FASHION IS FICKLE
When did we become a society of images scrolling past on someone’s smartphone? It’s nonsensical, comical and yet. Modeling was my life for two decades. I never felt entitled, prettier, skinnier or better than the next girl. In fact, I always felt a little less than. Maybe if I was thinner, smarter, or a skilled marketer I’d be a smarter brand, book better caliber jobs even though at the height of my career I was working for Vogue. I never let myself enjoy modeling. I took the lifestyles of the rich and famous for granted. Wait, before you crucify or criticize me. I understood the privileges, perks, and dollars being thrown my way. I understand how truly lucky I was.
I come from everyday middle class parents, nothing more than average but oh so much more beautiful than any pretty face I’ve known. Love, honor and respect mean more than some fucking photograph that would eventually crinkle and fade. My BFF who was a model too, said to me the other day, “I wish we had made more money.” Yeah, me too sometimes. Although money won’t solve any of my problems today. It’s all such a cliché. Small town girl leaves for the big city and makes it big. Well, you tell me what the fuck is big? How about doing something that requires brains, or better yet compassion? You’re not supposed to regret the past, or even look back, but I have a trunk full of old images staring back at me. I was a child who had no idea how lucky she was, traveling the globe, working one day a week making the same money it took others months and months to earn. A young girl who got caught up in the fickle that is fashion. It’s funny, I never thought it would end, and like most things that end abruptly and ruthlessly, I would find myself job-less and less, going through my savings in lightning speed. When you live in New York, and have to pay hefty rent money goes fast and furious. I always find it sad and a bit curious, when I post a modeling picture from a hundred years ago and they get way more likes than my serious writing pieces.
Maybe the world wants and needs to be entertained by unavoidable celebrities and Reality TV, to see pretty things because it is in fact, so brutally unfair and fucked up. Maybe. I loved modeling for a couple reasons, despite the plastic ones. My BFFs are the same beautiful women and ex-models I met when I was 19. They are, like me, normal and no longer immersed in the world of fashion. I got to visit, and actually live in cities I only dreamed of seeing, or watched on The Travel Channel. That was cool; to immerse yourself in a culture that was completely different than anything you’d ever known or called home. To eat cuisines you could barely pronounce. To try and decipher languages that sounded like gobbly gook. I discovered something along the way; people are pretty much the same. There are cool cats, interesting characters and funny humans across the globe. There are also beautiful assholes all over the world. Maybe I was an asshole sometimes too, entitled for sure. Not these days, no not anymore. I sort of cringe when I post an old picture from my modeling years, and then watch in wonder as the likes come flooding in. Not exactly flooding, more like a slow dribble. Fashion is fleeting, one must adapt to the superficial world we live in and move on. It’s high tide time to embrace the past, and hope the insides match the perceived beauty on the outside.
Never Judge a Book
By Jacqueline Cioffa
Here’s the thing about writing.
When someone risks pencil to paper and is fortunate enough to convey an emotion about the unique way they view the world well that’s art, magic and creative expression.
I am not a brand.
God, I hate that word.
Although, I have been.
Modeling, acting and all the various exhausting pretend faces I’ve worn just to fit in.
I have gifted away most of my words and that is life as it should be. The day I become calculated, contrived, or worried about how many books I’ve sold, or how filthy rich I am, or if the comma is misplaced, or if you like and hate the person more than the page will be the day the words no longer belong to me.
Funny, I was a rich model once and that means very little if next to nothing today.
Except for a whole bunch of potential storytelling catalogued in the brain.
Write because you love it, you can’t breathe without it, and because the words don’t require a two-way mirror.
Only contemplation, beautiful sunshine redemption, and bounce back reflection.
Never, ever judge a book by its cover.
Crack the spine and see for yourself.
I am writing
For the love of possibility behind the broken glass.
Waiting on Oprah
I close my eyes and can almost see the perfect fairytale life I envisioned in my wildest dreams.
Dear Fantasy (Oprah), “I feel that I am a very fortunate person …”
I was fifteen. Fifteen, gawky, wickedly uncomfortable in my so called ‘model frame.’ Somehow fifteen was the perfect age to concoct wild fantasy adventures and the fastest way out of a stifled, small town. There was a kaleidoscope world waiting for me, exclusively.
Strangers, intoxicating places and new faces I ached to see.
