09/26/2014 09:44 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Fashion and the Real Girl: The Realities of the Most Unreal Industry


Photo credit: Benjamin Sharp/

When I was 13, I read an article in Harpers Bazaar that was going to change my life. It was written by a teen fashion blogger, a profession I didn't even know existed. (This was in 2010, when Tumblr wasn't cool yet and nobody had Instagram.)

Since that very day, I've been running my own fashion site, A Bent Piece of Wire. It's been this wonderful journey, where I've gotten to meet so many amazing people in this insane industry I call home, and it's already gone so much further than I'd have ever guessed (I have a Wikipedia page??) but everyone has a start. When I was at mine (and most of the time I feel like I still am) I definitely had some learning to do, and very little of it had to do with blogging itself, but more about the world I had decided to get involved with. The fashion industry looks very different from the outside than it does from the inside.

I am reminded of this at least twice a year on a major scale. Right now is one of those times, as "Fashion Month" (when all of the Spring/Summer collections for the next year are shown, starting the first week of September in New York, and wrapping up in Paris) comes to its conclusion. This is one of the few times of year when the fashion world begins seeping into everyday life, and every person who follows on twitter thinks they know the industry inside and out. So now, from the perspective of someone who has been around for a bit, had to learn this all herself in some very interesting situations and is young enough to say exactly what she's thinking, here are things other people should know about the fashion industry as learned by a teenager:

1. There is more to it than models and designers.

I think this is not only the most common misconception about the fashion industry, but also one of the most hurtful, because it degrades the immense amount of work everyone else puts in to making everything tick. On one photo shoot alone you will need stylists, art directors, makeup artists, hair stylists, nail artists, lighting specialists, assistants, photographers, editors and someone to hand out coffee. To even make the pieces for the shoot takes a whole other army of seamstresses and fit models. Without those people, the models and designers would just be sitting around in the dark with pretty clothes. (To see a bit of this beehive, watch "Valentino: The Last Emperor." It's on Netflix.)

2. Being "pretty" will not make you a model, and being a model is not easy.

"You're so pretty, you should be a model" is a lovely compliment, but being "pretty" is not enough. Not only do you need to fit into a very specific height and body structure, but a lot of times, your face hasn't got a lot to do with whether you're successful or not. Models spend their days running all over foreign cities to castings, working out rigorously and sticking to careful diets. They work so hard to be part of an industry in which probably 95 percent of them won't last past their second or third season.

3. Not all of it is really meant to be worn.

"Fashion collections are so stupid, you can't even wear that." I will be the first person to stand up and say I have seen some really... interesting pieces of art come down the runway that probably would never translate onto a normal person, but sometimes, that's the point. They're inspirational. The designer is translating a vision they had into real life, and you can do with that what you may.

4. Anna Wintour is a genius, but she's not the only magazine editor alive.

Anna Wintour is a fashion icon. Everyone knows her, and most people think she's terrifying. She's a genius, and I don't know that she will ever not be amazing at what she does. But she is not the only editor in fashion, and in fact, it takes many editors to keep even a single magazine afloat. A lot of them are really impossibly great humans. (For proof of this, google Laura Brown, executive editor at Harpers Bazaar, the very magazine that got me starting.)

5. Vogue isn't everything.

Vogue is a powerhouse, and can make or break careers, but you can't get all your knowledge from one source. The first thing I feel like a lot of people do to express their interest in fashion is tell you that they have a subscription to Vogue. I did. The first thing people who are already in the industry will ask you: "That's great. What else do you read?" Ripping outfits out of Vogue isn't going to cut it, and if it's the only fashion magazine you know of, it's time to hit the stacks.

6. 99.999 percent of photo shoots look nothing like what you see on America's Next Top Model.

TYRA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Nothing, and by nothing, I mean, nothing on ANTM is accurate. Starting with the casting and ending with that closing runway show, let alone those photo shoots. Please remember that ANTM is a reality show and therefore doesn't actually need to be extremely realistic.

7. Models don't get to keep anything they wear. (Most of the time.)

There is a common misconception among the general public that if you are a model, you get to travel the world, staying in upscale hotels and accumulating designer pieces. The actuality for a lot of  models is that you might get to travel the world, staying in cramped and tiny apartments with lots of other girls who are all out for the same jobs as you, and you will probably wear jeans and a T-shirt all day until you have a shoot, after which you will change back. The designer may let you keep a piece, but that isn't very common.

8. We do eat. A lot.

"Fashion people don't eat." What a joke. I won't laugh it off and say that this industry doesn't have some serious body issues that need to be worked on, and unfortunately, eating disorders are a very serious reality, but if you had the front row of a NYFW show spill the insides of their purses, I can promise the snacks will come a'sliding. (Eva Chen, editor-In-chief at Lucky, is the best about this.)

9. Money can't buy style.

Remember Juicy Couture? Remember those hideous bags and the tracksuits? (Ah, the tracksuits.) When I was 11, that ridiculously overpriced dog walking getup seemed like the pinnacle of style. The grown-up version of that are designer purses, scarves, etc. Let me just repeat this: just because it cost more than a child's education and has a designer name stamped on it 500 times, that doesn't make it stylish.

10. This is hard work, and it's not always glamorous.

When I started blogging, I had no idea how much I would love this world, and all the people in it. I also had no idea how much work I was going to be putting in. Blogging world is a tough group to break into as an adult, let alone as a teenager from Nowhere, Northern California. A lot of people think this is all selfies and photo shoots, but in reality it's usually me, alone, in front of a computer. Good thing I love it, huh?

You can go all the way back to 2010 and read/cringe about those tracksuits on my site