This time last year sixty unnecessarily attractive women were flouncing around a catwalk in New York in their pants, with thousands of adoring and slightly jealous fans glaring at their eight abs and thighs which refused to wobble. Fast forward twelve months, and on the anniversary of the infamous Victoria’s Secret Annual Fashion show, the secret is no more as for only the second time in twenty-four years, the brand has cancelled its flagship catwalk parade. Pass the pigs and blankets, the Christmas diet is off.
After the show last year, the brand faced criticism from body positive activists and trans-rights groups after the creative director of VS, Ed Razek, stated that there is no room in the show for plus-size or transgender models due to it being ‘a fantasy’ and using the excuse that they tried in 2000 to use plus-size models and ‘No-one had an interest’. I mean, if you’re going to go off the results of something you tried eight years ago, you’re not going to manage to flourish in the fast pace society we currently live in, to put it bluntly VS- get with the times. These off-the cuff comments from the guy in charge of VS’s lucrative image confirmed what many had been sharing their concern about for years- that Victoria Secret was out of touch with the real world. But then again, isn’t that the point?
Victoria’s Secret has always been a fantasy; An unquestionable concept of perfection with the Angels gargantuas levels of beauty setting standards no every-day Joanne-Bloggs could ever reach. I remember growing up and idolising these women in their underwear, desperate for an inch of their beauty and a foot of their success. There were always questions around the body image the models were portraying to young girls, but I would flippantly put it down to jealously, an ‘I can’t do that so she shouldn’t be able to do it either’ attitude so many women seem to carry. But as the years go by and society shifts towards representation and visibility of all beauty ideals, I’ve began to question the jealous attitude I was so convinced surrounded the Angels, and have started to wonder if we’re all just a bit sick of being told we’re not good enough.
Beautiful women are everywhere. They’re in the street, they’re in the magazines, they’re on the tele and they’re down the local Co-Op. But there was no display on earth of such goddess-like females than The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. It became more about the models, the figures and their looks than the clothes teeny bits of fabric that adorned them. Social media would be scattered with tweets from ‘normal’ women sharing their misery at eating their dinner that night, shamed by the pangs for chocolate that protruded out their stomach. Confessional: I am one of these women, guilty of always tweeting about how shit the VS show made me feel. I mean if you’re a girl, you’re basically expected to share how inferior these women make you as if it’s a right of passage into Bridget Jones’ Diary. Across the land women would tune in to watch these glamazon’s stomp down the runway, their body shimmer glistening off their perfectly pert 32c boobs. Outfit after outfit that no-one is paying attention too, model after model that everyone can’t take their eyes off from. The Angels make no secret of the intense training and dieting they have to embark on to walk in the shows, yet every female viewer sitting on the sofa will still mutter ‘How do they look like that?!’ , As if we haven’t seen a daily update on the gram’ of the models squatting in the rain. They’re committed, I’ll sure as hell give them that.
To walk in The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a dream for many, and a reality for a very elite few. I truly acknowledge all the dedication and hard work those girls put themselves through to be in the indescribable shape that they are in when they step out on that runway. They’re athletes, they’re supermodels, they’re bloody super women. But insisting the brand, and specifically the show must stay a fantasy, just might be what kills them off. We’re experiencing a shift in society where women all over are awakening to their sexuality and choosing to own their bodies and all their flaws, and we want brands which invite us to celebrate that. Is there a space for The Victoria’s Secret Angels in this new wave of feminism society? I hope so. We should all be able to engage in body positivity and female ownership of ourselves as sexual beings, but a little variation of what those bodies look like wouldn’t go a miss either.
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Ah Christmas. A time for giving, a time for getting, a time for swearing and throwing pigs and blankets at your little brother who laughed at your new Christmas jumper. Having to spend time with work colleagues you’ve spent the year trying to avoid in the lift, and family members who you’ve muted on Facebook is enough to make anyone scream ‘YOU’RE NOT MY MUM’ (An Eastenders Christmas classic). But whilst telling your Uncle who sympathises with Prince Andrew to fuck off might seem like a good idea, somethings at the dinner table are better left unsaid- at least until you’re out of the roast potato firing zone. Who am I kidding, no one wastes roast potatoes. Here’s my top tips on What not to say this Christmas to avoid that family argument.
