Hattie and I are twins and as such we have been very close. Up to the age of ten many would mistake us for two tomboys. But then changes set in for Hattie and she began liking to be more of a girly girl. At first she wore culottes and shirt like blouses; and then she’d get jeans that were fancy and pretty. Once she got her first bra it was like all things changed.
Mom limited her makeup, and her necklaces and earrings had to be simple. Mom would say to me, “Terrance, your problem is you’re Hattie’s shadow. People continue to mistake you for Hattie’s sister, with you remaining a tomboy. You would be considered identical twins except you’re sister and brother.”
We had even played tee-ball and started learning basketball together. We continue to play and do things together. The best way to tell us apart was my clothes became dirty as we’d climb trees, pull weeds and play a lot using our imagination. My sister and I both like the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as well as Bad Girls, because you could be a boy or a girl and have fun.
When Hattie began to change, I was still a friend of most of her girlfriends and they continued to be comfortable with me tagging along. They knew I had played girl things with Hattie. That she could even get me to dress like her.
I had boys that were close friends. That cooled a bit with Nick and Sam getting called Niki and Samantha by some other guys teasing them and me.
Today’s Saturday, we’re at the mall as Mom and some of her friends want to shop. Hattie would be with some of her friends and I’d tag along until they tired of me. Hopefully that gave mom time to pick out our birthday gifts and get them hidden back in the car.
Hattie and the rest of them went into this one clothing store. That’s where Ms. Briggs asks, “So have you girls come to be in the fashion show? If you are, you each get to keep one outfit of your choosing.” All five girls perked up to that idea and raised their hand and I did as well.
One of the catches was you needed a parent’s permission. With permission slips in hand we left the store. Jaime’s mother was with our mother so getting permission wouldn’t be that hard with us. Hattie uses her phone to track mom and we were soon together. Our Mom began to giggle as she read.
Mom says, “You know its Teri they want, not Terrance?” I must have given her a look.
I say, “Mom, it’s a clothing store, I’m sure Gap has guy stuff.”
Mom laughs, “’Gap for Women’ have guy’s clothing designed for women, it is not the same. But I signed your permission slip. I think it’s time you found out there’s a growing difference between you and Hattie.” I began to walk away when Mom said to Hattie, “Here I have a package of three panties for you. Terry might need a pair if he tries to be a model.”
Hattie’s face brightens up, “Thanks Mom, I just might be able to talk him into it.” With that she runs to catch up to Jaime and me.
Hattie asks, “Terry are you willing to give this a try?” We had seen fashion magazines before where a guy has become a fashion model.
Ms. Briggs isn’t too excited at first, but says, “Unless more girls show up to model you might be in.” She checks my permission slip and the signatures of my mom matches with Hattie’s. She asks, “Would you two mind being the Slade sisters for today, Attie and Teri Slade? Miss Jan Coffman will have you as her personal project until the show begins at 1:00 pm. It was now 10:30.”
Miss Jan as we’re to call her is happy to see us. Hattie and I are both in makeup chairs and Jan is working her magic and our looks become uniquely distinctive. Both our complexions are soft, but Hattie’s gets more color and mine is soft blues and a smoky bluish grey, even more subtle with the blush. Hattie will usually get the more feminine fashions, and I’ll have the open more suggestive blouses and dresses. Jan says, “We don’t need to worry about you hanging out and exposing anything. I do however have a closing gown that will look beautiful on you. After that no one will have any doubt that you’re an attractive young woman. Will that be okay with you?”
Hattie is the first to yell, “Oh that’s great, I know she’ll love to do it!” Jan looks to me, and I say, “We’ve practiced things like this as twins, it will be great.”
My hair isn’t quite as long as Hattie’s but it is longer than it usually is. Jan jokes with me, “You didn’t do us the favor of wearing a pair of panties did you?” I look dismayed but that quickly changes as Hattie joyfully says, “My Mom thought they’d be needed and gave me a package of three fresh panties.”
Jan handed me two from the package and pointed to a screen. “Go behind there and I suggest you put on two pairs to hide things in place. Then give your sister the remaining pair if she needs something fresh to change into.” I’m given a long floppy top to wear over the panties.
When I hesitate to come around from the screen. Jan says, “Hey young lady! If you’re going to be a model, you need to step through that shyness.” Hattie encourages me, “Teri pretend it’s just like we’re at home.” Even at home I had developed a shy demeanor when I pretended to be a model.
Jan says, “Sweet, I like that look.”
