Monday, 02 April 2012 12:20
This may be 20-year-old Christen Finkbeiner’s first time modeling in Gainesville Fashion Week, you could say she’s an old pro at being in front of the camera. In fact, her first modeling gig was for Vogue.
Growing up, Christen’s tall, lanky figure and photogenic face meant she was a model in the making. It also meant she had to learn to be an adult at a young age. At 14, she moved from her hometown of Fort Myers to New York City, and lived in a small apartment with other young models during the summer. Her parents, who she says were apprehensive at first, couldn’t go with her.
Traveling the city by taxi wasn’t an option for the young model because it was too expensive. Instead she used public transportation to get to casting appointments with the other girls—or sometimes all by herself. Ever seen America’s Next Top Model? Well, Christen lived the real deal.
“Some days I would navigate the city all day by myself,” Christen says. “I was doing college things like doing my own laundry and buying my own groceries.”
Lucky for Christen, picking groceries was never as difficult for her as it was for some of her counterparts.
“I’m lucky. I was very skinny,” she says. “I never had the pressure to eat less, but I definitely had roommates who did have to focus on what they ate and had to exercise.” (You won’t believe which Gainesville restaurant Christen frequents as often as three times a week!)
Although she has modeled for many brands and publications, Christen says her most memorable shoot was for a Tommy Hilfiger fragrance.
“It was like one of those perfume ads you see on television with a girl and a guy running along the beach,” Christen says. “I got to do that with a really hot guy and in some fabulous $7,000 navy gown. I don’t even think I was 16 yet, and they had me driving a convertible BMW all over Staten Island and on the beach.”
Today, Christen is an anthropology major at the University of Florida, and her NYC modeling days are on hold. Although many of her friends in the modeling industry go to school in or near New York, so that they can work while in school, Christen says she’s happy to be in school at UF.
“New York City is my favorite city in the world, but it’s hard to balance school and working as a model,” she says. “I’m glad I’m going to school and didn’t do that because I don’t want to be an old woman at 20.” And lucky for us, she missed it enough to audition for Gainesville Fashion Week. But she won’t limit her talents to Gainesville for much long—once she graduates, she plans to continue with her modeling career.
Christen’s favorite place in Gainesville is downtown cupcake shop Sarkara Sweets. It’s not unusual for her to stop by as often as three times a week. The owners know her by name and by cupcake—confetti cake, marshmallow filling and white chocolate frosting.
By Alexandria Ugarte
Photo by Rob Foldy
Hair by Erin Anding at Salon La Di Da
Makeup by Moira Hassler
Sounds fresh from the pages of the magazine