Reality TV: Fame, Followers and Broken people.

Reality TV: Fame, Followers and Broken people.

I sat down for a meal Saturday night with my mum and my friend, right in the heart of a city that was alive with glee and celebration. People sang around us, laughter filled our table and drinks flowed at such a pace it was like water was turning to wine right in front of our eyes. In a brief lull waiting for our next tray of drinks to arrive we took advantage of the two minutes peace to catch up with the social media we had so happily neglected throughout the day. That’s when my friend saw the news. “Oh my God, Mike from Love Island has died”. The news hit like a ton of bricks as I tried to wrap my head around this information which was unfolding rapidly online. I actively refreshed my twitter feed hoping somewhere that it was some messed up rumour. My WhatsApp groups came alive with notifications of disbelief as the three of us sat there trying to process how, in a World where we were naively immersing ourselves in so much joy, an individual had been in so much pain. I didn’t know Mike Thalassitis. Neither did my friends. Or my mum. Or the countless people messaging on WhatsApp. But something about this abhorrent news hit us all hard, as if it could have happened to any one of us, our boyfriend, our friend, our brother, our son. See the thing with reality stars is that they are so good at being just that, real.

We build a relationship with these people daily for months on end. We engage with their friends via social media. We read about them every day in the news. We watch their families on morning TV. We see baby pictures of them printed in the news. We hear gossip about them trending on twitter. They are relatable in all their guts and glory; their insecurities and mishaps reassuring us that we are all human, whilst we can’t help but admire their undeniable beauty. They leave you feeling as if they really could be your best mate, but deep down you know you’ll never be cool enough to sit at their table. Like the popular kids at school, they’re attainable, they’re accessible, and you can’t help but want to know what Johnny got up to round the back of the school sheds, no matter how much you pretend you don’t care. The media and the public place them on a pedal stool for approximately 120 days of the year. 120 intense days where they are catapulted to a level of fame only a select few A-List, Media-trained celebrities have ever reached before. A level which no-one, no matter how many 20 minute psychological reviews they were given, could ever be fully prepared for.

The Reality TV World is a phenomenon which is still relatively new, and a World which production companies and contestants are actively trying to navigate. Whilst shows like Big Brother were huge in their day, the introduction of social media means that the 2 million people watching at home are not just judging you to their husband sitting next to them on the sofa, but can actively tell you how much of a twat they think you are direct, online, for millions more people to see, to like, to retweet and to join in with. If you’ve been on Twitter when Love Island has been airing you will know exactly what I mean. The entire trending topics are filled with Love Island hashtags; Hundreds-of-thousands of tweets sent out about a girl who until last week worked in a local shoe-shop and now has the entire World watch her chase after a man she met 24 hours ago to stay in a game show with the allure of finding your soul mate at the end of it. Srsly, just read that sentence again. The social media World is so fickle, you can go from hero-to-zero in one 60 minute episode as #Loyal Georgia was soon to find out. Personal Home-made sex video’s that before now had only ever been seen by the two of you engaging in the act have now gone viral for everyone and their nan to see. Ex-partner’s tweet their stories about you, Childhood friends sell their stories on you, feeding into this villain character which this edited entertainment show has created of you, all for their 15 seconds of fame online and to be a part of this insane feeding frenzy which we all buy into like crack addicts waiting for our next hit. I always joke to my friends that I could never go on Love Island because of the embarrassing catalogue of old modelling pictures of me that lie deep, deep down on the web, knowing that they’d be splashed online for millions of people to criticise and point out the exact things that I already hate about myself. I’ve actually been approached by the ITV2 casting team before, and whilst the allure of instant money making opportunities no doubt plants a seed in your mind, you can’t help but ignore the harsh reality that once you’re in a show as popular as Love Island, you become public property, opening yourself up to your entire life- before, during and after the show- being up for criticism and judgement. That’s not something that your average gym receptionist, hairdresser or even doctor can mentally cope with.

