La Jolla High School junior Adana McWhinney participated in Fashion Week San Diego, Sept. 30-Oct. 6, walking in two major shows. Fashion Week Los Angeles came soon after. The 5-foot-9, 17-year-old beauty is the daughter of Nancy De Andrade and Joaquin McWhinney. Though she just started modeling, she said she is learning by doing.
McWhinney said she was always told she should model because of her height.
During Fashion Week, McWhinney modeled fashions by Style Network’s show, “Styled to Rock,” contestant Dexter Simmons, who competed to create clothes for musicians like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Williams.
“I thought it would be a ‘whatever’ thing, but there were photo shoots, press conferences, meet-and- greets, fittings and so much more extra work than I thought,” she said.
After the Simmons show, she modeled swimwear designs by Love, Charles.
Her experiences with Fashion Week gave McWhinney insights into the world of modeling, which she took with her when she went to Los Angeles for Fashion Week LA, Oct. 9-18.
“I was surprised at the challenge of modeling,” she said. “I knew I would have to work on how I look, but there were little things I noticed I do when I walk or when I pose, that I didn’t know I did.” As an example, she said in photos she saw that she scrunched her eyebrows without realizing it. “There are just little things you have to learn.”
She learned the logistical side of things as well — like how she’s only allowed to use certain images in her portfolio or social media for three years. And, she saw that the drama most people associate with modeling isn’t the norm.
“I haven’t done anything huge, but the models I’ve work with don’t starve themselves and they are not dumb. They aren’t stereotypes. Every model is different,” she said. “The models that do talk down to other people are often insecure themselves.” She also said egotistical behavior does not get rewarded. She recalled how one model was removed from a runway show for walking and posing her own way, contrary to what the designer requested.
McWhinney said she will use the money earned from her modeling jobs to help pay for college, where she would like to study engineering.
“I really like engineering, physics and math,” she said, adding that she is currently taking AP physics. “You can only model for a certain amount of time and I’d like to have something to fall back on. I’m finally doing paid work. I never really saw myself as the next Kate Upton.”
Acknowledging that she’s been rejected, passed up, and told she “didn’t have the look,” McWhinney said every opportunity is a chance to grow. She said she doesn’t take things personally and tries not to let things go to her head.
“I don’t have low self- esteem, and I’m not afraid to say that. I think I’m beautiful and I like who I am, but that doesn’t mean I have to boast about it,” she said.
”Honestly, anyone can model. Different designers need different types of people ... there are models of every size.”