Hot girl #2

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Hot girl #2

Melissa Stetten in Santa Barbara, California. Photo by James Gunn

Because I’m getting older, my days as a model are numbered – and I’m not sure what to do next

Melissa Stetten was born in Kalamazoo in Michigan. She is a writer, photographer and model. She blogs at Pretty Bored and lives between New York City and Los Angeles.

2600 2,600 words
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I’ve spent the past few days avoiding sunlight. I had acid put on my face to get rid of never-ending acne scars, and my dermatologist gave me strict instructions to stay indoors. She said that if I were to go in the sun, or even get close to a window, the acid would reactivate to burn my skin again. I was basically told to stay home and watch Netflix for 72 hours.

I intended to comply, but soon realised I’d forgotten to refill one of my antidepressant prescriptions. If I didn’t make it to the pharmacy soon, my brain would start firing off these ‘zaps’, like it always does when I miss a pill. I had to travel only a few stops away from my Brooklyn sublet so I figured 30 seconds in the sun would be a piece of cake. I slathered on SPF 100 sunscreen and put on a hat and sunglasses. I looked like Bill Cosby from the film Ghost Dad, if he were white and wearing cut-off jean shorts. I got off the subway and ran into the store. My face was already burning. The pharmacist handed over my Wellbutrin, and I ripped it open and swallowed a pill using only my saliva.

The reason I put myself through this torture is because I’m a model working in a world obsessed with eternal youth. My face is my employee, and the industry we work in doesn’t reward time and experience. In fact, it does just the opposite. I use a bunch of different medications to keep my skin looking decent, because I was cursed with acne as a kid, and it never seemed to go away. Facials and lasers are expensive, and sometimes painful, but they are part of my job. I have grown accustomed to this, but lately, I’ve started wondering how long I want to be waking up every day fearing what I’ll see in the mirror. I need to figure out my post-model life before I start injecting comedy amounts of chemicals into my face to look younger.

Initially, I saw modelling as a side job, but when I moved to New York and signed with an agency, I switched to full-time. I was making good money and had a lot of free time, which I occupied by sleeping more than 10 hours a day. I had been working 30 to 40 hours a week since I was 15, so this lax schedule was new to me. I had no idea how to fill a day, and so I slept.

After a while, I realised I preferred to be busy. I have more energy when I’m running around to 12 castings a day during fashion week. It keeps my mind from wandering. Not like I’m doing tons of thinking while posing for photographers, but being in a creative environment with people who are ambitious and passionate about their work helps. I can find things to do, even if I’m sitting in a make-up chair for hours. I read, write jokes, and take photos. I made a website called Models on Phones that is just pictures of bored models on their cell phones waiting for castings and make-up. First rule of modelling: never forget your phone charger.

I’ve always been more interested in the unconventional experience of modelling than in collecting pretty pictures of myself. Yeah, I need money to pay rent and buy organic beets at Whole Foods, but most of all I like sharing my behind-the-scenes stories. If I could write about my experiences in the modelling world forever, I would. I started a blog a few years back so I could write about the people I’m confronted with, and I like to make fun of myself to amuse others. I attribute it to growing up lower-class with horrible acne. I think I continue modelling to make up for being the unattractive, weird girl in school. Every boy I had a crush on wanted nothing to do with me because I was tall and had teeth that were too big to fit inside my mouth. When I hung out with my friends and their boyfriends, I was the funny, sarcastic girl who pretended she wasn’t bothered by being undesirable.

At first, I worried that my blog would come off as a self-indulgent boring mess of drivel. In the end, it has become my favourite work. I love getting emails from people who read it and thank me for being honest and entertaining. What’s the point of being a model if I can’t exploit all the non-glamorous, behind-the-scenes bullshit I deal with? I write what I write because I don’t want people to idealise the modelling experience, and I don’t want people to presume that I can’t think for myself just because I won the bone structure lottery. I often wake up at 5am in a panic about my life decisions. I constantly wonder if I’m a good person, just like everyone else. Sometimes writing about modelling is its own kind of antidepressant. Finishing a blog gives me more sense of accomplishment than booking a Cosmo editorial about which underwear makes your butt look hot. But the thought of having to figure out what to do with my life after modelling is frightening.

Whether it’s writing or something else, I must decide on a new course soon, because I’m getting too old for this business. How crazy is it to think I’m old when I’m still in my 20s? I feel weird about even admitting my age. I have to say ‘20s’ because it means I could possibly be 25. But we all know that when a girl says: ‘I’m in my 20s’, it means she’s either 28 or 29. I often think about my place in the modelling world and how my career is almost over. It’s sad and exciting at the same time. Once I’m not waiting for emails about castings or booking my next facial, I’ll put my energy into something that won’t make me feel worthless. Maybe I’d be a great host for the reality TV show Project Runway? ‘Hey Tim Gunn, why don’t YOU make it work, ya big knucklehead?’ But, there’s no way I could take myself seriously hosting a show about fashion or models and, besides, I can’t speak to a crowd of more than three people without wanting to die.

