November 17, 1980 12:00 PM

Because she was chubby and shy, and one of her legs was two-thirds of an inch shorter than the other, Anette Stai’s parents suggested she take up modeling to bring her weight down and her confidence up. Anette agreed enthusiastically. Bored with her high school studies anyway, she enrolled in modeling school, trimmed 30 pounds of baby fat and learned to compensate for her handicap. “I was taught to move in a slight dancing way,” she says, “so the flaw became an advantage in my profession.” This fall in Monaco, weighing 123 pounds and adolescently awkward no longer, the 5’9′ Norwegian beauty defeated 19 other finalists to become the Ford Model Agency’s Face of the ’80s. The title has brought Anette “almost daily” modeling jobs in Europe, plus a Ford contract guaranteeing her $50,000 over two years.

Anette’s head seems unlikely to be turned by her triumph. “I’m a farm girl,” she says. “I like nature, country and animals more than the passing glory that being a top model could bring me.” Born and raised outside Oslo, she is the daughter of parents who briefly modeled themselves, and who now operate an electronics equipment company. Her ambition is to be a veterinarian, she says, and she is mildly apprehensive over the prospect of moving to New York for her career. “I’m always homesick in a new place,” says Anette, 19. “I’m a big baby, in fact.” To keep from getting too big, she plays handball; to avoid smoking, she concentrates on knitting. Though she entered the Ford contest “just for fun,” she really did not enjoy it very much. “It was harried,” she complains, “very stressing.” Meanwhile she is working in Paris, having split from a med student boyfriend in Oslo. “I don’t get very attached,” she says. “I’m closest to my family.” After hours in front of the camera, she goes home and “I scrub my face until it’s red.” Her days as a chubbette still haunt her. “I love food,” she admits. “That’s my problem.” Scales intimidate her. “I get depressed,” says the Face, “whenever I weigh myself.”

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