And then comes the months after the show ends. When the personal appearances dry up, when no one wants a picture with you anymore, when the free gifts stop coming, you’re yesterday’s news. You can’t go back to your normal job because everyone knows you as the one who had sex on the tele. Your co-workers think you think you’re better than them. Your boss can’t be bothered with the hassle of people taking pictures of you at work. You’re at a complete and utter crossroads. But the one absolutely manic fucking thing to deal with which is thrown in the mix here is that once you’ve stopped reaping the financial benefits from this and the work dries up, you still have your followers. Millions of followers on social media. A currency which is useless in paying your mortgage, but actively feeds your ego and pets your ever-growing insecurities. You’re a someone, but you’re no one. It means nothing, but it means everything. I have dealt with this on an extremely minor level considering what these reality contestants deal with, but the allure of having hundreds of thousands of followers and feeling pressure to live up to this fake life that comes with it, posting content to make your life look overly exciting whilst you’re desperately trying to figure out how you’re going to pay your bills next month. I’ve been out on my birthday in a nightclub when a guy approached me saying I “think you’re someone special because you have 90,000 followers on Instagram”, who proceeded to push me down some stairs and follow me crying out of the club as I begged him to leave me alone, an event which ended in a physical alteration, fake rumours being spread about me, facebook posts claiming I said things I didn’t, and me eventually having to threaten legal action if the slander continued. Being ‘Instagram famous’ is such a new concept, that no-one knows what the right thing to do is or how to cope, it can be a fucking lonely place.

Seeing the senseless loss of young lives is heartbreaking for us all. There has been calls for the production companies to do more in supporting those who come out of reality tv show’s and have their lives turned upside down, and whilst I absolutely believe that they need to do more in supporting and preparing them for what lies ahead, the reality is that they cannot check up on their contestants from one, two, three years ago regularly. However we, as the viewing public who make these individuals famous through engaging in conversations online, watching the show and buying their merch’ have a duty and responsibility as human beings to not say nasty shit to people online. This is something so simple that we could all do that would really change people’s lives. Life is already tough enough and we’re all dealing with our own issues in private, that one tweet could be the straw that breaks the camels back. I fear this won’t be the last time something as tragic as this happens as we continue to make ‘normal’ people famous. I can’t help but worry about how Influencers in years to come will cope when Instagram disappears, when followers lose their currency, when they have to go back to ‘regular’ jobs but no-one will hire them as the online foot-print they’ve left behind is being used against them years later. We need to realise that we are in an extremely rare and unique social experiment that we’ve never experienced before, meaning no-one has the right answers, me included. If we want to keep reaping the benefits of reality tv and social media, we need to take responsibility with how we engage with it and remember that behind the glamorous tv show which provides us with sixty-minutes of night-time entertainment, or glossy Instagram posts of filtered Individuals, there are real people, with real lives, and real problems to deal with.

If you are struggling with your mental health or just want someone to talk to call the Samaritans on their free, 24 hour contact line 116 123, or if writing it down is more your thing, send them an email to jo@samaritans.org You don’t have to be suicidal to contact them. You don’t have to wait until it’s too late.

My thoughts and respects go out to the families and friends of both Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon.

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International Women’s Day 2018: A day of celebration or cashing in on equality?

Every year International Women’s Day comes around and my twitter feed is littered with bad jokes and genuine concerns from Piers Morgan fans asking “But When is International Men’s Day?!” ERM EVERY DAY FUCKERS (but no seriously it’s the 19th Of November, get it in your diaries boys). But what also litters my Instagram and Email inbox is promo content from brands claiming to support IWD (we’re calling it this from now on, it’s 1am and I’m too lazy to type the whole thing out) by hosting a sale or giving a discount. IT’S THE ONE DAY A YEAR WE CELEBRATE WOMEN AND HOW FAR WE’VE COME, HERE GET 10% OFF OUR KNICKERS!!! Now I’m not dumb (small pause…) I get that this is capitalism. We’re tryna’ sell some damn products and make some damn BUCK$$$ here bitch. But capitalising on a day that was literally formed to celebrate women in Soviet Russia gaining suffrage (that’s right you guys, I wikipedia fact checked, it’s all very professional up in here) to sell a few more t-shirts with empowering feminist quotes emblazoned on the front is quite frankly ….. not very feminist at all.

