Growing up is a rough experience for everyone. Growing up as a girl in the modeling industry (from my experience) definitely did not make that experience easier. Along with all the pressure of being a teen and a girl in today’s world, I had the added pressure that comes along with being a model. I am not saying all models experience these things, but as someone who has been involved in this community from a young age, I can say myself and many others have dealt with the issues I am about to disclose.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that modeling was a completely negative experience, I love that I had so many opportunities that I am very thankful for, but it certainly did have its downsides for me.
Girls and boys alike have standards that society pushes upon them to look a certain way. Growing up, I was tall for my age, and quite slim, and everyone thought I would grow and be built for modeling and runway. At first I was too young to even understand this concept; but later I developed an understanding of the thought that I needed to be a certain way. People told me I would grow to be 5’8” with long, slim legs and a slim figure. However, when I became older, I did not become this “perfect” or “ideal” figure. I did not grow to become 5”8 either; I am 5”2 AND ½, and often the shortest among my friends. At first I hated my height, but I have come to love my short-ness. I certainly do not have long, slim legs or a slim “model” build either. People say I am thin, but if I became as serious as I used to be about modeling, I do not doubt that they would ask me to lose some pounds and have my mom buy a stretcher to attempt and stretch my short legs (I seriously do have very short legs, I walk like Mr. Krabs) (and yes that was a joke they wouldn’t actually have me buy a stretcher).
Being a partially “ambiguous” looking child (I am ¼ Vietnamese) that was skinny and energetic, I booked a lot of gigs. Sometimes I had the chance to travel to new places and shoot outside, which I appreciated. However, shooting outside had its downsides. When shooting in a city, there are people, specifically old, creepy men, that would hoot and holler and call out names. I was around the age of 10 when I remember this happening a lot. I was a 10 year old girl getting hollered at by 50 year old men. At the time, I did not see it as a big deal. Of course it made me incredibly uncomfortable, but hey, it was just a part of the job. Now, I realize that it is a big deal. The fact that happened to me is disgusting.
This is an article about growing up a girl, but getting cat-called is not exclusive to girls alone. Boys can also experience this, but it is most often an older man hollering at a younger woman. Cat-calling is not a compliment. I believe that with all my heart. It is degrading and objectifying. Maybe there is not ill-intent behind it, and someone could truly believe that another is beautiful and just want to innocently inform them of that fact, but this is often not the case. Even if there is no ill-intent behind it, either find a respectful way to say it, or: just don’t say anything! Especially if you are a 50 year old yelling out disgusting words to a 10 year old. SHUT UP.
Although being cat-called was not an experience I particularly appreciated, it was not the reason I stopped modeling. Missing school in high school is especially burdensome, and modeling was never something I was especially passionate about. Also, it sometimes could be taxing to me mentally to have that pressure of looking a certain way. There were aspects I enjoyed, but for now modeling is not something I want to focus on.