Looking back, the only thing I can say is that I plunged deep and sprinted hard for my dreams in life.
I had the same dreams as every other girl when she was small, to be a model. An actress. Anything the put me in the spotlight of the world. And thanks to a long line of family genes, I grew up to accomplish that goal.
When I was fifteen, I called an agency (without my mothers consent) to learn everything I would need to make it as far as I dreamt. I began researching the modeling industry, learning who models were and which "type" of modeling fit me best. Every chance that was offered to me, whether it was test shoots or free work to gain experience, I took.
And then I took my biggest leap of faith one week after graduating high school. I signed with an agency and accepted a contract to Asia for the next four months. I was sent to Tokyo for three months, with a stop in Osaka in between. And I was in love with my life. I was busy every day, being rushed to castings, fittings, and booking work that I didn't imagine in my wildest dreams. I shot look books for international designers, filmed commercials for Marc Jacobs, Intel, and Japan's shopping network. My life was equivalent to that of someone's on TV. My best friends came from all over the world, we shopped and dined as we pleased working only a day or so a week and experiencing everything the vast city we lived in had to offer.
I couldn't wait to work more. I spent the next year in Asia as well, booking a job that shot in Paris with all expenses paid for, developing interests in things I never would have heard of in my small hometown of Tennessee. I was on an adventure for life, and all that I could experience along the way.
But, as with most things in life, while I dove deeper into the heart of my dreams and accomplishing them I began to realize how dark the world was on the other side. As a size two, I began hating my body. Wishing I had a bigger thigh gap (Ladies, this shouldn't even be a thing. But that's a discussion for another time.), that I had developed a better portfolio, that I could walk into a room and gain everyone's attention, especially those I was competing against for my jobs. I developed a mindset that was permeated with dirt, filth, and lies but I was too blind to see it myself.
I didn't love my life anymore. And how could I? I was surrounded, so deep in the heart of the lies each one of us are told daily. Lies passed around to us, so nonchalantly, of what we have to be in order to be happy.
My sister posted a picture the other day with the words:
I wonder what it's like
To wake up and love yourself
To look in the mirror and not want to cry
To weigh yourself, see the number, and not want to puke
To be with friends and not feel ugly
To go into public and not be insecure
To go shopping for clothes and not feel fat
I just wonder;
What it's like to love your life.
A girl, only sixteen years old, who couldn't go an hour with out judging herself or hearing the judgmental lies of those surrounding her about her body and the way she lives her life. But the most heart wrenching thought it, she's not the only one. The number of girls who woke up this morning wishing they looked like the size zero, airbrushed, and photo shopped models they see along each advertisement is truly despicable in my eyes. And I was a cause in this disgusting problem. To imagine, for only a second, that a young girl looked at a photo of myself posted on a billboard or online somewhere that caused her to think, "Why can't I be that beautiful?" has me in tears.
Two years after I began modeling internationally, I quit. I was exhausted waking up every morning and comparing myself to everything that I wasn't. My mind was going to explode if I had to consider another calorie I had eaten that needed to be burned before the day was done. My focus on life wasn't on bettering myself and my energy for living a healthy life full of love, adventures, and memories was at an all time low. Imagining the mind wrenching, dark feeling that followed me everywhere as long as I was awake, I couldn't comprehend how it felt to be the person who wanted, even for a day, to be me.
It's been six months now since I walked away from contracts in Europe, North America, and Asia and I'm finally beginning to love my life again. I took a seven week vacation to visit my family in Germany, where I ate as much bread, carbs, and sweets as I pleased. The only item on my agenda was to spend each afternoon reading in our garden, while taking the occasional trip into the city to shop or have coffee with old friends. I eliminated everything in my life that gave me a negative mindset, especially anything to do with the modeling industry. After I flew back to Tennessee, I sat down to determine what it is I really wanted to do with my life. I applied for the University of Tennessee, began my track towards a double major in International Business and Marketing, but I also began to develop an idea of what it is I truly want to do with my time.
I want to show others how indescribably beautiful their lives are. I want young girls to stop comparing themselves to the things they see on advertisements and to start focusing their lives solely on things that bring them self-love. I want adults to realize their place in lives, to leave behind their job filled with exhaustion and to begin a life full of the adventures they once dreamed of. I want people to fall in love with their lives and every tiny memory they will have of it when their older.
It's far past time that people began to look past the lies they are fed throughout each day.
It's time for everyone to fall in love with their lives.
Stop focusing on what you're not, start focusing on everything you are and can be.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
"Nothing like a woman with a brilliant mind and a filthy mouth."
If you're on any sort of social media, you're likely to have come across Alexis in advertisements for Forever 21, Nasty Gal Vintage, Tobi, Bluenote, or even just by friends posting fangirl pictures of her. Many see her as an inspirational role model, a soon-to-be supermodel, and a girl who has her music taste in check. I, however, see her as my Tokyo best friend. The one I spent hours on end laying in our apartment gabbing to while watching Criminal Minds, and the one I spent too many nights with out wandering the streets of Japan.
