The music started, the lights flashed. I'm not ready for this, she thought. And then she walked out onto the stage with ease. All eyes were on her. The beautiful gown by Niki Masters that she had on seemed to glow under the stage lights. As Danielle Rafi walked down the runway, cameras flashing all around her, images of her childhood began to run through her mind.
Flash. She was eight years old, running around in the playground after school. Shannon Mills, the class bully had come up to her and asked her if she was adopted. Confused, Danielle had asked what this meant. Shannon laughed and said it was obvious that Danielle had come from a family of giraffes because no human looked that strange. Everyone had laughed. Eight year old Danielle had been devastated. She was called 'Rafi the Giraffy' all through high school.
Flash. She was twelve years old and was playing around in her parents bedroom. She had on her mothers black pumps and was carefully applying her mothers lipstick on her lips. Her mother had walked in and asked her what she was doing. “I'm a model, mom!” Danielle had replied, excited. Her mother had laughed and said, “You're not a model. You're not pretty enough. Now go clean the kitchen”.
Flash. She was seventeen and in the hospital. Tired of being overlooked, overweight and overstressed with school, Danielle had stopped eating. She began to eat less and less each day, and was counting her calories and following strict 'diets'. Her goal was to eat less than 700 calories a day. She would look in the mirror and see herself as a worthless human being. So overweight. So many pounds to lose. It was only after months of specialized therapy and diet regulating that Danielle realized that she was never overweight – just under a lot of pressure.
Flash. Now here she was. Walking down this runway. She had overcome so much stress, so much drama. She had climbed and stumbled on so many steps up the ladder, and now she was finally here. Danielle felt like she had been such a disappointment to everybody in her life that this was her time to shine. No Shannon Mills to think that she was better than her. No mother to mock her modeling aspirations and tell her she wasn't pretty. No doctors to tell her she was anorexic because she wasn't anorexic anymore.
She stopped. She turned. She posed. Then she turned again and walked back down the runway. She was getting closer and closer to the wings. Ten steps...five steps...two steps...
She turned into the left wing and almost crashed into Niki Masters herself.
“Ow!” she heard Niki say as she brushed past her.
“Sorry”, said Danielle in a sincerely apologetic voice. But she couldn't stick around to elaborate on her apology. She had to change into another dress immediately.
“Models,” Danielle heard Niki murmur to herself as she went back to watching the show. Danielle hung her head. Her first real modeling job. And already, she had disappointed someone.