the name of providing “better” opportunities!!!! It was then that I forgot completely forgot about modeling! And then, one after the other realities struck!

One incident is still etched in my mind! One of my seniors went ahead and carried on with modeling. She once appeared in the all famous magazine “Femina”……..I happened to be looking at the photo in the presence of one of my other seniors who was this model’s close friend. She remarked very casually, “I think she must have slept with the cameraman and that’s how she could make it to the magazine”……….at that time, I dismissed her opinion as the one stemming out of some bad feelings she had for this model friend of hers. But one day, I met that model senior of mine and asked her if what her friend said was true. She said, “Ya! But what to do, it’s a part of being a model”. This shook me!!!!!!!!!!

This set me thinking. Is it true? Is this flashy world that shallow?

And I asked myself, what about all the good things that “I” experienced???? Those times when we wore something no one else did? About those times when someone recognized me in the bus? About the fame that came walking to me? About that loud Music we catwalked to? About the besuty we used to portray? Was it all my limited view of the whole thing? I asked myself if I failed to see the REAL part of it??????

I am still struggling with these questions…………..as they say, I’m only human. I can’t untangle my thoughts enough to find out whether this is a good profession or bad………….how I wish I could…………………

In the end, Thanks Sujju for your suggestion. It’s been long time since I lived through those moments………………

(PS: With due regards to all the models out there, continue to model as far as YOU like to do it………………..)

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9 Comments

  1. unforgiven said,

    April 27, 2006 at 2:06 am

    I would’ve been one those drooling over the automobile, wondering what the girl was doing there, obstructing my view 😉

    Good entry btw. You know what they say, “All that glitters..”

    What you said applies to not just modelling, which of course is one of the epitome’s of shallow thought but also to fame in general.

    Had you continued along the path longer, you’d have seen some of the other things that really makes on wonder if fame is truly worth it.

  2. April 27, 2006 at 4:06 am

    Good account Pritesh. And apt comment unforgiven.

    Pritesh, I feel what you had experienced wasn’t unreal. And the other side exists in more number of professions than we can imagine, even the pristine occupation of ‘research.’ There, perhaps one doesn’t literally sleep with strangers to get a foothold. But I have seen people involving in things which compare in their baseness to that.

    Anything done with a natural love for that activity is good. Anything done for ‘earthly’ gains is bad. They say, even a butcher is an elevated being if he does his work with the sole intention of serving his customers with the best meat possible. Even a pundit whose sole aim is to extort larger dakshinas from the visitors of the temple is a fallen creature. I am just repeating what our elders have said for ages.

    It’s perhaps never the profession which is bad. It’s the attitude which decides its goodness or badness.

    Good job!

  3. Pritesh said,

    April 27, 2006 at 4:08 am

    Sujju, a very nice thought! it’s the attitude that counts……I don’t know that shady side of Research as yet though……..I have heard some stories but don’t know if they’re true!

  4. Karthik said,

    April 27, 2006 at 4:23 am

    I can think of 2 worthwhile reasons for anyone to be doing modelling:
    1) for money
    2) they finally want to end up being designers

    Anyone who seeks fame/recognition is certain to feel disappointment. Infact, anyone striving for a relaxed and peaceful life would train themself(with practise ofcourse) to become fame-proof and be happy to stay away from limelight.Of course its hard to do initially, but the benefits are tremendous.

    I don’t see any reason for models, or anyone else for that matter to feel proud about their looks. Good looks is finally just about having ‘well-formed molecules’ as someone put it.

  5. April 27, 2006 at 6:17 am

    Didn’t I tell? Didn’t I tell! This Karthik is an enlightened soul! I have also registered myself into his tutelage (without his permission). 😀

    I suggest you too do the same Pritesh! 🙂

    No, really! Very true Karthik! I fully agree!

    And a request. Could you change the link to my blog on your blog to this?

    http://sujitkc.blogspot.com/2006/04/debate-on-beauty-pageants.html

  6. Pritesh said,

    April 27, 2006 at 9:28 pm

    Sujju, I guess I was born a disciple of Karthik’s philosophy! 😀 Just that it took me a Sujju to realize that!

    I agree with Karthik too! The glamour that shows is too shallow and once you’re an insider, you tend to realize the shallowness! I’ll just change the link Sujju! 🙂

  7. Sree said,

    May 2, 2006 at 9:00 am

    made for anice read:)

    jus wondering…it need not be jus one side of the story that is real? the onstage glamour z as true as the darkness backstage?

  8. Pritesh said,

    May 2, 2006 at 9:04 am

    Indeed it is Sree…….the flashlights, the applause, the beauty, the glitter! All of them are real! But then, as they say, you come home to yourself!!!! So, if at the end of the day, you are not left with someone to tell how your day was, life loses a little bit of its charm….

  9. unforgiven said,

    May 2, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    I didn’t have anyone to come home to, to tell about my day for months. 😐

    I now have two guys to do so with.

    I can’t figure out which was better 😉


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