Who did you vote for in the general election? Just don’t. This is never going to end well. What exists in your mind as a polite exchange of knowledgeable opinions and concerns for the country will only end with a ‘DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE A SECRET RACIST’ and a ‘What, You hate Jews do you?”. Political conversations belong on Twitter, where you can argue with a total stranger about things neither of you understand. It’s so much easier to block a username than your Gran.
Not another bath bomb. You get the hint, you must stink. Bath bombs, Shower Gel and some weird Body mist no-one knows they purpose of, your bathroom kitchen is going to look like Boots spewed up in it. But of course, you love your present. Another Lynx Africa ser is just what you wanted. You‘ll be thankful for it come September when you find it round the back of the sink.
The meats a bit tough. Your designated cook has been slaving away in the kitchen since 7am, spritzing the Turkey with oil like it’s one of the lads of Geordie Shore prepping for a day at the beach. They’ve shoved their hands up the arse of a bird, also like the lads off Geordie Sh…. never mind. Their hair stinks of goosefat and the tiredness in their eyes circle their pupils like a festive red bauble. They’ve spent months debating whether to follow Gordon Ramsay’s or Jamie Oliver’s recipe, only to forget to season the dried up bird altogether. She’s drier than ghandi’s flip flop and she’s tougher than a Tory cutting NHS funding, but by god almighty the last thing you do is tell the cook what you really think. You must mutter how delicious it is whilst helping it down with a gulp of prosecco in-between each bite. If you’re feeling brave, sneak some under the table for the dog. If he’ll have it.
I don’t even like Christmas. Allow me to let you in to a little Christmas secret, no-one cares. Sure the festive spirit isn’t for everyone but you’ve made it this far, so just shove on your paper hat and give the fortune teller fish a go. And if all that fails, pour yourself another tipple and let the alcohol fade out the noise of people actually having fun.
I don’t want to listen to the Queen’s Speech. The Queen hasn’t sat quietly through rumours of her death started by a guy with a penis as his profile pictures and her years of speculation about her husbands infidelity for you to find your Aunt Karen’s story about her bunion operation more interesting than Her Majesty’s speech. It’s just what we Brits do. Like putting the teabag in first or saying Ant before Dec, the Queen’s speech is a quintessential tradition for all households to raise a glass too. And if you’re not a royalist, it’s just another excuse to drink. Hoorah.
Board Games are for kids. Do the kids have to have all the god damn fun on Christmas Day? They’ve already got Santa, let us have Articulate I beg you. From a good old fashioned game of monopoly which no-one enjoys playing, to a game of ‘HEADS UP’ on your little sisters phone (Okay so it’s technically not a board game but it’s the 21st Century guys, save them trees), spending quality time with people you don’t like, playing games you can’t stand is what Christmas is all about. So crack out the Scrabble board, It’s what Jesus would have wanted.
Check out the other blogs in the #12DaysOfChristmas series!
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This week saw the daytime TV talk show ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’ cancelled permanently by ITV after a guest committed suicide just one week after being publicly humiliated over a lie detector test whilst filming the show. A father, grandfather and an individual suffering from mental health, Steven Dymond’s death has garnered the attention of MP’s, psychiatrists and experts who are all calling for urgent action to be taken by production companies to provide up-to-par aftercare for their guests, with Downing Street adding that the case was ‘deeply disturbing’.
And that it is, but what is perhaps more deeply disturbing is how it has taken fourteen years of degradation of their participants- many vulnerable individuals- across three thousand, three hundred and twenty episodes for the show to be cancelled. Or how 1.5 million people regularly tuned in to watch what a district judge once described as ‘human bear-baiting’ unfold on prime-time tv with their cup of tea and toast as part of their morning routine. Or perhaps how anyone expected nearly twenty-odd-thousand guests, most seeking help with sex, alcohol and drug related problems, to be provided with top-level aftercare by a production company profiting off their pain. And maybe the most deeply disturbing of them all, is the hypocrisy of the MP’s claiming a tv entertainment show, for right or wrong, need to take responsibility for the care of their vulnerable participants, whilst child poverty figures sit above 50% in some of the most deprived parts of Britain.
