For me, this wasn’t a world that I was unfamiliar with. I started modeling a bit when I was a teenager. American Apparel actually discovered me while I was working at my local surf/skate shop. Working with them allowed me to travel the country and introduced me to a bunch of photographers, which then led to me shooting with a lot of different companies. Once I went to college, I was interning at various places, my first job was in Personal PR like I mentioned, and I was just trying to figure out which direction I really wanted to go in at that point.
One day I decided to submit my photos to an agency that I really wanted to work with here in LA called Photogenics. I’m only 5 ft 6, so I didn’t expect them to actually take me, but they did! Everyone was super welcoming and I started work with them right away, so I quit my job and pivoted to modeling full time.
So, pretty quickly I began to immerse myself more in this world and was doing a lot of test shoots, building up my book, and even shot for big companies like Puma, TOMS and Forever 21. Then, from there, I was encouraged to act. I actually had some prior experience with performing as I had grown up a competitive figure skater. I started skating when I was four and was honestly just enamored with the pretty outfits at that point, but later grew into a hard core competitor. I was dead serious about winning and would really put on a show, blowing kisses to the judges, all of that. So, I brought my previous performance experience via figure skating into my acting pursuits.
Just like my modeling contract that came unexpectedly fast, I signed with who are my current managers here in LA, Untitled Management, quickly, too. Since I had never acted before, I began taking classes right away.
With everything that I do, I want to study and put everything that I have into.
Eventually I booked one of my first films, which had me uproot my life and live in Malaysia for three months on an island. It was such a crazy experience. The film was called Eden and it had some bigger actors in it for the time. I had never lived anywhere else but LA, so it was my first time really being on my own and it was a big growing experience for me. I even had my first sex scene in the movie with an actor who is Spain’s equivalent to Brad Pitt. He was super professional and we actually became friends, but not everyone on set was as kind as he was. I definitely felt uncomfortable at times and there were a couple incidents where comments were made about my body that I wasn’t comfortable with. Being on my own in a foreign place, dealing with the scenarios that I was being put in, forced me to self reflect a lot, but that led to personal growth, so the outcome changed me as an actor and young woman in a positive way.
Even with what I went through, I wasn’t turned off from acting at all. I actually fell in love with it even more so than before and when I came back to LA, I started rejecting anything that had to do with modeling or commercial work because I wanted to solely focus on acting. I was like send me out to every audition, this is what I’m doing. I love it, period. So that’s what I did. I went on a bunch of auditions, would get close to landing parts, but ultimately wasn’t booking anything. Modeling was still something that I was doing at the time to financially support myself, but it wasn’t fulfilling or making me happy. The modeling world is notorious for its scrutiny, so that paired with the rejection that was coming from acting, started to take a toll on me, mentally and physically. So much so that a compulsive disorder I struggled with most of my life started to become debilitating.
When I was around twenty-seven, I fell into a couple, serious relationships. I was pouring all of myself into them almost as a way to not focus on me. I would instead focus on the men in my life, helping them with their work and trying to find fulfillment through them. In the end, the relationships didn’t work out. They were good people, just not for me. I almost had to keep falling in a way and then finally after my last relationship, my heart was left just completely broken and it’s taken about a year and a half to heal from that, which is where I’m at today.
As I was going through these internal struggles, I was searching for an outlet to express myself and that’s when I tapped into The Girl Habit. I had started The Girl Habit when I when I was in college as a Tumblr, had bought the website domain name and all of that, but at the time, had had no future plans for it. I started putting some work into it and now The Girl Habit has grown into what it is today, an amazing community that fosters connections that I am so grateful for. A lot of those connections stemmed from conversations about my hair.
I’ve always had this textured, curly, frizzy hair growing up, but didn’t see my hair type represented around me, whether it was through people or media outlets.
When I did see curly hair in magazines, it was perfectly done without a hint of frizz in sight. But that’s just not realistic. Often you have a bunch of different curl patterns throughout your hair, not one area is completely the same. So, seeing either no curls or unrealistic ones made me think that it was unprofessional or messy to have and I didn’t embrace my natural hair. This may stem from my compulsive behaviors, but I even felt cleaner with straight hair. When I’d go on modeling jobs people would always try to manipulate my hair in some way, so I made sure to come to set prepared with my hair in a state that wasn’t too overwhelming for them to work with. Having that experience over and over again and repeatedly having to alter my appearance, took a hit on me psychologically. And of course, the modeling world already preys on your self confidence, telling you that you’re not tall enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough, just not enough.
But, jumping back to that first film that I did, living on an island for three months in an overwhelmingly natural environment, it was during that time that I think I underlyingly began to embrace my hair a bit more and just let it do its thing. Since then, my hair has grown a bunch and it’s become a pillar in my online presence. As many negative thoughts as I’ve had about myself, I always have had people around as I was growing up who did compliment my hair and tell me that it was beautiful.
But, someone can tell you something over and over again and until you actually feel, believe, and appreciate it, the praise doesn’t matter.
It’s funny because now thanks to my hair I’m able to connect with so many people, which may seem silly or trivial, but it’s not. Hair holds much more power than people may think. It’s really meaningful. Also, having textured hair comes with more responsibility. You really have to be mindful and take care of it, which requires a bit more love and time. Now that I’m thirty, I look back and realize that I treat my hair differently than when I was in my early twenties. Over the years, I’ve learned how to wash it, what products work best, what routine gives me the best outcome, everything. I now bond with my community over mistakes we’ve made with our hair and it’s interesting how many of us have similar stories.
For example, I’m of mixed ethnicity. My dad is Israeli/Moroccan and my mom is Italian/Swedish. My dad’s side of the family has more dark, textured hair and my mom has thick, blonde, straight hair. So, she didn’t quite know what to do with my curly, textured hair. I kind of had to learn on my own what was best for it. It took time, but now I’m super instinctual with my hair and know exactly what it needs.
Like I said before, hair is such a big, powerful thing and feeling confident about it comes a lot from knowing how to manage it.
Everyone wants to know my “secret” when it comes to my hair, like how I grew it so long or how I got it to the color it is today. But, honestly I got a really great trim when I was twenty-three and cut back extremely on using heat tools and it just started growing. The color is thanks to the ocean and sun, particularly the ocean in Tel Aviv where I go once or twice a year. Other than that, I do a lot of yoga, eat well, stay active, keep my mental state right and just try to be as natural and low maintenance as possible with my hair.
Now that we’re confined to our houses for the time being, I thought back on my old hair care routine when all I did was condition my hair and not put any product in it. I thought to myself, hmm what was that like? So, within the past day I started a hashtag on my instagram #hairnoproductchallenge and challenged my community to just wash their hair, but other than that use not a single product, and see how it makes them feel. Don’t be so critical of the frizz, because really, what’s wrong with it?
Eventually I’ll wash it again, but for now I’m not upset with how it looks. I see it and accept it. It’s helping me to love my hair for what it is and love myself for who I am. All of the internal work that I’ve done on myself plays a huge part in who I am today. I went to therapy, got help for my compulsive disorder, and all of that has allowed me to be as comfortable as I am today sharing myself and my story on The Girl Habit.
I think the most important thing as a woman, or anyone, is creating something for yourself that no one can take away from you.
So, that’s what The Girl Habit is for me. It’s my place that’s my own to connect and share through. I have so many hopes and dreams for it that are still to come, but it’s where I found what represents me and that’s who I am, which is undying. Life is a growing process with growing pains. Growth is a constant job that you’ll never be done with, so be easy on yourself along the way. Just like your hair gets frizzy, so does life, so just learn to embrace it.