I guess Oprah never received the letter or maybe it got shoved to the bottom pile. There were one billion other worthy dreamers, perhaps more worthy than me. Maybe it got filed away, who’s to say?
I barreled ahead out on my own and concocted the fantastical dream anyway.
I had my picture taken, a lot, wearing expensive, sequined designer gowns. I lived in far away lands. Swam naked in cerulean silk seas with infinite sparkling black diamond sandy beaches. I stood atop glaciers touching the clouds where the landscape was breathtaking white, and the earthly humans invisible below. It was lonely and cold, and I felt nothing but numbness. Decades and decades past, I was stuck bone cold.
I could no longer picture my paralyzed, frozen feet on solid ground. Be mindful, careful, and specific before dreaming.
I woke up. No longer a child, no longer a pretty pawn, no longer me, no longer an identity, just a jumble of misfiring neurons.
I had freedom, for a time. Airplanes, buses, pre-packed duffle bags ready, lavender mister, passport, baby pillow became the two ton heavy, overweight baggage. I could not lighten the load no matter how much stuff I discarded. The heavy barred down on my brain, burrowing deep under my skin.
Change is so excruciatingly difficult when you’re living the dream.
Oprah never told me dreams can shift, that there can be more than just the one.
Or maybe, I wasn’t listening too busy running scared. Maybe I had to live through the dream to get to the here and now. Maybe I grew up, a little. Maybe the dream plain wore out.
Shivering, dizzy from submersing my head in the clouds surrounded by foreign tongues I did not understand, the physical me grew bored and misplaced. I dined on spicy and sweet, savoring cuisines that were taste bud delicious yet soured the stomach.
I was grinding, squirming, picking, pinching awkward, drowning inside the fifteen-year-old expired notion of bliss. I think when one is asking for a dream, one must be specific.
I’m sure being kicked to the curb no longer the prettiest, youngest, skinniest ‘photo op’ of the day did nothing for my already damaged low self-esteem and defunct, busted aspirations.
My life has been filled with love. Looking back and forward, my life has been filled with love.
That must be the first thing I cling to while reminiscing. My life has been filled with heart swelling, shattering, terrifying, emotional, easy breezy, destructive, goose-bump alive love.
The heart is a muscle it cannot possibly feel yet it does. Bizarre but so blazing sun, crescent moon, silly stars, perpetual movement sea elements comforting.
I am loved; even on the days I forget how to love myself.
It has not been easy, my middle, it’s been split open, fractured; please God let me end the crucifying. That, and all that mess that is my life are for a different tale. Perhaps when we have a little more time.
I’m back home now. I’m not fifteen anymore. My dreams are simpler, quieter, not half the screaming loud as before. Home, that’s what I’d been missing all along. Not the physical dwelling perhaps, although that helps joggle the mind.
The giddy anticipation of my mother’s White Shoulder’s perfume, her lips brushing against my forehead, the charms on her bracelet jingling and dancing on her wrist. Giddy elation alive.
“Go to sleep, sweet child of mine.”
I’d pretend sleep, twisting and squirming awaiting her return. Back from a well deserved evening out way past midnight to stroke my hair in the dark. I was sugary five not smart mouth saccharine EMO fifteen, not biting sarcastic know it all twenty, not disillusioned complacent crazed thirty, not even bitter shattered fragmented forty.
I was five.
I was living the dream.
Dear Oprah, “it’s okay.”
I think I’d like to give this living thing a shot, keep the next dream nestled close.
Readily accessible in my front not back pocket.
And me, I am transitioning.
I’m not waiting on Oprah, not this time.
This dream is waiting on me.
Syracuse Fashion Week 2015 is in high gear.
Join me along with other illustrious guests for a fun, glam evening at the Landmark Gala, April 11th, 2015.
BOOK SIGNING BY JACQUELINE CIOFFA AUTHOR OF THE VAST LANDSCAPE
I know where I’ll be kicking up my heels this Saturday, how ’bout you?
Portion of the proceeds to benefit The Food Bank of CNY, come out and support your local Community.
Portion of the Proceeds To Benefit THE FOOD BANK of CNY
CLICK the Link for SYRACUSE FASHION WEEK Spring 2015 Events Calendar
Yay fashionistas, “The Vast Landscape” Book Signing, Empire Brewing Co and Smoke Inc BBQ. sounds like a glam delish evening.
— JCioffa (@JackieCioffa) March 22, 2015