I mean seriously, I’ve been informed via countless emails that my gym is giving free entry to all females on this day (bitter cos’ I can’t benefit with my monthly membership) – because nothing screams female freedom like a 45 minute free spin class right? Cardi B and Camilla Cabelo have teamed up with Apple Music to make inspirational female playlists just for this day. That’s great n’ all, and don’t get me wrong I love Cardi, like really, I left a poolside cabana with cocktails on tap at the Ritz to go see that girl grind on stage 6 months pregnant for a 20 minutes set last year- but why aren’t they making these playlists and tapping into their female audience before IWD, instead of profiting from the increased streams on a day where women will be looking to feel EMPOWERED? Cos money. And whilst fast-fashion brand Pretty Little Thing have taken a step in the right direction by giving 100% of the profits of their empowering slogan tee’s collection to a women’s charity, they’ve also lugged in a load of other products to the collection which don’t contribute any % and are merely there for profit, because what? M O N E Y H O N E Y . IWD has become another sales holiday for brands to cash in on the current uplifting and inspiring movement of feminism and female-empowerment, instead of actually giving a fuck about the reasoning behind it.

Pretty Little Thing’s IWD Campaign

What happens when the day comes to an end, and the “GRL PWR” slogan tee’s get sent to the sales bin as last months’ fashion trend? Does feminism go out of fashion too?

This may seem like an ill-timed rant of capitalism and jumping on the band wagon of current events, but applauding yourself for posting a #bodypos Instagram campaign whilst ignoring the fact you don’t pay your female employees on time, or ever, is exploiting the sheer audience you are trying to profit from. If you want to make a difference whilst empowering your customers, tell us about your female manufacturers, your designers, the labour workers and the packers. Introduce us to your team, the faces behind your brand. Pay them a living wage. Pay them on time. Highlight female issues and non-profit organisations throughout the year instead of this one day. Give a percentage to women’s charities without shouting about it. Or shout about it whilst actually giving a shit. But let your values and your actions reflect your campaigns and your Instagram posts. We can all do better and lift each other up every day of the year, and not just because their might be a profit margin in it for us.

Happy International Women’s Day ladies. Go do something that makes you smile today.

Ps that is totally fine if that includes shopping on said fast-fashion sites.

Pps that is also fine if it is sitting on the sofa eating shit and watching a sad rom-com.

PPPS THAT AUTOCORRECTED TO RIM VOM AND I FEEL THE NEED TO ANNOUNCE IT IS ALSO FINE IF YOUR INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY INVOLVES SITTING AT HOME WATCHING PORN BECAUSE I FEEL VERY ATTACKED FROM THAT AUTO CORRECT.

This post is sponsored by absolutely no-one, and has been created with absolutely no-one in mind. But I’d like to think you read and related and enjoyed it regardless. Check out my other blog posts at jabberwithjess.com

I am not a body, I am somebody.

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

The Not So Lonely Hearts Club: Valentine’s Re-boot

It’s the evening of February the 14th, and after a day full of small gestures of self-love I’ve poured myself a large glass of Merlot and hunkered on down to put together this piece. The topic of being alone is one in which has graced my ‘blog idea’s’ notes for a while now, but there was something about today, Valentine’s Day it seems, which has magnetised me towards my keyboard and made me actually punch out some words.

A day full of “Boy done good” facebook posts and shouts of declaration, Instagram pics of throwback holiday destinations. Trending topics on twitter of how people try to snag dates, and reassuring messages from my family and mates. “There’s always next year” they lovingly share, worrying that I’m sitting home in despair. “I wonder who he’ll be, what he’ll do, what he’ll look like” I promise you mum, I’m really alright. For amongst all the glee, the roses and the clutter, I’m fine here alone, making pancakes with butter.

Image by Jessie Cave. Instagram @jessiecave

My Facebook memories flashed up with an old post reminder, of my housemate’s gallant efforts to wine and fine dine her. But the her was me, and the housemate was she and we dined in alone, the two singles of May Street. That night I was greeted by a “What you doing?” text, I should’ve said I’m busy, but we all know what comes next. Thirty minutes later and there’s knocking at the door “That’ll be for me!”, for that I was sure. In strides my blonde Valentine’s booty call, a bag of Haribos’ in hand, he’s not that bad after all. After a brief introduction and a token gesture chat, we ditch my housemate- I was fickle like that. Craving some contact, some romantic attention, we head on upstairs giving the day not much mention. For it’s really quite sad that we’re entwined in eachother, caved to the day’s pressures of needing a lover. February the 15th came and we said our goodbye’s, now don’t get me wrong- he’s a good looking guy- but did I feel any more satisfied, than if I’d of text back “I’m busy” and lied? I still had no boyfriend, no flowers, no date. Just bags under my eyes from staying up way too late. The fling was just that, a few times thing, turns out he wasn’t looking for a Queen to his King. So by the time February 14th came back around, I reassured myself I’ll be fine if he hasn’t been found.

