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One Writer’s Journey down the Catwalk: A Story from College Fashion Week

7:05 PM: I’m standing in line waiting to hit the runaway as a fur jacket hits me square in the face. Then, I see a girl get her complicated braid hairdo stuck on a clothing rack. Welcome to College Fashion Week DC.

Let’s roll back the clock here to September when I posted a selfie and wrote a Her Campus article explaining why I wanted to be a body positive model for College Fashion Week. And, to my complete surprise (seriously, I read the email literally 10 times) I was chosen for this year’s show in DC. I was in for the ride of my life.

Flash Forward to October 17th: I just arrived at Hotel Washington, or the W Hotel located right next to the White House (THE ACTUAL WHITE HOUSE). The lobby was gorgeous, decorated with caricatures of presidents and complete with fancy-looking guests. I made my way down to the convention space and was, to be honest, a bit overwhelmed. The runway area was set up with a paneled entrance just like in the VS fashion shows with chairs for over 400 attendees. Even thought I was excited, I was hit by a rush of self-doubt. What did I get myself into?  I worried that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, or interesting enough to be chosen for this huge-scale event. But as soon as I checked in with the Her Campus staff and headed over to help the other girls stuff gift bags, all of that went away. Everyone was so kind, open and most importantly, they were real collegietes with real bodies and fearless attitudes. We were in it together.

After meeting with all of the girls, we hit the ground running. We helped Her Campus staff prep for the show, tried on clothes, learned how to runway walk and were taught how to pose. PSA: Runway walks IRL are super slow and it is a real struggle to master, so props to the professionals. We also received sample goodies from the sponsor tables. (I probably ate my weight in Luna bars and am now officially obsessed with Jamberry nail press-ons, just a couple of the sponsors’ offerings). But, the highlight was, of course, getting my hair and makeup done by amazing professionals.

As college kids, it’s rare to get pampered, so we were all pretty excited. The hairstyles for the show were three variations of braids, and my assignment was the Dutch braid. My stylist was hilarious, and really made me feel at ease, even through the pain of the tight ‘do. After hair, I got “natural” makeup done that magically hid my “ I-pulled-an-all-nighter-last-week” dark eye circles. I was ready to hit the runway.

For the show, I walked in the “Modern Punk” group wearing a Kim K-inspired green, bodycon skirt and a matching half-turtleneck top. I also rocked a black furry vest and high-heeled taupe booties that essentially had to be pried out of my hands; I loved them so much. All of my clothes were from Macy’s. There were four different groupings of girls, with each group having a specific “look.” My group was last, which gave me the most amount of time to stress out backstage while watching the exhilarated other models emerge from the runway in a flurry. When it was my group’s turn, we all lined up and one by one the girls in front of me trotted out onto the runway. Then it was my turn. I faked a fierce Mary-Kate and Ashley “Prune” face and burst out into the lights, in front of 400+ people. I hit my first pose, and it was honestly all a blur of adrenaline and cameras from there. It was pretty crazy, but somehow all of my nerves dissipated and I just felt confident. I knew I looked great. I knew I was walking well and posing well, and I knew that the pictures taken of me would be fierce. Maybe the pros are on to something, because I haven’t felt that confident since I opened my first fashion magazine.

“Blurry model aesthetic. Thank you @hercampusfw for an amazing experience this weekend!” –@danigrowlz

As soon as I jumped offstage, we had to go on for the finale when every girl in the show walked again. During that final walk with college women of every body type, race, “look,” and style walking in confidence together, along with a supportive crowd of people cheering us on, I thought, “this is what a real runway show looks like.” Her Campus just started the trend before the rest of the world caught on.

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