Friday, April 22, 2005

Hair & Now (Part 1)

I've always been one who is pretty dubious about being part of the modelling circuit. My one and only whimsical shot at penetrating the industry happened last year, when I entered a small unisex competition.

For the first segment, the girls were asked to wear a sleeveless top, shorts and sandals.
I wore a sleeveless top, shorts and sandals.
Everyone else wore tubes, hot pants and stilletos.

For the second segment, the girls were asked to wear a casual knee-length dress.
I wore a casual knee-length dress.
Everyone else wore evening gowns with soaring hemlines and crashing necklines.

Guess who made it to the finals? I'll give you a small hint: it wasn't me.

Several months after taking a vow to stick to my infallible tee-cargos-trainer formula, I get a call from an agency asking me to attend an audition for a magazine hair shoot. A hair shoot? That would mean they'd only be judging me for my hair, right? And I am in dire need of a trim anyhow. So what the hell, I might as well give it another shot.

I board 2 trains to get to the middle of town, and on the second train there's this girl who comes on a few stops after I do and sits right next to me. Her height, clothes and makeup give me the impression that she'll be attending the auditions too. But I'm scared of asking her just in case I'd make an idiot out of myself. Turns out that we get off at the same stop, head in the same direction, enter the same building and take the lift to the same floor... All without saying a word to each other. Oopsie.

There's this woman at a desk and she's got a checklist and a handful of comp cards in her hand, I go to her and she asks for my name, which she subsequently crosses out on the checklist. She then tells me to wait in a room behind her. I open the door and it's full of girls. Most are tall, lanky, toned and have symmetrical facial features. It's as though all the models in a beauty magazine have come to life and are crammed into this little room.

I never before feel so ugly or overweight in my 22 years of existence.

I walk over to an empty seat in the front row. With every step, I sense eyes stripping me from all corners of the room. I sit next a professional-looking model reading a novel, who gives me an obligatory meek smile and tucks her face back into the book. I guess I’m giving off vibes that I’m a newbie.

Behind me, there are girls who are gossiping away. Behind them, looking pretty jittery and self-conscious, are girls dressed not as sexily and not pouting as much as the others. I probably fall into this clique.

After some substantial thumb-twiddling, the woman from the desk outside the room comes in with the thick deck of comp cards almost spilling out of her hands. She tells us to pass the deck around after taking out our own cards.

The deck never reaches me and they get passed back to the desk outside. I go out to collect mine and someone calls out my name. An old college mate! I shouldn't have been surprised to find her here; she has had a good amount of experience behind her, and she took part in this same show last year.

While my face is looking down at my comp card shuffling, a card falls but it's not from my hands. I reach down, grab it and I stand up in front of a woman. Oh, not just any woman. She was a woman I fantasized about after she shook her tush on the catwalk during a fashion show I watched last year. She smiles at me and says a shy 'Thank you' as she takes her card from my hands, and all I can do is gawk back like some stupefied wanker.

Upon my return to the room, the girls are asked to split themselves up: girls who don't mind getting their hair cut shift to the left, while those who do shift to the right. Shortly after, loads of hairdressers parade into the room. The checklist woman comes in and tells them that they could start picking their models right away. They are encouraged to feel our hair if need be.

Many girls start giggling and sit up with their prettiest eyes, poutiest lips and perkiest endowments. Some hairdressers start making their rounds around the chairs, while others just survey the room from the front and point at girls they are interested in.

Now wait a minute, where's the audition bit coming in? There is no need for proof of worth. With the girls looking oh-so-willing, the hairdressers looking oh-so-eager and the checklist woman looking oh-so-matronly, at this stage it feels like I've stepped into a function of slightly different expectations.

I stick around regardless, and one by one girls get called up to let their hair be fondled with and immediately approving of every styling whim and fancy. However, an established few get a say in how they want their hair to be in order for it to not affect their upcoming modelling gigs. Those who have been picked can leave after registering their names with the agency representatives. The quickest to get snapped up are the cool, calm and quietly confident ones. The ones who already know that they'll get chosen no matter what because of their pliable iron-straight tresses or romantic waves. The second to go are the die-hards, the ones who look like they're trying for Drag Queen Idol. The ones whom anyone rarely casts a glance upon are the ones at the back, stiffened up and looking more uneasy than ever.

One third of the room is gone and I'm still playing it cool and chatting with my friend next to me. Then she gets called up. The girl who sat next to her moves a seat up next to me and introduces herself. Then she gets called up too.

The numbers are dwindling. The 'audition' is wrapping up soon. And I'm catching a bout of anxiety. I rub the back of my neck and look behind my chair at my jittery homies. At least can all celebrate our rejection together over a tub of Baskin Robbins, I try to telepathically tell them.

I'm moments away from declaring my hope clinically dead when I get a gentle tap on my left shoulder. It's a bespectacled man adorned with enough jewellery to put any bling-blinger to shame. He's running his fingers through my rough, frizzy and possibly greasy locks. I feel sorry for him.

"Can I cut your hair up to your ear maybe, and give you bangs? I also think I'll dye your hair blond or brown..."

It sounds radical, but if I back out now I'll be spending the rest of the day leaving shoe prints on my forehead. So I agree to it and the guy tells me to follow him to an agency rep to register. I stand up feeling surprised at my capability of cinching my very first professional modelling gig. Especially when I have to credit it to that tuft of frayed broom bristles that is my hair.

I look behind at the remaining girls who are looking back at me, their eyes reminding me of those that are worn by street beggars. I feel a pang of guilt as the hairdresser coaxes me to walk with him through the crowd plugging the exit.

My hair preparation and shoot dates are set and I'm asked to leave. One half of me walks down the corridor feeling like she's queen of the world. The other half stays in the room sitting silently with the unchosen girls... still waiting, like countless other days, for that one shot.

8 Comments:

Blogger cyber-red said...

hey finish the story la! what happened next>? sounds interesting ler..why never call me? hehe..my hair also short liao lol =)

8:59 PM  
Anonymous G-Sus said...

I saw your hair after the show (If it as the same one)! The look rocks. Could hardly recognize you. heh.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Albert said...

WOI you've always been your own bestest hairstylist. How can Davina be Davina day in day out? I mean, how can you look the SAME every day? (Since I suppose, after they cut your hair, they expect you not to go crazy with it until they take pictures with it...)

6:13 AM  
Blogger rei said...

I attended a modelling class when I was in KL ... I sympathize.

Beautiful piece, Davina :)

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Az Samad said...

Good job Davina. Beautifully written too

1:40 PM  
Anonymous evan said...

wheeee. duh-vana once u are famous and all that, dont forget lil ol'evan okays? :D

heh. really happy for u

3:46 PM  
Blogger Muddy said...

Wow, you're a model! Teehee...:)

8:29 AM  
Blogger disco-very said...

Yeah G-sus, you were one of the very few to see my hair as it was before I got it 'fixed' for 'corporate' reasons.

Thank you very much Rei and Az for the kind comments, it's very humbling. :)

Albert i can't do much with it this time, especially since my hair is uber damaged.

Evan, you do the same!

Muddy, you're a freakin' popstar, so shut yer gob. :P

3:29 PM  

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