“How you got started as a model, and what’s been your favorite model job.”
Reader’s Choice: How I got started in modeling Part 1
The real start to my modeling career (if you can call it that, I still think it’s NOT modeling because I have never and will never grace a catwalk or be a size negative zero) began when I was 14 years old.
I was getting ready to graduate from middle school and peers were out buying dresses for the graduation ceremony. I told my Mom that I wanted to get a new dress like my friends and she sadly told me that we couldn’t afford to get a dress for graduation, especially since it would be covered by a robe.
I understood but I was disappointed. Later that afternoon my Mom came into my room and said: “Let’s go to the mall.” I was so excited. We drove to our favorite department store, Marshall Fields (Macy’s, did you HAVE to take it over?), and picked out a pale pink dress with gold buttons down the front. At the checkout counter, a stack of papers printed with purple ink caught my eye. FACE OF TODAY CONTEST: looking for girls age 14-21 who would be chosen for their academics (fyi I just misspelled that word), service and beauty. The deadline to enter the contest was the next day. This is when I pulled out my second pleading look of the day and begged my mom to let me enter the contest. That look worked pretty well, for she agreed.
I called my Dad at his dental office and asked him to please bring home his fancy camera that he used to take pictures of teeth. When he arrived we had to beat the daylight, so we went in the backyard, I applied my prettiest makeup and got my hair to look as close to Kate Moss’ as possible and we took a roll of film. That evening he got it developed at the one-hour photo place while I filled out the essays on the back of the paper.
The next day my Mom got it turned in for me somehow even though she had three other children aged 11, 5 and 3 years old to attend to. The mall was not exactly on her normal errands route.
I forgot about the contest until a few months later when I was lounging on a summer afternoon watching a rerun of Charlie’s Angels and the phone rang. It was Robin Agetter (not sure I spelled that right, but I will never forget that name): “Hi Kristy, this is Robin Agetter at Marshall Fields, I’m calling to let you know that you are the winner of our Face of Today contest and I want to check your availability to travel.”
Since her sentence was two parts, I never had the elation from the first part, I just skipped right to the pit in my stomach. I remember when I filled out the contest form that the required travel dates were smack dab in the middle of our family vacation, which I of course ignored because I wasn’t going to win.
I ran into my Mom’s room and, by then elated and pit-ty at the same time, exclaimed: “MOM! I WON the Face of Today contest—-but what about vacation?” Confusion all around. Mom clearly didn’t believe me…the rest I don’t remember, but I imagine that my mom had a conversation with Ms. Marshall Fields, and after conjuring up my third pleading look of this story, my Mom worked out a way for it ALL to work.
How it worked was this: Our family rented an RV to travel from Chicagoland to the WEST. We often went WEST for our family vacations for weeks at a time. During the end part of our journey we found ourselves in Jackson Hole WY, at my Great-Aunts (amazing btw) cabin. We spent the night there and then flew out with my mom to Marshall Fields’ (now Target Corporation) headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. My Dad was left with those three kids and an RV, and possibly a weiner dog, Barney (mom, verify please).
We were picked up in a stretch (Mom? verify) limo and toured around the city seeing the beautiful buildings, lakes, sculptures of the city. When we arrived in our super fancy (remember we had just spent a week or 2 in an RV), hotel room, there were fresh flowers and a note welcoming me to the Twin Cities. I’m pretty sure Mom and I ate at a fancy restaurant that night. It was fancy all around.
The next day was my first photo shoot ever. A few things about that day: I was suffering from a bladder infection and diarrhea that were friends of my first menstruation. Does this surprise any of you? This is how my life goes…it’s bittersweet all the time and this is one of a thousand experiences that have taught me the wonderful lesson: humility.
This bowel situation was unfortunate because I had a job to do, and I had to do it in a bodysuit. Remember how those were the fashionable things to wear in 1993? It was black bodysuits accompanied by baggy jeans/overalls/suspenders. Try to think back, you might remember. Every time I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom for one of my three ailments, I had to take my entire outfit off. It was ridiculous.
Also, I got into the makeup chair and the makeup artist, who told me the week before she had done Niki Taylor’s makeup (AH! I could not believe THAT), took a hatchet to my eyebrows. By the way, a few years ago Niki’s new makeup artist for her bravo show did my makeup and I thought that was a funny full circle detail to this whole career of mine.
I was so brave as I watched with fascination and adoration the first-time sculpture of my eyebrows! This was a whole new world to me. I had been obsessed (OBSESSED!) I tell you about being allowed to shave my legs, and I had never known that I needed to beg for a pair of tweezers. This episode was the first of many I have had in the makeup chair learning everything I could about making myself beautiful. I paid close attention to what she did, and I have plucked my own eyebrows ever since. Towards the beginning I had a time there when they were a little too thin, but I grew them out during a show once and started over and have to say that I think I am doing a fine job….all because of that makeup artist that day in Minneapolis, MN.
I have no memory of the photographer, but I do have an image in my mind of a handful of Marshall Fields’ executives watching the shoot from the back of the studio, all dressed in black, and my mom watching off to the side in mom clothes that were not black and probably accompanied by white socks and white keds. We were not in Kansas anymore my Mom and me, and perhaps that moment was the first seed of the orchard that has become my life now.
The photos taken that day were for the cover of Marshall Field’s magazine that came out in the newspapers in the midwest, including the Chicago Tribune. We got all of our copies and there my face was (braces concealed under my luscious lips decorated by Niki Taylor’s makeup artist!!!!) with my waifish hair. There was text on the cover and a teeny tiny paragraph inside telling the Midwest that I was the Face of Today.
Other then being exciting and confidence-boosting, this experience made me feel on-the-spot. Other kids in my community knew about this, in fact on the first day of high school, a teacher had posted it on one of her bulletin boards. This filled me with trepidation as I was unsure how it would be received. Would this make me cool? made fun of? I wasn’t sure how it would pan out so I cautiously proceeded and ended up giving off the impression, whether deserved or not, of being snobby. I also discovered for the first time that I was pretty. Though I had always been totally interested in all things beauty: nails, hair, makeup, more! more! more!–I loved it from age 12 on (still do), I never consciously thought: wow, I am a looker!
To be told by others, and have that validated by winning a beauty (and other) contest, was new territory for me. It was surprising. And after I adjusted to it, I started feeling like my face was a blessing, a luck-of-the-draw asset. I started to like my face at least….but I’m still working on liking the rest of my parts. Isn’t that ridiculous? Perhaps that’s part of the pursuit too….world, will you please tell me that I am worthy of representing your diapers? birth control pills? tunafish?
Don’t worry, my days in the therapists chair aren’t over. I’m still working on believing that my whole self is beautiful.