It’s been six years now, and I’ve still got no date, but this time I’m less eager to go searching for a mate. For heartache and rejection certainly leaves a scar, but what is most damning is finding out who you are. I’m single, I live alone, I work alone too, and through my life lessons I’ve certainly grew. Through brushing off the embarrassment of standing alone at a bar, to travelling solo across countries, near and a far. To weddings and family gatherings without a plus-one, to realising I’ll be fine when my friends have all gone. And by gone, I don’t mean disappear off the earth, but follow along paths of marriage and birth. Pathways that I hope to step on one day, but I won’t let fear of being alone get in my way; Or force me down rabbit holes I’m not ready for, all because they tell me time’s ticking- and more. For being truly comfortable as single old me, can only prepare me for being a two– or a three. And when I fear most that I’m quite happy alone, I remember the thought of my house becoming a home. Love shouldn’t be forced just because I’m getting older, for fake love will only ever grow colder. I’m happy as one, I’ll be happier as three, but right now I’m content with just being me.

Sex Education: A little more conversation, A little more action please.

Sex Education: A little more conversation, A little more action please.

Sex. We’re all sort of doing it- whether it’s with ourselves, or each other (Sorry you had to find out this way Mum). But none of us are talking about it. And by talking about it I don’t mean commenting how you’d “love to have a go on that ass bby 😜😍🍑🍆💦” underneath girls’ Insta pics (seriously, please stop doing that). I mean really talking about it. The real shit. The “Am I doing this right?” or the “I’m not doing it at all” shit. Which is why when Netflix’s new teen phenomenon “Sex Education” premiered last month the entire female generation collectively let out a sigh of relief when it highlighted the groundbreaking revelation that yes, girls totally masturbate too.

Tainted by societal views for centuries (although I’m damn right sure the Tudor’s did some freaky shit in their dungeons, we’ve all seen the tv shows) the arousing stigma that sex is something we should be ashamed of has penetrated– ahem – our soul from a young age. For the day you’re gifted your first training bra from Kylie at Mackays at the tender age of 10 years old, your parents begin to drill into you that sex is bad and you mustn’t do it because yes, you guessed it- you will get pregnant, and die (thanks for that nugget of wisdom Coach Carr). You’re told sex is a grown-ups game which they only engage in for the sole purpose of creating babies and not for any other reason like because it might actually be quite… nice? Gulp. You spend your whole adolescence being force fed by your parents and teachers the idea that buttering the muffin is bad, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible- all the while whilst your raging teen hormones are trying to tell you otherwise and you’re being exposed to the other extreme of the spectrum in the shape of blue waffle and two-girls-one-cup at the back of the school bus (it really is a rights of passage). Your token one-off sex ed’ class involves your form teacher demonstrating once, and once only, how to stretch a condom over a banana, whilst a class sheet is passed around detailing how if you ever want to engage in sexual contact, the likelihood is you’re going to catch gonorrhoea- and die. Do you see a theme here? It all ends up being really handy info’ that you definitely remember when you get down to the nitty gritty of a drunken Saturday night/ Sunday morning fumble five years on. Of course, you’re not expecting your parents to shout it from the roof top that dancing the devil’s dance could actually be quite fun- after all, what do they know about bumping uglies, you were dropped off by a stork and we’ll leave it at that shall we? But what ‘Sex Education’ so gallantly provided was exactly that, actual sex education. Not birds and the bee’s, or wooden penises and diagrams. But confused feelings of sexuality, the desperate hunt to lose your virginity, exploring queerness and how an abortion is not the end of the World.

