I didn’t plan this -- if it were up to me I would be the hottest bitch in the room at all times. But that was not in the cards for me, because two of my best friends are models.
They are paid in confirmation of their good looks while I am forever investing in my own. They know nothing of the bronzer it takes to conquer my paleness, or what it's like to embrace the suffocation of Spanx. They are the reason girls like me develop body issues. (I tell them this on a regular basis; for some reason, they don't find it as funny as I do.) But they are also two of the most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of having in my life.
I really fucked myself here didn’t I?
I spent my entire adolescence struggling with a paralyzing social anxiety. Any negative interaction was amplified a thousand times; a strange glance in the hallway was threatening, a forgotten invitation was full of spite. Although I was an equal opportunity nutcase, girls were the worst. Their words and glances always had hidden meanings behind them, and these meanings were never good. That nauseating feeling inside and the tightness that pressed down on my chest held me back from parties, conversations and friendships throughout my high school existence.
So obviously, befriending some of the most intimidatingly beautiful girls I can find is a terrible idea, right? Why would I subject my already fragile psyche to a life in which I'm not just in second place -- I don't even belong on the fucking podium?
I'm not trying to fish for compliments or downplay my own appearance; I'm not ugly. But I've set myself up for disaster. With the company I keep, I am forcing comparisons where I will never come out victorious. I'm never going to be the pretty one, not up in here.
My own parents have actually asked me, “How can you ever meet a guy with such good looking friends?” Let’s ignore the obvious parental missteps here; there is too much validity to this point. I can’t even count the number of times a male friend has asked, “Could you set me up with her?” or, “Do you think I have a chance?” Most of the time they don’t, so part of my job as Best Friend Of Models has become shooting down the dreams of men everywhere.
I have fallen for a guy, fully committed myself to a crush, only to be completely devastated when he overlooked me for my BFF. He was mercilessly rejected, but that didn't take away the sting.
But for all the hurt their unintentional beauty can cause, our relationships are symbiotic ones. They don't want to be my downfall; my friends try to be the ultimate wing women. They lure men in with their Amazonian charm and then thrust me upon them like a prize they had no intention of winning.
Thanks to the college hookup culture (as my mom would say, “What exactly is this 'hooking up'?”) and my general awkwardness, there is little romance involved in these encounters. Maybe a drunken makeout and a number exchange if we're lucky, but you get the picture. Ma gurlz got ma back. They refuse to outshine me despite their genetic predisposition to do so.
I acknowledge that it can be slightly irritating when your online shopping spree is interrupted by your best friend's face, staring at you, your future outfit already looking better on her. But it can also be kind of awesome. I fully screamed with joy when I saw my friend’s first appearance on my favorite site; I screen-shotted that shit and emailed it to my entire family -- I was so proud you’d think I had birthed her.
And aside from the mounting sense of pride I feel for that face on the screen, how else would I find out that sweater was actually super uncomfortable? Or -- true story -- those pants only fit well because someone pinned them all up and down her ass crack? INSIDE KNOWLEDGE people, that's what it's about.
These online spreads also make for some excellent laughs when your friend is thrown into a Hello Kitty onesie and posed like "an idiot" (her words, not mine).
And yes, I am enduring the Jillian Michaels workout series (bitch is INSPIRING, okay?), aerobicizing like a spaz in my living room, solely in preparation for a beach trip with these girls. But can I really complain that my friends cause me to engage in healthy exercise? That their career-driven need to be fit makes me drag my ass to the gym too? MY FRIENDS MAKE ME WANT TO WORK OUT SOMETIMES. THOSE ASSHOLES.
Lastly -- I have to say it -- models are people, too. I know, I know, they’re thin, symmetrical, genetically gifted people, but people all the same. And their insecurities are as real as mine, if not more so. I am the only one with the right to criticize my body, my skin, my hair, and my nail beds. As a model, you invite the criticism. You serve your body up on a platter and give countless people the authority to assess your every physical aspect.
People with a professional entitlement tell them they aren’t perfect every single day. And my beautiful friends don’t get to call them jerks, because it's actually that person's JOB to judge the beauty of others.
I obviously don’t pity them -- they chose to partake in a cutthroat and ludicrously nitpicky career. But there is no schadenfreude here. These are two of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever met -- they’d have to be for me to endure their good looks for so long.
I am not going to pretend it doesn’t feel like shit on occasion, that I don’t find myself lost in the shadow of their long limbs and hair and general beauty. But I can always count on them to pull me out of it, drag me into their spotlight, and tell me I belong there. If being friends with them means I won't always be the prettiest girl in the room, I can accept that -- because it usually means I am the happiest.