By Stephanie Claire Smith
Instagram – @stephclairesmith
I started modeling when I finished high school. I had done a few test shoots and when I was 18 years old I sent them into Chadwick to see if there was any interest – there was. So I went in, met the board and got signed.
I was one of the lucky ones; since I started I’d picked up some really great and regular clients. So I was working at least three days a week from the beginning.
I finally got the chance to come over to the states this year and base myself for a while to see how I’d go in the American market. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work back home I just wanted to experience something different – it’s now my third year modeling.
LA work was fine but to be honest I didn’t really stay long enough to see what would happen for me. I’m always happy to go back but for me LA was boring…the stuff I was being put forward for at least. A lot of Ecom work – which would be fine if I was just going over to make money, but the real meaning behind my trip was to meet big clients and experience the things I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to back home.
So after two months I decided to move to New York. I’ve always dreamed about living here and always wanted to try and see if I could make it. I was initially signed with FORD and when I went in the first thing they told me was that “you have a free gym membership” and that I “needed to get my hip measurements down”. So from then on I was to go in twice a week and let them take my measurements.
I then noticed a couple of weeks later that they had taken me off their website completely. When I asked them about it, they replied that they “would start sending me to castings and put me back on the site when I’d lost weight”. So here I was, already a healthy person, pretty much being told to do nothing else with my time except go to the gym and eat less.
I’m a massive foodie, and love socializing – going out for dinner is a weekly ritual. I’ve never really had any body issues, I’m a very healthy person; I eat well and I exercise. But one week I didn’t go out at all. I only left the house to exercise; I ate very little and very boring food.
Finally when I went back to the agency they were pleased. I was an inch smaller, so they put me back on their site. I was happy. I was back online and excited to actually get started, until I realized that they wanted me to keep going and lose more weight. I was miserable. Within those weeks I think I sent countless e-mails to my mother agent describing how upset I was and how much I felt the agency just didn’t understand my market.
He was coming to New York for other business anyhow so we met up and I explained everything to him. He knows me and could tell straight away I wasn’t fat or anything so he said “let’s get you out of there” and we did just that. New York was only difficult to begin with because I was simply with the wrong agency. They wanted me to be a certain way that just wasn’t me. So it was never going to work.
The agency I’m with now Women 360 really get me and understand my goals and are super lovely and accepting toward me. I’m happy with them. The bookers are a lot more supportive, which is comforting. Sadly though, I only just signed with them and now it’s time for me to go home.
I suppose the biggest thing this year for me is how much my confidence has changed. Back in AUS I’d walk into a job/casting super confident and bubbly – over here I walk into a casting and feel I don’t belong. I feel like the girls look at me thinking ‘is she really a model?’. I take ages to get ready in the morning because I feel like everything I wear makes me look bigger than I am.
Anyway, the biggest issue with me feeling this way is I have a very large following on Instagram who look up to me and inspire to be like me. But lately I’ve become that someone I told them not to be. I always go on about loving yourself and being happy, and yet I’m not even doing that.
My decision to go home has made me extremely happy, and frankly I can’t wait to go back and start feeling good about myself again. It’s a great feeling to actually enjoy your work and love what you do. And being over here made me question that, when it was all I ever wanted to do back home…