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Melissa Stetten's Bratwalk

Naked, Cold and Upset in Central Park

Some days I dream of quitting modelling for a "real" job.

I’m anorexic, according to Mom and everyone who doesn’t live in New York or Los Angeles. I don’t have a ton of fat insulating my bones, so I get cold easily. Also, I’m a girl, and us bitches are always fucking cold. So when I book jobs that are shooting outside in cold weather I have to mentally prepare myself for eight hours of shivering. What are you thinking right this second? 'Oh go fuck yourself, you’re making money for being attractive, you complaining twat.' Did I get that right? There are some aspects of being a model that I love, and there are other aspects that I dislike. Exactly how every single person in the world thinks of their own job. Being cold just happens to be at the top of the list of things I don’t like, narrowly defeating having a conversation with a male model. Ugh, male models.


I have this shoot for a lookbook with another model, Casey. She is blonde and tall (of course she is tall, Melissa, she’s a model, great description, dumbass) and speaks English. Thank god, someone I can talk to. Our call time is 9AM at a studio in SoHo. When I get there, there’s a table with chocolate croissants, egg sandwiches with cheese and coffee with whole milk. I don’t know about you, but I hate eating giant, gross, unhealthy breakfasts. They make me feel fat and tired. Where the fuck is the fruit and almond milk? Who are these savages who put whole milk in their coffee and eat chocolate and cheese for breakfast? Oh right, Americans. I dig in my purse for a granola bar and pour myself a coffee. I sit in a chair and let the make-up artist do whatever it is she’s doing to my face. I couldn't care less what is on my face, just don’t make me look like a transvestite.

After an hour or so I ask the photographer where we’re shooting. “Central Park,” he groans, with a mouthful of egg sandwich. Ugh, not the park. There aren’t many bathrooms there, and how the fuck am I supposed to change my clothes? “It was raining a little on my way here and it’s cold. Is the whole shoot there? How many looks are we shooting?” I ask, concerned, but mostly annoyed. “You’ll be fine, we’re doing 20.” “Oh, so ten each? That’s not bad.” I’m a little relieved. “No, 20 each.” FUCK. “Okay, where are we changing then? In the park?” “Yeah, we have a sheet to hold up around you.” This is going to suck. I’m going to be naked in Central Park, in the rain, and cold.


We get to Central Park and the designer says he wants the first look shot near the fountain. We walk about 15 minutes in the rain and arrive at the fountain. There are tons of tourists walking by staring at me and the other model. Our hair is teased and we have a shit ton of make-up on. We take off our jackets and put on the heels that are too small and wobble over to the fountain. I’m wearing a strapless dress that barely covers my ass. The rain is already fucking up my mascara. Only seven hours to go!

I’m trying really hard to look happy but my rib cage won’t stop shivering. I’m like one of those dancing paper skeletons people put up as decoration for Halloween. I probably have a thyroid disorder because I’m always cold and tired. When I google my symptoms the internet tells me I’m either pregnant or have cancer. The internet always thinks I'm pregnant and have cancer. I wouldn’t mind having a baby, I guess. I would name him Felix and dress him in cute little suits. Someone shouts something at me, I think I just blacked out for three minutes.

I’m back. So I’m in Central Park, it’s fuck-ass fucking butt-fuck freezing and I have goose bumps. The photographer has a conversation with me that I’ll never forget.

“Can you get rid of those goose bumps? It’s a summer collection and we need you to look warm and happy.” I stare at him for a good 30 seconds.

“It’s cold, I can’t help it, sorry,” I say to his fat face.


“Well try to fix it. You chose to be a model, deal with it.” I can only imagine the look on my face being similar to Hitler’s when he found out Germany was about to be defeated (I’m German, I can make Nazi references).

“Okay,” I say to him out loud. But what I'm really thinking is:

'Hey asshole, what was your name again? Oh right you "forgot" to introduce yourself to me this morning. You were too busy smoking cigarettes and stuffing a chocolate croissant down your throat to have the decency to say hello to me or the other model. Look, I agree that I chose this profession, and I don’t have to be here, but complaining to me about having goose bumps when I’m borderline anorexic, and standing outside in freezing cold weather, is bullshit. You’re bullshit.'

I should’ve said that, but I really needed the money and I’m trying extra hard to be a nice person. I appreciate being able to work as a model and I understand that my life seems like a cakewalk compared to others. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. This just happened to be one of the days I wanted to quit modelling for a "real" job.

After eight hours of this dreadful shoot and having to change behind a makeshift curtain in the middle of fucking Central Park, I run home and take a warm shower. I'm still freezing for a few hours after that because the heat in my building is rarely turned on. Those cheap motherfuckers.

I need a drink and some Valium.

Follow Melissa on Twitter: @MelissaStetten

Photography courtesy of Illustrations by Sam Taylor. Follow him on Twitter @sptsam or visit his website at

Previously: Backstage Bulimia at the Runway Show