The Harbinger Online

A Long Walk to the Runway


“I got up to the runway and posed and held it for what felt like 10 minutes, and screaming ‘Yes Ainslie!’ ‘Hold that!’ ‘Take your moment!’ All eyes were on me,” senior Ainslie Stern explained. “I felt so confident walking and strutting my stuff.”

Moments like these are what makes all the drama that comes with being a model in high school worth it. Stern and senior Jenna Householder have grown in confidence and self image because of their modeling experiences.

Both girls grew up enjoying the spotlight. They both thrived in theatre, and Stern also enjoyed participating in show choir. When a family friend and photographer approached Householder about modeling in sixth grade, she couldn’t wait to get started. They sent her pictures to a child talent agency, Patricia Steven’s, and within a year she was featured on MTV’s show, “Made”, where she would be mentored by a professional.

As Stern got older she started to develop a naturally tall and skinny body, so people always told her she should try modeling. When she was 14 years old she decided to meet with Exposure Model and Talent agency. The first two years she barely got any jobs. She didn’t realize modeling was going to be part of her future until the summer going into her junior year when she started having more runway jobs and photoshoots.

 Senior Ainslie Stern poses in photos shot by local photographer Harrison Quinn. (Courtesy of Quinn)

Senior Ainslie Stern poses in photos shot by local photographer Harrison Quinn. (Courtesy of Quinn)

Stern and Householder have been photographed and critiqued for a majority of their youth. When they got to high school, they both had to figure out how open they would be about their modeling careers with their classmates. At the beginning, Stern was nervous, but after signing with the agency CLICK in New York, she stopped caring what people thought of her posts, and turned her social media presence up. Now, when she has photoshoots, posting them on Instagram can help increase her followers or make a connection for future work.

Householder has never been a fan of posting about modeling on social media. When she first started in seventh grade, she had a Facebook where she shared everything and thought it was cool. Now that she is older she has realized she doesn’t need people’s recognition and doesn’t find her pictures “sexy” enough to share anyways.

Among other modeling frustrations like sharing her photos, Householder also hates the stigma of models having eating disorders. When Householder’s agent told her she was too muscular, she didn’t get upset over it. She explained that often straight-bodied model’s bodies are natural, otherwise working out to achieve that is just part of the job. Through modeling, she has learned that image critique is inevitable, and doesn’t take it too seriously.

Senior Jenna Householder models in a photoshoot for designer Amanda Valentine, known for her work on Project Runway

Senior Jenna Householder models in a photoshoot for designer Amanda Valentine, known for her work on Project Runway

When Stern was in New York City this past summer, she cried for the first time while modeling because of a blunt photographer. He told her that her poses were “weird”, they “sucked” and it caused her to break down. Ultimately, she realized that this was just his method, and she would run into other harsh personalities throughout her career. She learned how to handle situations like that, which will help her the next time. After her awful shoot experience, she ended up with some of her favorite pictures ever.

Though modeling has made the girls overcome things most high schoolers never have to, they do it because they love it. Householder felt like she became another person when she did a Project Runway photoshoot for Amanda Valentine

“It was these huge, flowy couture dresses,” Householder said. “I had my hair and makeup crazy, they put on music and you just start going. It doesn’t feel like it’s you. It’s nice because you get to let it all out.”

Stern knew she was meant to model when she got cast for a runway show at Halls, a high-end Kansas City department store. Her agent sent her to a casting at Crown Center with hundreds of people of all shapes, ages and races. She went in thinking there was no way she would ever book the job. Her mom, Teddi Pendland, even told her not to get her hopes up. A few days later when she found out she booked it she was surprised and ecstatic. Now whenever Hall’s needs a model, Stern is their go-to-girl. After that she went on to shoot for Champion, Her Life Magazine and signed a modeling contract in New York City.

While Stern is moving to New York after high school, Householder has decided to sign with an agency after deciding on a college, and see where that takes her.

After Stern dealt with the intense photographer and people critiquing her body, she feels confident she is ready for New York next year, and she will have her mom to help out the first month. From the start Pendland has helped set up Stern’s first photoshoot, gone on every job and helped plan gigs with her agent.

With all the stereotypes, Stern and Householder have experienced, they have loved modeling and their characters have developed because of it. It taught them independence, confidence and how to work with others while holding their own.

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