We put powder on our noses, sitting at the mirrors. Our instructor was a woman with short hair who talked about her workouts, pointing to the fat girl. She put the fat girl on a diet: apples and crackers, a daily cup of orange juice. We liked the fat girl’s jokes, the fun way she did the cat walk on the runway. After the diet, she was lifeless, slouching, and we turned to her and hugged her, telling her to cheat some. The studio was clean and bright with a smiling receptionist. Her nails were red. On the walls were people who the agency made famous. There were sessions on make-up, skin care, stuff like dental hygiene, how to file your nails, how to stand up straight and properly, how to smile at the camera. We studied in the classrooms. We were in uniform.

Kim Chinquee is the author of Oh Baby (Ravenna Press), the forthcoming Pretty (White Pine Press), and is co-editor of Best Online Writing 1996- 2006: Best of the First Ten Years (Snowvigate Press). She lives in Buffalo, New York.