A few years ago, I made one of the most detrimental decisions of my life which was to tell a LaSenza scout to basically go fuck herself (not in so many words). What she didn’t nor I knew was that I was also experiencing my first manic episode of a now life-time illness I struggle with – BiPolar Disorder.
It started with a response to an expiring Ad I had on kijiji to a modelling inquiry I posted:
”My name is Julie from LaSenza Model Management, we’re currently seeking 2 female models for an underwear advertising poster. The 2 models we are looking for will have their back to the camera for the poster and their face will not be revealed. Please let me know if you are interested in this shoot and if you can reply with any portfolio describing the stance above. Best Regards, Julie.”
Of course I responded affirmatively and excitedly, saying I would send in shots from previous photo shoots I had done as well as the amateur shots she requested in my lingerie. The best part was more than 95% of my underwear came from that retailer, as well as, my clothes.
My friend Emma Davidson got together that weekend and took hundreds of test shots: all of which looked amazing and I still thank her to this day for being tasked with taking boudoir and nude shots of her good friend, A.K.A. me.
What happened next is embarrassing for not only my career for but me as a person since I lost complete control of my mental faculties and started to experience paranoid delusions (a sure symptom of my disorder).
I asked Julie for a waiver to send nudes via the internet on advice from a well meaning friend who now looking back had no clue how the modelling industry really worked. I asked for a waiver to ensure the photographs were kept private and only for the selection process. She misunderstood me and assumed I meant I already expected a contract:
“I am not quite sure what to offer you in terms of a waiver as we are only in the prospect stage but I will contact our management. Any model who performs for a professional shoot that is placed on display for La Senza is usually paid by contract $9,500.00 (before tax) but does NOT establish a modelling career with La Senza unless we feel your work may be beneficial to us throughout several seasons. I’m currently attempting to fill the last three tryout spots in the final submission, please keep in mind these contract terms are only if we feel you are someone who fits what we are looking for.”
My brain started to spin out, jumping from one thought to the next and becoming oddly extremely feminist. How dare this woman try to take my image? (not that she was but in a manic paranoid delusion I thought she was attempting to) And then I began to think of the nature of the shoot and how she only was interested in basically my ass (a great feature but come on!) I felt a duty to womankind everywhere to reject this notion: that woman are only good for their bodies. So I responded in anger that I was worth more than just a “fine ass” and that I would never ever wear LaSenza underwear again (which I didn’t).
I was so angry I went to the school newspaper and decided to write an Op-Ed on the exploitation of people like me and interns at major corporations who are expected to give their work over without rights to it and without compensation. They were really excited to run it until they realized it was a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. I felt like my voice needed to be heard.
I became so paranoid that at one point when I was at my sickest I had left my web camera on from taking a selfie, and thought it was “them” i.e. LaSenza watching me to track down the dirt I was collecting on them for this potential story.
Long story short, I was admitted into the Ottawa Civic hospital and was diagnosed with BiPolar disorder. The reason I was so angry was I was coming off heavy drugs like cocaine, MDMA, marijuanna and speed which I had become accustomed to seeing on set at the various shoots I was doing in the city. I had officially spun out. I think LaSenza approaching me made me realize how NOT ready I was for this industry and I am actually thankful.
Today, I am proud to say Ive been clean ever since and never intend to do drugs like this ever again in my life. And if LaSenza were to approach me I know I am good enough and I am the type of role model they would want working for them: someone who has faced adversity, fallen, conquered and rose from the ashes like a phoenix.
So LaSenza I ask you, Am I Good Enough For You Now?