We’ve referenced James Is A Girl, Jennifer Egan’s 1996 New York Times article on the modeling industry starring a then 16-year-old Jaime King, no shortage of times and we’ve been planning on dedicating a Time Warp to its awesomeness for months now, which is why we were super pumped to see the Times reference it in a retrospective this weekend. As part of a larger round-up, they asked now 32-year-old actress King how she felt about her portrayal in the piece. Her response is, in this day and age, particularly enlightening.
At 16 years old, you think you know everything, and then all of a sudden you realize that you don’t know anything at all. That is the best way to explain what I was feeling at that time.
I had grand illusions of what I thought modeling would be, as any young girl would. I was working with these masters in fashion and photography and learning from brilliant, creative people from around the world. But at the same time, I didn’t realize the weight of responsibility that I would carry, to have the same expectations put upon you as a minor that an adult would have. I was just a kid; I didn’t realize the freedom of youth that I was going be trading in for success. I became very successful, and I didn’t know how to handle that.
I felt like some people wanted a piece of me, wanted to take something from me. I felt that they wanted to sexualize me. In hindsight, I can see that and know the truth of it, but at that time I didn’t know that’s what they were doing. I just thought, Oh, I’m suddenly successful and all my dreams are coming true, but why do I feel so scared? I experimented with drugs; I was young and wanted to ‘‘fit in.’’ I quickly realized this wasn’t the path for me, and I haven’t touched any drug since I was 17.
I’m an actor now on an upcoming show on the CW, ‘‘Hart of Dixie.’’ I wish that I would have known how to have a career and be a kid at the same time. I think for the fashion industry that can happen only if they have a union for the young models as they do for the young actors.