‘Why don’t you just marry a rich older guy so you don’t have to figure out a new career?’ That’s a great question, imaginary person. I once overheard a guy say he thought most models were prostituting themselves to rich men because they always carry around expensive purses. I know girls who do that. It’s easy to date rich older guys if you’re a beautiful young model. The difficult part is finding one who’s not married or a total douchebag. If you’re OK with that, then go ahead and sleep with a spray-tanned 65‑year-old who works out too much and has a multi-million-dollar loft decorated with cheesy art. If I lacked standards and pride but valued Valentino shoes, I’d be eating oysters with that guy, instead of writing this right now. But alas, I could never date a guy who didn’t make me laugh hysterically. Looks like I won’t be adding ‘trophy wife’ to my list of post-modelling endeavours.

I think I look bad about 95 per cent of the time. I have even apologised to people for having to look at my face when I have a blemish. My insecurity breeds my anxiety, which is one of the reasons I take antidepressants, besides just being depressed in general. I don’t entirely blame modelling for my depression, but I know it’s not helping. Needing to look perfect all the time with an already fucked-up brain chemistry is not a great combination. I started taking pills shortly after I began modelling. They don’t fix everything, but they have saved my life so far. Numbing my fear and constant worrying is the only way I can get out of bed some days. It’s a shame I don’t do fun drugs because people seem so happy and energised on them. When I did coke with my friends, it felt great for about 20 minutes. We were totally going to start a band, but then I felt like dying when it wore off. All I can play on the guitar is one Counting Crows song and half a Green Day song, so it would’ve been a shitty band anyway.

There’s no amount of mascara that will make a client like me more. At castings, they usually have an image in mind of the model they want to use before making an ad. When I read the criteria for an audition, the roles I’m cast for are usually described as ‘mid‑20s’, ‘quirky’, and ‘approachable’. I usually fit the bill, but it’s not quirkiness they’re seeing, it’s anxiety. Any approachability I give off is just a fake smile and the remnants of my Midwestern accent. Photo shoots are crude transactions when you’re a model. After I sign my name, I lose my identity, because clients do everything they can to transform you into their vision. I’m no longer Melissa, I’m ‘Hot Girl #2’, a mere object beneath layers of make-up and hair extensions. I barely look like the person I really am. People have said so many times: ‘Wow, that doesn’t even look like you’ when they see my modelling photos. Well, it’s not. It’s hard to recognise myself in the photos sometimes. I have way more lines on my face, and more weird bones in my nose, than the Photoshopped version of me lets on.

I like it when people ask if I’m a model, but I hate it when they ask: ‘What do you do?’ and I have to say: ‘I’m a model.’ That makes sense, right?

My friends say I should take advantage of my looks while I can. That makes sense, I guess, but I’d know I was just postponing the inevitable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to work in different places. This past year I’ve worked in New York, London, and Los Angeles. I would probably still be in London if it weren’t for my last relationship ending. My ex was there shooting a movie and I went with him, but I got the ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ speech and had to move back to the US. It definitely was me. I’m too insecure to have a boyfriend. It always feels like I need them way more than they need me. Don’t say: ‘But you’re a model and you have nothing to worry about.’ I have everything to worry about. Sometimes it seems logical to move back to the Midwest and marry a guy who has nothing to do with the entertainment industry and who worships me. He has to be way funnier than me, though. I wonder if the stand-up comic Louis C K would move to Kansas with me? We could be depressed and hate everything together. It’d be great.

Aside from getting blog material, sometimes it feels like the only reason I’m still modelling is for the title. I like it when people ask if I’m a model, but I hate it when they ask: ‘What do you do?’ and I have to say: ‘I’m a model.’ That makes sense, right? Totally. The moment people hear ‘model’, they examine me to see if I’m worthy of the title. It’s so uncomfortable. Sometimes people look surprised, and I’m not sure how to respond to that. ‘Sorry I don’t look like a model right now because my face is breaking out, but I swear if you could see my waist-to-hips ratio you’d totally understand.’ I’m sure that won’t make me look crazy or anything.

One time I was feeling really shitty about my appearance and a guy said: ‘Hey dummy, you’re a model, like, that’s your job, you get paid to be beautiful, not everyone can do that, so shut up about your body.’ He was right, but he also wanted to have sex with me, so was not to be trusted. Most of the time I feel OK being naked around a guy, but it’s tough when other models are around. Last month I had to try on a bunch of outfits while 10 models were all sitting against the wall waiting for their turn. I stripped down to my strapless bra and thong and stood next to a clothes rack while three people who didn’t speak English put clothes on my body. When I was finished, another designer doing a casting asked if I could try on his clothes. I went to put my clothes back on but he told me just to leave them there. I didn’t want to walk across the room in a thong, even though models are used to seeing each other naked. The thought of 19-year-old models staring at me as I walked past them naked gave me anxiety. They have perfect bodies and I don’t. I put on my shorts anyway and ran over there like a weirdo. I ended up booking that job.

