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PAGEANT MODELING STANDOUT: Miss East Coast USA Teen NY 2005 Heidi Edwards, demonstrating a grace and wisdom beyond her years, was picked up by Model Management Group in New York City and appeared in runway shows during New York’s Fashion Week.

In any competitive field rife with rejection, a young person’s success often depends upon her ability to handle these challenges with maturity.

I have never been totally in agreement with the lament of the famous Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: “Oh why is youth wasted on the young?” I think that in today’s world our young men and women do not waste a minute of their youth. They are imbued with the spirit of enthusiasm, ambition, curiosity, courage, and the determination to take advantage of every moment and opportunity that life has to offer. Obviously life was a lot different in Mr. Shaw’s day (1856-1950), and his mischievous, often caustic, sense of humor infused his writing.
Teenagers are the future of every profession. In the modeling world, they are the reason the industry exists. I am constantly researching the modeling industry and interviewing young models, and I am always impressed with their passion and determination. As this is the time of year when many young women are thinking of career paths, they can learn a great deal about professionalism from the young model. These girls must learn the ropes of their business quickly in order to survive in a competitive profession riddled with rejection. The same commitment applies to contestants in beauty pageants, prospective cheerleaders, aspiring actors, young people involved in playing sports, and in fact to all teenagers no matter what their goals. The dream, the need for patience and financial investment, the excitement, and the disappointments are the same.
Here are some invaluable tips for handling challenging situations gleaned from models, which will help no matter what career or interest you are pursuing.
Rude behavior. Professional behavior and a good attitude are essential to success. Be reliable, punctual, adaptable, considerate, pleasant, and loyal. A bad attitude will end a career before it starts. If you have had a fight with your boyfriend, a disagreement with your parents, or you just don’t feel like giving 100 percent, you must lose the pout and lack of energy that goes with it before you go on an interview, try out for cheerleading, or take any step in your career.
Shailah Edmonds: “I once got a job because I sat up straight in the waiting room with a smile on my face.
I have often been invited to sit with model agents during interviews with prospective models. They all told me that if a girl walked into the room and didn’t smile, greet them, and show enthusiasm, they were just not interested no matter how beautiful she might be. Top international model, Shailah Edmonds, told me: “I once got a job because I sat up straight in the waiting room with a smile on my face. There were a lot of girls there for the same job, but I got it because the clients liked that first impression. You just never know who is watching you, or when.”
Weight problems. All teenagers must know how to handle excessive weight fluctuations. Anorexia and bulimia plague the modeling profession, and the industry is blamed unfairly for the rise in these deadly psychiatric problems. In many cases, young people have the problem before they become models.
Jules Graff co-owner of Isis Model Management in London, England, told me: “Bulimia and anorexia are not symptoms of modeling if a girl has it when she starts. A girl is not going to become anorexic just because she is a model. Models are naturally tall and thin. That is what is required for the job. That is why they are an easy target.” These eating disorders can often be overcome with good psychiatric care.
How you look and feel depends greatly on a healthy lifestyle. Your face will show the first signs of fatigue, which can often be interpreted as a lack of interest or boredom. To constantly fight a weight battle is hopeless and dangerous. Talk to a nutritionist and learn what is right for you. There are 3,500 calories in a pound of body weight. To control weight you must understand the intake and output of these calories. Intake is the easy part! Output means exercise. Balance is everything. Time and effort spent on learning good nutrition is a good investment.
Exercise in moderation, follow a healthy and balanced diet, and get adequate sleep. We all need discipline and boundaries in our lives. Learn good habits while you are young and you will have less stress to deal with as you pursue your dreams.
Drugs. Drugs are readily available, not only to young models but also to all teenagers, and their use is all-too-prevalent. To be caught with drugs overseas can mean being sent to prison and deportation. Drug use almost always leads to the user’s ongoing downward spiral, resulting in unprofessional behavior, unacceptable appearance, unreliability, ill health, and even death. Don’t become a statistic. Don’t ruin your life. Say “NO” to drugs!
Industry scams. There are rogues and self-styled experts in every business, and con artists can be so convincing. Models are easy targets, and the Internet multiplies the risks. Never before in civilization has good and evil traveled so quickly. The web can be extremely dangerous for eager young people who think that, by using the Internet, they can gain immediate success. Perhaps a few can, but more often scams are involved, because if something sounds too good to be true, it generally is. The solution? Don’t answer advertisements without first consulting with your parents, who should check out all the details.
Insecurity. Everyone is insecure in some measure. It is a scourge even in the rarified world of the super model. One beautiful top model told me: “We are always looking over our shoulders to see who the next new face will be.” A little insecurity is good for us, for it keeps us humble and makes us nicer people. In order to keep a lack of self-confidence to a minimum, though, it helps to educate yourself in every aspect of your prospective career or interest. Also, having your wardrobe in good shape; keeping your hair, nails and teeth looking their best; and acquiring some general knowledge of current events will help to boost your confidence during interviews or auditions.
A little insecurity is good for us, for it keeps us humble and makes us nicer people.
The decision-makers want young ladies who can take care of themselves, hold a conversation, and answer questions or express opinions on current topics. All of the young models I spoke to offer the same piece of advice: “Believe in yourself and be yourself.” A façade becomes transparent quickly. If you are prepared, look and feel great and are honest in your approach, you will feel confident.
Although you may not choose to pursue a modeling career, you can learn a great deal from the young model who deftly handles these challenging situations. Here’s one final piece of advice that virtually everyone in the modeling industry would endorse: “Don’t give up your dream!”
Eve Matheson is the author of The Modeling Handbook, a bestseller in the industry. She has been writing about the modeling and acting world for over twenty years. Her new book Model Scoop And Acting Info provides a wealth of information on how to have a happy, successful, safe career and is now available. Eve is a journalist and the mother of a former international model. She has worked as a model, and in radio and television as a writer and presenter. Eve lives with her husband, Ian, a plastic surgeon, in Tampa, Florida.

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