After my mother pulled me out of 12th grade, we made the rounds of department stores and shops and photographers. To my surprise, I was hired by Halle’s to model in the tearoom at lunchtime; by Higbee’s and May’s for their fashion shows; photographer Harry Cole for his fashion shoots and catalogues and Quinn-Maas, an expensive specialty shop. I strutted on runways, stretched my legs and pointed my toes for the photographer, and in fashion’s convoluted calendar, posed in fur coats and rivers of sweat in July and bathing suits and goosebumps in January. I demonstrated vacuum cleaners at conventions, sprayed cologne at ladies in department stores, paced runways in my new hip-swinging stride, all the while feeling an immense sorrow. I had become my mother’s creation, her idea of me, a no-brainer not even fit to finish high school, a moving, speaking walking size 8, her windup girl-toy, an early pioneering Barbie, pushed down the road of her vicarious fantasies. With no idea of who I was or wanted to be, I went along, riveted by her will as she sat in the dark corner of the photographer’s studio, the front row of the style shows, the table in the tearoom.
Every day from twelve until two I modeled in Halle’s tearoom. In the dressing room, staring at my reflection at the stranger in the mirror with the breasts and shimmering silver gown and silver sandals, I seemed to have emerged overnight willed into being by my mother.
Read more of Lost & Found by author and model, Babette Rosen Hughes
OR read her novel, The Hat, a story of a bootlegger's wife.
Sequel, The Red Scarf, to be release in July 2013