There is this illusion about modelling that people kiss your ass all day long and give you anything you want. The only fawning attention I get from modelling comes from gross men who stare and make inappropriate comments. I’m not out at bars every night doing bumps of coke or guzzling free drinks. I’m home early five days a week putting moisturiser on my face, thinking I’m fat, and drinking water. When you’re a model, you know that last night’s cocktails show up as dry skin on your face the next morning. I might have been able to swing that a few years ago, but not any more. I need to make sure I’m doing everything I can to look 10 years younger than I really am. Being a walking mannequin is exhausting. But maybe someday it will be worth it, when I finish my novel tentatively called ‘I Survived the Modelling Industry by Taking Antidepressants and Didn’t Even Have to Throw Up Once: The Melissa Stetten Story.’

So, what do I do now? I love living and working in New York. I make consistent money; I can drink at a bar until 4am on the weekends, and I move around sublets instead of having a permanent apartment. I really love that I can walk one block to a bodega for a sandwich. But how is that helping my future? In Los Angeles, my life is different. There I have a cat who is taken care of by my best friend who also shares my apartment. I also have a car, and my sister lives a few hours north in Yosemite, one of my favourite places to vacation. My manager is there, along with my commercial agent. I audition for TV shows, and meet people about developing fun things based on my blog. I’m moving in a somewhat constructive direction in LA. So what do I do now? I think I just answered my own question. My future is more important than a convenient sandwich.

Read more essays on design & fashion, gender, gender & sexuality and memoir


  • Ydre

    Why are you so desperate? Look great (still), head and shoulders above my wife, you are funny and intelligent, know a lot of people, have connections...e.t.c
    With a little confidence, I'm sure you'll manage to have a better life.
    If you ask me, any life is better than your current life, who looks more like an ordeal.
    You deserve way more than that!!

    • Raisa

      I hope your wife doesn't read this site.

      • Ydre

        And why not, it's just the gospel truth. Well, I want to make a statement here:
        I'm not married the most beautiful woman in the world. So what??
        A beautiful lie, is just a lie!

        • consuela

          It doesn't sound like you respect your wife or you wouldn't have even brought her up in the first place. You can give someone a compliment without belittling others if you learn to educate yourself on the concept of tactfulness.

  • Lester

    Get out of modelling immediately. Decommodify yourself.

    Let go.

    Pay attention to your deep awareness of the profound tenderness of life.

    Enjoy it.

    Step away from the illusory individual. Life is relationship.

    Live today.

    • Mal

      Why are you trying to tell her what to be? Your comment says more about you than it does about her.

      • Lester

        Of course it does. All comments do. And I guess I'm not telling her what to do as much as offering up alternatives that can be taken. Ways out of locked in behaviour.

        Modelling is a predatory and exploitative industry, and no one can deal with that without negative effects.

        Melissa says it has prompted pill taking and waking up in panic attacks, that it makes her focus on her appearance too a practically psychotic degree, that she's insecure and other models give her anxiety, that she cant trust the motives of others regarding relationships etc. etc.

        Isn't that enough for you to consider offering alternatives too?

        • tooCents

          What industry isn't predatory and exploitative?

          • Lester

            Sure, in general terms I agree totally.

            But finding the right level of exploitation and hypocrisy (in terms of ones own values) is up to each of us right? So for most individuals working in education or transportation is easier to manage than working in porn and advertising for example.

          • tooCents

            I wish I could work in porn right now.

  • LJ

    You sound like a funny delightful person with endless possibilities in life. You are young, healthy, and have a great job. You are lucky enough to know that you can choose your future and even have some ideas for that. Be happy in the now and the future will take care of itself. Enjoy that sandwich because that moment will never come again.

    • Mal

      Nobody would say that to a gymnast. Or any kind of athlete who hits their prime really early. It's amazing how catty women can be.

  • sodo1979

    Literally just about every other job in the world being perfect won't matter and the majority of your anxiety will disappear. Also, above average looking people always get paid more to do the same work as a less than average looking person. I am sure you will be fine. Just go get a regular job.

  • John

    So Anthony wasn't an older rich guy with a million-dollar pad who made you laugh hysterically?

  • brbpierogies

    Melissa! You are perfect reality show material. Seriously. Funny as hell, clearly smarter than the average bear — go get 'em girl.

  • Brian

    You are introspective, realistic, genuine, funny, talented, and much, much more based on my quick read. Find a guy who realizes that your looks are just a bonus to be appreciated as a lucky fluke. As far as a future career, dream and visualize the type of work that will make you happiest and start taking steps to get there. Best of luck!