Illustration by Anna Hardstaff

I’m convinced that my early development into womanhood *insert soon to exist period emoji here* rumbled up some confused and curious thoughts in me as a teen. By Year 5 I was bunking off school swimming lessons because boys in my year would laugh at my boobs when I performed backstroke; Whilst in Year 6 the girls would quip that I must’ve been for a numero dos because I was taking so long in the bathroom- not knowing I had to fish around my school bag for the emergency period supply kit my mum had packed for me just incase. Fast forward through a few years of being exposed to high-school life, hormones and and an endless supply of teenage boys and I remember feeling as if me and my not-so-teen-like body were ready to tackle adulthood, when in reality I had just tackled my GCSE subject choices. At 15 I was sitting in an Art class when my phone buzzed with a text informing me that my semi-clothed pics that I had stupidly, and rather passively, sent to a boy a year older than me had been blue-toothed to everyone in the sixth-form centre, and beyond. Nothing prepares you for walking down the corridor knowing everyone in the school has seen you in your hand-bra (no nips thank you, that really was an exclusive for ZOO). Although this experience probably helped prepare me for walking down the street and knowing everyone really has seen my tit pics. That’s spiritual growth for you. But the contrast in the passiveness and somewhat feeling of empowerment and joy of which I sent them, to the shame and gut-wrenching “my parents are going to kill me” which engulfed me in their exposé were an important reflection of what I was actually feeling, to how society was teaching me how to feel. Of course I was underage, so it was bad and my parents were rightfully pissed off, I get that. But the bottom line is that sex is inevitable. We’re all probably gonna do it. And if we’re not doing it, we’re certainly exposed to it. Perhaps if it were acceptable to be more open, and we were given more chances to chat about how we really feel, and informed of what is totally normal to feel, instead of all the ghastly repercussions that could come from it- we wouldn’t be seeking answers and exploring it’s rabbit holes in quite so unsavoury ways (Fess’ Up, who else used to secretly watch Sexcetra as a teen?). Basically, we could all do with a little more Maeve and a lot more Otis in our lives. And don’t forget about Eric either.

This theory doesn’t just lend itself to school life. From University and morning-after pills, to Adulthood and One-night stands- Sex comes part and parcel of exploring this thing that we call life. As sexually charged and somewhat freaky mammals, we are forever expanding our knowledge, our kinks, our fetishes and our feelings around the big event. What is groundbreaking for me about ‘Sex Education’ is it’s representation across the board of not just sex, but the sub-topics in which that feed into it- such as religion, sexuality and childhood trauma. Having a safe space to speak out about sex without having ‘JeSs Is A sLaG” scrawled into a toilet door or being labelled as frigid is a concept that could benefit those across genders and generation’s. Because let’s be honest, getting all your tips from Fake Taxi or Babe Station isn’t the greatest way to bag you a bang (you can have that tip for free boys, you’re welcome). It’s time to flick a condom in the face of the stigma associated with Sex and show a ‘Maeve special’ middle finger to the shame and dirtiness that surrounds it. One visit to Otis’ six clinic at a time.


Series 1 of “Sex Education” is available now on Netflix- I promise you, you won’t regret it.

The Model Diaries: The Batshit Crazy.

The Model Diaries: The Batshit Crazy.

Welcome to The Model Diaries, a 3-Part feature exploring and exposing The Good, The Bad and The Bat Shit Crazy events and experiences of my life as a glamour model. Parental Warning: Expect nudity, alcohol, guns and lots of WTF moments.


The Batshit Crazy. The moments in life when you’ve just had to fucking laugh or else you’d cry. The exact moment in time when your reality meets your subconscious and the What the bloody hell am I doings start spinning through your mind. The times when you can’t quite fathom how and why your journey in life has got you to this exact place today. How you’re sat in a squalid room with your boobs out, surrounded by a group of strangers staring at you deciding if the position of your left tit fits their creative vision whilst you pull out a pair of crusty boxer shorts from under the pillow of the young teen boys’ bed you’re so desperately trying to look sexy draped upon (Yes FRONT mag, that really did happen. You have to admire their commitment to their aesthetic). But whilst you sit in another odd location, inhaling the weird fuckery that unfolds around you, you realise you’re actually actually quite….. enjoying it? *Exasperated sigh* Does that make me crazy? Probably.

