The Only Lessons I Remember From Barbizon Modeling School

My parents and I got sucked into their "Train to be a model... or just look like one" ads when I was 12. Here's what stuck with me.
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My parents and I got sucked into their "Train to be a model... or just look like one" ads when I was 12. Here's what stuck with me.

I bet you guys always thought I was just some rando girl living in NYC who rarely washes her hair and writes about beauty sometimes. I am indeed all of those things, but none of you knew the most important thing about me: I am a Barbizon modeling school graduate.

Zaleski Barbizon Hero.JPG

I probably should have told you guys sooner, but I didn’t want you to envy me and regret your life choices (like not going to Barbizon).

For those of you who don’t know what Barbizon is, go find one of your old teen magazines and flip to those weird ads in the back. No, the next page. There. See that smiling girl who is saying “Train to be a model… or just look like one?” That’s Barbizon.

When I was 12, the modeling school was having a "casting" in my hometown. I had always wanted to be a model/actress/singer/famous, so I went with my mom and dad to hear about how to become anything noteworthy. The Barbizon people showed us J.Lo’s “Waiting For Tonight” video and a bunch of commercials with the school’s graduates. 

“This is what Barbizon can do for you,” they preached. “You can be on TV or hanging with Jennifer Lopez in a sweaty club! It will only cost you a billion million dollars.”

But thankfully, my parents were just as fame-hungry as me and coughed up the money for me to attend. Get ready, YM cover, here I come!

The way the school worked was that all the little girls and boys would meet up at the convention center every Saturday for a few months to learn about the model lifestyle. We went through various lessons about skincare, makeup, walking, posture, etiquette, blah blah (this was before Tyra's smizing and booty tooching, so no classes on that). 

We each got our own skincare and makeup kits, and we got this model handbook.

Jessica Model Handbook.JPG

Here are the only things I remember.

Poop Every Day

This is seriously the one thing I remember the most vividly. We were all talking about health one day and how to be size zeros. Our instructor told us to make sure we poop every single day. She said if we were having a problem doing it, we needed to talk to our parents and a doctor.

They have also included this rule in the handbook, since it’s apparently very important: “Maintain good elimination habits.” 

So, xoVain readers, all the beauty tips on this site are null and void if you aren’t pooping all the time.

Eat Potato Bread Instead of White Bread

During the same lesson about health, we were talking about eating habits when the model teacher said we all need to switch to wheat bread. You guys should have heard the groans in the room. Every little girl was so upset. 

Caving to our pre-pubescent pressure, the teacher said if we didn’t want to make the switch all the way to wheat, we should start with switching to potato bread since potato is a vegetable. I made my parents buy me some and it was SO GOOD. I still eat it to this day. Thanks, Barbizon?

Put on Your Eyeliner in Dots and Swipes

This one I vaguely remembered and had to reference my handbook to remember the rule all the way, but they say to put you eyeliner on your bottom lashvline in little dots between the lashes and not an actual line. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this one before but will not ever try it. 

The other part of this rule is to “sketch short, thin, overlapping strokes directly in the eyelash root of the upper eyelid.” When I do mine, I usually just do a line because it takes two seconds since I’ve been wearing eyeliner forever, but this may look cool? I just think with certain liquid liners, though, quick swipes will probably end up all over your face and bathroom.

Have PERFECT Makeup Every Day

As I was skimming through the handbook, I saw a “Daily Grooming Checklist” and thought, hmmm let’s see if I do these model-y things. (Spoiler: NO). 

The checklist has typical bullet points like shower, brush your teeth twice a day and wear deodorant. But it also has things you should never tell 12-year-old girls, like “perfect makeup application” and “perfect pedicure.” 

It also says to always have “immaculate undergarments,” to which I say, you try not keeping track of your period/not knowing when it’s going to come, Barbizon instructors. Also, it kind of skeeves me out that this was probably written by an adult man.

Those lessons that have stuck with me to this day were well worth my parents billion million dollars, don’t you think? How else would I have known about the joys of potato bread if they hadn’t been so supportive and generous? Where else would I have learned to balance a book on my head?


I got zero modeling or acting jobs after Barbizon graduation.