  • Dytum

    The main laughable thing here is the current definition of model. Since what, 08 or so since DSL's became popular everyone thinks they are photographers and thus everyone whith a twitter, fb, instagram thinks they are a model.

  • Joe

    Regardless of your current life situation, it's your current state of mind that is making you unhappy. You need to deal with insecurities and anxiety at the root, or they will simply follow you to any new job, new city, new relationship. Looking for happiness in the external never lasts. Break the illusion your anxiety has trapped you in. It IS an illusion. Develop a deep awareness of the present moment, read 'The Power of Now' or take a meditation course. Get stoned and listen to Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles all the way through! All you need is love :)

  • hi

    This is one of the best written pieces I've read on this site. Great arresting intro and an honestly that keeps the reader interested. Good luck with your blog, forget about the modelling, you have a talent for for writing- from 'Not Someone Who Wants To Sleep With You' ;)

  • Dan DiGangi

    Nothing personal but your fault for choosing a career with a life expectancy. If you can't figure out your next step then your planning is the root of the issue.

    • Guest


    • skillnwill

      That's kind of a low blow. Most people when they start a job can't figure that far into the future anyways. Look at all the journalists and magazines that got put out of business from the internet, look at the city of Detroit when all the jobs left. You take what you can in this world.

      • Petey

        That's not even close to a fair comparison. The people you described didn't go into the industry thinking, "Oh well in 20 years something is going to come along and make us obsolete, better have a plan." Models get into the business knowing their looks will fade and they will be replaced by younger, prettier models. So it is just poor planning, not getting ambushed by a new technology or having your job suddenly outsourced. Here's an actual low blow: you're an idiot.

        • James

          Bros this article is not about some poor model who doesn't know what to do now that she is old(er). That's the launchpad, but the substance of the piece is one pretty girl eradicating stereotypes and exploring career change possibilities at a stage in life where most people are digging in for the foreseeable future. Surely those are themes that resonate with most of us. Why criticize someone for working a dream job when they're young, carefree, and can? Almost all of us won't work our career job in our 20s anyway--and frankly, who'd want to.

        • skillnwill

          You can call me what ever you want because you're sitting in front of your computer. The comparison is broad generalization of any type of industry. Pretty models push and faze our older ones. It applies to cars, phones, houses, and music. So, I must be an idiot because ...? Asshole.

    • Mara Zampariolo

      a lot of models become actresses, makeup artists, photographers, casting directors, retouchers, modeling agents and on and on... Modeling teaches a lot about the whole industry and that knowledge can be used later on ! (says a vintage models turned photographer ;) -

    • KillTeemoBecauseFuckTeemo

      Right because we can plan everything years ahead. Not only is it impossible but also not everyone can live with such a perspective in life.

      • Dan DiGangi

        No. You're right. But, you plan ahead for what you know and can expect for now but allow the flexibility to pivot as things evolve. Not planning years ahead because you can't guarantee it will be the case display a lack of truly understanding how to plan things in the longer term.

  • Ryan

    Nice writing, I enjoyed reading it while I was bored at the office. :) If I had any advise to give you it would to find a passion outside of work that challenges you and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Really immerse yourself in it and enjoy the satisfaction it gives you. Most people hate their job.

  • complexity

    Marry me. I think I just fell in love with my soul mate.

    • consuela

      ...and he will fall out of love just as fast.

  • anonimo9999

    unfortunately models do have a "shelf life" so save every penny from your bookings. Check out Lisa Bettany, a former model who stepped behind the lens and became a great photographer. Looking at your pictures you are well on your way to becoming one yourself, take advantage of the resource that you have on every photo shoot which is the photographer taking your picture, and ask every question that you can think of. I know you hear this a lot so one more time won't kill you, DDDaayyyuuummm you're HOT!! Best of luck

  • Julio

    I've meet a lot of women in the modeling industry and I can see exactly where you are coming from.

    Even though the mentality of most of them is to enjoy it while it lasts, it's hard to see women who were considered top of the industry break because they are not getting work anymore, or getting walkways because they personally know the designer or someone working with them.

    A few I know made the transition into other aspects or areas of modeling, others started business ventures of their own but most of them ended up working as PRs for nightclubs, brands or managing client relationships for businesses.

    My advice would be to look at your life in the long term and choose the path were you as an individual will be able to develop yourself fully. Immediate gratification feels great, but it will come back and bite you later on.

    • skillnwill

      Finally a good comment. A lot of assholes are ripping this girl up for being honest. She sounds like she'll turn out good.

  • Pharmosh The Bard

    You're fucking crazy.

  • Ianto_Jones

    There's always porn.

  • Imogen

    The people complaining about how you chose your job are ridiculous, everyone complains about their shitty job, and you have every right to complain about yours. Some people need to let go of the idea that modelling is in fact glamorous, you have every right to bitch about the industry- I would if I was a model.

  • Brade

    Maybe ask some former models what they did? Just a thought.

