American’s Next Top Model is one of my favorite shows. It’s been a bonding thing for my daughter and I to watch for years, and we look forward to it every season.
And – I’ve learned so much from it.
What? you might ask – can I learn from watching models pose?
A lot, I say.
Here’s what I learned from Tyra Banks – modeling is not all about “posing.” It’s all about “being.” Specifically – being “fierce” – and yet “soft.”
The technical aspects of modeling require that you “pose” physically – that you find a way to use your body that hits the mark where the photographer wants you to stand, that shows off the clothes and shoes the way the designer wants them seen, that makes you stand out – but the clothes stand out more…AND – it’s more than a “pretty picture.”
What the competing models learn is that what shows up on the film is what’s INSIDE them. If they are in their “heads” – nothing much of interest shows in the photo. You can SEE them “thinking” – there’s nothing emotional or powerful or commanding – nothing that DRAWS YOU IN there.
So – she teaches them how to be vulnerable. To stand there, technically in what’s often a very, very difficult position and that requires them to be creative about how they stand, sit or lie, and where and how they place every leg, arm, toe, finger, even to the way they tilt their head – and to know where their “light” is and how to best use it. – AND – at the same time – to be open, vulnerable, raw, emotional inside, real.
To be who they are, and let that show on the outside.
As the season goes on – what we see is that the ones who grow in confidence show that confidence by being even MORE vulnerable. Just as I talk about here – they become stronger on the inside, and so softer on the outside.
Now we’re to the story of Jade.
This woman was tough. Really, really tough. Chip on her shoulder. And, as the show went on – she surprised everyone by learning how to be soft.
She simply opened up, watched how the other women were doing it, and used her skillfulness at posing, at the technical aspects (and her skills were and still are considerable – I’ve seen her in a few magazine spreads since…) and then just …let go.
Her fierceness was there, but her eyes were soft. Her chin and jawline were soft. Her arms and hands were soft. She was this completely interesting tough girl with a totally soft exterior. I loved it.
And one day, they had a challenge (you know how those reality shows work…). They fooled the models. They sent them to a fake “call” for a modeling agency…where they were to show the three “important people” behind the desk their photo portfolios and talk with them. Only – the trick was – the three people were to totally RUN DOWN the models…Tell them awful things about themselves and their photos.
One after another, the women came in feeling happy and confident, and as they sat there and heard that their chins were too sharp, their eyes too small…anything the fake important people could think up…you could see their faces fall. The women looked horrible when they left.
To cement how this was – they took pictures of them as they came into the office, and then pictures as they left. It was like before and after a horror show.
Except for Jade.
They threw everything at her. They said her face was “hard.” They said her hair was awful. They said her mouth was too full…they laid it on…and this is what Jade said to each nasty remark:
“Oh…yeah – isn’t that cool. ” She AGREED with them, and then turned it around – like, “Yeah…I have such a strong face, that’s sort of my signature…” (And she was smiling – genuinely – the whole time.)
Everything they threw at her, she turned into a positive. Right there, without even thinking, she took each comment and turned it around.
And she didn’t really seem to know what she was doing. It wasn’t like she had some “elevated” or “false view of herself.” It wasn’t obnoxious – it was endearing and powerful.
What was so powerful – and you just FELT it – was her absolute refusal to let anyone else define her. She was totally okay with herself.
She didn’t need to defend or explain. She simply rejected any negative INTERPRETATIONS of her. She made her OWN interpretations – and shared them.
SHE chose what was the BEST interpretation – to her. The truth was that some of her features were different from many other models. They made it a “bad” thing. The interpretation she chose was that it was a GOOD thing. She made up GOOD stuff, instead of buying their BAD stuff.
And I want you to do this.
Whatever your mind, or someone else, or your fear is screaming at you about you…Just say..”Oh…yeah…so glad you noticed…” Try: “Yeah! I do have that gray streak in my hair…isn’t that cool…! …and I love all those new hair colors they have – I can’t wait to try them all…what fun!”
As silly as you’ll feel – I tell you – it looked GREAT on Jade. And she was someone you didn’t want to like…but you just respected the heck out of her, and wanted to be just like her in that moment.
My daughter and I were whooping during that minute Jade was dealing with the negative people – and we never forgot it.
Now, all we have to say is….”like Jade…” when anything negative happens…and we laugh and turn it around.
Let me know how the Jade trick works for you…