I’m a hot mess. 

Mascara runs down swollen cheeks, crimson lipstick stained on cracked lips and skin thirsting for rain. I change into shirts too tight to suffocate, or heels too high to snap. Teeth grit when I see the smudged eyeliner surrounding my red eyes without a drink in sight. I inhale fleeting bliss and exhale pain. But cigarette smoke won’t end the sorrow in my bones.

Baby, I’m a hot mess. Kiss me quick before I fade.

I am what some would call a ‘model’ but I never quite believe it. 

I cringe when someone calls me that. It feels unearned and almost uneasy. To be viewed as pretty when slathered in mounds of makeup and hiding fats through poses. Enjoying the camera’s stare even if others gawk and glare. Models are otherworldly, aliens so unique to the beholder. It is almost impossible to believe they are human. 

It is luck I am well-acquainted with many models, since I live in a small country. Everyone knows everyone. Thus, I know many people and many people know me. It is not a statement of pride, just a statement. Still, knowing all these models changes your perception of reality. A grieving realization models are imperfect creatures like the rest of us.

No one looks like their photos, perfectly captured and filtered and edited. Countless front camera clicks, specific lighting hours, low self-esteem almost required. To be able to smile yet feel nothing. At least to me. I have never felt like a model. Never pretty enough, never tall enough, never picturesque enough. Just simple a lass in model dressing. Primped and proper, prepped to look decent. 

Off-camera, models become human with flaws the camera cannot catch. Whether of face or mind, you see them clearly. The genuine smiles or lies, humour ingrained in their voice or dry scoff when they see you. The humble are kind but the arrogant grow bold. The impression of these ethereal beauties disappear. They become human, like you and me. 

They laugh with mouths covered, or dance like monkeys. Their own lives unfolding, modelling for fun or work. It is a sight to see your perception of people change for better or worse. People are too complex to judge through a screen or captions written. 

No one is truly their photo, perfect and pristine. Perhaps I am not a model, but I am human. 

When you're exhausted from a photoshoot and throw on your friend’s gaudy hoodie. You're freezing, tired and a little grumpy. You look like a hot mess. One hot model of a mess. Ignore everything I’ve just written and look at my face. I have never felt so beautiful.

The ever-amazing and wonderful Muaz from Dragons and Pixie Dust did my makeup for the shoot. I kept it on for 10 hours afterwards. Smoky eyes, tanned skin and thicker brows. It was a tragedy removing it. Solid nine to a below average four.   

What a dream it is to work with such amazing people. Models, makeup artists and businesses. It's an incredible job to do. But throwing on a hoodie and taking a nap. That's living the dream.