You never know what (or when) your next job is going to be, so when I got a call to say I’d been booked for my first FHM gig I was pretty ecstatic to say the least. “I’ll do it” Whatever ‘it’ is. The call sheet was sent through, with all the details of the shoot included. The theme? 50 Shades Of Grey. I dragged my excited (and innocent) Welsh arse down to the Big City, not knowing quite what to expect. To paint the scene of how incredibly awkward I felt (and probably made everyone else feel), this was still quite early days in my career and I hadn’t quite broken out of that uncomfortable, socially awkward, self-doubt teen phase yet (I now appreciate how fucking cool being confident in your own skin feels). The props were all lined up on the shabby wooden floor of the typical London looking townhouse- a wooden spanking thing here, a leather crop there, Do people actually use these? I was shooting alongside another model who was well-established and oozed confidence. Effortlessly sexy and undeniably gorgeous, I couldn’t help but feel consumed with imposter syndrome as I watched her do her thing from the make-up chair. In the early years I had a funny relationship with the other models. I lived and breathed the idea of being a ‘model’ yet I was desperately awkward and sheepish around those who were living out my fantasy. I would freeze-up as I frantically rattled my brain in the dressing-area for something, anything to say to them, whilst inside, my pores were combusting with adulation for these women. It was almost as if I was too scared to draw attention to myself incase someone would call me out for because I wasn’t supposed to be there. I never really felt like I fit the mould, I never really felt like I belonged there. I still feel like this to this day, but instead of allowing it to continue to ‘dull my sparkle’ as many a’ Pinterest post has pointed it, I now see my differences as my ‘magic’ (thank you to Fearne Cotton’s podcast for that uplifting message). As the shoot got underway and the prop banana’s were pulled out of the bag, I tried mightily to embody the sexed-up character which was expected of me. Being sexy on cue is a talent I have had to learn through a lot of practice. The peak of the shoot came when I had to fake spank the other model who was draped over my knee, all whilst holding a ‘dominant’ look on my face. I shouldv’e gone to acting school hun. Once the day was wrapped, I rode the tube to Paddington station, full face of slap’ still intact, and gazed thoughtfully at all the frantic Londoner’s going about their commute around me whilst thinking ‘ If only you knew what I’d been up to today.‘ Once back at my student digs in Cardiff I filed the spanking experience under the ‘just another day in this weird and wonderful office of boobs and beautiful women’ folder which was filling out rather nicely and packed my bag for Uni the next day, as if this was now just totally normal behaviour in this new found World of mine. – Ok, that last bit might be a slight exaggeration, I was never that prepared for a lecture, but the contrast between the two lives I was flittering between was nothing short of bat-shit crazy in itself. From pasta’ n’ sauce packets and £1 jäger bomb parties one day, to eating catered meals and downing free champagne on the table next to Danny Dyer and Keith Lemon at Loaded mags’ Christmas party the next. Each day was a new experience and the crazy and unexpected times were what kept it exciting.

Glamour modelling is not a job you get into if you’re not ready and willing to make a tit of yourself (excuse the pun). Gone are your inhibitions- as well as your clothes, as you find yourself stripping off in the storage cupboard for a casting at a magazines headquarters- with the filing cabinet and office mop making sure they get a starring role in your Polaroid’s. The funny thing about the glamour modelling industry is that when it’s stripped (THE PUNS JUST KEEP ON COMING) down to it’s core, it’s ironically rather, well… unsexy. I imagine much like the way actors compare the unfathomable un-sexiness of shooting a sex-scene to a choreographed dance; Having to take your bra off at a pain-stakingly slow pace whilst having to exhume an expression so enthusiastic that it’s like you have never seen your nipples before is enough to make the horniest of individuals want to throw on their oversized hoody and get the next train home before someone can shout “PUT THIS COLD COKE CAN ON YOUR NIPPLES, THEY’RE A LITTLE BIT INVERTED”. Sorry to burst your bubble, boys.


I hope you enjoyed this mini-series “The Model Diaries”, you can read the first and second instalments by following the links, and look out for more features on my blog jabberwithjess.com coming soon!

The Model Diaries: The Bad.

The Model Diaries: The Bad.

Welcome to The Model Diaries, a 3-Part feature exploring and exposing The Good, The Bad and The Bat Shit Crazy events and experiences of my life as a glamour model. Parental Warning: Expect nudity, alcohol, guns and lots of WTF moments.


