Thursday, June 18, 2015

I Dreamed about Janice Dickinson ...

a couple nights ago. We were getting ready to leave some building when I hugged her and said "don't worry, you'll get another modeling contract." She didn't seem too concerned about it, but, she IS Janice Dickinson.

When I had surgery in spring of 2013, I loaded up with library books. It was bliss to be able to spend weeks lying in bed reading. A couple of the books I got during that time was No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel, by Janice Dickinson. I felt like she and I could relate to a certain extent. At the time she was struggling to be a model in an industry full of blue-eyed blondes, I was in elementary school coveting the blonde locks of my schoolmates. One classmate in particular (I think this was in kindergarten) had hair long enough to sit on. It seemed like if I got a doll for a gift, it was invariably blonde with blue eyes. I learned from an early age that it seemed to be a blue-eyed blonde type of world, and I resented it. And probably Dickinson did too.

She refers to herself as a "Polish mutt" not even acknowledging her father's English and Welsh roots, because she hated him. He was a pedophile, abusing one of Dickinson's younger sisters. Dickinson wanted out, and figured the way out was through modeling. She writes about sitting in her local supermarket obsessively reading the fashion magazines. People were telling her she was prettier than any of the models in the pages of Vogue.

Dickinson won a modeling contest in New York. A school friend's mother had just sold their Florida home and were planning to move back to New York. Dickinson burst into tears at the announcement, and the school friend's mother asked what was wrong. Dickinson confessed her hatred of Florida and wanting to go to New York with them. "So come with us," said the mother. And that, says Dickinson, is how she got to New York.

She got there, but it took getting used to. Turned down by Eileen Ford, Dickinson talks of pounding the pavements, barely eating, trying to get someone to give her a chance. Dickinson had a very unique look, as you can see from these photos.


In the first picture, she looks almost Asian, with full lips (which did not impress the hated/feared Ford). The second picture came from when she was established.

She's written two other books, Everything About Me is Fake--And I'm Perfect, and Check, Please!--Dating, Mating, and Extricating.

I know some feminists will probably cringe when I say this, but I wish I'd read these books earlier. A LOT earlier. However, Dickinson probably wasn't even thinking of writing books during the time I could have used her advice. Some men HAVE given her a bad time, but she hasn't given up on them, even after three failed marriages. Her books gave me a different perspective on things. And despite the anti-depressants, therapists and various feminist literature, Dickinson is who I should have been listening to all along. So why would I take advice from an addict who can't seem to stay married and has issues handling money?

Because she didn't let it get her down. Having a shitty father didn't stop her. The drugs haven't stopped her. Men being shitty to her didn't stop her. Money issues didn't stop her. She believed in herself, believed that she deserved her place in the modeling world among the blondes.

And indeed, when I think of the 1970s, I think of Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley, but I also think of Janice Dickinson, and wild child Gia Carangi, who died way too young.

And I also think of a little girl with curly dark hair, who didn't really become famous, but decades later, is still recognized by her mane, which is about as subtle as a heart attack. I've come to love my hair. I still feel like it's a separate person living on my head, with its own agenda. But I don't hate it anymore.

I wrote a letter to Dickinson, saying that I admired the fact that she didn't give up on her dream. I told her I read her books, and mentioned a little bit about my own past. I told her I just wanted her to know that she helped me, and I didn't want a response. She believed in herself, and maybe in time I may start to believe in myself too.

A quick sidenote: Even when I was an adult, my mother, who remembered that I never seemed to see any dark haired, brown-eyed dolls, continued to buy me dolls with dark hair. She got me a That Girl Barbie doll, and a Molly doll from The Big Comfy Couch. And whenever I gave greeting cards to my family, I always chose a Lucy Van Pelt Peanuts card.


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