  • Cy

    Hey're a great writer! This article is very entertaining and I enjoyed reading it very much. It gave me a few chuckles. You seem to have a natural talent for writing, so why not go in that direction?

  • roflsauce truthserum

    LOL. In two years you'll be an escort.

  • V-ger

    You suck! Ha HA HA!

  • astralfrontier

    If you're looking for something after modeling, writing looks to be a very promising field for you.

  • Mario Perez

    Interesting, introspective piece. You've got a original voice in your writing Your sentences dance between honesty and critical judgment, making this a intriguing read. You've given me some thought about a possible character in my second novel, thank you. I firmly believe someone needs to be completely happy with themselves before they're able to be happy with another. Nietzsche talked about staring at the abyss of our soul when we are truly alone (alone isn't a bad term as well, it is where we find ourselves) and when we are there peering into that great unknown hidden within ourselves is when we are truly tested: we either run away in fear or face it. Find that deep treasure cove within yourself and maybe your path will open up. I can offer some worthy reads that may help, if you need it Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching for starters. Hope you find that happiness we all seek.

  • Jim Dawkins

    Ahh gee.. go to school, get educated in something that can get you a career?

  • Final_Word

    You're still young enough to do some p0rn.

  • thought

    learn to program and get a job that pays 100k+

    • Jeff

      I second the general concept, get more educated.

  • aelena74

    I hope that at least you're making something sensible with that money
    other than that, I really enjoyed this article

  • Sabrina

    Hi Melissa! I’m a “20 something” model too (or was up until
    last month)…not suffering from particularly bad skin, but my hip-waist ratio
    has never been perfect at 5’11 and doesn’t get easier every “something” I get
    older. Unlike you, I’ve never been really successful or consistent, always
    catering or hostessing on the side of being a mediocre model at a mediocre
    agency. And although I found myself resenting it all the time, the decision to
    leave or get out of it seemed scary and intimidating, even with a solid architecture
    degree under my belt. But in July, after doing a casting (where I had to
    pretend I was a sexy secret agent maneuvering under and around pretend red
    security lasers in 5 inch heels), I stood up off the ground and couldn’t
    straighten my knee. Actually, I couldn’t walk normal at all. And with no health
    insurance (of course) I waited to go to a doctor and discovered in August I’d
    need a minor surgery, so no fashion week or market week or the money I count on
    for practically the rest of the year. My brother’s mock runway walk of me was
    fantastic, my left-leaning walk/gallop…but after the laughter I’ve cried and
    cried. In one fell swoop I had to give up my apartment, jobs, friends, and move
    home. I’ve been a mess. But honestly I think some part of me is relieved that
    my knee made a decision for me, something I haven’t had the courage to do on my
    own. And happening when it did gives me enough time to have to find something else
    (hopefully) before next season with all its fasting and glamour and money could
    lure me back. Literally today I am applying to architecture and set design jobs
    at home. I’m also deleting my model friends on instagram that post all their
    job photos because it always makes me jealous.

    The unknown is scary to everyone. And modeling is harsh, but
    familiar, so you’ve been sticking to what you know…but you are a good writer
    and you have learned a lot of skills and things about yourself (self-awareness,
    self-image, how to use your looks, but also how to use your brains when people
    assume you’re an idiot, when to talk and when to shut up, you get the idea…tools
    that you’d never learn in school). You’ll be successful in what you pursue, and
    if it isn’t writing.

    Btw, there are a couple TED radio hours from NPR that feature
    TED talks about our generation (20something life /love/work) that have put me
    in a good headspace and made me feel more inspired as I start my ex-modeling
    career. (And hell, when you’re “30 something” you or if you still look too
    young, “40 something,” you can jump back into modeling for the botox ads we
    have all heard you can make so much money doing!) But really, you’ll be more
    than fine outside the entertainment industry, and I think you’ll find you’ll be
    happier there too.

  • Mal

    I can't beleive some of the comments - very jealous and backhanded. Nobody would say these things to a gymnast. Or any kind of athlete who hits
    their prime really early. It's about looks. and jealousy. It's amazing how catty women can be.

  • Cyber Dactyl

    This chick is so shallow it was actually painful to read.

  • Jeff

    Life's not knowing about what you want... but what you don't want.

    Go out and do or learn something. Go create and see what happens.

  • Bandit

    She always has her education to fall back on

    • higgins1993

      add to that her solid character development

  • albertabound

    You got an instalaunch That is a good start on a writing career.

  • Tanuki Man

    I guess pretension is better than no tension at all. If you ain't a Brit, it's spelled "favorite." In the future, no navel will be ungazed at for 15 minutes.

  • Joseph Corlett

    You're an excellent writer; keep it up.

    Do not associate anti-depressant use with modeling. Correlation is not causation. My wife of 32 years, a former executive, has to take them and will the rest of her life probably. Don't attempt to go off the meds without professional supervision.

