I met a supermodel last week.
Daisy Lowe, whose archangelic statuesquity graces Vogue and other fashion hotspots, appears in a stunning set of images recently commissioned by the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau to celebrate the sandy grandeur of the Coachella Valley, where I interviewed her at the retro-riffic Parker Palm Springs hotel.
As a journalist, I’ve been interviewing people since before Lowe was born.
But. I’ve always had appearance issues. While I know I’m not monstrous, and that looks aren’t everything, meeting someone who massively triggers your issues—even if she’s sweet, engaging and young enough to be your child (yeah, I have age issues too)—is, well, massively triggering.
I wasn’t intimidated, years ago, while interviewing Gore Vidal or Jane Fonda, because I don’t have novelist issues or actor issues. A supermodel, however: Multiplying my anxiety was the fact that my fancy sandals had broken while I was dressing that evening, forcing me to wear tan canvas sneakers with a black cocktail dress.
Yet our interview went OK, teaching me a bit about trigger-y encounters.
Honesty’s the best policy. It’s hard to hide the stammer, slouch, and eye-contact avoidance that broadcasts intimidation. So why not accept it and (briefly) speak your truth? When Daisy mentioned shoes during our interview, I narrated my sandal crisis. My feet were hidden under the table; I needn’t have displayed them. But it turned into a moment of we’ve-all-been-there humility and humanizing humor: Beaming reassuringly, Daisy told me that she often deliberately pairs finery with sneakers (calling them “trainers,” Britishly) and combat boots—as was gorgeously evident in some of the Coachella Valley photographs.
Nothing lasts forever. Not this encounter. Not the emotions it spurs. Even the most harrowing moment is one of zillions occurring worldwide which will vanish into thin air as do all moments past, present and future. This perspective punctures performance anxiety. As we spoke, I knew that Daisy would soon be watching her dear friend Florence (of Florence and the Machine) at the Coachella music festival while I hiked arid hillsides. Realizing a moment’s transitory nature can lend it an almost sacred so-what spontaneity. Daisy applies this philosophy to her career “because I’m really self-conscious and shy. It’s a daily battle. … Whenever I’m photographed, I just tell myself that I’m acting, playing a role.”
Make no assumptions. It’s entirely possible that someone you find intimidating finds you intimidating, imposing, attractive and/or impressive in some way, and aligns with or even envies some trait that you take for granted, mock and/or of which you’re unaware. Not that I think Daisy envied me. Given my issues, I assume she pitied me. Nonetheless, a sudden kinship arose when, while discussing her cookbook, Sweetness and Light, she confessed: “I’ve got the worst sweet tooth. My family teases me by saying: ‘You love baking but you’ve got to be thin for a living.’ Oh, that food guilt is terrible.” Later, as she discussed her passion for Transcendental Meditation, I realized that we both pursue spiritual paths.
“I’ve been modeling since I was fifteen,” 26-year-old Daisy mused, “and it’s taken me until this year to feel OK about just being Daisy. You have to learn to grow a very thick skin in this business”—and in this world.
“But honestly? Everyone’s magnificent in some way,” she said.
So this I learned: Daisy Lowe and I are fellow human beings who don’t look alike.
As are we all.
Anneli Rufus’ latest work, Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself, was released by Tarcher Penguin in May 2014 and continues this path, addressing self-esteem.