Enemy images we create about those we don’t agree with, or possible don’t even know because we’ve been pitted against them since birth are a large part of why so many conflicts remain un-resolved. Here I am honestly and vulnerably willing to admit I have made a$$hole assumptions and told myself silly stories in my creation of a Cruella de Vil inspired character that represents how I think models are like and I have never even meet one. (If you watched Buffy the vampire slayer, think Cordelia) And at the same time I wonder why some of the 1000 year old feuds that are costing the lives of millions in our world every year cannot be resolved? Thinking I have been part of the problem, and now I want to actively be part of a peaceful resolving solution. So to do this I’m going to lead with some heartfelt empathy about what I can only imagine your challenges and pain could be and then share my concerns and confusions regarding your profession and its impact on society. I hope you’ll hear my intention and maybe someday you’ll be up for a conversation??
The average height for an American woman is 5 feet 4 inches; if you are a model you likely have several more inches than most women. Ironically what is believed by many (not all) that being taller is better, may not have been the case while growing up. Imitating the adults in their lives many elementary children pick on anyone who appears different, for whatever reason, to reassure themselves that they fit in, they’re good, they belong. Was this your experience, being on the receiving end of immature insults aimed at an uncontrollable expression of your DNA? Being a sentient being I could guess it was hurtful, embarrassing, and may have damaged your self-esteem? Maybe you felt awkward and uncomfortable being maybe a head taller than all your friends, maybe you even thought there was something wrong about you?
As you entered your high school years maybe you noticed that most of the women you saw in advertisements were similar to you, maybe you felt hope that your difference could be appreciated? You could have been drawn to how admired they were, how attracted men were towards these women and that prompted you to try and use your height as an advantage and enter the modeling profession? You possibly even started at a young age, maybe your parents even encouraged it? You’d definitely be making a helluva lot more than most teenagers working in restaurants or retail! Although how often are you looked at with discriminating, discerning eyes that are judging every inch of your body, looking for flaws, cellulite, and to scrutinize how symmetrical your face.?I read once that those in the modeling industry talk about models as if they were cars, with parts. I highly doubt that how you are feeling is given much consideration, and unfortunately I don’t even think your health is all that important to them.
So this makes me wonder what are common motivations for being a model, is it something that you think will fill your need to be desired, a way to validate your value, or maybe feel loved? If so, what I see doesn’t even look like basic human respect. How often are you told to lose weight and maintain a figure that is deprived of proper nourishment to maintain a percentage of body fat that could be considered dangerous? Do you ever feel deprived, hungry or weak? Do you ever feel like you are being used like a thing to sell someone else’s stuff and not a human being with emotions and ideas of your own?
(click on collage for a closer view)
Do you ever hope you could lead a life where you were accepted just how you are, didn’t have to worry if you gained a few pounds and were loved and it was unconditional? And by unconditional that would mean being loved and having your beauty seen, even if you were disfigured in an accident. According to Cameron Russell who gave a TED talk about modeling, she believes that models may be even more insecure than most women, understandably you and your images are being judged constantly.
I am concerned for its hard to understand how this career choice honors your health or self-worth. And I am equally worried about how this trend in our culture, having above average height women, as thin as they can be, being cast as the most beautiful impacts all of us. (I am equally concerned about health from the opposite spectrum of obesity too!) From what I’ve observed this has happened through generations of artists’ aesthetic preferences being presented in their works of art which heavily influence what their culture finds attractive. Add to that marketing that preys on insecurities and manipulates us through our primal desires to experience pleasurable feelings with the intention to program what “they” (some company) want us to like, crave, find attractive, so we’ll consume their product. This became apparent to me being someone who spends a lot of time contemplating human behavior and the influence of media and it was reassured by researching the use of Freud’s theories into advertising by his nephew Edward Bernays int he 1920’s. (I highly recommend watching the documentary “Century of The Self”)
Everything everyone does and thinks has an impact, those things that become advertisements that millions and millions of people see tend to have quite a noticeable impact. That’s why they pay such astronomical amounts to air them to us. They want us to react in predictable ways that will create a desire in us to buy some product that they “promise” will make us feel better. Which is why you are so incredibly often using your sexuality to sell everything, even bubble gum. And it works, people give in to their normal human desires and become loyal to a chewing gum brand. And there is more..there are many layers to this analysis that I believe really deserve attention, and its better than someone shouting angry blaming insults, right? I really hope I am not boring you and you are hearing these as grounded valid thoughts from many tedious hours of contemplation to really consider. Relying on my perception and reading other people’s perspectives and studies, what I think the most common reactions to seeing a typically tall and very thin model are: loathing, longing, and lusting. When many women view a picture of a woman that our cultures’ story tells us is more attractive, (a woman’s most important quality according to that story too) while at the same time we ourselves look so differently, it can easily and effectively instigate insecurity and self-loathing. You could be fine all day and then you see that reminder and now you’re feeling shame because of the size of your thighs. That loathing can also be sent outward towards the model, it’s easy to allow yourself to be angry rather than confront the deep pain it’s speaking up for. And longing, from women unable to accept themselves and wishing they could be more like all those “perfect” models, because then maybe they would feel valuable. And more longing, at least this one will lead to sales increase (a plus?) for whatever product is being pushed, thinking it will fill the hole, be a resource to contribute to their beauty that will contribute to their value, because they can’t even already acknowledge their inherent value, sad, huh? And then the longing and lusting that turns the heads of so many men, even married ones, and they fall into a state of desire to possibly acquire, driven by the story that they’d be a “better” man if they could “have” a woman like that. In a selfish pleasure driven state they ogle and objectify, sectioning off the body into parts, judging each one independently and not taking in the whole human and respecting their dignity. It’s really sad how trained we ALL have become to give the people we encounter the head to toe eye scan while dissecting their body, and ya know inside that human being may be depressed or overwhelmed and instead of connecting and offering respect, we judge them. I am guilty of this and I am determined to purge the poisoning in my mind because I choose to be someone who looks people in the eyes, acknowledges their humanity and offers compassion.
