When I was little, I would follow my grandma out onto the back patio of my grandparents’ house during her smoke breaks. I hated the smell of cigarettes, but I adored spending time with her. Grandma Betty was my very first number-one fan. She was the only person on the planet with whom I shared my first “novel”—handwritten on lined pages of a yellow notepad—in grade school. And God knows how many impromptu recitals of the entire Aladdin soundtrack—sung and danced by yours truly—she endured before family dinners together. Of course, she never let on that these performances were probably a burden. Instead, she smiled and encouraged my every move and note.
One day, as we sat on the back patio and smoke curled from my grandma’s mouth, she said, “I could see you becoming a model someday. You’re so pretty. You should do it.” I smiled in response, basking in her compliment, because at the time I felt like anything but the model type. (Note: I would hope very few girls feel like the “model type” in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.)
In grade school, I was gangly and skinny, all knees and elbows. I was never one to follow fashion trends. I didn’t wear makeup or shave my legs until much later than my peers. I wasn’t super popular and sported short hair when it was all the rage to wear it at long as possible. Very early on, I accepted this notion that I wasn’t “commercially” or “classically” beautiful.
And as I’ve become an adult, I’ve realized that my youthful notion was a crock of shit. Because beauty isn’t commercial or classical or any other description you want to try to label it with. Beauty exists in all things and all people. Grandma Betty knew this. And she knew I’d figure it out, too. I love her for that.
Sadly, my grandma died before I had the chance to formally pose in front of a camera.
Today, photos of me—taken by the amazing and fabulous Rachel Hawkinson—are featured in Chandler Lifestyle magazine. Go to their website, click on the April 2015 issue, and flip to page 26 to me modeling the gorgeous bridal couture of Cleo and Clementine.
I hope my grandma can see the pictures today. I hope she’s peering down through the clouds with a smile on her face, saying, “I knew you could do it. You look beautiful, Tiffany.”