Modelling authenticity

When I was in my late teens, I used to work as a model. I worked in New Zealand and Australia mainly - I loved it. Meeting lots of different people, being financially independent, travelling with work. The industry in New Zealand was small and felt very welcoming. I got jobs because people liked working with me, because I had energy and a big laugh. I could be myself.


But when I was sent to Germany on a contract with an agency there, things felt very different. I was put in a house with five other models, all Brazilian and some as young as 15 – I was 19 at the time. I was already thin, but the girls were thinner. We had a guy that oversaw looking after us all, and he was a bit creepy.

I was sent out on castings all over Munich, told to wear heels and a short skirt. I remember so vividly rushing around between castings trying to find my way around the subway system, feet aching and thinking people were looking at me, feeling very stupid.

It wasn’t just the clothing or the heels, I would certainly spend a lot of my 20s in the same getup. It was the fact that I didn’t choose them. I felt objectified, that those things were now what made up 'Esther'. Not my laugh, or my larger-than-life personality... I was just the same as every other girl that was skinny and had the 'right type of face'.

I felt so out of place, sick to my stomach. I remember getting back to my accommodation and feeling so lost. The girls I was staying with were lovely, they tried to make me feel better, but they couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did. This was a dream for a girl, right?
After two days of feeling like someone had dug out my stomach with a spade, I packed my bags and flew back to London. I wasn't confident enough to tell the agency why I left, and I avoided their calls for the next year trying to get me to work again.

Instead, I saw a little pink ad in the job section of the newspaper and ended up working as a secretary for a property firm in London, quickly rising through the ranks to run one of their most successful departments.

So why am I writing all this? Because when I think about that 19-year-old girl who followed her intuition, who knew who she was and felt deeply that she could not pretend to be someone she was not, I feel such a sense of pride. But I also wonder where she went for a large part of my adult life. When did I stop listening to her? Stop trusting her?

Was it becoming successful in a male-dominated sales environment, where looks felt like they mattered? Did I start valuing these superficial parts of myself higher also, losing trust and connection with my inner being?

Or was it becoming a mother and feeling like, whilst my world got so much richer, my sense of purpose at work and the way my colleagues viewed me was so altered? I was confused about who I was and what I wanted, feeling pulled in so many different directions.

Be proud of who you are... Because when you do, you have so much more to give to those around you, and to the world.

When I think about my life and the different stages I have been through, it seems that, in our teenage years, we have such a strong sense of who we are and what we stand for, our principles, and our passions. But somewhere in our 20’s we go out and try to be something, do what it takes to get people to like us, want us, and hire us.

In our 30s, if we are fortunate enough to have a family, we morph into something different again, not the fun sexy 20-year-old, but the mum who’s lost her edge at work, who’s trying to figure out how to make it all fit together. Trying to have a happy marriage, a job that’s fulfilling and drives her and be a good mum to her kids...and failing at it all.

But now I’m nearly 40, I can wholeheartedly say that I would not wish to be any other age. Because magic happens for a woman at 40. If we are brave enough or go through an experience that forces us to be brave, we start to realise it doesn’t matter what others think. But it truly matters what we think of ourselves.

We see that our life means something - that we have a purpose - and if we don’t know it, yet we start yearning to find it. We see that we need to stop looking outwards and start going within, to reconnect to that being that has been there all along. Because only she can guide us now.

When we figure out how to love ourselves, truly love ourselves and not the mask we have been wearing, when we reconnect to that 19-year-old girl that was full of conviction and love for who she was, then it’s all for her. Wear nice clothes, feel smoking hot, work out, and enjoy your body. But do it all for her. There’s nothing more attractive than a woman that is self-possessed, that knows her worth, and that is authentic and real.

So I am now modelling again, but this time to my kids - modelling how to show up in the world totally as yourself. To be proud of who you are and all your quirky differences, to love yourself first and everyone else after.

Because when you do, you have so much more to give to those around you, and to the world.


Esther x

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Henley-On-Thames RG9 & London SW1X
Written by Esther Simmonds, ICF/ACC Life Coach, NLP & Mindfulness Practitioner
Henley-On-Thames RG9 & London SW1X


I'm Esther.

Kiwi mum of two, avid adventurer, recovering people pleaser & passionate transformative life coach!

My mission in life is to help people live life fully, authentically & unapologetically for themselves.

To untangle from the masks they've been wearing & create a life of meaning & purpose.

I can't wait to meet you!


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