Confessions of a 51 Year-Old Supermodel. ~ Jodee Anello

Via elephant journal
on Mar 22, 2012
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Well, I’m not really a supermodel, but I’d like to be.

No, that isn’t true either, but I would like to make some extra cash on the side so I can go on a vacation once in awhile. I have a real job, Monday through Friday, with flexibility to take a few days off here and there for bookings, but I’ve only had four in the past two years.

That is not cutting it for vacation money because all of my modeling money goes to Botox. Before you judge me, hear my story. I’ve had no other “work” done, unless you count wrinkle removal via Photoshop.

I need more modeling to come my way, so I’m soliciting myself. I’m not sure why I don’t get more bookings.  Granted, I’m not in New York—though I’m willing to travel—and I have a wonky face, but I don’t think that’s it.

My agent tells me I’m an oddity. I look youthful, but I have gray hair. I can’t be a granny, nor can I be placed in anything where they want a young woman. Bullshit. Why can’t I be featured in the editorial section of Vogue?

Okay, I know that’s a stretch, but I also know there is work out there. How about pharmaceuticals? I can do that. Viagra? Cialis? Come on, I’m still hot! Men who need those drugs would want to have sex with me, right?

I started modeling in my teens and had a pretty successful career going. I was 31 and married when my husband was transferred to Philadelphia, and just when I started shopping for an agent there, I was struck with Bell’s Palsy. That resulted in complete facial paralysis on the right side.

Normally people fully recover within a few weeks from this, with no lasting effects. Not me. Mine did not begin to reverse itself for four months, and by then I had permanent nerve damage. Hence the wonky face.

Gone was my perfect symmetry. Complete devastation. My face was my livelihood. I had no other career.

On top of incomplete recovery, I was left with a condition where the nerves cross, called synkinesis. When I smiled one eyebrow went up. When I chewed food my eye would wink. I’ve had more than one strange man wink back at me from across a restaurant.

Joking aside, it was a horrible time for me, but I had to get on with my life. No more modeling. This really did a number on my psyche. I knew I was still attractive, but the camera was no longer kind to me. Big f*cking deal, I thought: you had your run, get on with your life. And so, I did.

Fast forward to me at age 48.

My husband and I were living apart due to his job, and with the arrival of another woman into the mix, I came to the realization that I might be on my own for the first time in 20 years. I needed to do something when agitation and worry set in. I took up running. As I felt my body getting stronger and in good shape, so was my mind.

I decided I was going to reinvent myself. I was going to be a model again.

My plan was: lose a few pounds, stop dying my hair, (I thought gray would make me more marketable), Botox injections (I had recently read that Botox could help with the lasting effects of facial nerve damage), and have some photos taken. Judge for yourself after you see the photos, see if you think you can pull it off, I thought.

For close to a year, I followed my plan. Going gray was the most difficult part. I looked like a raccoon. I tried a rinse once that turned the gray to a lovely shade of purple. People actually thought I did that on purpose and complimented me.

When I was ready, I reached out to a photographer friend of my son. I was hesitant. It had been almost 20 years since I felt comfortable in front of the camera.

After seeing the photos I was encouraged. I emailed them directly to two agencies: FORD, and another in San Francisco. Both responded, so I scheduled meetings the same day. I was a nervous wreck that morning, old insecurities were surfacing. Hoping for FORD, I scheduled them last. I thought if the first one went well, it would give me more confidence, and it did.

I was truly expecting them to say, “What’s wrong with your face?” Instead, I heard, “You are stunning,” and “We love your hair.” They signed me, and boy, did my ego need this, but truthfully I was stunned.

F*ck that other woman, I’m a FORD model.

Still waiting for that national commercial, though.


Editor: Jennifer Cusano

Jodee Anello lives in Healdsburg, CA, where upon arriving there three years ago, was finally cured of a near fatal case of wanderlust. She works at a popular winery while she tries to figure out if modeling will ever work out, but even better would be writing, which is her passion. She uses her blog to improve her writing skills with poetry, memoir and personal essays. She is a runner and cyclist and enjoys home improvement projects, landscaping and making garage wine with friends.

Photography Credit: Paige Craig



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58 Responses to “Confessions of a 51 Year-Old Supermodel. ~ Jodee Anello”

  1. Steve Dveris says:

    Great blog post (love the honesty) and I look forward to seeing you on tv and in magazine pages shortly.

  2. Kelly Danek says:

    Best article yet, and the bonus is, we got to know you better. Thank you for sharing, Jodee, and best of luck to you in all your endeavors. If I hear of anything down this way, I will definitely let you know!

