I arrive too early for the Call Lights Magazine photo shoot, because I was nervous about finding the location, but it was easier than I’d thought. So I’m waiting alone in the lobby of a small convention center room until the other real nurse models arrive.
The email from Call Lights Magazine with instructions about the shoot was rather vague, except in its insistence that all releases be signed and returned beforehand.
I have no idea what “real nurse” models wear, so I defaulted to the slacks, blouse and blazer I usually reserve for job interviews. I left my hair down, and wore some make-up.
One by one the other “real nurse models” arrive, dressed much the same way as me. The group of us looks to be in our late 20’s to mid-thirties. One of us is a man. I didn’t think to invite Corey to apply with the rest of us. Does that make me gender biased, I wonder?
Soon the doors open, and we’re ushered into the conference room, transformed into a photo shoot. There are three makeshift dressing rooms made of drapery hanging from curtain rods fastened to the walls. Two garment racks on wheels each hold dozens of scrubs sets of varying sizes, colors, and styles. Beyond these are make up, and hair styling stations. Floor lights and silver colored reflectors ring a fake hospital room backdrop. The carpeted floor is crisscrossed with thick cables secured by duct tape. At the back of the room is a buffet table laden with bottles of water, juice, coffee, hot water and an assortment of teas. I’m too nervous to drink anything at the moment, so I stand around with the other nurses making small talk.
“Niki?” I turn my head in the direction I hear my name called.
The voice belongs to a vaguely familiar man about my age wearing jeans, a white tee shirt and a light grey sports jacket with the sleeves artfully rolled up three-quarter length. He’s holding a camera with a huge professional lens in one hand.
“Niki Rossetti, is that you?”
Now I recognize Todd from high school. At least I think it’s Todd. He’s taller, or maybe just skinnier than I remember. He has a manicured, stubbly beard. His hair blonder than I remember.
“Hey, yeah, Niki! It’s me Todd. It’s been a really long time. What are you doing here?”
“I’m one of the ‘real nurse models’ for this Call Lights Magazine photo shoot. Are you a nurse?”
Todd laughs. “Hardly. I’m the photographer. So you became a nurse. This is wild!”
Before we could talk more, the heavyset lady with hipster glasses appears in the middle of the room, calling out, “Ladies, oh, I guess I’d better say, ‘and gentleman,’ we do have a male nurse model in our presence. Please gather by the make up and wardrobe stations where you’ll be matched with scrubs for the photos.
I stand with the other nurses waiting while the wardrobe woman sizes each of us up, selecting suitable sets of scrubs. Half of us are sent to the makeshift changing rooms to put on the scrubs. The rest of are directed to the hair and make up stations.
I’m instructed to sit on a stool under a lamp, by a woman wearing a white lab coat over her tattooed décolletage and black tube top.
“Hi. I’m Niki.”
“Hmmm,” she says, while placing a hand on my chin turning my face this way and that under the light.
“I need to add more make up. You’re supposed to look like a real nurse for these photos.”
“I am a real nurse,” I retort.
“Hmm,” she repeats, as if she didn’t hear me. “You should consider getting Botox for that furrow between your brows. These days, it’ almost as bad as having a unibrow. You’re pretty. Botox would make you look less tired.”
“Thanks. I’ll think about it.”
“Well, don’t make it any deeper by worrying about it. If the editor feels it’s distracting, there’s always Photoshop.”
I have the sense that this “real nurse model” stuff is separated from real nursing by a chasm much deeper and wider than the furrow between my brows.