My first outfit is to be a greyish pink dress with a lace front, and I’m to wear tights with a rainbow of pinks. A three inch heel and a long strapped purse are part of the outfit. The second outfit is a pair of low riding designer jeans with a cotton blouse. The blouse again has a gap with strings hanging down as well as holding it together. I’ll wear designer glasses with a rose tint. When I take them off at the end of the runway I’ll show off bright blue eyes with eyeshadow to be determined. The third outfit is a mini-dress with open lace work down to my navel.
Hattie speaks up, “If he wears it like that they’re going to suspect he’s a boy…” Jan continues, “Or a flat chested girl who is more daring than embarrassed to wear it.”
My fourth and final change will be into a full skater dress showing my curves including that I am wearing a bra with noticeable breasts. Jan says, “You are even to go out in this dressy gown and sign autographs and say hello, afterwards. Do you think, you can do that?”
I pause and I know Jan is waiting for me to respond; Ms Briggs has even come into our area. I gulp for air as I consider my words. I say, “If my sister is willing to do it with me. And if my mother isn’t complaining after she watches me take part in the fashion show, I’ll be happy to do so.”
Jan says, “I am proud of you. I’m guessing since your mother already signed your permission slip. It is likely that she will accept our last request. We will however live with her decision.” Jan turns to Hattie, “And you, you know what she’ll be wearing and that the two of you will be doing so as the Slade sisters. Are you willing to be part of the greeting committee with Teri after the fashion show?”
Ms. Briggs speaks up, “If you remember, I told you before each of you gets to keep one of the outfits you’ve modeled. And we are obligated to pay you the minimum wage for your time working with us. But it is our policy to pay amateurs $12.00 per hour and our professional models will be paid at the minimum rate of $25.00 per hour unless another agreement has been reached with them.”
She says, “Jan is one such model as we are short-handed for models. If it would be an incentive for you. I am able to tell you that Jan receives over $75.00 per hour as a model. It is above that but $75 is what I am able to tell you.”
I could see my sister Hattie mouthed the words seventy-five.
Hattie, Jaime and I had already shown Jan how we’ve acted out modeling before. Quickly Jan instructs us about walking straight, how we’re to hold our hands and move our arms as we walk back and forth on the run way. She tells us how to step, stop and shift our weight as we turn at the end of the runway. She is in part seeking to simplify what we will do saying, “It is natural to get nervous and to hurry things.” She has us count ten seconds to walk to the end of the runway. Ten-twelve to pause and turn, making eye contact with three people and then another ten seconds returning. We are to return and to where we started and wait until we’re excused.
I am supposed to eat a half of a sandwich to keep my energy up and to sip my drink enough to wet my throat. I’m to leave most it for the fashion show and between changes. I watch the selection of clothes for Hattie and I’m kind of jealous. Her dresses and outfits are more colorful. I am taken with how fashionable she looks in each. I know we’re not real models but Hattie has already incorporated the changes into her runway walk as Jan has told us to do.
I did peek out to see how Jaime is doing. There’s several other people getting ready to model. I hear the name of two Darla Hart, whose name I recognize as being a model. Kate looks to be a model though I don’t recognize her name. Jaime says she’s in seventh heaven as Darla took time to give her pointers and to give her a compliment. There are five models there and with Hattie, myself and Jan that makes eight people as models.
We’re not to pay attention to the other models nor count how many outfits they model. Our attention is to be on ourselves that is easier said than done. Or so I thought, but as the fashion show begins I am consumed with doing what I’m told.
I think I’m doing real well in my pink outfit with my pink rainbow tights. Ms. Briggs calls them leggings. I reached the end of the runway and the second person I focus on is my Mother. I know Bonnie is next to her but it is my mother’s smile and clapping that I really notice. The third person is a girl several years younger than me.
Someone whistles as I turn to walk back. I hoped it was for the next model, but she had waited until I started walking back. One photographer shakes her head in appreciation as I posed for her on my way back. Jan compliments me and slaps my butt to get moving.
The woman who puts in my bright blue contacts, does it so smoothly and then applies a blueish purple mascara. It is a shame to put on the designer sunglasses over it, but I know they’re coming off at the end of the runway. Mom’s eyes are in shock mode when she sees the gap my blouse has. When I take off my glasses lean back and begin to turn there are numerous cameras flashing. I look at the girl I saw the first time and she’s saying “Wow!” and I am pleased. I paused at the end for three photographers but I still kept the turn to twelve seconds.
Putting on the mini-dress is simple, while having another woman put white lace stockings on up my legs sent shock waves through my shyness as it falls to the way side. I’m surprised that the stockings stay up on their own. The heels my feet are slipped into are 4” high. My hair is brushed differently, the jewelry more flashy, the front of the dress is open. And I fear that my panties will show from the top or the bottom. I am not sure what to make of my mother enthusiastically applauding, when I finally make my way down the runway. The whistles come from girls as well as guys. I did hear one person say, “Maybe she’s not a girl?”
