On the Move
gwen hajek has pulled up stakes and become an arkansas traveler
Little boys, as we all remember from our childhoods, do their best to be the bane of little girls' lives. One such mischievous young prankster will, however, go down in history as the prime reason Gwendolyn Hajek refused to wear dresses until she was nearly 15. In kindergarten, this ingenious lad glued mirrors onto the toes of his shoes, the better way to see up Gwen's dress. "I was so embarrassed, I went home and told my mother, 'Don't ever make me wear a dress so boys can look up my skirt again!' and I didn't wear one again until high school." Even now, Gwen admits, she's a bit self-conscious about her body. But, fortunately, her last three jobs -- as door-to-door insurance salesperson, wallpaper hanger and, currently, fire-risk surveyor for an insurance company -- haven't required that she dress up. (As you can see from the photos above, we couldn't resist asking this lovely Louisianian to demonstrate how she might decorate our lives if she were still in the wallpapering business. Twenty-year-old Gwen, who describes herself as Arab-American, was born and reared in Shreveport, where she lived until last winter, when she moved to Forest City, Arkansas. "Economic opportunities in Shreveport are, unfortunately, zilch," she says sadly. Unemployment there is among the highest in the whole state. People are moving out in droves. "It used to be an oil city; there were several big oil companies, including Shell, downtown. But not anymore. All the oil business seemed to move to Texas over the past 20 years. But that's not the only reason I left. I was just plumb burnt out on Shreveport. I know every nook and cranny of the city, and it was getting boring." Yet, boring though it might have been, Shreveport couldn't have been all bad, because it's where Gwen blossomed into womanhood. "I grew up kind of tomboyish. I was thin and flat-chested when I started high school. But then, suddenly, I began to fill out very fast.
"And at the same time, I began to get, well, girlish. Like, for instance, the summer I turned 14, I was suddenly afraid of bugs, though I'd never been afraid of bugs before. I thought, What's happening to me? Then I gradually got used to it. But I still didn't think of myself as pretty until I won the Girl of My Dreams beauty pageant at my high school." After high school, Gwen applied to be a Playmate, posing for test photos by Contributing Photographer David Mecey. At the time, however, the consensus was that she was lovely but -- rather like a peach in June -- not quite ripe. About a year later, she tried again, and her test photos were simply stunning. We knew we'd found another Playmate. "I'd never modeled before, so posing for Playboy has been like a crash course in modeling techniques for me," she says. "I hope the pictures come out OK." We think, Gwen, that our readers will agree that they came out much better than OK.
Photography by Arny Freytag