I wrote this post about a year ago now, unfortunately, I was unable to get it onto the Feministing Community due to a seriously old computer. Those problems are long gone, and while browsing my USB key recently I found this article. So while it may no longer be exactly how I feel, I do believe it deserves to see the light of day. Enjoy!
As a feminist I am often bothered by the fact that it seems to be the logical conclusion for many that modeling and anything related to it is inherently anti-feminist. That by using our own natural talent (which in this case would be our ability to meet certain standards of beauty, as created by patriarchy) to keep ourselves employed or to express ourselves artistically, we are causing some major damage to the movement.
Personally, as someone who spent around 4 years in front of the camera, a couple behind it, and who now runs used to run an online modeling agency, I think this is complete and total bunk.
First off, we all face the same misogyny and violence; in fact, many people would argue that because of our working conditions (similar to that of sex trade workers) we face greater risks than the average woman does at work. Sexual assault involving models and photographers is not at all unheard of, and in the most serious cases the model is never heard from again. Myself, I am a survivor of this scenario. As a result of that experience I created a forum dedicated to the safety of all models working online. Unfortunately, through that group I met my offenders other victim, it is such a small world after all.
Secondly, please stop trying to disregard other women’s personal choices with lame excuses about their childhoods or by assuming it is the only talent that the woman has to rely on. It is also not only a good choice if she is simply doing it as a means to an end. Every single choice we make as individuals is based upon our own lived experience as well as our current situation, and to argue otherwise is simply ridiculous.
Finally, I would like to encourage more feminists to get involved with the fashion, beauty, and modeling industries. Simply because we have a better chance at making change from the inside than we do from the sidelines. As an example, my agency only represents models over the age of 18 because I oppose the sexualization of 14-year-old models in fashion magazines, since I believe this may contribute to other societal problems such as pedophilia. (For example, the countdown to the Olsen twins turning 18 – can you say creepy?!)
While, I represent models who might be considered “plus sized” at traditional agencies, they are not designated so on my website. They are featured on the same pages as every other model I represent. None of the models are size zero, and I have someone to fit each dress size between size 2 and 16. I also make a serious effort to represent women of colour more than traditional agencies; it has always been my goal to have a very diverse roster. Unfortunately, there is more to be changed and I cannot do it alone.
I am choosing not to include a link to the website here, because I am not trying to promote it or give myself props, but to encourage others to think about how we might be able to make changes or drastically alter the industry rather than disregard it altogether.
I would love to be accepted as a feminist without being asked to resolve the apparent discrepancy in my business and my beliefs.