I don’t know how much time has elapsed, but for me the time is going fast but lasts long. I’m finally back as I change for the last time. Ms Briggs takes the honors or pressing on my small breast forms and handing me my bra. I see Hattie watching me as she has just come back from her fourth outfit. I know she has one more outfit to model. I change into a pair of satin or silk boy panties before the dress is lifted over and placed down upon me. Another pair of stockings take the place of the previous pair. I swear I could commit myself to wearing stockings at this point.
Jan has me step into a pair of 3” heels. She says, “We want the dress to sell this look.” Jan puts a sparkling silver necklace on me. It is beautiful, but Jan looks and says yuck to the silver clip-on earrings. I speak up, “I agree, you need to use the silver hoops that are pierced earrings.”
Jan pauses and looks at me in disbelief at my words. She says, “But your mother?”
I smile, “She signed my permission slip didn’t she?”
Jan yells, “Attie, you need to hurry and go before your sister. She needs extra time.”
There is a towel and needle and the first earring is in. “Beautiful!” yells Jan. She concentrates, pauses and catches her breath and finally pierces my left ear. The earring is in and Jan declares, “Wow that compliments the dress and you.” I see her give me an air kiss saying, “Thank you, Teri” She said more than I could hear, but I interpret it to say, a simple, “Thank you.”
It was as I stepped away toward the runway that I realized Jan had been down to her panty and bra for her last change. Hattie is back from her last strut down the runway. She stops when she gets to me. “Teri, you are fantastically beautiful in that dress. Take a breath and go out there and sell that you’re the girl down the street.”
It means to Hattie and me that we’re in a Cinderella moment. She could not have been more inspiring. I was not told, nor did I plan it. But as I got to the end of the walkway, I curtsied. My turn and walk back was as though I was dancing on air. Several people stand up and clap for me. Three of Hattie’s friends joined in clapping for me and call me Teri.
The three professional models each took their last walks on the runway and I was holding Hattie’s hand as we both watched the best we could behind the curtain. Hattie hugs me and whispers, “I’d love to be a model.” I echo her saying “I’d love it too.”
Hattie says, “You heard Jan say, ‘You’re a natural at modeling?” When I say, “Really.” Hattie understands I had not heard it the first time.
“You know Hattie, part of what works for me is us doing it together. I became your alter ego to those who are watching.”
It was great to hear several girls say to us later that they liked how we work together and play off of the other. Truth be told neither of us was conscious of doing it intentionally. The show was finished around 3:00 o’clock and we were out meeting people another half hour plus.
Mom gives me a hug as she had Hattie. Then she says to the two of us, “Are you going to be ready to model in Indianapolis in three weeks?” Something told me she wasn’t joking and I let out a scream, “Were we asked?” Hattie’s surprised and asks, “Oh my, Mom are you going to let us do it?”
Jan and a Ms Sandra who we’re introduced to, asks if they can take us and our Mom to dinner. We go to a fancy restaurant that I didn’t even know about. Ms. Sandra wants to sign us to an exclusive contract. Hattie agrees with Mom. We’ll sign for the fashion show in Indianapolis. It is a three day show and we’re to model on the Saturday. Mother has the wit to ask for accommodations at the hotel, they’re staying at.
Sandra says, “We were going to provide them if we were very impressed come Saturday morning.”
Hattie and I begin talking together. And then we say, “We were wanting to be able to watch and learn from the real models.” Jan says, “There will be ten of us and Sundays show will be with the best of us and the best of others. If you’re indeed open to learning, it would be a wonderful opportunity. But we want you two to relax and realize it takes a long time to get established in this business. The odds are against any girl making it. It is not only hard work, there’s a lot of luck and people seeing something special in you. That goes for the two of you. We won’t put up with someone being spoiled or having an attitude.”
Mother says, “You’re offering them, $150/ hour. Is that not a sign you believe they have potential?”
Ms Briggs says, “Yes, they’re very photogenic and they seem to have natural instincts for modeling. Many young women have gotten by; by pretending once and then that’s it. It’s important to show if you can do so again and again. That is not as easy as it sounds.”
We’re finally home and walk into the house together. We are greeted by my father and brother Jack. With makeup and having a girl’s outfit on, neither of them immediately recognize me. Dad is still looking for me to come through the door.
Dad jokes with my mother, “I’ve seen you carrying in more purchases when you shopped only part of the day. What took you so long?” My Dad starts to reach out his hand to welcome me before he realizes it is me.
“Your mother said I was in for a surprise. So what happened that we now have a pretty boy looking like his sister…?”
To be continued...
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