Model Behavior and Me (Trigger warning)

I was once a model. It was super right? Right? Nope. It was horrible. I was deemed a plus sized model yet as I look at a photograph taken at that same time I see that I,  having dyed my hair to be LESS red for this opportunity, was stunning. I actually still am of course in a more mature way. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have done the modeling, and really existed in that body. Before I knew my body was a betrayer.

Kat Fury, with her hair at her shoulders, a rich chestnut color, square glasses, blue eyes, and reflective make up. The photo was taken on a cellphoneThis was before the giant mole by my nose was removed and turned out to not be a mole. This was before I had learned food was my friend. This was long ago. I look at this picture though and I see more pain emotionally than I face now. Yes I am in pain as I write this but it is purely physical, the emotional pain is sort of numbed tonight. In that picture my jaw is dislocated so that I could escape my double chin. In my post about jaw dislocations Amanda made some comments about her own jaw issues and I realized, I have been unhinging my jaw for years. I didn’t even register it. I  just DO it.

When I was a model, work was horrible. Not only was I exhausted but I was shamed if I ate before work. I couldn’t lie either, they ask and I would say yes. The other models told me at times how AWFUL I was because I had no issue with a donut. I wasn’t aware of my allergies yet, in fact I would eat what I wanted which usually turned out to be meat anyway. I was always hungry however, and started to give in to the shaming, starving my body more and more. I’ll just eat less of this, I’ll just miss this one meal. This was dangerous territory.

It seems odd to be that people DREAM of having this job. The clothing, if it does not fit is forced to, even if it hurts. You are always warped out of shape. My breasts were almost always shopped to look less like real breasts. The shape of a real breast is forbidden in modelling. I also was told more than once at a call in that it was a shame my bosom was real and that it was the fault of my breasts that my belly was not perfectly flat. No one’s is before photoshop, a six pack is not flat unless you paint it on after all.

I was told too that my red hair was just wrong for me. I prefer it. Even in pictures where I am not looking my best I prefer that hair to dyed. Right now I am mourning it. I realize it may be three years or more before all traces of this black dye are gone.

Here is a bit of a time stream, and yes one of these pictures has a lot of cleavage. You can also watch my jaw line and you can see when I am and am not dislocating my jaw. (For those of you wondering, the headband is my fangirlism for Naruto).

Kat Fury at the age of 21. her hair is red, long and was nearly to her waist. Her shirt is pulled up really high to cover her chest.

Kat fury at the ate of 21 wearing a leaf village headband. The shirt button has popped and her very ample chest is not hidden at all. Her long red hair is nearly to her waist

Right here you can see the jaw issue, It’s exhausting to hold it in a specific place and it slipped back some on the bottom.

Kat Fury and Sprite at her wedding in December 2008. Kat's hair is a little dirty and is darker. it's only shoulder length.

In all of the above pictures my hair is red. It changes how I feel. I feel good in all of those pictures. I do not feel good in others where my hair was stripped of color. The red hair for me is a flag of identity. I am a redhead, I am gorgeous, I have glowing skin. It doesn’t glow with darker hair nearly as much. I should mention this is my favorite wedding picture and it’s candid. The photographer was supposed to be taking pictures of my niece (she of course did but she snapped this too).

I find it interesting in some ways that when modelling I was told my skin wasn’t clear enough, wasn’t good enough. My skin is actually WORSE now but it looks fine to me. I  have a surgical scar that is rarely visible but there splitting my face in half. It’s like Two Face but without the cliche and inaccurate portrayal of mental health disorders. The wedding photograph is actually of the side where the surgery was done and my face was peeled off due to a tumor. I felt so gorgeous. Sprite was a bit cranky but she always is when I am upright too long.

I was a sex symbol even if in a small way. Modelling by default means you must be sexy and gorgeous unless the ad campaign focuses on the ugly or weird. I never did any of those, though that was what I applied for. I was deemed too pretty to be ugly and weird. I remember feeling so out of place because this notion contrasted with my previous experience of being deemed too ugly and weird for society, love, food, or any semblance of an education. It shook me to my core, and I began to wonder, what if being a model meant I was about to be raped again. I was so afraid during that time.

