Disappearing down the rabbit hole of aimless internet surfing, I recently landed upon a 2009 interview of supermodel and Leo DiCaprio babe, Bar Refaeli. She was plugging the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue after she’d gotten herself on the cover. When Ellen DeGeneres asked how she planned to follow this bikini-clad victory, Bar answered, “it has been my dream since I’m fifteen.” Then, giddy and at a loss, she proclaimed, “What am I going to do now?” as if she’d just climbed Everest or decoded the human genome.
I’m not saying everyone has to dream of curing cancer. But how is a non-athletic appearance in Sports Illustrated a great achievement? Who imagines wearing sand on their butt cheeks in the pages of a sports magazine the end all be all?
Now, I’m no dummy. I realize SI cover girls get mad cash, an adrenalin shot to their careers and solid proof the world considers them amazingly beautiful. Maybe it’s this last piece I don’t understand. Gorgeous women who view modeling as an end to some greater means, I get. But I’ve always wondered why any female over the age of thirteen wants to be a model. Eventually, it seems every woman should outgrow the need for the world to validate her cuteness.
Around age twelve, lots of my friends and I tried to become models. We’d arrived at that clunky stage where all we wanted was to be popular so we could dive into cliques and avoid having to construct real identities. For girls, “pretty” was the defining characteristic of those who enjoyed pre-pubescent social success, especially once buzzing hormones led us to boys. “Pretty” seemed the one thing a woman could be and have everything one could want from life – fame, money, friends, love. Models were the personification of pretty, and thus, being one was the ultimate validation of one’s beauty. Being a model was to pretty, what getting into Harvard was to smart.
There were girls already deemed pretty who apparently wanted to put an official stamp on their esteemed status by becoming models. Then there were those of us deemed fair to middling who hoped modeling careers would somehow raise our stock.
I was the latter. Who knows what I was thinking when I begged my mother to take me to a modeling agency. Maybe I hoped a scout would see something no one else saw in me and I could go back to school to tell everyone I was cute so stop ignoring me. Of course, I was rejected. But after nursing my ego back to health, I had the wisdom to identify more meaningful, less attention-whoring career goals. Like acting and writing.
The point is grown ups set goals that validate what’s truly unique and constant about them, right? Like their talents or creativity. Grown ups’ goals connect them with other people, with causes and activities that give them a charge and maybe even make a difference in how the world runs. I mean, if you want to be a model, you just want to be pretty for the rest of your life. All you have to show for this career choice is travel to the world’s most glamorous metropolises, a wardrobe full of designer clothes, chic parties and rock star husbands. Actually, that sounds pretty rad.
Anyway, if Bar really needs guidance on finding goals that measure up to the Sports Illustrated cover, I can offer some suggestions. For one, she could convince Leo to settle down and become mom to some of the best looking, most intense little rugrats this side of Tinseltown. She could spend a year traveling the world by boat. Work in a soup kitchen. Become a mime. Go back to school and become the hottest gal in the biology department. Become an activist working to save libraries, say, or lions. Drive Formula 1 race cars. Open up a café on a beach in Hawaii.
Bar, my dear, you’re only twenty six. Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues come out every year, and every modeling agency in every corner of the world is crammed with girls as cute as you. But now you have something they don’t. You have a bunch of money, which means, you have loads of freedom. So, life didn’t peak when you got SI’s cover. If you play your cards right, it was only the beginning.
[Image of Victoria’s Secret model hopeful from http://www.nydailynews.com]