Reality-tv has provided a platform to spread hate and propaganda towards our societies poorest and defenseless. From shows like The Jeremy Kyle Show who entice guests in with the promise of first-class therapists, a posh hotel and a cigarette allowance before Kyle screams judgements at them in front of a baying audience, pointing our their dowdy appearance whilst they sit in the tracksuit they’ve been encouraged to wear. To documentaries’ such as ‘Can’t Pay? We’ll Take It Away!’ which follows enforcement officers as they repossess the homes of those too poor to pay their bills; and ‘Rich House, Poor House‘ which sees families from opposite ends of the financial and class spectrum swap houses and budgets for a week, providing a cruel insight into the lives of their rich counterparts who take pity upon their debts and less-than appealing lifestyles, some of whom take it upon themselves to be their knight in shining armour and buy the poor family a new carpet, before slipping quickly back into their comfortable life in their sought after postcode. And let’s not forget reality shows aimed at a younger audience such as Geordie Shore, who handpicked young adults from working-class backgrounds and struck them off the dole and into the limelight; ploughing them with free alcohol and a new found infamy in the World of television. All of these shows garner Nationwide attention and aim to highlight the worst qualities of the lower-classes in order to humiliate and ridicule for the gain and entertainment of others, all the while whilst pushing an ideal supported by decades of austerity that these individuals are a nuisance to our society. And we the public buy into it every single time.
Reflecting our ancestors medieval traditions, we throw insult and judgement’s at those airing their dirty laundry on our screens, one rotten tomato after another whilst cackling at the despair of others like the sadist’s we so desperately claim not to be; Unfortunately social media only acts as an enabler to these views. I recently watched an episode of Blind Date which portrayed a lady as being a little ungrateful at being picked and who giggled along with the crowd at the appearance of her date. Twitter lit up with negative comments about this woman’s looks, her attitude, how she ‘wasn’t a looker herself’. Tweet after tweet nitpicked away at this woman’s body image whilst she desperately tried to personally reply to all the criticism coming her way by sharing how nervous and awkward the heckling audience made her feel, and that she wasn’t used to being on television. I felt extremely uncomfortable watching all of this unfold, it was as if she had been thrown to the lions and was furiously trying to crawl away, with I imagine very little aftercare on how to deal with such a scrutiny from the Blind Date team. This raised the question Why we as a society use TV as our output in taking so much pleasure from another’s pain? Watching someone else’s misery is a leisurely activity for us, our Friday night wind-down. Our Saturday’s are spent finding their social channels to tell them how we feel about their performance. And as Sunday comes around, we prepare for our own battles we’ll face in the week ahead that are, thankfully, not played out in the public eye, whilst our ‘willing’ participants (a term many like to use to support this theatre of cruelty) deal with the aftermath of their lives changing forever. Chris Lyons, a previous guest on The Jeremy Kyle Show has claimed the show “Ruined my life. All of a sudden, I wasn’t Chris Lyons any more. I was just that guy off The Jeremy Kyle Show”.
No one can prepare you for the mass judgement of others, whether you’re semi-aware of the publicity the show brings i.e: being a contestant on Love Island, to filming a one-off tv appearance you thought would be ‘a bit of fun’. The cancelling of The Jeremy Kyle Show is a step in the right direction toward ending poverty porn and the glee in which others find in it, but whilst production companies have a duty of care to their participants, we have a responsibility as humans to be a little nicer to each other; And to recognise that we are contributing to a class-divide problem which stretches much wider than the channels encased in our small screens. Would Steve Dymond have felt the immense pressure and humiliation which led to him taking his own life from just Kyle’s comments alone? Maybe. But a heckling audience and the thought of the widespread embarrassment and judgement from failing a lie detector test in front of 1 million viewers to come might have just been his tip of the iceberg.