I do not have any pictures of me modelling now, they were lost via illness, homelessness, and abuse. In some of the pictures I wore a bathing suit, and frolicked with other girls. I remember asking a model about being the only asian around and she commented that was how she got work. Being the only one around. She had to be the palest, the prettiest and the most non Asian looking in the group. I noticed too in every ad we were in even I was photoshopped to be whiter. I expected thinner but, I am so very white. There are times when I had to have reshoots done because my skin reflected the light too much. Most of my home photos have elements of this. My own photosensitivity likely plays a part.

I remember some of the lies about food we were told, I remember girls crying. I remember always feeling in a daze from pain and working extra hard to not be lazy because pain was laziness. I remember when I was caught eating a hamburger walking in to a shoot and the photographer screamed, “We can see the burger in your stomach.” I remember too, a sense of relief when I didn’t have to model anymore. When I was done with it.

I didn’t model for long, about a year. I did model clothing for free first, and then there were ads for more clothing. I was always reminded that in every photo I must be an object, I must not be a person. A model is a hanger for the clothing and must do nothing to distract from it. Another reason my hair was de-redded was this claim. Red hair makes it harder to match clothing. Since I dislike pink, and never actually had to wear colors that would’ve clashed with my hair this seems bogus to me.

I am left to wonder, was I ever so much the ugly duckling? I have as I have aged eschewed more and more of society and it’s lies and pain. I seek outsider groups. I seek outsiders. I seek my people. I no longer feel the urge for fame just fortune, and really fortune for me is more having enough to eat, and not having to be afraid of losing my tiny income should a glitch happen in a computer. I hold my breath at times and pray.

Modeling did help me to realize that any rape I endured at the hands of the four “men” who did rape me was not because of looks, and that rape is not about sex. In fact when I was raped each time I was never near my finest appearance. I was a minor child, I was the fat kid who was in so much pain and so angry she was cutting her body apart, and I was a prisoner in my home being starved in the hopes that I would start looking like a minor child. None of this had to do with appearance. It had to do with my being vulnerable, it had to do with my being “out of control”, it had to do with my bisexuality, it had to do with my not conforming to the actions a “wife should” and instead seeking things that satisfied me, effected society and would open doors for other people with disabilities.

Modeling challenged my supposed bulimia. I am still not positive this was a misdiagnosis or was a correct one as a child. I think it was both. I do know that I have not lost a battle with it except during attacks of PTSD since I was 17.  The urge to purge is almost non existant and when it comes, it is again with PTSD. Even then I can usually stop myself from obeying the ghosts of fathers and failures past.

Modeling is not something I would ever expose a minor child to. I think with the societal body dysmorphia that is considered normal we need to be hyperactive about who models, and we need to protect our children from the dangers of photoshop and unrealistic beauty. I rememebr not even recognizing myself in a few ads. Most of them I couldn’t quite spot the Kat.

Modeling helped me find who I am, in the worst possible ways. I denied for years that I was beautiful during that time. I was not the token fat chick in so much as I was not fat. I was actually amid the thinner girls there. I was deemed a plus size model because I thought I was fat. I denied my own wants for my body. In the next few years I will obtain contacts, I will reclaim the red to my hair even if the follicles no longer add it, and I will do a sexy photoshoot for me. No photoshopping, just my body as it is. I don’t plan to shave my legs for this photoshoot either. I will model my inside with my outside.

Now you have it, my dirty little secret. I took part in mass media!

UPDATE: Forgot something, yes I got paler over time. The pictures in the middle have me with what passes for a “tan” in the summer. I haven’t let myself get that much sun in years. The only pictures with make up beyond lipstick are the wedding photo and the first model age photo.

