Hi, my name's Bree. I'm 39, and my 'go to' brands are Now (Kmart) and Avella (Big W's plus size range). I have a belly that never really left after my second child was born a decade ago, and a bum my family lovingly refers to as 'the shelf' (because you literally could sit your dinner on it).
I'm not your typical Fashfest model.
But on Sunday I front at the National Convention Centre alongside hundreds of other aspiring models to vie for a spot on the catwalk at the fifth Fashfest in September.
I prep with a routine I like to call the 'bare minimum' - shaved armpits, rogue hairs plucked from chin and hair straightened. I convince a friend to do my makeup and jump in my X-trail bound for Civic.
I am the oldest aspiring model by about 20 years. But I'm okay with that. I look around to see if anyone else looks 'mumsy' and conclude I'm the only mum here. Again, that's fine. I look around for someone else with kicking curves and I see a couple of other plus-size women. I wish there were more.
The ratio of women to men is about 4:1 and there are groups of models of every background standing around looking generally gorgeous and talking with fidgety excitement. Almost everyone is wearing sky-high stilettos. I'm herded into a team of nine other models and we practise our 'walks' under the guidance of Susie Ellis, director of choreography. I'm allowed to wear my Converse sneakers after complaining to Susie of a bad left knee.
As a team we take some deep breaths and shake out our limbs in an attempt to calm our nerves. Of the 10 of us, only two have modelled before so it feels good to be among other novices. We line up side-by-side like a fashion chain-gang and strut simultaneously to the beat.
"I need to see sass!" Susie yells.
"I want to see Beyonce! I want Rihanna! I want to see you own that runway!"
After practise, we line up at the head of the runway, eyes focused on the panel of four judges 45m in the distance. I'm coupled with a gorgeous girl called Nicola and bang! - we're strutting in front of row after row of our fellow hopefuls.
I'm pure sass for about 20m and then kind of forget what I'm doing. It takes an eternity to stop in front of the judging panel but I have my eyes fixed on stunning Fashfest director and founder Andrea Hutchinson the whole time I'm walking. When I stop and pose in front of her, I'm willing her to jot down some notes on how fabulous I am. And she does.
The return walk flies by. My confidence is up and I start to feel like I was made for modelling. I steal myself from a moment of pure jealousy: how come this much fun is only reserved for the tall, thin and good-looking?
After 'walking', I head to the FFPD mug shot wall to have front-facing and side profile shots taken. At the next station, my bust, waist and hips are measured. Despite being an average of 30cm bigger than the other models across all measurements, I'm happy that my numbers prove I'm an hourglass. A big hourglass, but I'll take it.
I finish the Fashfest casting process in a bubble of pure elation. I have no idea if any of the 2017 designers will pick me to walk for them, but I don't care. I take my perfectly made-up face and my sassy walk to Woolworths where I shop for school lunches like I've never shopped before.
The Verdict: A huge confidence booster and the perfect chance to see what really happens behind the scenes at Canberra's premiere fashion event.
Details: Model casting for 2017 is now over but details for 2018 will be available at fashfest.com.au. Tickets for this year's festival go on sale in early July.
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