Misia O'Brien of Southborough is building a successful modeling career, landing gigs at fashion week in New York City and with corporate clients including Land's End and Bombas. She's pictured on Worcester Common.

Misia O’Brien headed off toward her big dream the way many young people from Central Massachusetts do — on a Peter Pan bus ride to New York City.

At 18 years old, she had sent some informal photos to a lot of modeling agencies, some of which called her back. “So, I basically just took a spontaneous Peter Pan bus trip down to New York with my sister,” O’Brien, of Southborough, says. “We took a few days and met with each of them and some said, ‘Oh, you’re not the right size, and you have to change your hair, or you have to gain weight, or you have to lose weight,’ and hearing that as an 18-year-old, it builds a lot of insecurities when someone is telling you straight up, ‘You don’t fit the mold,’ or ‘We don’t want you.’”

Misia O'Brien poses on Worcester Common with City Hall behind her. The 21-year-old is the daughter of Michael O'Brien, the former city manager of Worcester. (Misia's makeup is by Chelsea Pajzer Beauty Pro)

Indeed, O’Brien did not fit the standard model mold. She wasn’t a size 2 with coltish legs stretching for days. Instead, she was trying to break into the profession as what is generally called a “plus-size” model, although her size and shape likely would be called closer to normal-size by most women, very few of whom are in the six-foot-two and 100-pounds range.