I'll be honest, sometimes the modeling thing makes me feel like all of the things I've always disliked about models. A nice big dollop of cognitive dissonance, right? The problem with the modeling industry is that it creates a standard beauty ideal which forces regular women into a box of unworthiness. Men begin having higher expectations which women cannot keep up with without the use of plastic surgery and other dangerous procedures including starvation diets which may sometimes lead to eating disorders. Sometimes women also begin having higher expectations, not only for themselves but other women. We've become a society which is entirely too focused on "perfection" and superficial attributes. This is a large part of why I decided to get into modeling to begin with- to challenge the beauty ideal and the social standard for body size.
When I first began looking up articles on plus size modeling I was extremely discouraged. It seemed even a plus size model couldn't be above a 16 or an 18, but she also had to have certain proportions- of course meaning a small waiste and large breasts and hips. Without clothes my proportions are 48-50-57. I'm obviously pear shaped rather than the ideal hourglass shape. Fat women are expected to be busty and I, simply, am not. This was another beauty ideal that I had to try to overcome. My point is that I'm not the standard of beauty- even among other fat women.
So why do I sometimes feel like a fraud? I still feel as if sometimes modeling- any type of modeling- sends the message that there is a standard of beauty period. I'm afraid when people look at my photos and say "Oh, you're so gorgeous!" because I don't want anyone to feel as if they couldn't do exactly the same thing I am. I've heard the "well, you're fat but you're beautiful" line followed by the inevitable "but I'm not", as if the color of my eyes or the shape of my face makes me more beautiful than them- it doesn't. Everyone is beautiful- everyone. I'm caught between challenging a beauty ideal and creating one. It would be so much easier if there was a wide variety of people who made up the images on our TV's, in our magazines, and on our billboards- and not just when they need something "specialized" or "non glamorous". Not just when they need someone to advertise their new diet drug or create an ad shaming people into buying something.
So I say sincerely that modeling is not a bragging right, it is not an elevated status, and it is not a standard that we should all aspire to- we should be aspiring to being the naturally beautiful, wonderful, kind, and thoughtful people that we all should be.
On that note I also want to mention that today is TWLOHA day. For those of you who don't know what the day is about, please visit the website for an expanded history and I'll just give you a small bit. To Write Love on Her Arms is a movement that was created to support those struggling with depression and other mental illnesses and, particularly, with those who struggle with self mutilation. We need to show these people that they are loved, that they are beautiful, and that they are worth being taken care of. Please write love on your arm and spread the word when someone asks what it's for. You can also donate via their website.