Here is some honesty about the enemy image I’ve created. Cruella cruelly cuts me down and points our all my flaws and flaunts her flawlessness. She’s rather every man in the room wanted to f^ck her, than respect her. She is the poster girl for whoever will give her money, regardless of how ethical their business. A professional poser sell out! Imagination can be wicked, huh?
Hmmm where could such intense anger come from…it’s just ANOTHER form of inequality that is plaguing our world and preventing peace!
Maybe because the way you look grants you access to party with the “stars” who probably make multiple times more money than you obscures your awareness of how much more you may actually make than oh say a teacher? Could be you are a bit caught up in the perks and privileges of posing? I seriously don’t know!! We all get caught up in our stuff! For me a world of peace and equality would not include an 18 year old having her picture taken, while getting free product, polishing, and primping and earning more income than a teacher, who has to buy her own supplies and pay off massive college debt. For the teacher to contribute to the world by inspiring our next generation, she had to work on her character and gain education and experience. A model on the other hand could not even be considered for the job if her physical appearance did not meet particular requirements. The model earning more, devastatingly and dramatically shows how much more value we place on appearances. I am trying to not encourage any kind of judgment, believing making clear observations and expressing our concerns considerately without blame would contribute more to people caring about each others’ perspectives’ and promoting peace. Although I appreciate the intention in how Martin Luther King Jr. uses the word “judge” and I’ll add a twist to one of his quotes to further strengthen my view. “Judge not on the appearance of a mortal body, but on the content of a soul’s character. “
I am thrilled with how much racial healing has happened, people being united by our shared human experience and celebrating diversity instead of freaking out about small differences. And at the same time, I am depressed to see so many versions of segregation, dividing people because of certain characteristics and granting more value to some. I hope more wake up and chose to not judge based on race or skin color, OR gender, height, complexion, face shape, leg length, waist measurement, hip measurement, tightness of ass, slimness of thighs, bust size, whiteness of teeth, etc. Then maybe this scenario would happen less…
No matter how much charisma, character, compassion, intelligence, and humor a devoted and respecting fan of a band/musician, a model has quite a ridiculously higher chance of being able to meet those “rock stars” and she may not have even been alive when they began their career. I would call that an example of separation and inequality, which are not components of peace.
Do you know what moves me most to offer you empathy? I think you are very separated from so many of your sisters. I don’t think you experience the kind of connection that is possible between women, because you are so often rated, evaluated and compared against one another using what I believe to be a tiny facet of Who We Really Are. I believe this also applies to all women in the entertainment industry, not just those closer to 6 feet. All your (likely?) airbrushed (not real then right?) images have become such a trigger for insecurity for incredibly impressionable young women trying to find their inner confidence, all the way to whoa-men who are rocking out ALL of their feminine qualities of wisdom, intuition, wit, nurturing, compassion, strength, and beauty to feel less valuable when they look at your picture. And while I agree you are beautiful, you are not more beautiful than other women. That’s a myth that I believe is destroying what Beauty really is and making it something we judge, rather than a gift we marvel at and give gratitude for.
I can’t help myself but to dream of paradise and it is definitely possible, and there I see two young girls hand in hand, soaking up the beauty of nature and inhaling the intoxicating aroma wafting from the field of wild flowers they are frolicking through. Their sisterly bond is blossoming, a celebration of feminine connection. They would never dream of comparing themselves to one another because they can so easily recognize and appreciate each others’ unique personality and inherent beauty. As much as they desire to find unconditional love in a relationship for themselves, they equally desire this for their sisters. They’d find the past shocking knowing that once on Earth many, maybe most women at some time in their life allowed their worth to be determined by the evaluations of males and their desire to derive pleasure from them. It would seem preposterous to them to conceive of an entire profession of posing for the supposed prettiest people. Not because capturing beauty and emotions with photography is not a valued art form, but because how could it allow for the fullest expression of a soul’s purpose? I believe they’d have compassionate consideration for the painful repercussions that thousands of years of the non-dominate gender clawing its way out of dependence on the dominate one has on a people. They’d be grateful for our struggle and healing that allowed us to unite as sacred soul sisters and become truly equal with our sacred soul brothers.