When I was a teenager, I didn't spend a lot of time in front of the TV, but one show I religiously watched was Sex and the City. I idolized Carrie Bradshaw: her job, her clothes, her apartment, everything besides her tumultuous love life. I was convinced that this was how my adult life would be. I'd live in New York City, of course, and stay single well into my 30s in order to concentrate on my career as a fashion writer. I'd have a fabulous apartment all to myself, with an enormous walk-in closet filled with designer purchases that I'd somehow be able to afford.
How I ended up writing for Refinery29 (and my own style blog, P.S. It's Fashion) is a long-winded story for another day. But, it's not without parallels to Bradshaw's trajectory. In my imaginings, at least. In my mind, I compared my TV appearances on Good Morning America and Inside Edition to Carrie's bus-side debut. I had put my visage out there for the general public to critique, and while I didn't wind up with lewd drawings on my face (that I'm aware of), I felt vandalized by vicious comments online. But, even Carrie's bad experiences had become benchmarks. That was one I could check off.
Although I got married at 26 and never penned a sex column, my inner teenager was elated any time my life mirrored hers. When my first article was printed, when I began writing regularly for a highly read website, or when I went to industry parties and Fashion Week, I would flash back to my 14-year-old self and smile.
When Full Beauty (formally One Stop Plus) asked me to walk in a runway show as part of its rebranding, I jumped at the chance. This would give me the opportunity to check off another SATC moment. After agreeing to strut my stuff, I queued up the episode “The Real Me,” where Carrie struts the catwalk, to prepare myself. After watching for a bit, I realized that this was one experience that I really didn't want to live out: In front of everyone, she trips on her strappy sandal and face-plants onto the runway, Stanford shrieking “Oh my god, she's fashion roadkill!” from the sidelines. Somehow, I had forgotten about this stomach-churning faux pas. But, it was too late; I had agreed.
The day of the event, I woke a bundle of nerves. Would my subconscious desire to be Carrie Bradshaw land me face down on the runway, too? As I perched on a stool, the hairstylist primping away at my feral curls, I scanned the room of gorgeous professional models and wondered what I was doing to myself.
Even though I knew many of these women personally, they appeared other-worldly in their natural environment. How could I possibly look even half-way decent next to women for whom looking perfect is literally their job? While walking a straight line seems simple, the moment you realize that everyone is staring at you, watching your every movement, you immediately become hyper self-aware. I could feel my heart beating and was certain that it was audible; I was terrified that beads of sweat would catch in my hair dye and drip scarlet streaks down my forehead and onto the pristine white carpet.
As I took my place between the professional models — feeling Lilliputian even at 5-foot-6 and wearing heels — I noticed the energy surging among my fellow strutters. I begged them for advice on how to not look like a complete idiot: What should I do with my face; how should I hold my hands; should I really put one foot in front of the other like you do on a balance beam? Right as my anxiety surged into my throat, the music began pumping, and the first model stepped out from behind the curtain. And then, the next. And then, it was my turn.
My mind went blank. Every tip I had squeezed out of the models vanished. I propelled myself forward, hoping that my face wasn't betraying my inner terror. By the time I reached the end of the runway and struck my first pose, I was intoxicated. I rounded the corner, posed again, and continued down the last leg of the U-shaped catwalk. As I stepped behind the curtain, my first runway walk under my belt, I could feel an ear-to-ear smile spread across my face.
I have yet to write a book, live in Paris, or pen a feature for Vogue, but who knows what my future holds? Not even Candace Bushnell, that's who. As Carrie once pondered, “When it comes to matters of the heart, did we have it right in high school?” While I imagine that high school Liz would have cried tears of joy knowing her life was following along the Bradshaw path, adult Liz thinks it's time to retire the SATC yardstick and focus on doing things her own way — no face-plants necessary.