Dreams and dreamers come in all shapes and sizes. I met a young 18-year old woman named Kayla Odenthal, a small-town girl from a neighboring city of Portland, Oregon – just across the river in Washington State. Kayla is studying to be a nurse, working at Hollister (her first job), and about to start her new job as a certified nursing assistant! But with all this going on and in Kayla’s words, “as crazy as it may sound,” she also dreams of modeling. In pursuit of this passion, Kayla has done a promotional shoot for Avari Magazine. She is not signed to an agency at the moment, but is planning to build a portfolio and submit it to agencies as soon as she can. Kayla has had a love of fashion since middle school, when she started reading Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine. However, at 5’3″ Kayla is considered petite for a model. Says she: “I know that I have a hard road ahead of me with my careers and education, but I look forward to the journey!” Here is more from this 18-year old dreamer …
MKG: You mention being interested in fashion and modeling since middle school, when you started reading teenage fashion magazines. When did the notion go from an idea to a true pursuit?
KAYLA: I never really took modeling seriously until this year. Previously, I thought that you had to be tall and thin and have that “perfect” body, as seen in most magazines. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized anyone can model; the type of modeling that is right for each individual just varies. I tried submitting some simple photos of myself when I was in middle school, but I was turned down. I felt hopeful, but at the time I didn’t have the confidence to try again. That changed when I met with the photographer for my high school senior portraits, Jeananne Sizemore of Avari Magazine. Jeananne first asked me if I was interested in modeling, myself. I told her yes, but I wasn’t sure where I would fit in the industry. She then said that there are tons of short models and that some photographers actually prefer working with short models. Jeananne gave me the confidence to move forward, informing me that no matter my body shape and size, there are companies looking for people like me; that lifestyle and sports modeling may be options for me. This helped tremendously – I really just needed information and for someone other than myself to believe that I could do it. Now I feel as if though I am on the threshold and would love others to join me by believing in themselves.
MKG: You are from the Portland, Oregon area. I am an East-Coast girl; tell me what the fashion vibe is like in Portland?
KAYLA: The fashion vibe in Portland, Oregon is crazy! Color, texture, and pattern, are everywhere. Sometimes I fall in love with people’s outfits, and sometimes I want to ask them how in the world they came up with the wild combinations! I guess there are many reasons why people say “keep Portland weird.” All in all, it is an inspiring atmosphere, because people here are not afraid to try new things and show their true personality through their clothing choices.
MKG: I write about the connection between fashion and self esteem. What do you think is the connection? How do feel when you are wearing outfits that bring out the best in you?
KAYLA: I think the connection between fashion and self esteem is powerful. When something fits right and looks good on my body, I feel ten times better about myself than when I am wearing clothes that are baggy or simply don’t work. Having a sense of fashion and a style that appeals to you makes you feel better. For me, I feel my best when I am wearing wedges and a dress. This is probably because I am short, but the combination gives the illusion that I have ‘long’ legs. I’m not saying fashion connects to self esteem by hiding or contorting parts of the body to fit the mold of what is considered beautiful; I just think that fashion has the power to make people feel better about themselves because it can bring out their best assets. Who wouldn’t feel better knowing he/she looks good in what he/she is wearing? It’s like a stress lifted off one’s shoulders – one less thing to worry about for the day.