If you are struggling with your mental health and would like someone to talk to, please contact mind.org.uk or call 0300 123 3393.
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Scrolling vigorously through Twitter for the eleventh time that hour I caught on to a theme in which had been imploded onto my timeline over the last 48 hours. For this week, Twitter has been alive with the sound of men having to be told that no means no. And I’m not talking the deep, dark, deadly bloody serious rape terms of ‘No’. I’m talking in terms of “Hi Can I get your number?” And the answer being ‘No’ category. For something that may seem rather innocent, and I’m sure for many it starts out as just that, these spur of the moment advances can take a deep turn into the “Is this guy gonna follow me home and murder all my cats” lane pretty quickly.
I’m not saying men have a problem with rejection. But men have a problem with rejection. If that churns a feeling of anger or irate in you, you may possibly be relating to that on some kind of level. And I’m not judging you, because it is engrained deep in in our past. In women being viewed as objects, as something to own, as a mans property. Something you are well within your right to claim ownership of. Except, you’re not. I know this sounds cave-man like, and we’re like, totally in the 21st Century you guuuuuys, but this is not an occurrence which only happens in the dregs of the dark ages. You see, worryingly I cannot recall a single time in my life where I have turned down a guy, whether that be for the offer of a drink, a dance, a date, or to give my number out, where I haven’t feltthe need to give an excuse. I’m just going to repeat that for effect. FELT THE NEED TO GIVE AN EXCUSE. Because when it comes to respecting a woman’s simple ‘No’, this seems to be a concept of which is extremely difficult for some men to process. “WhY nOt? HaVe YoU GoT A bOyFrIeNd?” No. Can I just not fancy you? Can I just not want to give my personal number which holds the key to the backdoor of my fucking Narnia to a bloke who’s not wearing any socks and has strolled over here after approximately – eiiiight? We’ll guess eight– pints of lager? There’s an entitlement. They want an answer. They want a reason why, like they deserve it. Guys, I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but you don’t deserve it. And no, I’m not trying to tease you (HONESTLY whoever decided to teach us all as little kids that we’re being mean because we like you has a lot to fucking answer for). I’m not going to change my mind if you keep following me around the club, cock-blocking me whilst pretending to be my boyfriend every time a guy steps within four foot of me like it’s cute and endearing- it’s not, it’s fucking crazy! Honestly, if a girl acted like that (and I’ll hear you out boys, I know they’re out there) you’d be marking her down as a psycho before she could mumble the words “Beeeeb, do ya wanna buy meh a drink?”
New age Feminist Icon (and slowly becoming my fave person ever) Jameela Jamil tweeted this week of her experience when a guy asked for her number and she said no, well, sort of. She explained (are you catching on to the trend here?) that she had a boyfriend. And then THANKED HIM for the offer. That’s right folks, we even thank you for the privilegenow! Thank you for considering me kind sir, but this young maid already has an owner.
Was out at the shops with my friend. Man ogles me. Man then approaches me to give me his number. I explain I have a boyfriend but thank him for the offer. Man then threatens my career, saying I better remember that I rejected him. And then Shouts at me that I’m low class… 🤷🏽♀️
What comes as no surprise but is equally as terrifying is how quickly the ahem- kind gentleman- starts reeling off threats and insults. Ahhh, the insults. I know them all to well. “Don’t fancy you anyway you slag” “Didn’t wanna shag you anyway you minger” Awww, that’s the reason you came all the way over here just because you don’t want to get in my pants? Weird flex but ok hun. Jameela continued:
I once said no thank you to man when I was 19 and didn’t have an excuse… and he punched me in the face. After that whether or not I have a boyfriend, I say I do. Being a woman is truly, constantly scary. It’s like existing on thin ice. https://t.co/cw1BCc9XUB
Jameela’ s confessions impacted me on a level in which I could relate. The “I’ve got a boyfriend” trick is the oldest in my little black book of excuses. As someone who’s stayed relatively single my whole adult life (honestly I’m FINE *insert Ross Geller voice) I’ve had to arm myself with a plethora of weapons, ready to unleash as soon as those five dreaded words drop out of a guys mouth. “Can I have your number?” is a phrase which lives on a level beyond the “What’s the WiFi code?” And just below the “Why don’t you have any kids yet?“. Because “Can I have your number” means “I want to see you again”. It means this has gone swell. All 30 seconds of it. It means you want me to invest my time, which you don’t know how little or much I have considering you met me one gin and tonic ago, into messaging you. It’s a commitment. And it’s not one I’m going to jump into lightly with some guy I just bumped into at the back room bar of Revolution. Of course, I’m not that much of a cynic. I’m not talking about the once in a lifetime attraction. The “we’ve just eye-fucked across the room for two hours and snogged on the dance floor and she’s told me about her Aunty Sue’s alcohol addition and we’re going to run away to Vegas and get married” attraction. If there’s a spark. Then go for it. But know when there isn’t. Like, erm, two minutes after you’ve met. Or when I serve you the drink that you’ve just paid for because it’s part of my job. (Are you keeping up?)
Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Jameela’s story wasn’t a one-off case. Many women replied with their own experiences of having turned down men and their reactions, and some are quite simply fucking terrifying.
I have a standing policy with platonic male friends that if I’m feeling uncomfortable I’ll hold their hand to make it look like I’m not alone. It’s ridiculous.
Was in an Uber once and the driver asked me out and I wanted to reach my destination safely so had to lie about having a boyfriend. The driver then went on to ask me details about this guy. Now I always have a back story in place in case I meet such guys again.
A man chased me down the road yesterday after I left the gym. He'd been waiting for me, said he'd been watching me exercise & he liked how I looked when I bend over, he then demanded my number saying 'I'm going to take you out'. Now I'm anxious to go back in case I see him again.
When I was 16 I worked at a gym and was stalked by one of the members. He would write on the back of receipts “I’ll be waiting when you’re 18”. I also had to be walked to my car at night because he would wait there until my shift ended. Luckily the gym took away his membership.
There are literally hundreds of them. This is our life. Day in. Day out. It is exhausting. I used to work at a pub where drunk guys would ask my sober self for my number. I would politely decline, even laugh along (that’s another one of our tricks, we don’t think you’re funny, we just don’t want you to get angry at us), but they wouldn’t stop. When it was quiet, I would have to glass collect. They would follow me around “Why won’t you give me your number then?” “Is it cos’ you’ve got a boyfriend?” ‘Yeah” I’d lie. They need the validation. They need to know that if you didn’t have a boyfriend, of course you would pick them. And then they go. One simple lie about a made-up boyfriend and they’re off to the next pub with nothing but a “I hope he treats you nice” on their way out. You see the thing that I have sussed out with guys is that they respect my made up boyfriend, more than me, as a human, standing in front of them, saying no.
Then there’s the drink situation. You offer me a drink. I decline. You get arsey. You offer me a drink. I accept. You expect something from me. One small gesture from you, is a mind-fuck for me. If I politely accept, then you’ll glare at me every time another man dares to talk to me like you’ve bought ownership of me via a £5.95 glass of Sauvignon. If I decline, I’m the stuck up tart who you and your mates make comments about every time I go to the toilet. I swap my ring to my wedding finger. It keeps the guys away. My friend and I make a pact to be lesbian lovers. It draws guys in.
I’m not saying that all men are shit bags. I’m not even saying these men are shit bags. But what I am doing is pointing out how consent and respect aren’t limited to the worst case scenarios. Something as simple as offering a girl a drink can be lovely thing to do, when it’s done properly. When it’s done wrongly, I’m being escorted to my car at night after my shift or walking home with my keys entwined in my fingers because you might still be lurking around waiting for me to finish work. No means no, in all circumstances.
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 justfor 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.
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
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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 buttonwas 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 realme, 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.
So you have a body. And you’re positive. Congrats, you’re body positive. But I want to delve deeper into this public display of acceptance which is sweeping Instagram and leading brand campaigns, and see if body positivity can outlive the cut-throat turnaround of Fast Fashion, or if it is just another trend to be cast aside to the bargain bin with stretch chokers and disco pants.
