I have achondroplasia, which means my dream of becoming a model would never be – or would it? I was born at the tail end of the flower power 60’s but raised in the 70’s on a diet of the mini skirt, bell bottoms and the androgynous hippie look; all these trends totally inaccessible to someone like me. Why? Well, I’m 4 feet 1. Knee height to a grass hopper with inherited legs that unfortunately did not lead to heaven.

Most of the Glam Rock years consisted mainly of glitter, which I gave a wide berth. That was until I clapped eyes on David Bowie sporting platform soled boots! That was it, they’d add an extra couple of inches, and I was sold. Following Glam Rock was the New Romantic look, which was totally my bag! I spent most of my teens with admiration-frustration and lots of what ifs – ‘yeah, what if I was a model?’ Unperturbed by what life dealt me; I used my weekly pocket money to accept delivery of my fave fashion mags Cosmopolitan, and the like.

Extraordinary tall women walking in symmetrical lines down a never-ending catwalk draped in the most beautiful Haute Couture clothes – was my idea of heaven.  Jerry Hall, Beverly Johnson, Janice Dickson, and then later Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Tara Banks, who I deeply admired, but all fell short of my interpretation of representation. These women were the only role models I could access. I would sit flicking through the pages of my subscribed magazine, only stopping if a certain embroidery or sequin popped off the page, my one and only time to escape the reality of life and indulge in luxury high-end designs. Albeit on an income of £1.50 per week, I could be here a while before one of these aspirations would be mine.

I once turned up at a modelling agency full prepared to be hired. I piqued the attention of every single person in the waiting room. I strutted into the interview like a ball of inferno and rightly took my seat which had the invisible print, ‘HIRED’.  I learned moments later it wasn’t to be – my 124. 46 cm frame let me down. I quickly turned on my heels and left. What a rude awakening! I stopped fawning over what came down the runway, I cared less.  I sought a life in the real world; which turned out to be way more daunting. My aspirations to become a model were diminished.

 

Mary Russell in a photoshoot with another  model

 

All until 2014!  All rise – Models Of Diversity & The International Dwarf Fashion Show. Not only have I achieved my dream of modelling, but I’m also trying my hand at fashion and design, and I love it! (Present tense since you’re still studying) Never think your dream is too big, even if your dream is bigger than yourself! I will be debuting my signature dress in next month’s vlog.

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