Beauty

I am tired of the stereotype of beauty. I grew up being told that a girl should like men who look like Brad Pitt. I like women with soft lush curves, big and strong ones too. Many would consider my past conquests masculine, or overly thin, or fat. No one type fits what I like. I too have “strange” preferences for the men I have dated and these too tend towards those with meat on their bones, they have body hair, they are dark skinned, fair skinned, or really just alive.

Most of them, but not all, are tall. With either sex I tend to reach out for the taller people, though tall has changed in meaning since the wheelchair entered my life. I can’t look up at my baby brother without hurting my neck. He sits down for me, and still towers above. He is about seven feet tall. I love height because my family is full of tall people, except my own biological father. I associate height with safety. What does this mean about the other standards of beauty? Are we all programmed to like certain things?

Yes!

A huge part of my persecution in this life has been based on facets of my physical appearance. I have red hair, very pale skin that burns the instant sun touches it, soft full lips, and I have always had curves. My smallest size is a fourteen. I was barely eating to maintain that. My body needs meat on it. I am simply a curvaceous woman. I do have an ample bosom as well, and all of these things have been picked at.

I grew up being told I should be blonde. Blonde meant perfection. I hardly find blondes attractive as a result. I am aware that most of my siblings and my own mother are all blonde, and this factors in too. I think Blue Eyes are the best, though any shade is lovely to me. Blue eyes were mocked, because they are pale. Being a minority as a white person is very rare in any part of the world, the patriarchal structure still dominates and is usually white, even in countries where white is the minority. I have always been told my pale skin makes me wealthy. Whiteness in my state is a status symbol.

In India women who are by nature in the darker end of the spectrum are considered harder to marry off, they have less value based on something as simple as their genetic make up. The lighter you are, the more respect you can gain. This is White Privilege. It has defaced an entire culture, this love of all things white has poisoned us. You see whiteness in media, dominantly with able bodied super muscular WHITE men. You see their blonde perfection everywhere. I think back to the Nazi Propaganda studies group I was a member of in High School, and that is what I see. Reflections of past propaganda, continued, accepted, and fully realized.

Curly hair is considered disheveled. Girls with curly hair wake up at odd hours to iron their hair out. I think it is lovely, and my standard of beauty includes the use of a curling iron to add curls to my hair. This is rare, the era of the Super Perm died out at the end of the Eighties, except for a few hold outs.

I am told I must wear make up to seem presentable. I do, at times like to wear make up but I do it when it feels good. Usually I will also hide some of my facial scars under make up, if I cannot shake my feelings of Paranoia. I do not allow myself to wear make up on days when my self worth is being questioned, or when my confidence would hinge only on sultry red lips.

As I write this I am watching a movie that has what I consider the equivalent of Black Face. Sophia Loren is the Millionairess, Peter Sellers is the Indian Doctor who teaches her how to be more than a spoiled snob. This movie is full of propaganda that is anti woman, anti persons of color. I was enjoying it until I realized the fallacy that a white man is playing an Indian, with hardly any alteration of skin color and a very cliched accent.

I also note that the famed figure of Sophia Lauren seems to be aided via a corset. I might be wrong, but the extremes to her figure seem to need assistance. It doesn’t feel natural to me, though it does fit the “standard of beauty”. Her hair is lightened a bit, and of course she is always shown in posh and polished appeal during this film.

I do not think Brad Pitt is handsome. I think he is mediocre. This is all about looks, not his acting. I will not malign someone for having a career. I will however state that I do not understand the requirement to find him attractive. If you want to know who I find attractive in Hollywood, you will have to dig deep. There are few people that strike me as gorgeous or stunning, especially since we have entered the Anorexia Age of Hollyweird. Health is beautiful. That inner glow of self acceptance can make anyone gorgeous.

Since my blossoming into awareness about privilege I have seen more beauty in the world. This side effect shocked me. I like to compliment people when I find them attractive, and I have had the urge to tell the entire world how beautiful it is. The beauty I see is nothing like what is in the Movies or on Television. I live in a world of diversity. The people I see daily are of mixed race, from other countries, and their voices alone are a rhythmic song.