The fast-fashion industry is currently riding a wave of self-acceptance, with industry power houses Missguided and PrettyLittleThing taking the lead with their inclusive campaigns. Featuring “plus” (I won’t dive into the irony of celebrating “everybody” whilst listing them as plus size aka bigger than “normal”) sized girls and those with “imperfections” (Are freckles really a flaw?) these brands promise to encourage you to “Keep on being you”, but what happens when the trend runs thin, does the acceptance and positivity disappear too?
This isn’t a straight topic, and it doesn’t have a black and white answer. I know the counter-argument will be that the hope is these brands will continue to move forward with their inclusivity, and the trend will never die. But this is fashion. And what’s hot right now will be more, not, in a couple months time. You see, my issue is- I struggle with the authenticity of the body pos’ movement within the fashion industry, and how they claim to represent all women and men, whilst well, not representing all women and men. Is that even possible? And is the industry venturing into murky waters- making fashion all about the models, instead of the clothes they’re wearing?
The inclusion of models who are a variety of sizes is and should be- welcomed in fashion, and in all aspects of advertisement for that matter. But there is a salty-ness in the air towards the models who have traditionally been represented. Get this girlfriends, we can lift ourselves up without putting anyone else down. Sounds crazy right? The example which stands out for me on this dates back to when I was watching the Lorraine show a year or two ago. She had Hayley Hasselhoff, a “plus” sized model on who was discussing her career after recently attending one of the many fashion weeks held Worldwide. Both women gagged and cackled at how “those other models look like they need to eat” and that “they were probably starving backstage!” All the while whilst championing body positivity and applauding women for their confidence. In typical “millennial being offended by everything” style I sent out a tweet highlighting the irony in their display, in which Hayley replied something along the lines of how “it wasn’t intended like that”. And I’m sure it wasn’t. But here’s where it get’s confusing. Body positivity is not engrained in us. Society has not raised us through generations to look at everybody as being beautiful. To look at our bodies as being beautiful. Subconsciously, we forever lift one ideal up by stamping on another. Comparison and competition is within our blood. And a couple of money-making campaigns encouraging us to “feel good” is not going to knock the ancient judgement out of us. Is it really possible for us as a society to embrace and accept ourbodies as beautiful?
A more recent example of this is US-underwear brand Knix and Simply Be’s “We are all Angels” campaigns who, using ‘plus-sized’ models, launched a press campaign alongside the annual Victoria’s Secret show which took place last month. The problem with this statement is: No we’re not. And that’s okay. We don’t all need to be angels or held at that standard. We are after all, more than our bodies. This may be controversial, but there is a reason that these women are positioned on a hierarchy on this specific platform- they work fucking hard for it, their whole career’s, to walk that one show. The VS brand is built on striving for the out-of-this worldly looks of the angels, it was never created to be relatable or to represent “real” women (That expression in itself grinds my gears- you identify as a woman? You’re a real woman. Simple as) As their head of creative Ed Razek controversially stated, the show is intended to be a 42 minute “fantasy”. Now, this absolutely doesnot mean I don’t think there should be a more diverse representation on the VS catwalk; And for Ed Razek to argue that “no one had any interest” in seeing plus size girls in the VS show because of an unsuccessful attempt to cast over a decade ago is out of sync with the industry and it’s new direction. However I’m just calling for models to be cast because they’re good at their job (HELLO Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence as perfect candidates for this!), instead of using models to fulfil and push a political agenda that doesn’t adhere to their brand image. I also strongly believe that VS should never rule out using transgender models because these women are fucking taking over the World right now, and Carmen Carrera would slay those angel wings. However, this time of year always see’s “pro body pos'” brands come out to attack the angels with counterpart campaigns and it just does not sit well with me. We can all feel beautiful and accept ourselves for who we are, without quaffing at the achievements of others in return.