    Save some money so you can have the freedom to do whatever comes next.

  • morganmacarthur

    take it as a blessing you're in a field that reminds you how short life is, and take the bull by the horns. the career will end, but everything does. at least (i'm guessing) you're not 35 saying "I have a cat" and wondering all these things, when for a lot of things it'll already be too late.

    really depends what you want. you won't stay beautiful forever, other than maybe to girlfriends that will call you fabulous while secretly celebrating your decline. you can leverage that beauty (and hopefully some kindness) into the best, most genuine relationship you can find and start a family. or you can run that beautiful car all the way to empty, and then complain about the patriarchy for a few decades.

    i don't expect many likes, but whatever. you can read between the lines and see you could be happy with a nice guy that makes you laugh. i doubt you look at or are exposed to too many of those in your field. but you can fix that.

    when all's said and done you can wipe your rear with your best photos-- family and children and a future is, in my opinion, what'll get you smiling, laughing, and off wellbutrin.

    • morganisadick

      What kind of fucking advice is this???

      Eat a shit sandwich and die, asshole.

      • morganmacarthur

        i would love more of your incisive opinion-- which part of 'take the bull by the horns', 'depends what you want', and 'in my opinion' did you take most issue with?

  • 5JimBob

    Save some money, it'll buy you options. Check out parts of New Mexico or SW Colorado, or SW Utah, get involved in the arts scene there, Nice people. At some point look for a slower pace of life because New York will eventually kill you. Maybe give Europe at try. Sophisticated as NYC but slower paced.

    You sound like a decent soul who's thinking out loud about her choices, There's lots, probably too many because that's the kind of world we live in at the moment. That will change someday. Best of luck

    • Heidiola

      Oh yes, save your cash - half your wages if you can since you are in such a mercurial industry. It will give you options galore. Most people who pull down decent money in glamorous industries forget to do this or think it's too complicated or prefer to drink/eat/fritter it away. But you are in life for the long haul and have much to offer. A nest egg will help you transition and there's incredible satisfaction and empowerment in saying "I'm retired" and knowing that you were smart enough to take care of the future you. Your 50 year old self will thank you. (Mine did.)

  • claudehopper

    This article has 2528 words that make up 146 sentences. The words I, I've, I'd, I'm, and my appear 235 times. This girl needs to get out more.

    • CharlyCigar

      She's a model. What were you expecting?

    • doubting_rich

      It is an article about her life. That is hardly a surprise or anything wrong.

  • jetty

    "Being a walking mannequin is exhausting. "

    I feel like I just watched Zoolander 2.

  • Steevo

    I'm gonna be another mean person and agree with Dan DiGangi. You write well and for a lengthy blog kept my attention, but this is your own doing and you really haven't owned up. You're a 'victim' at heart. You had it easy with youth and beauty while many needed discipline and sacrifice. Now you're complaining about the realities of age.

    I wish you the ability to grow and move on with the strength and courage most with no other choice in life require. But I don't feel any more sorry for you.

  • bggatbdl

    Just make sure you don't marry a Republican. They are vermin to the core, and love destroying the lives of women, children, minorities, gays, the elderly, the disabled, Muslims, and atheists for sport. And I have no doubt those bigoted Jesus freaks are going to tell you to find Jesus in your post-career. Don't listen to them, as they are filthy scum that want to control your right to choose in order to mindlessly obey someone that never even existed. Good luck to you young lady.

    • Joe Bar

      Anthony Cumia approves this post.

    • ridesdressage

      Yeah better yet, marry a democrat. Someone like Bill Clinton or John F. Kennedy. Maybe Ted Kennedy, but make sure you take swimming lessons before you go on a date with him....

  • WilliamK

    Hard work. Even if it is flipping burgers at MickeyDs.

  • Bernard

    I agree with other commenters; you're a great writer! I hadn't really intended reading your entire article, but you had me hooked at the second sentence. I guess what I'm really saying is, you managed a neat trick: you made me laugh and you made me care. All the best to you.

  • Bruno_Behrend

    For God's sake, girl! Stop being so insecure and revel in the fact that you are more attractive than 95% of the human race!!

    On top of that, you write well, and have a few brain cells to rub together. There is nothing wrong that a little growing up won't cure.

    Get married, have kids, and stop romanticizing being an adolescent. If it fits your mind and personality, use your brain and looks to get elected to something and make a difference.

  • Montgomery Draxel

    Don't know what to do next?

    Marry a rich dude before your looks fade. Everyone's looks eventually fade. Take advantage of it.

    That is what I'd do if I was a young, attractive model and not a middle age guy with a wife, a kid and a mortgage.

  • MBM

    Start furiously reading actual books about things that do not particularly interest you and write write write.

