Friday, May 30, 2014

Model Example?

This morning I read an article posted by a woman who clearly has a very strong and negative opinion about getting the Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalog*. The post was filled with images from the catalog and she tossed out numerous jabs at both the clothes and the women wearing them. After a couple paragraphs I started wondering the following:

Why is it okay for average Janes like us to say that models are too skinny, too tan, too sexy looking in their photographs but the moment someone comments on our weight, our skin tone, our facial expressions we get all up in their face like they just called the Pope an Atheist?

I can say with 100% certainly this statement is true – models are people with feelings and just as much ability to have them hurt by words tossed in their direction because the people who say them seem to think their life and career choices are somehow superior.

Let me say right now that I’m not jealous of supermodels, Victoria’s Secret models, catalogue models or models in general. In fact, I might even respect them more because I don’t have that talent. I take horrible pictures most of the time and I accept that. What I lack in visual appeal I make up for with my glorious, witty personality.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I’m not a model and I don’t know any models but I feel it’s my duty as a woman to put this out there as a rebuttal to the common misconceptions many people have about models: 
  • Just because a woman is skinny doesn’t mean she doesn’t eat.
  • Just because a photo appears in a magazine doesn’t mean it started out looking exactly how the finished product appears.
  • Just because a woman is beautiful, sexy, can wear tiny little clothes and sell those clothes because of her look, it doesn’t mean she should be open to public ridicule for doing her job.

Sure there might be some models who have eating disorders or other issues but it isn’t just models who face these problems. Lawyers, school principals, stay at home moms could have the same body/food issues but no one seems to harass those people about their weaknesses in public.

I really started wondering why the public seems to think it’s alright to scorn someone else for having something they don’t have – money, love, a rockin’ body, sex appeal. Is it jealousy?

For me, the real issue is that I’m disappointed in myself for not getting off my lazy ass and working out, for not eating healthy enough to still have the tiny frame I used to have. My feelings and my body image have nothing to do with the woman who has somehow managed to find the time to do all that stuff.

It’s not her fault I’m overweight. It’s not her fault I have cellulite and it’s not her fault I can’t rock the swimsuit that she can (yet). It’s my fault.

Yup, I said it and I stand by my choice.

Bear in mind, I don’t harbor delusions of body where I think that if I work out all the time and stop eating I’ll suddenly grow 6+ inches in height and lose every curve or varicose vein on my body. Come on now, I’m not young and stupid (anymore). But if I stopped being lazy and started taking better care of myself I actually could rock this bathing suit:

Yes she’s beautiful, yes she sells sex through her eyes and body, and yes the scene around her is picturesque.

Now, here’s some other things to think about when you look at that picture:

► Most swimsuit photo shoots happen in winter. Yup. This woman is probably freezing her tight, tan ass off but do you see that in her face? No. Models have to rise above being totally uncomfortable in order to do their fucking job. And that ain’t easy.

► What if she’s got the flu but scheduled for a photo shoot they’re paying for her to be a part of? You think she gets a sick day? Uh, no not so much. At least, not if she wants to pay her mortgage.

► What if the only time they could book for a shoot is on her kid’s 5th birthday? You think they’ll reschedule because she ordered up a bouncy castle? Try again.

► The chances that this woman just got 2 hours of sleep on a plane, spent 8 hours “frolicking” in ice cold water then got right back on a plane to travel 10 hours for another shoot where she has to be professional and upbeat (aka not cranky and tired) is pretty high. How much of a toll might that kind of schedule take on someone’s body?

► Speaking of body, models contort into positions no human should be able to pull off so you can see as much of the product as possible. Seriously, I dare you to get in front of a full-length mirror and try to get your body into the position in this photo. Then stay there for 4-8 hours with little time for a break.

► Oh, and don’t forget your face because getting in that position for that long is painful and you can’t let that show on your face or your photos will suck and you won’t get paid to do your job.

► Then, while you’re doing all that other stuff, don’t forget your light source must hit the right places on your face or again you’re going to look kind of weird.

► And weirdness might sell some stuff – see tortoise framed glasses, hipster music, books – but it doesn’t sell swimsuits. Sexy sells swimsuits.