I am not beautiful by the overly BMI oriented modern sensibilities. I never will be. I’d have to break my bones, cut my body apart, inject myself with dye, and lose my sense of self. (This statement does not mean that those who naturally fit this standard are not beautiful, it is merely a rejection of the expectation to alter myself to be just like them) I reject the need to starve myself to fit a rare body type. I reject the fashion industry’s expectation that “fat” women do not like Fashion. I LOVE clothes shopping, and am discovering that I could easily spend a million dollars on cute shoes. These are cliches about womanhood, and yet you will find I only have four pairs of shoes, two for winter, two for summer. My clothing is all rather sensible, black, and boring.

I am pigeon holed by my lack of thinness. I am trapped by the need for others to stigmatize those who are not identical to them. I am not a Stepford Cripple, I am not anything but a person. I am flesh, I am bone, and I have soul. You are beautiful. My friend who is an immigrant is beautiful. I love listening to her voice, the way that she sings while she speaks entrances me. My friend who is the son of immigrants is beautiful. He cannot see that because his world is full of hatred, hatred of the Other.

I discuss privilege with my friends. It is an unavoidable conversation now. Eventually it is addressed either by discussion of politics, feminism, or simply the venting of frustration. I no longer hide my beliefs, to survive until the next day. I am free to speak them. Most of the time these conversations hold a similar impact, someone learns something. We all do really. My friends are all shapes and sizes. I have friends who are thin, blonde, and blue eyed. I have friends who are extraordinarily fat, but give hugs that are so soft. I have friends of every shape, size, mental capacity, and ability. My friends are all beautiful. You are beautiful.

Stop stigmatizing people for not being clones. Clones are scary, according to the media pundits and science fiction. Every time the word cloning is mentioned on TV it is with the hush of fear. Disability also has that hush of fear. Stop being afraid. Fear stops you from living life. This doesn’t mean you should ignore some fears, such as the fear of hunger or the fear of a snake bite. Stop fearing things that are different. If you do not understand something, educate yourself. Don’t fear it. Don’t shun it.

This includes fine art, not so fine art, but most especially people. Children are people. Women are people. I see often abuse launched at those who are different. I experience it every time I go out. I was reminded however, of the power of kindness and decorum.

I write often about the importance of gentle resistance, passive resistance, and not striking back. I admit I fail this way at times but, every so often I am given the reminder I need, the proof that I am right. I had transferred out of my chair at Sam’s Club, into the van and rolled down the window. Beside me a harried mother of two beautiful children, her disabled mother, and a cart of groceries struggled. I watched in silence, until they were about to leave, calling out to the woman that her mother had forgotten her cane.

Her son looked up as she thanked me, glad to not have to spend another twenty five dollars on a cane, and said, “Mommy, that’s the lady from the Walmart with the kitty!” His mother paused and said, “She was on TV too.” We talked then, and I complimented her for handling the stress. I could see she was frazzled, and I let her kids talk to Sprite while she settled them in. No petting of course, but, I told her how beautiful her family is. Three words. “You have a beautiful family.” Okay, five. I never was good with numbers.

She froze, looked at her kids, and then smiled. “I wish everyone could see that.” The thing I have not mentioned is this. Her children are Triracial. They are of Asian, African, and Caucasian Descent. I wanted to take them home with me, their sweetness gave me a rare pang of desire for Motherhood. It went away before we were out of the parking lot, but not the reminder that everything you do has a lasting impression. Every word, Every laugh, Every shout, every time you teach someone something. There is impact.

What draws me to people is never what they look like. It is instead their personality, the joy they have for life, and sometimes the hope that I can grow up to be like them. I may never grow up. I am always surprised when I realize for a moment I am not a child anymore. It fades, but, that too reminds me to be innocent.

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. It is not what media tells us it should be. Beauty is merely in the existence of life. Flowers, Puppies, kittens, children, lovers. All beautiful. Be you a Homosexual, Transgendered, A person of non Caucasian ethnicity, red haired, blonde haired, black haired, green haired, or even a strange shade of orange. You are beautiful.

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