Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Cannes: a model’s routine

Author: Paulo Coelho

In order to write the book “The Winner is alone”, the main theme of which is the cult of celebrities, I had to do some interesting research into the routine of those women who inhabit the collective imagination: photographer’s models. However different they may be, what follows is an invariable pattern of behavior among them:

A] Before going to bed they use several creams to clean the pores and keep the skin hydrated – from an early age making the organism dependent on foreign elements. They wake up, drink a cup of black coffee without any sugar, and some fruit with fibers – so that the food that they ingest during the rest of the day passes quickly through the intestines. They climb on the scales three to four times a day and become depressed by each excessive gram denounced by the needle.

B] They are all aware that they will soon be upstaged by new faces and new tendencies, and they need urgently to show that their talent goes beyond the catwalks. They are constantly pleading with their agents to arrange a test for them so that they can show that they are capable of working as actresses – which is their big dream.

C] Unlike what the legend claims, they pay for their expenses – travel, hotel, and all those salads. They are invited by fashion designers’ assistants to do what they call casting, to select those who will be picked to face the catwalk or pose for a photo session. At that moment they are in front of people who are invariably ill-humored and use the little power they have to pour out their daily frustrations and never say a nice or encouraging word: “horrible” is the comment most commonly heard.

D] Their parents are proud of the daughter that has begun so well, and regret having ever said they were against that career – after all, she is earning money and helping the family. Their boyfriends have fits of jealousy, but control themselves because it’s good for the ego to be with a fashion model. Their girlfriends envy them secretly (or openly).

E] They go to all the parties they are invited to, and behave as if they were far more important than they actually are, which is a symptom of insecurity. They always have a glass of champagne in their hand, but this is just part of the image that they want to send out. They know that alcohol contains elements that can affect their weight, so their favorite drink is mineral water (still – although the gas does not affect the weight, it does have immediate consequences for the contour of the stomach).

G] They sleep badly due to the pills. They hear stories about anorexia – the most common disease in the milieu, a kind of nervous disturbance caused by obsession with weight and appearance which eventually educates the organism and rejects any type of food. They say that this won’t happen to them. But they never notice when the first symptoms appear.

H] They go directly from childhood to the world of luxury and glamour without passing through adolescence and youth. When asked about their plans for the future, they always have the answer on the tip of their tongue: “I want to go to university and study philosophy. I’m just doing this to be able to pay for my studies”. They know that this isn’t true. They can’t afford to attend school: there’s always a test in the morning, a photo session in the afternoon, a party which they have to attend to be seen, admired and desired.

People think they lead a fairytale life. And they want to believe this. Until some more curious writer decides not to give up, and questions a bit further. After a great deal of hesitating, they eventually say: “I was born to be an actress. So I am capable of pretending that this miserable life is the most glamorous profession in the world”.

The measure of love

“I have always wanted to know if I was able to love like you do,” said the disciple of a Hindu master.

“There is nothing beyond love,” answered the master. “It’s love that keeps the world going round and the stars hanging in the sky.”

“I know all that. But how can I know if my love is great enough?”

“Try to find out if you abandon yourself to love or if you flee from your emotions. But don’t ask questions like that because love is neither great nor small. You can’t measure a feeling like you measure a road: if you act like that you will see only your reflection, like the moon in a lake, but you won’t be following your path.”

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