My Bikini Visa Ad

I figure there are worse things the photo could’ve been used for, like the before picture of a makeover.

I was in Thailand when I got a frantic email from my friend, a photographer I had met on a press junket a few years earlier, about signing a release form. She said she didn’t think I had ever signed it for photos she took of me floating in the Dead Sea off the coast of Jordan.

Since she was in such a panic about it, I signed. I asked her, "What’s this for?" Never heard back; didn’t follow up. I was on vacation, after all.

Two months later, I’m flipping through _Entertainment Weekly,_ which had just redesigned its look, thinking, I can’t find anything in this magazine anymore—where’s the Hot List?, when I turn the page and nearly choke. Then laugh.

There I am! _In a Visa ad._ I’m in a hat and shades and a bikini (you can’t see much, though, because of the water). I immediately call/text three people—all ex-coworkers who still work at Time Inc. and will have picked up _EW_ like everyone else I work with does on Fridays—and am mildly flipping out, alone in my apartment.

When I show my sister later, she says, “Yeah, that sort of looks like you.” I say, “That _is_ me, sister!”

The ad is also very funny to me because although I think I’m supposed to represent the good life, 1) I’m wearing a freebie hat; 2) the shades are fake Oakleys that actually read “Oakey”; and 3) the bikini is an old one I got from Old Navy. As the weeks pass, I find that I’m in nearly every Time Inc. magazine (_Real Simple, In Style, Cooking Light_), but I’m so incognito I haven’t had calls or emails from longtime friends.

I figure there are worse things the photo could’ve been used for, like the before picture of a makeover. And I have thought of a good way to shut people up who are appalled that I’m not getting paid (I signed a release form! That’s how it works!): “Cost of appearing in a national ad in a bikini: priceless.”

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