Model for a day

Last summer my entire Newswriting class tried to convince me to audition for “America’s Next Top Model.” The six of us had a bond. At that time I’d only vaguely heard of the show – I had only seen the parody on “Family Guy.”

But, feeling flattered, and slightly ashamed of myself, I caved to the pressure. I don’t buy the Cinderella myth. I don’t believe that if I suddenly got a makeover I would be a better person or that I would be happy.

One of my friends in the class told me it was karma that the auditions happened to be the next day in Pittsburgh. Another offered to drive me there. Surely this would somehow jump-start my journalism career.

I would get the $100,000 modeling contract, they were certain. ANTM would give me the dream makeover. I would get a boyfriend. I’m still not sure how making a spectacle of myself on national television, and of course crying – you can’t have reality TV without tears – ties into my dream of being a newspaper reporter.

My immediate family of professors and scholars were horrified. They couldn’t imagine why I would want to do such a thing. Me. I probably wear makeup once a week. I can barely walk in high heels. I wear glasses. I read for fun (when I have time). Let’s face it, I’m a geek. I wasn’t going to do it just because my friends told me to do it. It was more than that. As a journalist, I like to collect experiences. I like to challenge myself. Somehow, however, the ride to Pittsburgh never materialized. My family was relieved.

I was too, but I was also a little disappointed. It wasn’t that I even wanted to be on the show, but I wanted to prove something. Prove that a girl like me didn’t have to choose between being thought of as smart and ugly or beautiful and vapid. That I could somehow get away with being both and yet still not betray my feminist ideals.

“You hide in your clothes,” my friend told me.

Prove that I could actually spend time on my appearance and still have time to be awesome at my job and in school. These days I usually manage one or two of those. I still haven’t figured out how to do all three at once.

Which is why I decided to be in this year’s Rock the Runway. I was in last year’s show, but I didn’t tell anyone about it. This year I told all my friends about it on Facebook. I want them to see me be, for one night, something other than a geek. Maybe a geek in heels.

Kiera Manion-Fischer is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].