As the great Marian Wright Edelman once said, In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad. With the tremendous highs of my career came some crashing lows. The rejection, the waiting, the lies, the late payments, the never payments, the broken promises and the constant attack on your image. Of course, you go into this career knowing you are trying to get a job because of the way you look. If you grasped at the root of it’s definition and tugged on it’s weeds you would be floored by the reminder that you chose to be judged, to have your petals plucked off by a passing stranger. But no one’s trunk is that strong to not be shifted by the storm of critiques that shower upon on you in weekly downpours. By your agent, the client, the casting director, the make-up artist, the readers, the twitter followers, the YouTube commenter’s. I listened to Fearne Cotton’s podcast “Happy Place” recently where she spoke with Emma Willis about her time as a model. Emma, being the God-like woman she is shared how her self-proclaimed glass half-empty ‘this won’t last forever’ attitude helped her deal with the fact not everyone is going to like the way she looked, and that she was okay with that. This is the attitude you aspire to reach, the IDGAF vibe. Some days are easier than others, some days you go ‘Eh, oh well I wasn’t the right fit’ and you just move on. The days when it’s harder to do this is when someone highlights something that you already hate about yourself.

When you’re the face of pubes being back in fashion in Australia. (Picture Magazine)

I used to shoot Page 3 for one of the newspapers and the photographer had a reputation for ahem- ‘saying it like it is’ shall we say. You’d walk into the studio with baited breath, hoping that this time you’d get a pass and she’d fail to mention your wonky boobs. “Your eyebrows need doing; Your nails are awful; Learn how to curl your eyelashes; Are you moisturising your skin” – This was just the onslaught from the make-up chair. You nod along sweetly whilst inside your budding flower is now shrinking through shame and embarrassment. After the most recent downpour which has left you feeling like a rat drowned in your own misery, now you have to step on set for the shoot and pretend you feel real sexy about all your flaws. The blasé comments spill onto the hardwood floor as you stand around, desperate to impress whilst contemplating just how much you need the £300 to simply be insulted all afternoon. “You can’t wear this because you’re too big”, “Lift your arm up because you’re left boob is saggy”, “You can’t do that pose because you have chunky legs”, “When are you going to get your teeth done?” Oddly there was something extremely intriguing about this woman. She was hurting your feelings but you still respected her, she was kind of…. sweet. Much like a crazy aunt who slags off your outfit and flirts with your boyfriend, she’s not being that offensive, but you’re definitely not offering her your couch for the night when she argues with Uncle Bill after downing a bottle of vodka. I’ve heard she’s made many girls cry when they left her studio, but we all went back anyway; Whether through some fuckery of wanting her approval or really needing some money for your big night out in Oceana on the weekend to meet Gaz from Geordie Shore. Being told the shit things you already know about you is well, shit.

Next comes the interviews. Those shitty, demeaning, dehumanising interviews. I once went through the effort of having a test shoot done for Valentine’s Day, with the idea that the photographer and my agent would try sell the pics to one of the publications and earn us all some solid queen elizabethz£££. To start with, the whole context of the shoot was just cringe and lacked any smidge of creativity, with it’s white wall back drop and heart foiled balloon. The photographer was hating it, I was hating it, and it was ironically a big fuckery of loathness for what was supposed to be the most romantic and heartfelt day of the year. After battling on (first world problems IKR) through the shoot and getting dem’ money shot$$$ we managed to secure an image sale to the Daily Mirror. Wooooo. The glamour. A woman from the newspaper phoned me up to do the interview which was going to accompany the images. “Hi Jess, I’m just going to ask you a few questions” Sure, fab, yeah, continue. “What’s your favourite sex position?” _______________________ Flat lined. My eyes rolled to the back of my head as I couldn’t comprehend a reason why the fuck I would divulge this information to you, to tell your thousands of readers, the possibility of my parents seeing, to be belittled down to nothing but a sex move and for what exactly? The Twenty Five Quid a picture you’re going to pay me? No thanks hun. “I don’t answer questions like that sorry”. “Oh, okay well next one. What’s your signature move in the bedroom?” _______________ *my eyes have come full circle by now* “I don’t answer questions like that sorry”. “Well um, they’re all like that really so do you want to have a think and get back to me in an hour?”. It took me 1.5 seconds to think. I’m not doing it. My agent continued to tell me how they won’t use the images without the interview, how they were only words, how my career was only worth the £75 they were going to pay me and the privilege of being known as Doggy Davies for the rest of my life. Okay I made that last bit up. But it’s safe to say that that one was filed under the ‘How I’ve wasted my life instead of working towards having a ‘real’ job saving other peoples lives‘ folder.

