Have you ever been hit on by a drunk bro on a nude beach?
Well, I have.
This particular bro was wearing nothing but a knit skater hat and over-sized pecs. He talked to anyone young and female until he was either rebuffed or redirected to their boyfriends. And he introduced himself to anyone that would listen as “The King.” Yes, The King—definite article and all.
That he was going to talk to me, too, was inevitable. He sat down next to me, slung one uncoordinated arm around my shoulder, and introduced himself once again. The King didn’t even bother to ask my name—either he was too drunk to care, or wouldn’t have cared sober. Instead he asked, “So…what do you do?"
I probably should have told him that I was a plumber or an office worker or a leper. But instead I told him the truth: “I’m a nude model."
The King gave me a big, sloppy grin. “See?” he said. “I thought you were pretty before I knew you were pretty!"
This is one of the worst pick-up lines I’ve ever received. It’s probably tied with “I like your boobs.” The King delivering it with a drunken drawl certainly didn’t help.
But it also struck me as a little odd. If I had said I worked in an office, I’m sure he would have used a different line. But because I mentioned modeling, suddenly it was “proof” that I was pretty, and he could claim to have “known.” Never mind that I was sitting in front of him; it was the job that made him sure.
I guess it made a cynical kind of sense. We expect models to look pretty. So if someone is a model, we see what we expect. Or in other words, we “know” someone is pretty, whether we think they are or not.
Thinking about The King’s statement made me realize there was more to it. The effect worked both ways.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: before I started modeling, I thought I was unattractive. I thought I had an ugly face, and a worse body. I hated looking in the mirror.
If I had to guess, I’d bet most people think the same way about themselves. We’re really good at focusing on our flaws, and assuming everybody else does too.
But after my first photo shoot, I got back pictures of a model. And that model was me. It literally and figuratively put me in a different light: modeling forced me to acknowledge the beauty that had been there all along.
So how do you know you’re beautiful? Well, sometimes it takes a photo shoot to show you. But I can guarantee you one thing: the beauty really is already there. Modeling just shows you where to look.
And sometimes, it takes a very drunk naked frat boy to make you realize it.