My parents' dream was to see me as an economist, mine was to become a model. So, after pleasing my parents, I followed my passion. All I can tell you is that this mannequin life isn't as bright as it sounds. You won't believe it, but I gave up modelling and I got a job as a waitress in a pizzeria. That's where I met love.
My first connections with the model business were made when I was 17 years old. I was in high school and, together with a colleague who, like me, was over 1.80, I participated in a pre-selection for I don't know what newly established agency. We were both accepted, but my parents stubbornly opposed any meaningful "career" as a model, so I gave up and began to study hard for college. But I did not give up my teenage dreams and the chance was on my side: immediately after graduating from college, my former high school classmate, Silvia, introduced me to the owner of a modelling agency.
I knew that being a model means a lot of work, but I had not forgotten my hopes and ambitions as a teenager. It was a difficult decision: for my family, I was an economist who set foot in a secure job for an illusion. In addition, I had to face the competition from the other, younger girls, who were able to do anything to see themselves on the podium.
I was lucky: despite my age, I was hired and, shortly after that, I even started posing for various magazines. The second step, television, was not delayed either: I filmed commercials for all kinds of products, from cosmetics to washing machines. I still lived in Bergamo, with my family, but I had bought a second-hand car and travelled daily to Milan.
What's more, it was another life! I had a great time with the money, so I allowed myself to take my vacation in Dubai and Bali. I remember that, once, I even managed to get 2,000 euros for a week of work on an advertisement! And free time was not at all like the boring weekends of an economist: a model has what is called "social life". My colleagues and I were always invited to parties and had free access to a lot of clubs, but it was quite difficult to manage, I often had to get up at four in the morning, drive an hour to a film studio in Milan, spend my day taking care not to ruin my makeup (cosmetics, which I paid for, and they weren't cheap at all.) It didn't matter if it was hot like in Sahara or cold like in Siberia, I had to look flawless.
I remember that once, during some filming, I worked twelve hours a day, even though I had a fever of thirty-eight degrees. Since I couldn't stop my tears from flowing and my nose from turning red, I always had to pause to redo my makeup until the next sneeze.
Sometimes I was so tired that I felt sick, but I wasn't allowed to complain. No shadow of discontent was allowed to darken my face, so I made superhuman efforts to always smile and be bright. Besides, I had entered a sickly monotony: filming and photo sessions all day, then sleep and recovery. And people saw in me only a seductive woman, rather a decorative object, forgetting that I had still attended college and that I was not just a paid doll.
I didn't have time to see my girlfriends either - as many as I had left - because of my extremely busy life, and some even wanted to warn me that I tended to change irretrievably. And not in a pleasant person, but in a well-dressed ghost, well-made-up and empty on the inside.
One Sunday, when it happened that I had very little work to do, I managed to see Silvia, my friend, whom I had not met for more than two years. Her words made me think seriously:
"Larisa, I see you've changed completely." It's not that you don't have time for anyone or anything. To be honest, I'm surprised you still have some time for yourself. I notice this life is kind of grinding you. You don't have the joy of another time. You're like a stupid starlet from bad American movies. You put a smile on your face and you're done, but it can be seen beyond it and I feel there, in the back, a crying soul. You won't last long with all your dress or pose sessions for who knows what idiotic commercial.
"Silvia, you just know how much I wanted to become a model! And then you should know that if I was an economist, I don't think I would be able to take my holidays abroad. Look, next month, I'm going to allow myself to sell that scrap car and get a Mercedes."
"Yeah, money will be important, but believe me, it's not everything in life. What's left of your ambitions? Is that why you went to college to compete in all kinds of commercials?"
I did not confess to her that for some time I had begun to think like her; I didn't really like much of my job anymore.
There were days when I had filming sessions until eight in the evening and left the studio squeezed. The culmination is that I did not always receive the contract after these interminable meetings. It took me a while to realize that the market had simply started looking for a different kind of mannequin. Younger.
The turning point came on a November day last year. It was terribly cold outside, and I was working on an advertisement whose script forced me to run into the water. I was only wearing a bikini pair. It's never been so cold in my life! Everyone around me was wrapped in thick clothes, and I was shaking in my bikini and filming incessantly, because something, I don't know what, the producers didn't like!
Then it occurred to me that I had to give up while I was still with my forehead up. Why should I be kicked out when I can go alone?
But what alternative did I have available? A job as an economist, at a company, paid, if I was lucky, with a maximum of one thousand one thousand five hundred euros per month? I was still hesitating.
A few days after that infernal filming, I had lunch at a pizzeria. On one of the walls was an announcement about hiring new staff to serve in that unit.
I don't know what happened to me: I felt the need to go crazy, to get out of the routine. I went and offered my services. The boss, a nice and attractive man, looked at me with real interest, as I had not been seen for a long, long time. He untied me for more than an hour, amazed when I told him that I work as a model and that I am an economist.
"I don't know what's on your mind, but it suits me. And then, if you don't change your mind, we'll think about another job."
Believe it or not, I've been a waitress for two months. Then I jumped straight to the position of commercial director of the entire pizzeria chain because we had three more locations in Dubai, where I moved after a while.
But this was not the only major change in my life. The owner, Marcelo, told me that he had never met a woman like me and that he would not let me go for anything in the world from his life.
"What a coincidence," I said, delighted. I have the same intention for you but what if, after a few years, when I will not look like I do now, will you still love me? My dear, beauty passes, but love remains! And I not only like you, but I love you with all my heart!
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