  • ridesdressage

    I am so sick of women moaning and whining about their future, love life, sex life, education, biological clock, whether to marry or become the CEO of a company. Stop it. Stop complaining and using your gender as a way to manipulate people. I realize that the public school system and put you on a pedestal during your schooling years, but they were wrong. You are now an adult. Grow up. Stop being selfish and prideful. Go do some volunteer work with the homeless, drug addicts, Aids victims, teenagers that have been involved in sex slave trafficking.... Quit your pity party and at least if you want to have one, keep it to yourself. Signed the world's biggest Anti-Feminist and my gender is female.....

  • Sylvia Ethel

    If you follow your inner guru, you will be fine; and from what you say here it seems obvious you are following your own, and right, path.

    I've been an editor for McGraw-Hill and YOU ARE A GOOD WRITER. If you just keep writing, writing, writing, I bet things will fall into place for you. There's plenty of us out here who are not creepy old guys, but happy retirees who love to give online help and encouragement to the next generation of great writers, editors, graphic artists and publishers.

    • Harry_Voyager

      As a voracious reader, I concur. To take it one step further, she may want to look towards writing articles that require a solid amount of research and translation from expert-speak to non-expert.

      I personally see a poorly filled market for in depth articles, and many doors open for someone who can master the art of being a charming diplomat.

  • Michael Lorton

    You say that men who want to sleep with you are not to be trusted, and that's mostly true. They will lie to you about their jobs, about their cars, their marital status, their apartments, almost everything.

    But one thing they won't lie about is how attractive you are. No one will ever think you are more beautiful than the man who wants to sleep with you. For that moment, you are a goddess. You are Ingrid Bergman and Scarlett Johansson and Aphrodite rolled into one. Your grandmother may harbor some small tiny doubts about just how pretty you are, but a guy lusting after you never will.

    The only exception: if the guy has read somewhere that subtle insults will undermine your self-esteem and make you more likely to give it up (and trust me, there are a lot of places to read that), he might imply you're less attractive than he thinks you are -- but trust me, he adores you.


    You can go a LONG WAY towards clearing up your skin by exercising regularly and eating right. Don't make excuses.

  • AlecJ

    You are definitely more interesting that most models, but it could all be an act just to get into my not buyin' it Missy.

  • doubting_rich

    Good luck with arranging your future! The real world is far more sane than the entertain

    My wife used to take some very heavy antidepressants. She managed to get off them just before we met, and always talked about those brain zaps. She still gets down sometimes, but when she nearly went back to the darkness and panic she tried everything to keep off the drugs. In the end she found a really odd therapy that helped a lot, TFT. I think it is related to hypnotism, but she can control it and do it to herself if she feels bad. Her therapist has a good friend who has moved out to LA. You might have heard of him, he's Paul McKenna, and is a well-known stage hypnotist in the UK. In fact it was thanks watching him use TFT on his TV show, at 2:00 one morning when she couldn't sleep, that we found out about TFT and through his website we found her therapist.

  • Francis W. Porretto

    The only rational approach to the author's situation is to treat her current occupation as a transition state -- a way-station on a journey to something else, hopefully something better. Lauren Hutton managed it. Gisele Bundchen managed it. Heidi Klum managed it. There are others. But it requires forethought, determination, planning, and effort, which are qualities Miss Stetten appears to lack.

    Granted, feeling sorry for yourself is a lot the short term.

    • Jen irvine

      To be fair, they were household names.

  • Joshua K Bartlett

    Reminds me of "The Devil Wears Prada (and pops pills like M&Ms) a little.

    Although the writing is decent and very witty, at first it might lead you to become a journalist/blogger/columnist, and maybe later as a published book writer.

    Then I guess most of the problems related to the current job will fade away and BAAAMMM (that's the sound of you head-butting Mr Right by accident on the corner of your street).

  • Robert Ford Mashburn

    Your beauty is great, but you will need some speaking ability to go with it. I would start with a speech coach and start looking at the broadcasting field. Its an excellent place to work, very competitive though, but you are accustomed to that. There are many many broadcasting jobs, and a pretty face is what every TV producer is trying to get on camera. You have the number one commodity that sports broadcasting wants. If that isnt your cup of tea, consider acting. You dont need a terrific voice, but you will need an assertive one. On a similar note, you might try public affairs - I know its terrifying but people are sympathetic and want to believe you. Reporters tend to be men, and men are going to be captivated by your good looks. It might be a hurdle to get past your aversion to audiences, but its worth trying.

  • dawn

    As a fifty something woman with young adult daughters I find the article, and life of the author, sad. Mostly because Melissa hasn't learned to trust her own knowing and experience as valid in and of itself. By the way, I looked at the "Models on Phones" web-site and there are some great photos there. Melissa: you have creative talent and your life is waiting for you. Take the leap.

  • skeets11

    In a way you are like a pro athlete, you have a shelf-life expectancy that once passed makes it impossible to continue with your career. Maybe you need to be like an athlete who did not make $50 million to live off for the rest of his life and go behind the camera. There have to be dozens of jobs you are perfectly suited to handle.

