You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. This is a cliché quote, I know. But it’s true, and it’s the mindset I had when applying to the Vogue Global Open Casting. For those who don’t know, a few weeks ago, Vogue held an open model casting on the Internet. Female-identifying individuals 18 years or older could apply to have opportunities with Vogue. No agency affiliation was required and you could be based anywhere in the world. You just had to submit pictures of yourself using an online form, and also post a public profile video of yourself walking.
Before even submitting, I was worried about that latter requirement. But as someone who wants to get into modeling on a professional scale, I was not going to let a TikTok video stop me. However, that little 20-second video created a whirlwind of emotions. It created such an emotional experience that I had to change my writing approach for this specific article. Usually, I just let the words flow out of me, but today, I had to outline my thoughts to help me harness everything I needed to say. So let’s get into my narrative with the Vogue Global Open Casting.
I’ve never had the strongest runway walk. Even with 10 years of pageant experience, it’s my weakest area, and it stems from a variety of challenges from my past (be patient with me, I promise we will get into it). However, I’ve improved so much. My walk still isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s better than it once was. Going into this casting, I knew my walk would most likely not stand out among the hundreds of girls who entered and already received millions of views and thousands of likes. However, I still hoped that maybe I would have my own little viral moment. I know with viral videos also comes a variety of opinions, but I let the hope that someone would see my potential lead my actions.
And I was right when I said a viral moment comes with a variety of opinions. After consulting two of my former pageant coaches and my mom, I chose a video, chose an audio and wrote the caption with all the appropriate requirements. Immediately, the video started gaining more traction than anything else I had posted, and initially, all the comments were really nice and encouraging. Within a few hours, I started receiving my first negative comments, or “hate comments” if you will. The first couple said things such as “girl what” and “lol this has to be a joke.” At this point, I just let them roll off my back, especially when other kind people came to my defense.
But then, the negative comments increased in frequency. They were still outnumbered by positive and kind comments. However, everyone from people with over 100k followers to people with five followers and no profile picture were commenting on my walk and my look like I wasn’t a person with feelings. I also got plain unsolicited advice, which was more frustrating and annoying than hurtful, but I still wasn’t pleased to see those notifications.
I reached my breaking point three days after posting the video when I got a string of negative comments such as “Me pretending to be a model at 3am” and “Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you should model.” Someone even said I have a “hobbed knee walk” (I don’t even know what that means). What got me was people actually liking the comments as well. There were also comments teasing my look saying “looked tired” or that I had “taken too much melatonin” (I was sick the week I submitted, so that was a sensitive spot as well). One of my personal favorites said I had a “Roblox build.” I spiraled so much I was spaced out for half of my lecture, and broke down to my mom over the phone that afternoon. I know that in the modeling industry you have to have thick skin, and I consider myself to be relatively tough, but this hurt me more than I liked to admit. I’ve been bullied in real life, I’ve had friend drama that caused mean comments and rumors, I’ve even been yelled at by teachers in modeling school, but this was the first time that I was the recipient of mean comments on the Internet; the subject of people who didn’t even know me to mock and laugh at and not even give it a second thought. I had to stop myself from thinking, “Hey, maybe they’re right,” or being discouraged by my poor view-to-like ratio. It was a rough couple of days.
The reason I took these comments so hard is because my walk is a sensitive topic. Here is the part that I said to be patient about. I said my walk has always been a weak spot, and it stems from a medical disability I have. I have a genetic disorder called Marfans that affects my connective tissue. In high school, I was in and out of the hospital frequently. I’ve had five collapsed lungs, three lung surgeries and spinal fusion. I have metal staples in my lungs, metal rods and bolts in my back and hips that are not even because the middle of my body is off-center. There were periods of time when I could barely walk. There were times when I was fighting for my life. I basically am on an uneven playing field when it comes to perfecting a runway walk, and I am not saying all this to make excuses. I am saying all this to show that while I work hard to improve myself, there are some invisible barriers that cannot be seen that I have to work through every single day.
Originally, I wasn’t going to respond to any of the comments. I claimed I didn’t have the mental energy to engage in Internet debates. I was going to just ignore them and let them build up. But I quickly realized that the more they built up, the more uneasy energy was also building up inside me. I knew I didn’t owe anyone an explanation, but I felt a need to speak my truth and take control over the situation. So I went to the forbidden comment section and picked a comment. I ended up going with the comment “You look unique but your walk is terrible” and made a “get ready with me” Alix Earle-style video addressing the comments, sharing my story and giving the moral that it’s important to think before posting comments because you never know what someone is going through. If you can be anything, be kind, or just scroll.
Immediately after posting, I felt better. I felt that I took back control of my emotions and negative comments did not have such an impact on me. My comment section of the response video was filled with lots of love and positivity and it recharged me of all the negativity that drained me.
My response video did not end up receiving that much traction. It only has around 3000 views compared to my initial video that currently has over 50k, which I know is not a lot in the TikTok world, but it’s still the most viral I’ve ever been. The hate comments have slowed, but I still get one every now and then. For the most part, I remain unaffected, but I’m still not perfect. For example, just a few hours before writing this, someone gave me an unsolicited opinion saying that my face was good, but I need to work on my hair (that’s a new opinion) and it still made me feel a little uneasy, but the feeling went away more quickly than before. Overall, I have had to frame this in a positive mindset. I think about how this is my most successful video, and this just gives me a taste of what success in the modeling industry would be like because people are always going to have opinions. I have both my walk submission and response video pinned because I am proud of my journey, and I’m not going to bury or hide it.
At the end of the day, if a passion is that great, one can overcome anything. And this taught me that my dream to model professionally is important enough that I can overcome mean comments. I’m human, comments are going to hurt, but I’m not going to let people behind a screen take away my dream. I know my heart. I know I have a story worth fighting for and one day I could take my story and help others in my position right now. How can I give up when there’s so much more left to write in my narrative?
This is one of my longer articles, so thank you for making it to the end if you are here. Thank you for being part of my story. I’ll make sure the next chapter makes this one count.