A while ago a friend sent me an email saying that Fair Lady Magazine was looking for women to participate in a make-over (thanks Kirst!). I entered, not expecting to be chosen because, well, I’m never lucky enough to be chosen for this sort of stuff. So imagine my surprise when I Was in fact selected.
What followed was a number of emails from the Fair Lady editorial team requesting everything from my dress, shoe and shirt size to photographs of hair styles that I really disliked. That and infinite amounts of excitement on my part. I told anyone who would listen that I was about to have an adventure – and a few that wouldn’t – but even their glassy eyes weren’t enough to discourage me because I was getting a make-over baby!
As the day of the make-over drew nearer, I found myself filled with just as much trepidation as excitement. What if they totally messed up my hair (which I have been trying to grow) by cutting it uber short, making me look like a complete freak show. What if they wanted to dye it purple? Or even worse, black? What if they put me in horrible granny clothes? Or stuck pink and blue make-up on me? *Shudder*
But the nerves didn’t stop there. I will be the first to admit that I sometimes (read: often) have self esteem issues. Being on the larger side of chunky is not an easy thing to be, in a world obsessed with the skinny and svelte. So I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a more than a little afraid of not fitting in with the ‘fashion industry types’, of them not finding clothes that fit me, of being judged and (most of all) of looking awful in the photographs. There are no words to describe how afraid I was of the photographer. After all, this was likely to be a guy who spent his days looking at the likes of Candice Swanepoel in itty bitty non-clothes. And I was likely to look like a bizarre (if well made up) heffalump-crazy cat hybrid. I began to think that this might have been a mistake after all. How could I, with my frizzy hair, generous (cough) hips and round face, hope to look like I belonged at a magazine photo shoot.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. In fact, quite the opposite. The make-over turned out to be one of the most life-affirming – not to mention Fun (yes, with a capitol F) things that I have ever done. It was awesome! Which I suppose I should have expected because really, what could be better than spending an entire day in a salon while people fuss over you, making sure that you look your absolute best. Nothing, that’s what!
Apart from being treated like a celebrity for a day, one of the most amazing things about the day was how positive and supportive everyone was. The editorial team and make-up artist consisted of a group of warm, funny and amazing women. The photographer was an absolute honey. The make-up artist was a genius who even managed to make my non-existent eyebrows look good. The hair stylists at Tanaz Hair, Body and Nails were out of this world. My face shape and lifestyle were analysed and taken into consideration at every step and the colourist was an artist.
Every time I saw someone involved in the shoot, I was greeted with exclamations of delight and comments about how gorgeous I looked. I’m not sure if this is standard operating procedure when conducting a make-over photo shoot and to be honest I don’t really care, because I left the salon that feeling like a billion bucks.
Now, those of you who have read this blog before will know that the only thing I love more than a good long list is an opportunity to learn something. Luckily, the make-over left me filled to the brim with good ideas and useful tips. So what follows is the long list of what I learnt from an incredible bunch of people.
What I learn from the hairstylists:
- If you have a round face, you should never have a middle parting because it will just leave you looking even more moon-faced than you are. This is something that I have carried through in my everyday life and I have to say, it really works. Side partings for the win!
- It’s all in the cut. Seriously, a good hair cut can completely change the way you feel about your hair – not to mention the way you look.
- If you use the right products you too can have model worthy hair.
- Don’t go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair colour. If you do, expect to look washed out and to have your colour turn ‘brassy’. I have to mention here that I adore my new colour, which is essentially a warmer version of my natural colour with a few lowlights. Or highlights. I can never be sure of which is which.
- Even dry, unruly and frizzy curly hair can look awesome if you spend some time on it and invest in the right products.
- The R5 Rule: Never spend a R5 coin. Don’t give it to the car guard, newspaper seller, your kid or your husband. Keep it. And every month (or three months, or whatever works for you) gather your R5 coins together and spend them on yourself. (If you’re like me, you might want to take your stack of coins to a bank and get them exchanged for notes. For some reason I have a horror of spending huge piles of coins…)
- Figure out what you can spend on your hair on a monthly basis and use this to come up with an annual hair budget. Then go into your salon (where you hopefully have an awesome stylist) and discuss with them the best way to allocate your funds. Will you come in once a month for a trim and colour touch up, or every three months for a cut, colour and some products? Let your stylist advise you, since they know their business better than you do. I really think that this, coupled with the R5 Rule, is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard.
