Back in the spring of 2008, my mother sent me to the motherland for my first pilgrimage. She also paid for me to have glamour shots done there since it’s dirt cheap to be dolled up like a high class call girl and take modeling photos. I enjoyed the experience and when I posted them on MySpace, a fellow Internet friend introduced me into the world of Model Mayhem. At first I didn’t know what I was doing but I slowly weaved my way through it. I learned the good and bad of the modeling world; the GWCs, the rudely unprofessional and those trying to take advantage of you. I also picked up a lot of lifelong friends along the way and still talk to a few of them to this day. While there were some negative experiences, there were also a lot of good ones. It fed my creativity and I worked to push myself harder and harder with each shoot I dreamed up and styled. When I started cosplaying in 2013, it added more to my ever growing portfolio. I still only do this as a hobby, but I’m really proud of all the photos I’ve created since I started. I was never in this for any monetary aspirations or career ambitions. I simply just wanted to create art.
There’s no denying I’ve done some growing up and glowing up in the past 10 years. My hair is also finally blonde and no longer that disgusting caramel color that everyone kept giving me instead of the perfect bleach blonde I kept asking for because the first 13094832 stylists I went to were too afraid to damage my hair because they just didn’t know what the hell they were doing. I also improved my makeup skills over the years. Can you believe I used to create my cateyes with an eye pencil and swiped it clean with a q-tip and some eyemakeup remover for that clean cut? Gone are those days. Now I can draw it on with a eyeliner brush no problem in a under a minute. I used to rarely wear foundation, just eyeliner and lipstick. Then it slowly grew to eyeshadow and blush and highlighter and the rest is history. I used to do my eye makeup with those little shadow sponges and my fingers because I thought brushes were a challenge to learn. I used to also be afraid to figure out false eyelashes. Gone are those days. Now I have my own makeup station with drawers full of palettes and tools.
My style has changed, and the things I reach for are slightly different but the same. My style, while I have yet to actually pinpoint the exact style, was generally very loud and colorful. I wore bright pops of color, big gawdy look-at-me statement jewelry pieces, and just anything loud. I bought a lot of cheap fast fashion and junk during these years. I didn’t think. I should probably go through my pull-out jewelry drawer in my closet and finally throw out everything. Remember all those funky, weird prints of the VS PINK panties with dumb sassy sayings that were 10 for $25? Now I hate them. I’d rather my lingerie coordinate with each other so I’m just wearing basic solid colors that are easy to buy and match with what I already own. I feel like a big girl now, matching my underwear instead of just wearing some stupid saying over my crotch. In college I used to own 30 pairs of jeans and wear bright ass Converse to class. Now I rarely wear jeans - I own maybe 2 pairs - and own two pairs of workout sneakers that I rotate between for the gym. I live my entire life in boots year round, in dresses and skirts.
I traded my clunky acrylic necklaces for more delicate, dainty staples. I used to wear a different pair of earrings every day, matching them to my outfit. Now I just wear my Tiffany pearl studs that go with everything. It’s one part lazy, one part growing up, I would say. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’ve become more lazy at putting together outfits, but I still do enjoy putting together stuff when I have the time. But not every little piece has to be different. You can have some staple pieces as part of your signature look. But maybe that’s what it is. As I grow up, it’s all honing in and curating my signature look as I progress through this stage in life. I definitely see a change in the photos I used to take 10 years ago, compared to the photos I’ve taken recently. I’m still a pop of color, but not as loud. The color palette has softened and the quality of photos have also progressed. I still wear cheap clothes I’ll admit, with some more expensive pieces thrown in here and there that I’ve invested in but I try to stick to simple solid color pieces that are easy to coordinate and mix and match to create different styles and looks based on what I’m feeling that day. I hate t-shirts, you won’t catch me in them unless I’m at home being comfy or there’s simply nothing else to wear. T-shirts are a waste of money, in my opinion. My clothing choices are basic but I still try to look anything but.
I still haven’t tired of being in front of the camera. I still love it. But in the next 10 years, I do aim to work to learn it for myself and figure out self-photography so I don’t have to worry about scheduling and coordinating shoots anymore. It’s going to be a long, expensive journey but with everything, it takes time, investment and dedication. I should’ve done this years ago but I told myself it was too hard and costly. Now I realize had I put in the time and effort, I probably could’ve done it and afforded like everything else I’ve ever wanted in life. I’ve never taken no for an answer, simply found a different path there. Just like modeling. I’m told I’m too short to be a “real model,” but I still enjoy it and didn’t let it stop me from still doing it as a hobby and creating so many beautiful photos that I now have as part of my portfolio over the years. And in 10 years time, I wonder how different those photos will look compared to these.