  3. Gee, I really like this post. So honest, frank and potent. Thanks for sharing and telling your story.

    I am 40…but once was a pageant beauty queen. There are only 19 other people (including me) who ever held the title. For me, it was not a road I followed..but instead moved to Korea at 25.

    Big directional change…and started teaching.

    What you have shared and done takes a whole lot of balls, gusts and courage. You look great…I suspect much of that comes from an inner attitude.

    You have also given me a new idea about NOT pulling out my own gray hairs…..:-0

  4. Jodee says:

    Thanks, Steve! We met once. Do you remember? Appreciate the comment. 🙂

  5. Jodee says:

    Thank you, Kelly. Your support is always appreciated. xo

  6. Jodee says:

    Thank you Heather! I truly appreciate your thoughtful words. You are right, this wasn't easy, but I'm glad I went for it and hearing from you makes me feel even better about it. Now, leave that gray alone. 🙂

  7. Steve Dveris says:

    Of course I do, but just for a minute inside my fave restaurant Scopa.

  8. Joseph Torralba says:

    Wow Jodee! I never knew how much you've been through. I applaud you for rising above the adversity and pursuing your goal. And yes, you're a FORD model! 🙂 A very prestigious title indeed.

  9. Jodee says:

    Thank you, Joseph! Writer is the title I ultimately seek, so this was a very, very good day. 🙂

  10. @LynnBonelli says:

    I absolutely love this post. Jodee, you ARE stunning…and an inspiration! I'm now beginning to think I might skip my next dye job and see what nature has to offer me. Best of luck to you…looking forward to seeing you on a cover soon!

  11. […] confessions-of-a-51-year-old-supermodel–jodee-anello Share this:ShareFacebookPrintEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. From: Whatever Comes to Mind ← Click No comments yet […]

  12. Val says:

    Love your essay. Look out David Sedaris and all the good essayists.

    You write from the heart. The title is such a good hook. I initially thought good. Jodee is finally going tell me about her days modeling in New York and aboard. I am going to hear about the inside world of modeling and fashion.

    Then you just continue to amaze me with life stories of marriage, family, heartaches, illness and struggles with dreams and goals. Then you peal off the layers of life. A life I relate to, such as being 51, gray hair and Botox. Then you make the story unique about being recognized for your beauty and all told by being gifted writer with a most wonderful and beautiful heart. I really look forward to reading you essays. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Jodee,

    You rock on so many levels. Go get 'em girl!

    Shared your blog on Elephant FB page:

    Jeannie Page

  14. Christina says:

    What an inspiring story. Jodi for all you’ve ieen through and what you’ve accomplished, it shows no matter what, we can all persevere. I find this inspiring and it really gets to the heart of women who haven’t realized their dreams. It’s never too late. You look amazing.. You definitely look like a model so there’s absolutely no reason why you should ever have low self esteem. I’m sure you’re doing well in that department. I’m very happy for you and this story is extremely endearing, humbling and most of all as stated earlier inspiring to all women.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  15. Really? Way to go to you…a million times over….I am sure it was not easy…but that's OK….

    But as for the gray………………………………………………hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  16. Karen says:

    You encourage me to embrace my changes and let go of my ego that keeps insecurities in place. I have hair almost exactly like yours that I continue to color every three weeks. I think I am finished now. You're beautiful.. Thank you for sharing . 🙂

  17. guest says:

    first of all,after the first sentence (“not a supermodel”) my thought was “well she should be”. I can’t see anything wrong with your face, I agree with others, hope to see that face more often! Congratulations and good luck.

  18. Jan Nelson says:

    You are beautiful! My sis Stacy does your hair in PS and had told me about you. I went gray too and she totally supported me in that decision… best one I ever made. I get compliments all the time and
    I’m sure you do too 🙂 I was just at an electronic music concert in NYC and some random 20 something kid came up to me with a high five and said “you f**king rock!” You can be young and fun AND gray!!!

  19. Jodee says:

    Ha! Thank you, Lynn! 🙂

  20. Jodee says:

    I love you, Val!

  21. Jodee says:

    Jeannie! Thank you so much! And I loved your little intro on the Elephant FB page!

  22. Jodee says:

    Christina, Thank you so very much for your kind and thoughtful words. I truly appreciate everything you said.

  23. Jodee says:

    Oh, that is awesome. I can't tell you how freeing it was to let those three to four week appointments go. Not to mention the money saved! The transition is difficult, but I promise, you won't regret it. Karen, thank you for your comment. 🙂

  24. Jodee says:

    Thank you!

