Geek to CHIC–my story

by denisesalceda

“To look almost pretty is an acquisition of higher delight to a girl who has been looking plain for the first fifteen years of her life than a beauty from her cradle can ever receive.”
-Jane Austen

I haven’t always been a model. I haven’t always been confident and ready to take on the world. I used to be a shy girl that hid behind her glasses and homework and tried not to get noticed.

But how did I change from the tall nerdy girl in class to a model in the fashion industry? Here is my story (cue the dramatic violin music).

I was born on…haha, just kidding. We don’t need to go back that far.

I’ve been a nerd for as long as I can remember. From 1st grade where my teacher gave me special advanced math worksheets because the regular stuff she was giving to the other kids was too easy for me, to 4th grade, where I was tested and placed into the G.A.T.E. program for gifted students, to 8th grade, where I took a math class at the neighboring high school to get ahead, to 9th through 12th grade, where I passed 10 AP tests while still participating in orchestra, track, and cross-country. I graduated high school in the top 2% of my class.

Me in high school. I chopped my hair off junior year. Bad idea.

I was so busy with academics, music, and sports, that I didn’t really care too much about how I looked. I mean, I did care, but I had no clue how to make myself look better. I didn’t know how to style my hair, do my makeup, or dress fashionably. I was definitely not a part of the “cool” crowd.

That all changed once I started college. I ditched my glasses and got contacts instead, began reading more fashion magazines, became more conscious of what flattered me and what didn’t, learned how to do my hair (what? I actually have to style it and not just let it air dry?), and found out what makeup would work better with my skin type (zits! Don’t even get me started!).

I was still involved in track, cross-country, and the honors program at my university, along with pursuing a double major, but my love for fashion and design started taking over.

In my third year of college, I tried out to be a model in an on-campus runway show. I didn’t make it. Darn. The next year, they had tryouts again for the same show. This time I made the cut. I was so excited and had such an awesome time participating in the show, that it encouraged me to pursue modeling, something that I never would have imagined I would be doing. Me? Modeling? That’s crazy talk.

Me in high school, and me now. Say whaaaat?!?

Several photoshoots, runway shows, my graduation, and a fashion internship later, here I am. The new and improved Denise, version 2.0. I am way more self-confident, outgoing, and in love with life than ever before. But no worries, I’m not some stuck-up superficial chick with her nose stuck in the air. I’m very much approachable and humble–I know my roots and don’t intend on forgetting them any time soon.

There you go. That’s my story in a nutshell. I hope my “before” photos didn’t scare you guys too much (shudder).

Take care!