Feminism Friday – The Blog

Reflections of a young feminist… and much more!

Modeling while Feminist… July 24, 2009

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.


Abortion on “The View” May 19, 2009

So yesterday was a holiday up here in Canada – Victoria Day. So I had the day off from work and as a result I had some time to watch daytime television, primarily “The View“.  Most of the time I watch this show because of the controversy that is created as a result of the different political opinions from each co-host. And yesterday’s show was no exception…

The topic found its way to Abortion. Quite frankly I cannot even remember how it happened only that it was during the first segment in a week full of Hot-Topics (my fave episodes for sure!). As a note, the second segment talked about the pregnant 66 year old women, and most of the opinions were the same as they were in the first, which I will now elaborate on further.

What you are likely aware of if you have ever seen about 5 minutes of The View is that Elizabeth in staunchly Republican and extremely Conservative in her line of thinking and political decision making. As a result, she is, as she would likely claim, obviously “pro-life”. She believes that women have abortions out of convenience and that it is always an easy decision for them. When other members of the panel argued that maybe it wasn’t such an easy decision she used it as a reason to deny all women access to legal abortion. She seems to be the type that believes it is only slutty, non-monogamous, career-hungry women who do not use birth control that ever receive an abortion.

Then we have Joy and Whoopi, who most viewers would likely guess are pro-choice, and I think we can guarantee this after yesterday’s episode. Whoopi was primarily concerned with keeping choice for women who are poor or unable to afford to raise a child. Joy went a step further by arguing that she in fact is pro-life and that those that call themselves pro-life should actually refer to their cause as Anti-Choice since that is what it is really all about. Pro-choice people do not advocate anti-life, in fact very often abortion activists are really concerned with all aspects of reproductive health including full-term pregnancies.

To me, none of this was particularily surprising. I have come to know the panel as; 2 democrats, 1 republican, 1 person who is usually confused, and 1 person who tries to remain neutral but is obviously liberal minded. What surprised me was the news that Sherri had herself had an abortion at age 17. She claims that she went to Planned Parenthood upon discovering her newly pregnant state, where she says she was slightly pressured into making a decision to abort that she was having second thoughts about.

While I cannot comment on the specific nature of Sherri’s experience, and in fact she should be allowed to define her own “herstory” however she chooses. I would suggest that most Planned Parenthood workers are excellent people who provide information and allow clients to make uninfluenced decisions. Either way, Sherri mentioned that she has dealt with a great deal of guilt as a result. However, Sherri clarifies that despite some second-thoughts and guilt she is pro-choice as she does not want to go back to when abortion was illegal, back to a time of coat-hangers and back-alleys.

Half of Elizabeth’s response to Sherri’s story should be further explored… She asked if it was possible if the guilt resulted from the stigma or judgment surrounding the procedure? (I think a likely possibility!) OR if it really was about women regretting their decision? So what do you think?

For further reading on this topic I highly recommend Jennifer Baumgardner’s – Abortion and Life. As well as checking out my previous post on Pregnancy Care Centres.

*** Cross-Posted on the Feministing Community ***