So here’s my big overarching question:

As women, shouldn’t we be embracing of WHATEVER other women want to do for a living (you know, as long as it’s legal)? Are we seriously persecuting each other for being too sexy now? How fucked up of a female double-standard is that?

If I met whoever that gal is in the picture up there I’d give her a high five and thank her for taking care of herself. I’d thank her for getting her ass off her sofa, going out and using the thing she has to her best advantage to make a career for herself.

Remember how women used to not be able to do that? This woman should get a medal for doing what she loves AND getting paid for it.

And I’d thank her for pushing me to go that extra half mile on my stationary bike. Because, while I have ZERO delusions that I’d ever have the same body type or shape she has, I use the image as inspiration to better myself.

It’s hard enough for women out there so I see no reason for other women to shit all over each other just because we make choices to make the most of the gifts, skills and talents we have. Regardless of what those gifts, skills or talents happen to be.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back on my stationary bike to do my 5 miles this morning because I’m going to get back in shape for me so I can buy that bathing suit and love how I look in it.

Non-model flaws and all.

Image courtesy Victoria’s Secret

*Sorry I can’t seem to locate the link to this story. If you read it please feel free to share the link in the comments.

A new window opens when you click to comment. Also, I get lots of spam comments so if the post is older than 3 days, your comment will be moderated.


#1Nana said...

Stationary bike? No thanks, I'll just jiggle in my suit. One of the benefits of growing older is that I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about how I look in a suit. I only have to please myself.

Chris said...

Jenn! Hey there stranger! Wow you've been super busy haven't you? Hope your writing ventures have been successful.

You bring up some great points, about body image and the difficulty of being a model, and a whole bunch of other things.

I used to know two Tumblr girls that were really into fitness/working out and one was petite and adorable and had a firm/toned body but was not what you'd call a 'ten'. The other was stunningly beautiful - tall, tan, curvy and had a physique any woman would die for. Guess which one got more hate?

I think that women are often too clouded by jealousy to look in the mirror. Men get jealous too, but women seem to be unapologetically vocal about it. Whatever happened to 'sisters' supporting each other?

Loved this rant. Glad to see your back posting here. Hope you're having a great summer. (what am I saying, it's always summer in Arizona!)

Launna said...

I agree Jenn, I really think women need to stop pitting ourselves against each other... we need to unite and love ourselves.. great post girl.

Good to see you back today :)

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Jann you're so right about getting older and not caring what others think - and it's the only reason I do workout. It isn't about proving anything to anyone, it's about getting myself healthy again. I used to be an athlete, thin framed, comfortable sprinting up the stairs. All that's gone now and it doesn't make me happy. I like feeling stronger and exercise also elevates my mood. I work on my body for no one but me.

So...I'm a bad bloggy friend Chris, I checked your blog a long, long time ago & it was either private or taken down or something and I've been MIA ever since. But anyway...yeah I just don't get why women try to tear each other down. And let me say right now that's not my intention of this post because the original blogger has every right to her opinion. I just think it sucks that her opinion has to be motivated by hate. My friend, summer is an understatement (already into the 100+ degree days & no signs of slowing down! Hooray for central air!) It's really, really awesome to hear from you, I miss chatting :-)

Yes Launna that's it exactly! Loving ourselves will help us to love each other more. I'm out of shape and not thrilled with that but that can't justify being mean to someone who is in shape, right?

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi everyone! I miss you all!

Suldog said...

Here's my male perspective.

I've often said to MY WIFE that women are their own worst enemies. Some men can be tremendously callous and insensitive when it comes to commenting on physical things, but women rip each other new ones in ways most men wouldn't even imagine. It's not men (at least, not STRAIGHT men) who host all the shows voting on whose way of dressing was the most hideous at any given awards show or whatever.

Most women should keep in mind that most men like most women. And also that real men like real women. We like curves, for the most part. A little bit more, here or there, isn't a big deterrent for us. And we much more appreciate a woman who is confident than a woman who is always begging for acceptance.

We also feel somehow cheated if we find out that what's been advertised is not what is actually there. For instance, a padded bra may be good bait, but whatever you hook with that bait will likely not be thrilled to find out that it WAS just bait. The same goes for most add-ons.

Just my two cents (probably worth a bit less when inflation is taken into account.)