I am not a body, I am somebody.

Staring into the mirror I prepare myself for another pep talk as the overwhelminginly familiar curtain of doubt and fear of pre-judgement draws down upon me once again; “You are more than just a pair of tits”.

This might sound like a crazy ritual but being able to distance yourself as a person, from your job, is an art in which I find difficulty in mastering; Not for reasonings on my own part, I possess full self-belief in my abilities and who I am as an individual (Well if you can’t love yourself n’ all that….). But once people learn of my job as a Glamour Model, it’s difficult for them to see anything else. Unlike many jobs where you get to clock out at 5pm and go back to being “Just John” who lives at Number 12, I don’t have a job- I am my job. Or so people think.

As a naive 18 year old to the big wide world of the internet, the thought of thousands of images of my boobs being available at a click of a button was not exactly something I gave much thought too. And it’s definitely not something you give a lot of thought too when you don’t see anything wrong with your job in the first place. “What name do you want to go by?” My agent asked as I enthusiastically signed my first modelling contract. “Erm, just my own?” I answered innocently, not foreshadowing the collective of cold-shoulders which awaited me in my years to come. Fast forward eight years and the realisation that people can judge me by one google search is a terror which haunts me every time I meet someone new. “What’s your name?” Are three words which send a shiver down my spine. My heart drops into my stomach every time I’m asked to note down my social media handles at an interview. Most people with hundreds of thousands of followers (barf- subtle brag) would be eager to boast to potential clients about their following, riding the wave of influence and outreach, but for me it’s just another hump in the road. Another chance for someone to see my body and link it to the idea that I must be a terrible person and incompetent at succeeding. I jump at the chance of meeting people in the flesh, where they get to encounter the real me, rather than the image they’ve curated in their head from a posed picture online. All of this has led to me having a love – hate relationship with my bosom; Thankful for the opportunities that have risen from being #blessed, but bitter at the stereotype they’ve forced upon me. So much so, that when I started the transition to working more behind the scenes in the industry, I decided to change my name. I set up a fake email address and a new Instagram account, full of crippling dread that a client I email could see my lady lumps online and never want to work with me, or the brand, again. I began to live a lie, pretending to be someone I was not all because the fear of rejection for being who I really was. I felt like a fraud. Being ashamed of my job, of my body, was not what I stood for and yet I was feeding into it out of terror of being criticised by the World.

I’ve recently started watching The Secret Diaries Of A Call Girl (I know I’m ten years behind but stick with me here) And something resonated with me in the way that Hannah is forced to live a double life. She’s petrified her family may find out about her job, unable to share her career with her friends and feels shame and unworthiness when it comes to finding a real partner to date, and yet she feels all of this whilst loving the job she does. Now perhaps comparing myself to a prostitute is not exactly the angle I’m going for, but the stigma which surrounds females who make a living out of their body- be it glamour models, escorts or webcam girls, is outdated and does not represent the woman behind the role. What the show did so well was expose us to the other side of Belle- the motherly, caring and witty friend, daughter and mentor. She was so much more than just a call girl.

And I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve put yourself out there; You must expect people to judge you for posing for topless pictures” But expect and accept are two very different things. I’ve unfortunately come to expect the judgement, but I don’t accept the stigma given to me because of it. Where my torment lies is in the rationale that I don’t see anything god-awfully wrong with making money from shedding my clothes. I chose to become a glamour model because I find empowerment in the human form in it’s natural state- my human form. The same way many other women do; The same expression which sees many other women applauded for their ‘body positivity’. The shame in which I feel has been involuntarily placed alongside me, like a ball and chain constantly dragging me down whenever I attempt to break free and fly. But after compromising my character for long enough I decided I was done with the pretending, the fake name’s and the hiding. If I am going to make it as someone, something, I want to do so as me, and not someone everyone deems as more acceptable to be. And if I’m going to fail, then I sure as hell am not going to go down quietly. Or fully clothed for that matter.

I am not my boobs, I have boobs. I also have arms, and legs, and compassion, and ambition, and over-sensitive tear ducts when it comes to watching something mildly sad on TV (Don’t tell me you’ve never cried at an episode of Jeremy Kyle). I am not my body, I am somebody. I’m a glamour model. But I’m also a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend, a Bachelor of Science (of course I had to get that in there, it cost me £28k), a writer, a yoga enthusiast (albeit not a great one), and an extremely embarrassing drunk dancer. If you can look passed someone‘s job as an office worker, and see the glorious dishevelled, unique individual which lies behind them, then you can see passed me for “just” being a glamour model. I am so much more than a pair of tits. I am me.

Feature image copyright Anna Bressi https://annabressi.com

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5 thoughts on “I am not a body, I am somebody.

  1. Great blog post! Question: what do you think needs to be done to “improve” the dynamic of the modelling business? I mean, as a straight male trying to be better at gender and sexual equality and respect, I struggle with separating the sexual connection between the body and the person. I keep thinking about Judith Butler’s performative gender and the “sexless body” metaphor and try to understand how to actually deconstruct such relations. I reckon that there is so many other layers implied in the process of creating the end “product” of a “model” (quote marks just for figurative meanings).

    there is so much more to think and figure out. And your input helps, I really appreciate it. Your writing is like a first step to deconstruct the “model v. person” dichotomy. Of course for you, but also for all of us that started following you in due a more carnal attraction.

    Cheers

    Like

  2. Great blog post! Question: what do you think needs to be done to “improve” the dynamic of the modelling business? I mean, as a straight male trying to be better at gender and sexual equality and respect, I struggle with separating the sexual connection between the body and the person. I keep thinking about Judith Butler’s performative gender and the “sexless body” metaphor and try to understand how to actually deconstruct such relations. I reckon that there is so many other layers implied in the process of creating the end “product” of a “model” (quote marks just for figurative meanings).

    there is so much more to think and figure out. And your input helps, I really appreciate it. Your writing is like a first step to deconstruct the “model v. person” dichotomy. Of course for you, but also for all of us that started following you in due a more carnal attraction.

    Cheers

    Like

  3. Hi Jess, thank you for this excellent blog. Have you thought about doing a podcast or a vlog? Your posts are great but I only rarely get a chance to read them.

    Like

  4. I often wonder if people who judge are jealous, beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, maybe they think its easy cash, and surely there has been an explosion of sex workers on the internet (orgasm of sex workers?) It seems pretty much every girl with an iPhone is now empowered to take topless pics and sell them on to any guy with a twitter and a debit card.

    This ultimately is the problem, whilst we all “say” there’s nothing wrong with getting your lady parts out and putting them on show, we don’t actually believe it do we? I think we cry out that women should be able to make whatever choice they want, but it didn’t stop Page 3 from disappearing, nor did it stop the “lads mags” from going out of business. Its gone online now, for a few pounds a month you have have access to the girl you like, and actually nobody judges you for having a copy of Nuts on the coffee table (yes, I think men started getting judged too…)

    In someways I think this is quite empowering, I’ve seen randoms I follow on Insta suddenly start doing this, and they say they’re earning a years salary in a couple of months. So I expect they can put up with whatever judgement comes their way.

    I always find sex an interesting topic, its how every single one of us got here, and yet it’s kept quiet, its hushed up, and whilst it has got better over the last 20 years, I think we’ve still got a way to go before our acceptance is real, rather than pretend.

    Like

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