“I definitely eat,” aspiring model and Eugenean Ayuni Kelton says with a smirk. “I do try to eat clean but I’m not going to deny myself a cheeseburger.”
With one look at Kelton you know she is unusually beautiful. But there’s more to her than long legs, a thin shape, gorgeous hair and stunning complexion. She may be beautiful but she’s got substance, she’s got spunk and she’s ready to kick ass. She effortlessly proves all of the typical assumptions about fashion models false.
Kelton anticipates the pressure of dieting to increase when she moves her aspiring career to a bigger city like Portland. “An agency will tell you you’re too big and girls can fall to that pressure,” she says. “I could never imagine being on a diet or a strict workout regime though.”
But modeling goes beyond possessing a beautiful body and a pretty face — these “girls” are businesswomen. Kelton says she often finds her own castings, and she does her own hair and makeup for shoots.
Not only is she stunning, she’s savvy and knows how to look out for herself. “You definitely have to be a smart business person,” she says.
Kelson adds, “In a small way I run my own business because I network, I research, I plan and I keep track of my own books.” She says, “I’m driven and this is my career. I want to do this.”
While Kelton says no one travels to Eugene to find work, she sees Eugene as a great place to get started. “There’s so many creative people here,” she says. “But if you want to make money you definitely have to go to the bigger cities.”
She also refutes the rumor that all models despise each other. “Especially in a small town like this, we all know each other and we all work together,” she says. “There’s so many great girls that I’ve met in this industry. We’re all trying to do the same thing, so it’s definitely a community.”
Kelton says modeling is how she fully expresses her creativity. “When I’m in front of the camera I’m not just Ayuni, now I’m this model,” she says. “I can be whatever I want to be, I can portray anything I want, I can show any emotion.”
Her body is her canvas and movement is her medium. “I love how different I feel,” she says. “Normally I’m a total weirdo, but when I get in front of the camera I can be this graceful and elegant person.”
At the same time, Kelton says, “It’s really not a glamorous job. Like any job there’s things you aren’t going to like about it.” She says the modeling world “can be very harsh; you definitely have to have a thick skin if you’re going to be in this industry.”
At 5 feet 8 inches tall, she is short in the modeling world. Kelton faces this challenge head on. “I’m sure there will be more people turning me down because I’m not tall enough,” Kelton says. “It’s just one thing though; there’s a bunch of opportunities.”
At 22 she’s a newcomer to the biz, but she’s already rapidly approaching the retirement age of a model. “I’ll do this until I make it or until I don’t,” she says. “I’m an intelligent person, I’m a smart girl and I’ll be OK.”
Kelton says that modeling is essentially about making some money, having fun with your body and getting to travel to some cool places. But above all it’s about the confidence.
“You can’t be scared of your body,” she says. “You have to be a little vain. We’re all just a little bit vain.”