Every Summer I had told myself I would be productive, and every summer I lounged in my bed and slept. This summer was going to be different, I was sure of it.
As I sat reading Company magazine I dreamed that one day I could write for them, writing amazing stories, my own bye-line was all I had ever dreamed of. If only.
I had sent my story off to Company’s young journalist competition months ago and still I had heard nothing. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
The next morning I was awoken to a pleasant surprise, in the form of a white rectangle which enclosed a very pleasing letter.
“Dear Miss Sarah Milton, I am writing to congratulate you on winning Company Magazine’s ‘Young Journalist of the Year”
Tears blotched the next phrase, I was overwhelmed with delight! Just as I had given up hope, I had once again been lifted back to my feet, but best of all I was going to London Fashion Week!
As I read on I discovered that I was going to be given the chance to interview the one and only Sierra Gelado, then my story will be published in Company’s Fashion Week special. My life-long goal had been reached sooner than I thought. My very own Bye-line. Wow.
Before I knew it I was on a flight to London, the butterflies in my stomach where fluttering franticly, I was so excited. I knew this summer would be different, but who would have imagined this. A 15 year old girl from a small village in Northern Ireland on her way to interview Sierra Gelado at London Fashion Week.
Standing back stage at the run way, I could hardly contain myself. My nerves and excitement had fused to create an emotion I had never felt before, but I knew I was ready, ready to do this for the rest of my life.
Looking around me, I suddenly became very self-conscious, all around me were beautiful, tall, skinny models. As I left the hotel earlier that day, I had never felt more confident in my brand new Topshop dress, but now my confidence had decreased significantly. I felt like a fat gnome in a world of tall, thin princesses. They were perfect and I clearly wasn’t.
Finally after a 30 minute wait Sierra arrived, all those years of looking at her in magazines, watching her strut her stuff on the runway and now here she was, right in front of me and I was about to interview her!
Sitting in the small green room with Sierra was a life-changing experience. I couldn’t wait to hear all about her background and of course her beauty tips. As I stammered through my first question, my eyes were drawn towards her rigid frame, I could practically see every bone on her body and I could tell that behind her make-up her face was ghostly. She was literally wasting away right before my eyes.
I soon forgot about my strange observation and continued with my interview, I was in my element. Soon I learnt that all her life Sierra had dreamed of being a model when one day she was scouted by a modelling agency to replace a model who had broken her leg in a horse riding accident. As she told me about her spontaneous luck we were suddenly interrupted. My pen, which had been gliding constantly for the last 15 minutes, came to a halt.
A small woman walked into the room with a plate full of the most intricately decorated cupcakes I have ever seen, they were covered in swirls of silky butter cream and topped with small edible, beaded butterflies. They looked so delicious, I didn’t want to ruin them with my monstrous mouth, but my mouth was watering and I couldn’t ignore my stomach’s cry for food any longer.
As I indulged in my divine cupcake, I watched Sierra looking at the cupcakes with wide eyes. I politely asked her if she would like one and out of the blue she burst into tears. Confusion flowed through my body, I had no idea what had just happened. She sat with her head in her hands and sobbed quietly into herself, I watched her bony, staccato shoulders move up and down almost in time with her sorrowful sobs.
Finally Sierra began to come round and nervously began to unravel a story very different to the pleasant story she had told me just a few minutes before. This was the story of her battle.
As I wrote and Sierra spoke, both of us fighting back tears, she explained that to reach her dream of being a model she had to be thinner. Her manager saw potential and took her in anyway, but forced her to throw up after every meal. He forced her to stop eating. I soon came to realise that this was not the interview I had expected, it was much, much better.
Sierra was a mess, things had gone too far and they needed to be stopped. The problem was she didn’t know how. She explained to me that she didn’t care anymore, but now she couldn’t keep down her food, she no longer had to make herself sick, her body forced her to.
I soon came to the conclusion that this story was too much to put in a light-hearted magazine, it needed to be published on a larger scale. Both of us thought for a while, people needed to know the truth about models and what better to do it than in a book.
Soon Sierra got on the runway and forced her skinny frame to walk elegantly, whilst I spectated as an insider, I now knew that being a model wasn’t all glitz and glam, it had a horrific back story to it, which no one should ever have to endure.
This summer was different and most definitely productive. I may not have got my bye-line in Company magazine, but I got something much more rewarding. The chance to help someone tell their story and to warn others that even if something seems perfect, there is always another side to the story.