First, we had this:
Then, we had this:
And we have had everything in between, with the word “real” thrown about like a body-conscious basketball. STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT!!!
Now, just think about the word “real” for a second. Hold that thought.
A few years ago, I worked in LA. While out there, I went to a Hawaiian restaurant. In there was a waitress who taught the diners how to hula dance (I can now do a few steps, but usually risk taking someone’s eye out.) 😉 She was curvier than average- with a lot to shake. She was also a real woman.
When I was just beginning my modelling career, I posed with a woman who had legs the size of my arms. She barely ate, drank only hot water with sugar in it and despite it being a summer day, she sat under a blanket in between shots. I still think she had an eating disorder. Skeletal and ill-looking, yes. But she was also a real woman!
The crazy cat lady down my road is just as much a real woman as I am! So are my female friends who aren’t professional models, my female friends who are professional models (whatever size), and the woman who just walked past my window. I’m not even going to start on transgender issues- that’s a blog for someone else.
Now, somewhere along here, wires have been crossed. I have already given my opinion about clients who book clearly ill women for campaigns but I also believe that there are many different versions of ‘the perfect body.’ As long as it is healthy (whatever size) then that is what matters- and speaking from experience, I think you can be healthy at a far larger, and smaller, size than society would have us believe.
I have a 50’s figure, and trying to attain a 20’s one would involve starving myself. Someone without curves trying to get my figure may find curves appearing in the wrong places! All we can do is try to be as happy with what we look like as possible. Being proud to be curvy does not mean that I find other body types unattractive, and vice versa.
Okay, back to the word ‘real.
Last year, I did a photoshoot in which a member of the team waxed lyrical about how wonderful it was to see a “real woman of average size” modelling. I was also “relatable“ and “normal”.
It was meant kindly but I heard “you are flawed, too big to be a ‘proper’ model, and you make insecure women feel better about their flaws by showing off yours”. I felt patronised and ashamed, but I finished the photoshoot and then spent the rest of the day doubting myself.
More recently, I received an e-mail: “It is so refreshing to see a real woman modelling nude…” followed by derogatory remarks about thinner women.
And now on America’s Next Top Model All Stars, plus-sized model Julie Henderson was introduced not as ‘plus size‘, but ‘fiercely real.’
It’s okay to prefer one body type over another, but please stop bandying that word about! Remember what has happened to the word “special?” (If you don’t know English slang, “special” often refers to people with learning disabilities). Well, I can see ‘real’ going the same way. Except it’ll mean ‘average’ at best, and ‘flawed’ at worst.
As a curvy model, I understand that it is meant as a compliment, but I hear ‘average‘, and no one wants to be average. If you’re kind enough to want to pay me a compliment, find another word because I already know I’m real. So is the really thin girl, and if you don’t like her body then compliment her eyes.
End of rant.
Thank you for listening, now look at me naked. 😀
Photographer: G Haskew
It was my idea, and I called it “Rip Van Roswell” after the legend of Rip Van Winkle, who fell asleep for a thousand years. 🙂 We’d been waiting for a snowy day for months so it was so exciting to finally finish the project (though our Autumn shoot was colder as there was a nasty icy wind blowing and we had to replant half the bracken).
I’ll show you outtakes next post, and some of the other shots we took while out there…