  25. Jodee says:

    Amen, Sister! I remember our email exchange when I was thinking about going gray. Stacy encouraged me for several years before I was finally ready to go for it. I should have done it sooner! You are beautiful, Jan. Thanks for writing. 🙂

  26. Tara Thomas says:

    Kash posted this on Facebook, I'm happy to hear you are doing well! Tara Thomas (the former Mrs. Schnetter).

  27. Jodee says:

    Ha! Hi Tara! Great to hear from you! Thanks for the note. Gave me a big smile. 🙂

  28. Teri says:

    Love, Love, Love.

  29. Ken Lang says:

    Jodee, My cousin Teri (your cousin too) sent this along. It's great. I'm envious of people who know how to manipulate the written word. Great job.

  30. Jodee says:

    Thank you so much, Ken! 🙂

  31. @EmilyHenry says:

    I love hearing your story, Jodee. And it shows your bravery to tell it! Congratulations on Ford, and on the many adventures ahead. I agree that you are stunning, with such unique beauty any agency would be crazy not to sign you.

  32. Jodee says:

    Thank you, sweet Emily. xoxo

  33. Jodee, I've shared your story with my fan page:

    It's such a great story of empowerment and of re-inventing one's life. They will be inspired by it. 🙂

    Cheers again,

  34. Jodee says:

    I can't thank you enough, Jeannie! Seriously, this has been thrilling. I'm overwhelmed by all the love coming my way from so many people. Those I know, and those I don't. Cheers to you!!

  35. […] the fact that one of the fellow participants in this project experienced a major milestone. She had one of her pieces published on Her first published piece. I was so excited for this woman I’ve […]

  36. Jenifer says:

    51 is the new awesome, no? 🙂

  37. Mark says:

    You Are Beautiful!!!

  38. leah says:

    Jodee, I am thirty four and have been modeling since I was sixteen; I say you are what I hope to look like at fifty. If you want to book commercials, you must move to Los Angeles, that is were most of the good ones for women like us are booked. I think you are absolutely stunning, and if you need representation help in Los Angeles, I would love to help; I am with Wilhelmina for print and NTA commercially.

  39. Jodee says:

    Thanks, Leah, but I really don't want to move. I know living where I am prohibits me in many ways, but I can't imagine moving at this point. I am with FORD in LA. I was with them in San Francisco as well, but they recently closed the SF office. I'm trying to decide my next step with representation in SF. I meant for this piece to be a somewhat humorous story about my struggles, overcoming them and moving forward and not so much a true solicitation of myself. Thank you so much for your nice comments and I'm glad things are going well for you in LA.

  40. catnipkiss says:

    Jodee, you look a little like Lauren Bacall, an ageless beauty. Inspirational! I don't think I will succumb to grey until I'm seventy or so, but it looks great on you! I will be fifty next year, and I think my present to myself will be a tasteful nude photo shoot (maybe in black and white) so when I'm ninety, I can remember what a babe I was at fifty – haha! Good luck with your career, I'll check out your blog! Peace – Alexa M.

  41. Bee says:

    Thank you for sharing Jodee, you are gorgeous! I also suffered from Bell's Palsy for a few months (however I did recover almost fully) and I too have decided to stop dying my hair which is about half silver despite my young age (33). Lucky for me it seems to look pretty cool so far. Let's start a silver hair movement!!!

  42. Jodee says:

    Thank you, Alexa! I say, go for that photo shoot! 🙂

  43. Jodee says:

    Thank, Bee! So happy you recovered from the BP. And love that you are going gray at such a young age. I wish I had done it sooner. Thanks for commenting and all the best to you!

  44. lynnbraz says:

    Jodee, this is a great blog post. I'd think More magazine would love to feature you as a model. I also think you have the makings of a new career: writer. Memoir. With the aging of America, yours is the type of story we want to read about. Best of luck to you. Looking forward to seeing your beautiful face gracing the pages of many magazines and reading more of your work.

  45. Jodee says:

    Lynn, Thank you so much for your very kind comment! I'm doing my best to proactively discover which direction my life is going to go at this stage. Encouragement helps, so thank you! 🙂

  46. Kama says:

    Fabulous post. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  47. Debbie George says:

    Love your story Jodee! You go girl! You are beautiful at any age or with any color of hair! I didn't realize that you had bell's palsy. I am just getting over it myself. Talk about a strange affliction. Fortunately, mine is almost gone and only took about two weeks. I was very lucky.

  48. Jodee says:

    Thanks, Debbie! So happy to hear you mended quickly. It's a tough thing to go through.

  49. John Vitz says:

    Jodee, Your story is compelling. Your writing is enthralling. Your adventure is inspiring. Your beauty is eternal. Your spirit is your strength. And, may you know that those who have been blessed to have known you will ALWAYS love you.
    "Dr. V"