What I learned from the make-up artists:
- Gel eyeliner just doesn’t budge and allows you to apply a precise line of exactly the right thickness.
- Even the experts use Mac (confirming a long-held suspicion of mine that Mac is the Bomb! (Unrelated to what I learnt at the shoot, keep an eye out for their new range of Wonder Woman products – awesome packaging plus really cool colours. Win!)
- Khaki and deep purple eye shadow makes for a great smoky eyed look. Despite sounding atrocious.
- For those of you who, like me, feel like a painted tart when you’re wearing anything more than a slick of eye shadow and some lip gloss: If it feels like you could scrape your name in your make-up, it’s probably just enough for a photo shoot.
- Blush really, really works. It defines our cheek bones and makes your face look thinner.
- Dewy beats the hell out of matte for skin. If you think about this, it makes total sense. Because no one’s skin naturally looks like matte powder. Not even grandmothers can pull of that look.
- The reason models have that ‘heroin chic’ look is because the hard core eye make-up that is used on photo shoots is Impossible to wash off. I washed my face about three times when I got home, once when I showered in the evening and once in the morning. I still went to work with eyeliner on; which, admittedly, made me look better.
- Eyeliner is your friend. It really makes your eyes ‘pop’. (But in a good way. Not in the B-grade horror movie way.)
What I learnt from the editorial team and clothing stylists:
- Accessorise, but keep it simple and understated. If you’re wearing a bold necklace, downplay the earrings. If your shirt has a lot of detailing, don’t wear a bold necklace. You don’t want to look like a Christmas tree on steroids.
- Try things on in a variety of sizes, even if you think you’re a large, a medium might look better. This has the added advantage of making you feel a lot better.
- The right earrings can make an outfit.
- Wearing heels not only makes you look taller, it improves your posture and makes you look and feel sexier. Just make sure they’re comfortable – which is easy if you spend a bit more and invest in good quality.
What I learned from the photographer (these are priceless tips because they really, truly work):
- Lean into the camera just a little, as if you’re about to speak to someone. This elongates the neck.
- Tilt your head slightly. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
- Don’t face the camera, turn slightly to the side. This makes you look thinner.
- Relax your shoulders. Again, I have no idea why this works, but it does. And the photographer seemed pretty insistent about it, so I guess it’s important.
- Sometimes a well placed but subtle pout can look awesome – pretend you’re drinking from a straw. (This is my tip, developed as a teen trying to look sultry. I’ve always felt that it looked too stupid to try in real life, but somehow it worked. Although I suspect that this is only true when you’re at a professional photo shoot with a photographer who knows what he’s doing.)
- ‘Pop’ one hip. In other words, stick one hip out as you balance your weight on the other foot. This is in no way a comfortable position, but it looks good.
- A fan gently blowing your hair back makes you look about 50 times hotter. If you can’t afford to hire someone to do this for you, make a plan because it makes a world of difference. I plan to train my three year old to carry a hand-held fan and then walk along in front of me (walking backwards, of course) to recreate this look. It may lead to years of therapy for him, but I think it may be worth it.
- It’s all about comfort. Once you’re happy, relaxed and comfortable, you will look beautiful.
- Photographers, especially the charming ones, are really hot. (I’m hoping my husband doesn’t read this.)
What I learned about being a model:
- It really isn’t as easy as it is looks. Being pulled, prodded and fussed over All Day can get a little old after a while. I can’t imagine how true this must be when you do it all day, several times a week for years. No wonder models look so miserable most of the time.
- It’s hot, hot work. Magazines work at least three months in advance for editorial and about four months in advance for this type of feature. So even though it was about 30 degrees outside, we were wearing winter clothes as the make-over will appear in the August issue of the magazine. And the lights are not exactly cool either. Plus, the blocked off all the windows (presumably for lighting purposes). Thank God for that fan. Maybe that’s why it made me look better – because it prevented me from melting into a decidedly unattractive puddle on the floor.
- You won’t be fed till after the shoot. I guess that’s why so many models look miserable. And how they stay thin. By the end of the day I was ready to eat my arm.
Thus ends the epic 2 000 word tale of my make-over experience and what it feels like to be a magazine model. I’ll be sure to upload a pic as soon as I am able. Keep an eye out for the August issue of Fair Lady and/or the website to see the results!
I must end off by saying thank you to Shereen, Kerese, Shelene, Pepper and Justin. You guys were Fantastic! Thank you for making the day such a blast.