MADISON CHAPPELL

I don't think confidence comes naturally, at least, not to me anyways. As a young girl, I was a ballet dancer, tirelessly practicing my choreography to be able to perform it adequately in front of others. I never had confidence in my work because to me it was never perfect, but perfection isn't always what others want to perceive. People want something that excites them, that makes them feel something, that inspires them. I try to remind myself of this whenever I feel my confidence waning. Perfection is boring, so why try to achieve it? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so why try to convince everyone that I am beautiful? These are hopeless efforts, and pointless too. When one is confident, they show all of themselves, even their imperfections and insecurities. That is what makes others feel something, and hopefully inspired to be confident in themselves as well.

 

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Of course, modeling is much different than ballet dancing. In modeling, people see you for your outside appearance, not physical abilities. When I was fourteen, I signed with a famous modeling agency, and around the same time developed chronic acne. My agents, different photographers, and casting directors alike all stared at my skin and turned me down for job after job. I felt so ashamed of myself, I just wanted to stay in my room and hide. For a normal fourteen year old, acne is almost a right of passage into adult life, but for me it was a monstrosity that I was ashamed of, and that could ruin my career. Of course, with time the acne passed but then other problems arose. My hips were too big, my skin too pale, even once I was told my ears were too large (seriously). I developed insecurity after insecurity until one day I realized that others' opinions of me only matter if I let them, and that in the end I am the one who gets to decide who I become. From then on, I haven't listened to a single other person's opinion about me, and at the end of the day when I am in front of the camera I am more confident than I have ever been because I know that I have chosen my path to be there and that I am being exactly who I want to be.

 

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When I was fourteen, I did my first runway show. It was a smaller, local fashion show, and I was the youngest one there. I was given the last outfit in the show, and it was an all latex lingerie piece with a cone shaped bra. Of course, my mother not realizing the style of the show, was completely shocked when I walked out on stage, but I didn't know the difference at all. Growing up as a dancer, I was always taught that the body, especially a woman's body, is a work of art. I always continued to see it this way, which is why I have enjoyed modeling so much. I see modeling as a celebration of the art of the human body, and simply that. I think a true artistic photo shoot is not just about the clothes, but the vision behind the clothes. I enjoy most the photo shoots where I can envelop myself in the art and become a different person for just a moment.

 

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The point when I realized I needed to stop listening to the opinions of others was this one time when my agent told me I needed to dye my hair bleach blonde and get a spray tan to look more "California girl." I willingly did all of this, though I was young and money was tight, and when I went back to the agency, my agent told me he didn't like my hair or my tan and it needed to go back to the way it was. I was so frustrated, spending all this money on my hair and tan to please my agent, only for him to turn around and tell me he didn't like it. I realized at that point that the opinion of others will always be changing. I was so wrapped up into my agents and others' opinions on how I should look and dress that I lost sight of my own sense of self. The next day I chopped off my hair, and a little while after dyed it auburn instead of the bleach blonde I had. It felt different; scary to be something others disapproved of. My agent was so mad at me, but I didn't care. It was exciting. I still don't really know who I am, or who I want myself to be. I feel like the years of me listening to others has made me lose sight of that. But, day by day I am becoming more and more of the person I want to be. I'm doing what I love, and slowly learning how to filter out the opinions of others.

 

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The most challenging aspect of my work but something I am truly grateful for is: The rejection. Sounds weird to say I'm grateful for rejection, but I have found this to be a very important part of the modeling process. When I first started modeling, I took rejection so personally. I would go home after a long day of hopeless castings and cry into my pillow. But, after I learned how to handle rejection, I allowed myself to grow from each experience. Rejection taught me how to be stronger, and keep believing in myself even when it feels like no other person in the world does. Not many people have the ability to keep pushing, believing, and trying when everyone else has given up on them. I feel this is a true quality of strength and courage, and is something I strive for everyday.

 

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I don't feel necessarily optimistic about the future, but I think hopeful is the right word. I do believe that if I visualize success, it will happen for me, but it might not happen in the way I see or want it to happen. So, for now, I'm just doing what I love and hoping something more comes of it. I can't think of a better way to define success than just doing what you love and thriving off of it.

 

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The end of civilization will be caused by: Civilian overpopulation, and, of course, Instagram.

 
















Madison Chappell // madichapp

Isaac Zoller // isaac_zoller

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.