Another side note to this is the argument that these VS models represent an unrealistic body image. Being 5ft 11 inches, with long legs and a 30 inch’ hip width is unrealistic to me. As is the opposite end of the spectrum. But this doesn’t mean it is unrealistic to every single person out there. Being impeccably ripped is unattainable for me, because I won’t put in the hours to achieve this, but it’ not unachievable. Someone out there will put the hours in, and will achieve and attain that body image. It just won’t be me. And that’s fine. We need to be careful with who we alienate and who we are putting down when we are attempting to applaud multiple beauty ideals. Seriously, what do you mean by a real woman? I fucking hate when people use that phrase.
Another one of my issues with the body pos’ movement is its representation of sizes. You have your slim (size 6-8) and your “plus” (size 16-18), but where the fuck is the middle people? Where are the women that me and my friends can relate too? Yes, it’s time to get out your tiny violins folks and check my priveledge, but in all seriousness the industry seems to ride this body pos’ wave for profit by using one extreme representation to another. These brands drill into us that we are all beautiful, whilst ignoring an array of sizes and heights and shapes and curves. And I’ll be damned if I see a 5ft 4′ girl with huge tits, or a pear-shaped “plus” sized girl grace the campaigns of these brands. SURE they’re using females who are more shapely than the traditional castings, but these women are still models. They’re still perfectly in proportion and fit into their sample size whilst being 5ft 11′ with perfect teeth. Of course they’re fucking beautiful. That’s their job. We sit at home scoffing in excitement that a brand uses someone with stretch marks who’s face was carved by the Gods and forget that although we can relate to these small flaws, these women were picked from an agency who accepted them onto their books because of their model-esque beauty. I’m not saying this is wrong. There is a reason models are models. But the way these brands capitalise on “normal” peoples’ insecurities whilst using ridiculously beautiful women seems hypocritical to me. Just don’t mention it, and use them as the norm. Make them as aspirational for us as consumers as any other model used is, instead of attempting to make us relate to these goddess-like females on a “we both have stretch marks” level to sell a couple of GRLPOWER tee’s.
And lastly, my question is HOW? How do I feel beautiful in your clothes when they’re still too long for my short stumpy legs? How do I feel confident in your tops when my boobs poke out the bottom? How do I “make my mark” when I can’t get these jeans up over my hips? You can throw all the two-minute body pos’ campaigns at me in the World, and I’ll still feel shit about my rolls and how your sizing is off, forcing me to buy a size bigger and feel even shitter about myself than before. Cater to what you’re trying to achieve, we are begging you. So what happens now? Where do we go from here?
A brand who I believe is leading the pack when it comes to body pos’ right now is Savage X Fenty by Rihanna. Their debut fashion show showcased women of all shapes, sizes, skin colours, and even some heavily pregnant models. The show withheld an aspirational and inspirational ideal of beauty and fashion whilst representing all females. The products and design element were not pushed aside for a political agenda and the creative aspect of the catwalk was simply iconic. If anyone needing schooling on how to empower all women to feel sexy, then this is the brand for you. However even Rihanna can’t bypass criticism when it comes to this movement. The brand has been criticised for promoting their products using ‘plus’ sized girls, whilst their sizing only goes up to a DD. And some of the images used to promote their underwear has seen women’s boobs poking out the bottom of the bra’s and overflowing at the top, begging the question are they really catering for all women, or pushing this as an agenda to drive sales?
The issue with body positivity, is that you can’t please everyone. It is impossible to represent every single shape and size and height and imperfection in the fashion industry. And whilst diversity should be applauded, no amount of fashion campaigns can make me love my cankles, or make me not have to turn my trousers up for being too long. Brands make these bold statements preaching how we should all love ourselves, without giving us the steps on how to get there. And of course they haven’t, they’re fashion brands, not our therapists. But when claiming ownership towards our feelings through their campaigns, these brands need to take some responsibility of the sheer volume of the task they’re putting upon us. Self-love is not a cash cow, and there’s no quick fix. I hope as the industry continues to evolve that the inclusion of diversity in all forms expands and that the underlying sentiment of these campaigns are of good intentions, and not a trend that will be cast aside along with our feelings when the Kardashians decide to claim curves are out next season.
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