Alexis - Nous Models
AP: What was it that drew you into modeling? Did you have an easy start?
AR: I've always look up to the beautiful girls everyone sees on billboards -- As well as the Victoria Secret Models. I used to daydream of being apart of the fashion industry, though I never thought I had it in me.
Fortunately, I did have a smooth start. Companies took interest in me while I was shopping in their stores. I freelanced for a while; shooting for small companies. Once I felt I was comfortable enough in front of the camera I went to an open casting for Nous Models and was signed a week later.
AP: You spent three months last year working in Tokyo, Japan, was there a difference between the jobs you've done in the states vs. there?
AR: I found there wasn't too much of a difference. I did mostly online product which is about 8 hours of 50-100 outfits a day. It's about the same as it is in the U.S.
AP: How did you like living abroad? Did you grow as a person and with your career?
AR: At first it was hard, but I eventually fell in love with it. It truly made me become the person I am today. I feel so much more independent, and happier with my self.
AP: Originally from and based in L.A., what's your favorite part about living there?
AR: I really enjoy L.A. My favorite part about living in LA would have to be the versatility. If you feel like going to paradise, you can drive about an hour up to Malibu. If you feel like spending a day in the city, downtown LA is perfect. There's endless possibilities in LA.
AR: At first, I was completely overwhelmed. Now I'm so grateful for everyone that supports me. I've learned to love the spotlight and not be frightened of it.
AP: Have you ever had any crazy encounters with a fan?
AR: I have been recognized before (It was amazing to meet a fan!), but I don't have any crazy stories to tell. I'm sure there will be some though!
AP: You've developed yourself into a sort of 'model celebrity.' has this changed a lot for you in life? And do you enjoy the constant attention?
AR: I enjoy the attention, but I think the hardest part of being a 'model celebrity' is making sure I stay grounded and always thankful. I read every comment and try to get to know my fans. I try not to take anything for granted.
AP: What's your dream job or campaign for modeling?
AR: Either Sports Illustrated or Victoria's secret.
AP: Beauty regime?
AR: I've always believed makeup is used to highlight your beauties. Not cover up your flaws.
After shoots, the first thing I do is wash my face. I try to avoid dirt build up. I'm obsessed with "Origins". Their brightening skin moisturizer is perfection! As for makeup, I love BB cream. Stila's Beauty Balm is my current love.
AP: Do you have any advice for girls looking to start a career in modeling?
AR: Be the best you. You are your own product, so confidence is everything.
AP: Anything exciting coming up in the future?
AR: I shot Hurleys 2014 swimwear campaign. I'm quite excited for it to come out!
Follow Alexis Ren on twitter and tumblr.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
"In every letter, in every line, she saw him."
Once, I only wrote three words on a letter, "I miss you." Another time I wrote three pages full of emotions, confessions, and apologies. Neither one received a reply.
Letter writing is supposedly being filed as another "lost art." I, however, never tire from sending out postcards, thoughts, and stories to those I know and love. To me, writing letters is one of the most personal things one person can do for another nowadays. So I usually have a handful I send out every few weeks while traveling, and even now while I'm home for a bit.
If'd you'd like a personal note or two, don't by shy - send me your address or information!
image: tennessee misses you (designed by Meghan McCrary, available on etsy); love you to bits & pieces! (found downtown Knoxville, designed by Sugarboo Designs).
Friday, July 5, 2013
"And so with the sunshine and the great burst of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hope everyone has had a lovely start to July! For me, this was one of the first in a while where I didn't have much on the calender - except flying back to Tennessee to surprise all of my friends and family for the summer!
Leaving Germany was an incredibly bittersweet feeling, Sina and I only see each other every year or so for a month at a time so naturally June flew past us. We are planning another meet-up sometime at the end of this year or the middle of next though, so having that in the backs of our minds in reassuring.
And now here I am, sitting outside in the dry, humid heat of Tennessee summer remembering what it's like to be content with being home. When I was young I mostly dreamt of escaping this small town for travels and adventures. And now that I'm back? I'm in love with the natural flows of life that I call home. Like going up the old gravel dirt road to my grandfather's house, laying in the sun with a book and iced tea in Sequoyah Hills Park, or even just cuddling with my sweet (cat) Gizmo on the front lawn.
Being home is a blessing I never thought I'd experience, and one I plan on holding on to for a while.
after next week for DDW: back to regular postings and fresh content - vacation cannot simply last forever.
image: flying over the Atlantic making German potato salad; an afternoon in the garden; baking; Sina and I; Leingarten; vegetarisch wurst; German palace; Rapunzel's hair; baking cakes for birthday's; Sina and I atop a castle.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
"Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same."
On my last weekend in London I shot with Marc Pritchard and came out with the following work - are you as amazed as I am?
© Marc Pritchard - marc-pritchard.com