The life of a fashion model may outwardly seem like an easy job filled with money,
glamour and endless nights clubbing with other beautiful people. In fact, it can
often be destructive, cruel and pure hell on one’s self-image. Just ask Jessica
Clark, a successful model, who also happens to be a life coach and out lesbian.
A 23-year-old stunner of British, Indian and Nigerian descent, Clark was raised
in a single-parent home in the U.K.
At 16, she won a beauty contest, and before you could say "work it," she
was strutting on runways from New York to Milan. Along the way, Jessica
experienced the dark side of the business that they never show on America’s Next Top Model: drugs, eating disorders
Today, Jessica is not only a healthy model who eats well, she’s also a life coach
who manages a journal-style nutrition and fitness blog with her girlfriend, Lacey Stone,
a New York City professional trainer.
Clark talked to AfterEllen.com about the pros and cons of the modeling industry,
how she turned her life around, and how she met the woman she loves.
AfterEllen.com: How did you get into modeling?
Jessica Clark: I won a beauty competition in England years ago, in the days
before America’s Next Top Model. So, I
didn’t have to stay in a big house or anything, thank God, but it was one of those
nationwide searches. I entered it because they had a £5,000 cash prize, and
being 16, it was more money than I had ever had in my life. And I happened to win.
AE: And you’ve been modeling ever since?
JC: Yeah, pretty much. Initially, I kept it to summer vacations. I did a year
at university; I wanted to be a barrister. I thought modeling was completely disrespectful
to women and beneath me, and I would never indulge in it properly as a career.
AE: It’s hard to ignore the money, though.
JC: Yeah. It was the money. My family is pretty poor. In the end, the law wasn’t
a good fit for me, I don’t think. I wasn’t happy, and kind of a messed-up teenager.
I said: "Oh, this is a great out. I’ll go travel the world and no one will
know that I’m just confused about everything." And like you said, you start
making money and hanging out with the beautiful people. It all seems way more fun
AE: Yeah, just a little.
JC: [laughs] But then, you get into your 20s and you’re like: "S—. Everyone
else has qualifications and careers, and I’m being pretty."
AE: Some of those people would rather
JC: I guess. The grass is always greener.
AE: Isn’t it awesome to be you?
JC: It is awesome to be me. I’m very
lucky. Very lucky.
AE: In your experience, how true are those
JC: You mean dumb, anorexic, living on cigarettes?
AE: Yeah, that one.
JC: The issue is that most models are so
young. Sixteen is starting to be old now. I’d say most girls start when they’re
about 14. It’s crazy. A lot of them leave school then, so it’s not because
they’re dumb; they’re just not necessarily well-read. English is often not their
first language. And they get caught up in this very narrow world where the things
that are really important in the industry are not necessarily that important outside
of it. So, your topics of conversation can get quite limited, if you’re not careful.
They’re not encouraged to be smart.
But the girls that last — the ones [who don't] lose their minds or burn out
— make it into a business. That’s what I’ve managed to do, fortunately.