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Instead of the typical retail or restaurant after school job that most high school students take on, Erica Argandona walks the runway. Growing up, Erica flipped through magazines and imagined one day covering those pages. Now, her dreams are a reality.

Erica was discovered when she least expected it. After her current agency spotted her at a Jonas Brothers concert, she went on to appear in print ads and fashion shows. Balancing modeling and school has provided many challenges, but Erica has taken them on like the kind-hearted and down-to-earth girl that she is.

Below, Erica offers some amazing advice on finding self-confidence and pursuing what you’re passionate about. Read on to find out more about Erica and her journey from the high school hallways to high fashion.

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Who inspires you?

My inspiration is definitely Beyoncé! She is such a strong woman and she’s very independent. She’s one of the fiercest females.

What’s your favorite thing about modeling?

I’ve worked with wonderful people who give me great advice and feedback.

As a teen model, do you ever find yourself struggling with bullying or insecurity?

There are so many great people I’ve met in this industry that have helped me realize that you cannot judge a book by its cover. I used to have a uni-brow until about seventh grade and I was bullied for that. I was also very skinny and scrawny and I was bullied for that as well. It made me think about how easy it is to bully someone and how often it happens.

 

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How has modeling changed your high school experience?

I’m currently a senior, and this year has been expensive but having a job has definitely helped. I’m able to treat myself, my friends, my family, and my boyfriend because I love spoiling them. People often ask me, “Don’t people treat you differently because you’re a model?” and my answer is always the same. I wouldn’t let them even if I tried.

How do you feel about having achieved a dream of yours at such a young age?

I am extremely thankful for this opportunity. I used to spend hours in my room looking through magazines saying, “That will be me one day.” It’s so fulfilling knowing that I made it. I don’t like to make a big deal about it and I don’t want it to define who I am. I am still the same person I was before this.

What advice do you have for other aspiring teen models?

My advice is BE POSITIVE AND BE YOURSELF!!! I can’t stress enough how important this is. One of the clients that I worked for once told me that the reason she loves working with me is because I create such a positive environment and I don’t try to be something I’m not. If you are in a bad mood, it will put the people surrounding you in a bad mood. Also if you aren’t humble and kind, then people won’t respect you. Being real is such an important quality, and it will make people remember you!

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Do people treat you differently because of your career?

My friends and the people I’ve gone to school with for years just see it as my job, because that’s how I want them to see it.

What is your biggest struggle with modeling?

My biggest struggle would be prioritizing school. I often have to miss school for certain jobs, making it hard to stay caught up. I make sure that school is my main priority because my education is important.

Today, lots of people struggle with body image. How do you feel about the increase in bullying and low self-esteem, especially in teenagers? And what advice do you have about accepting yourself just the way you are?

I hear girls degrading other girls because of how they do their hair, makeup, or how they dress. Even some of my friends do this. If you are constantly degrading other people then it just shows what kind of person you are. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and I truly believe that. Beauty comes from within. If you have integrity and a positive attitude, you are far more likely to be successful! Be happy with yourself! You are you and only you can change who you are. If you are not happy with yourself then do what you need to do until you are. It can be as simple as smiling more often. Like I said, being yourself is so important.

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Can you leave us with an inspirational quote?

“Your self-worth is determined by you. You don’t have to depend on someone telling you who you are.” – Beyoncé

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