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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY LIBERTY O’NEILL, St. Petersburg High
Olivia Greenfield stands five foot eight, has buttery blonde hair and sparkling jade eyes. She smiles a lot.
Just like most high school students, she gets breakouts, fails the occasional test and worries about being late to work.
In her case, though, work makes her life different from most high school students. She is a model who can be seen in Seventeen magazine, Urban Outfitters catalogs and Wildfox Couture ads, jobs that take her to New York and beyond, including Mexico. She has swapped classes at St. Petersburg High for online school that better fits her schedule.
“It’s hard sometimes, being a model. There’s so many people you have to leave behind to chase your dreams,” Greenfield said. “I’ve lost friends, but the people I’ve met in New York are so great, too.”
Greenfield began pursuing her modeling career at age 14. She sent photos to agencies, signed to Wilhelmina Models in Miami, did catalog jobs for stores such as Bealls and Kohl’s. Before she knew it, Greenfield was splitting her freshman year (and two more to come) between Seventeen magazine photo shoots and Green Devil football games. It was like pulling off the Hannah Montana balancing act, only her modeling was never a secret.
“I enjoyed my first year of high school, but after that I was sick of it,” said Greenfield. “The first time I ever went to New York was to shoot for Seventeen, (and) people at school never really asked me about it.
“Some people actually cared, but there’s a lot of girls who judged me on it, which isn’t right, but I learned to live with it,” she said.
Greenfield said she dealt with subtle digs about her modeling work (“That doesn’t even look like her!”) that left a sting. “People assume models are stuck up — that’s the biggest stereotype,” she said.
While she was juggling regular school and her modeling schedule, Greenfield worked hard. Being a model may seem more glamorous than being a barista on the clock, but at the end of one week and six auditions in New York, she still might not have booked a single job. Plus, there was all the missed schoolwork she had to make up.
By the middle of her junior year, she made the change to the Marilyn Agency in New York. By then she was commuting more to photo shoots up north but also to Mexico, where she shot many photos for the latest Urban Outfitters catalog. As her senior year approached, she faced a choice: Quit regular school to pursue the career opportunities of a lifetime, or cut back on modeling until after high school graduation.
Greenfield said her decision to pursue modeling full-time and take online classes so she could still graduate with her class seemed pretty easy. “My parents were okay with it,” she said. They encourage her education as well as her modeling career. “I love St. Pete, but I can’t wait to get away.” She plans to relocate to New York after graduation.
“Missing my senior year has been harder than I thought it would be,” she said. “I (won’t) actually go to college, maybe online college, but I can’t really go. All my friends are going ‘I got into this college!’ and I’m like ‘oh . . . I’m a model!’ ”
The demands of modeling “will be worth it in the end,” she said. “Luckily, I have pretty good self-confidence.”