I'll admit it, most people think what I do is unimportant and it hurts. One guy on facebook called me an antifeminist and a show pony for doing what I do. I'm relatively unknown and I don't think I'll ever be "discovered". I've been blogging and posting for three years now and I'm no where near as famous as most fat activists I know- even fatshion bloggers are more respected than I am. Why? Because all I do is sit in front of a camera and pout....right?
I'm here to tell you that what I do is hard. Not just physically, although holding a difficult pose for an undefined period of time can get hard, no, I mean emotionally. Like everyone else I have issues with my body. Although I resolved much of my body hatred when I discovered fat acceptance, I still have a deeply ingrained dislike of my fat, my small boobs, my big nose, my non existent eyebrows, my.. well, you get the point. But here's the thing. I don't do this for myself. I know it may seem like it's a boost to my self esteem or whatever, but it's actually not. The thing about cognitive dissonance is that other people telling you how pretty and photogenic you are does not necessarily make you feel like it is so. And I often post photos that I even hate (not because it's a bad photo, but because I feel too ugly or fat) because I know it's not for me.
The point of what I do is to show other people who have bodies that don't fit into the typical thin model archetype (even "plus size" models who still tend to have big breasts and flat bellies) and they should love and be proud of who they are. I get so many messages telling me things like "your body is so much like mine" and "I thought my body was weird and unattractive". Then they tell me how I've helped them in some way. These are little bits of sunshine in my otherwise dreary and anxiety filled days. I'm feeling quite a bit of anxiety right now, at this very moment, because it's so difficult to explain the importance of what I do.
I challenge the system. Yes, even though I'm a part of it. In the same way that people of color often challenge the system by inserting themselves into modeling, acting, etc. Because while the system is flawed (okay, very flawed), you can't fix it by sitting on the outside. We can complain about people of size not being represented, but who's going out there and representing us? You can't talk about how models are getting thinner and how unrealistic they are without needing models who are representative of a wider range of bodies. So yeah, I'm a part of the broken system (sort of since I'm not actually part of the broader modeling scene), but it's an important part.
Part of the reason I began modeling was because I never saw a body like mine. Not "plus size" models with their flat tummies, not fatshion bloggers who didn't have folds like I do and always seem to be smaller. I didn't see a lot of people posting photos of themselves online and I certainly didn't see a lot of what their bodies actually looked like. I know fatshion has gotten more popular in the last couple of years and so now I probably could find people with similar body types, but no one who's willing to pose in, goodness forbid- the nude! (My one saving grace is adipositivity)
I still hesitate every time I make a photo post. I still have dread. I still haven't rid myself of all of my body issues and fears. But it's not about me, is it? It's about you. So yeah, it's hard. It's hard being unsure of yourself and posing in front of a camera. It's hard to put yourself out there, to send messages to photographers when most of them will reject you. It's hard to post those photos online to be scrutinized. It's hard to read the troll comments that those posts attract. Emotionally it's exhausting. Sometimes it's so exhausting that I just do nothing for a while. But I do believe it helps people and it does good and that it's important. And that's why I'll continue, for as long as I can.