Let’s talk about the photoshoots with people who you don’t actually know. Who you’ve never met. Who aren’t a brand, a magazine, a company. I am honestly flabbergasted that there isn’t more horror stories out there of models being abused or exploited in these situations. Although being in the Harvey Weinstein era I am sure that there are unfortunately many out there, who felt and still feel like they couldn’t speak up without it affecting their career. British Glamour Model Chloe Ayling’s story of her being drugged and kidnapped by some dickhead in Milan after being lured there for a fake photoshoot was unfathomable for some people to believe, but I was just shocked that this was one of the first times it had happened (or that we’ve heard about at least- we’ve all watched Taken). You rock up as a young woman on your own, to a location which is usually isolated i.e a hotel room, an apartment, a studio etc, to meet someone- usually a man in this industry- that you have never met, and then strip off and have your pics taken. When you type it out like that it sounds fucking ludicrous. How could I be so stupid? But you put trust in your agent, in your colleagues, in the industry. That everyone is in the same boat and just trying to make a living out of it. I’ve had a couple photographer’s be a little bit handsy when moving you into positions that made me freeze up and think plz stop touching me. Would I of felt awkward if we were on a big set with ten other people around? No, probably not. But when you’re in a two ft by two ft hotel room by yourself the situation is a tad more intimidating. Read the room guys.

Talking of trusting your agent, early on in my career I was booked for a job for ‘Harley Davidson Magazine’ – Does this even exist? Did it ever exist? Who fucking knows. It definitely isn’t something I’ve found on Google. Anyway, young and full of enthusiasm I headed down to London to meet the photographer Sal* (name changed cos I don’t wanna die.) I walked into the studio which was on an industrial type-esque estate and was greeted by Sal, a big bald chap. He seemed friendly enough and I sat down to get my hair and make-up done. What unfolded was one of the strangest shoots I’ve ever experienced. First off the clothes he handed me- some random Marilyn Monroe type floaty dress. A corset. I think some leather was thrown in there. It was all just so fucking random and I remember thinking…. What the fuck does this have to do with Harley Davidson? I plodded through the shoot until we hit a stumbling block. “Have you ever experienced real sadness in your life?” ….. “I want you to cry and look really sad”….. “Think of someone close to you who has died”….. Erm. WTF. Yes, I’m sure all professional lad mag’ shoots want you to cry on camera about your deceased family member whilst wearing pleather and wishing you were the one who was dead. I think I realised quite quickly after the crying request that this was probably not a photoshoot for a magazine. Thank fuck I didn’t shoot topless at the time because things could have got really weird, really fast. The whole shoot just left me with a weird vibe and I was glad to get out of there. I told my agent that I wasn’t happy with how the shoot went and that I wouldn’t be shooting with Sal again. A few months later and without seeing any pictures from the shoot or publication of these images (there’s a surprise) my agent emails to inform me Sal wants to shoot with me again. Yeah I’m not doing that. I told her that after the last time I’d already made it pretty obvious that I didn’t have a burning desire to go and weep about my personal life with my tits half out to an old man again. Weird that. Skip to a few weeks later when I’m cruising down the coast of West Wales for the weekend when I get an angry message from my agent. “WHERE R U?” Erm just passed through that well known seaside town of Aberaeron, why? “UR SUPPOSED TO BE SHOOTING WITH SAL TODAY! I CONFIRMED IT” Oh my bad, because what part of “He makes me uncomfortable I’m not shooting with him again” did I not make clear? “Don’t put anything on twitter and I’m going to have to say you broke down on your way there” Or maybe just tell him I don’t want to shoot with him again cos he wanted me to shed tears. This news did not go down well with Sal. Sal was not happy. Sal tweeted about unprofessional models “breaking down” on the way to the shoot (Fair play Sal, I wouldn’t of believed it either). Sal then proceeded to tweet me asking when I was going to fix my teeth. Sal mad. Be less like Sal.

Trusting your agent. Ahhh this could be a theme. Perhaps the ultimate horror story of my life as a glamor model falls under this umbrella. A betrayal of trust I’ve never really discussed, or ever really confronted. But we’ll leave that one for the book, shall we?


Keep an eye out for the 3rd and final feature of The Model Diaries, aka The Crazy, coming to Jabber With Jess soon! In the mean time be sure to spend your lunch breaks trawling through the rest of my blog posts and let me know what you think!