Dear Dr. Wallace:

Help! I’m in desperate need of an answer. It may not seem important, but my future and career could depend on your help. I really want to become a model. I realize that it’s a lot of hard work and it’s not guaranteed that I will ever make it, but I want that opportunity.

My friends say that I’m attractive and that I have a good figure. I also have good modeling skills. I have done some modeling for fashion shows in local department stores so I have some experience. I’d like to start modeling in about a year and a half because I wear braces on my teeth right now.

Can you refer me to a successful modeling agency?

— Nameless,

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dear Nameless: I spent an hour on the phone talking with a well-known American fashion model and put your question to her. She asked me not to mention her name because she wanted to be blunt, frank and honest, and she wanted to continue working regularly. Allow me to paraphrase what she told me:

• Be careful of modeling or charm schools. Many are in business for the sole purpose of making money and will enroll any person who can afford the tuition.

• If you do select a modeling school, have your parents visit it with you. Ask to speak with students presently enrolled and, if possible, recent graduates.

• Whenever and wherever possible, model at department stores, local fashion shops and benefits, even if the pay is small.

• Have a professional photographer shoot photos that will best accent your positives and eliminate any negatives.

• Understand that there are more major-league baseball players than female models making a full-time living in the United States.

• Write to 10 or 20 top models and ask them how they got started in modeling and include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Five or ten will probably write back and should provide some useful information. Do your research. All top models work for top agencies.

• Continue your education into college and, if possible, graduate school. Be strong in the arts — dance, music, drama.

• High-fashion models fit a mold as to bone structure, height and facial expression. If you don’t fit the mold, you’re often overlooked.

• Modeling appears to be a glamorous vocation, but it takes a lot of hard work and much sacrifice to stay on top. Most models only look at ice cream. They never eat it, even the low-calorie stuff!

• Go for it! The wonderful people that you will meet on your road to modeling far outnumber the sharks, skunks and rattlesnakes that litter the path to success. Learn to identify these varmints and avoid them whenever possible. If you must meet them face to face, carry a big stick, and push them away when they hinder your progress.

Dear Dr. Wallace: My 12-year-old brother constantly tells lies. When I confront him about these fibs, my mother gets angry with me and says to back off because “Kenny has a vivid imagination.” I think my mom is making a huge mistake and is encouraging him to continue lying. Do you agree?

— Cindy,

Las Vegas, Nev.

Dear Cindy: There is a huge difference in a vivid imagination and telling lies. I agree that Mom should curb his imagination and bring him back to reality. Twelve-year-old children ought to know fact from fiction.

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.