  • Jack Smith IV

    We're losing another good one to LA.... damnit...

  • JJ

    Hi Melissa, Your lovely writing struck a chord with me as I am a 47 year old former model who has been exactly where you are now 20 years ago. I am sure you don't need me to tell you that the road ahead will not be easy. It is a strange feeling to have had an entire career - that feels like a lifetime - behind you before you turn 30. Similarly strange is the fact that regaining your identity can be as anxiety inducing as your current need to maintain your appearance. Owning yourself and your life is a lot more difficult than lending your physical appearance to the visions of others, and it may take some time to master. Nevertheless, I have kept in touch with many of the girls from back in the day and they have successfully combined motherhood with careers in areas as diverse as law, interior decorating, environmental science, art, and writing. I wish you the best of luck in your transition.

  • tooCents

    Good writing. Women use their looks to get men with more money/social status and society as a whole is nicer to attractive women, so you'll be able to get some "successful" man that uglier women can't and he'll give you stuff. Then -if he's not making you happy enough- you can divorce him and get more money and stuff with alimony and pursue your dreams. Reach for the stars.

  • American expat in Europe

    I'm not a 20 something (not even a 30 something) and I'm certainly not a model, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Funny because this is not something I would normally read -- really. I love your writing style, unabashed sense of self (this is a compliment!) :) and humor. Keep at it and I agree, stay in LA. It sounds much more fulfilling in the long run and even lucrative, creative and stable in the short.
    As an American professional musician who traveled the world (which is how I ended up living in Europe), I can relate in a way to the whole feeling of wanting your title but being tired of everything that comes a long with it. I live a much calmer live these days. When I see my younger peers coming up behind me, doing what I did, I don't feel any jealousy. What I actually feel is a ping of pity because I know the price they are paying in order to keep their title -- appear put together. Like modeling, it's a very high price and takes its toll on your mental & physical health. I say slowly back out while you can and focus on your writing. You have a career there and lucky you, with time, age and experience comes respect & hopefully, money. Good luck, I'll be following.

  • Andrew

    from the article there's some outstanding things, she drinks too much, is on anti depressants and has acne implying some sort of impaired immune response

    in typical american fashion the huge factor of the level of neural decline associated with the need to be on anti-depressants is ignored

    no doubt she keeps out of the sun as well

    suidide by 55 i'd say...............

    the advice i'd have to offer is this link, but it's as certain as the sun rising tomorrow that it will be ignored ! :o()

    the other big thing is a strong degree of autism which can be very disguised in women, again not wanted to be thought about ! :o(

    • Jen irvine

      You sound quite stable!

  • Boomer

    favourite?? really?? 1 month in London and now its madonna-speak.

  • MarkW99

    By the way, those "brain zaps" you experience can be mitigated with diet and meditation. WAY better option than meds. Anti-depressants are a band-aid and you'll eventually find yourself going from one to another as they lose effectiveness. The endpoint of that journey is not pretty.
    You're not the first to go down that road. Not by a longshot.

  • Rodger Dodger

    Um, you're not THAT good looking.

  • cynthia

    Hi if you want to be a super model ? Check out my secrets ,.

  • Ari Altman

    You would be perfect as a pharmaceutical rep. They want really attractive, intelligent women like you to go around to promote their medications to doctors. The pay is really good too.

  • Graeme Voigt

    I agree with Cy - you are a great writer. I would focus on that!
    Maybe you could write a book that branches further on these subjects?
    This isn't the kind of stuff I'd usually read... but I loved it.

  • Joan

    Hi there -- May I suggest Darling Magazine? Its editor-in-chief is Sarah Dubbeldam, a former model in LA who recognized many of the same things you did about the industry -- its shallowness but also its capability for stunning artistry in photo shoots. So she started the magazine to embrace women of diverse ethnicities and sizes with in-depth articles. She successfully funded it with a Kickstarter campaign and is now hoping to build up a social movement. Not to mention -- the photo shoots are insanely beautiful and dream-like.

    You may consider joining her ship or thinking about what you could do in your life to move on from the modeling business. I personally interviewed Sarah for a Lady Clever blog post. She's great.

  • Mara Zampariolo

    You are a writer Melissa. Just let it sink in: you have a gift. I am not easy to compliment and very difficult audience but honey: L.A., London or NY no one can take this away from you. Sure, beauty is a gift that must be given back someday. But the other gift you have will just grow stronger in time. <3

  • Guest

    WOW! When a model writes there are 90 comments but an article by a scientist or a philosopher barely reaches 20 comments! :D

  • KillTeemoBecauseFuckTeemo

    Thanks for sharing this insight with us. Wish you the best of lucky, may you get over your anxiety and insecurity :)

  • Norman Plumb

    At first, I worried that my blog would come off as a self-indulgent boring mess of drivel

    Yeah, not like this piece.