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.

Loud Silence and other Oxymorons!

I am having a pain day, yet emotionally I feel fairly good. I am watching my cat’s bathe, and just found a friend’s keys. That means they have to come back. I already called them too, because of course they must be hunting for them. It makes the writing jarring at times as I like the flow on the dance of the words. I have been so busy lately, finding the means to all the scattered ends that make up a life, that I finally am having a moment of peace and solitude. It sure is noisy in my head today.

I am amused by some random things, curse words, the way that the pillows on my bed look, the sound of my neighbor’s existence being so quiet here after a year of so much noise. There is a quiet in this apartment that I have longed for and it dwarfs everything. At this moment as the sun streams through the window brightening my home, the cats too are between their moments of gleeful play. Here they play, not just a little but a lot. They wake me at times, crashing and thudding, yowling and howling, and being free. Sometimes they wake me up just so I will roll over and wrap my arms around them both using them as pillows. Even with music my house feels quiet.

The quiet won’t shatter here, though I find the adventures of life are leading me to some odd discoveries. I am going through the process of getting reassessed for more caregiver hours, I am exploring Second Life at long last, and I find that second life is actually satisfying. To me the virtual world has never really satiated the needs for communication I have, but to see the other person’s online self has given me something I was lacking. It is not a perfect match for social interaction but, it does fill in part of the void.

The Oxymorons however, abound with Second Life. There is less chat speak present than I expected, and more dysmorphia of the body. You can see people who have made their avatars look anorexic, no one that I have met so far appears to weigh as much as they really do. I am not even human in this virtual world. I donned the form of a cat, so that I can run and jump and play. It cuts down on my jealousy with Sprite and William. Some of the males suffer from a body image issue as well. They are so bulky that it is frightening to behold, their bodies twisted into caricatures of humanoid.

I know if I spent more time out of the house I would see the same body image issues, and I know too the media perpetuates a large portion of this mental disease. Our culture is ill. The more we watch movies with actresses who happen to make a broomstick look like it is obese, the more we make these movies, the more pressure our minds are under. Children suffer most especially. When I was diagnosed with Bulimia at the age of eight, it was rare and almost unheard of for someone so young to have an eating disorder. Now? Eating disorders are common at any age.

I didn’t notice until two years ago how men are also effected by the movies. They too have the unattainable body type. The people who twist themselves into these forms, perfectly thin, without figure, without health in many cases, give up their free time, the ability to go out and do things with friends, and those who use starvation or an extreme diet put their mental health at risk. Dieting can kill. You hear about it with diet pills but the restrictions and extremes that are persistent and present right now are the most shocking, cutting your stomach apart so that you can’t fit as much into your body is not going to work if you do not pay attention to how much you eat.

Now I am not saying everyone who diets doesn’t need to. Some people have eating disorders or disordered eating that effects their health. Exercise and proper diet are what matters. Proper diet doesn’t mean a spoonful of tomato soup a day. It means three squares. It means the balance you can achieve with a mixture of foods that are safe for you to eat. It means too listening to your doctor even if it means giving up food you may like.

I noticed too, by no longer watching television I no longer feel as worried about my weight. I rarely did before, but at times the old messages about my value and my body came up. The recent activities that I have dealt with made that much harder. Improper diet can trigger improper behaviors. It is harder to reign in my anger, which can be at times misplaced. I can be harder, but, when I look in the mirror I see me the way I am. I feel more beautiful today than I did when I was belly dancing. I think I may be healthier. That last sentence could be another oxymoron, or merely disguised as one.

The world we live in prizes ability, appearance, and supposed beauty over health, happiness, and the ability to live. To fit into this world in the way that they wanted I was living in a private hell, I was so tired, I was also living in pain that would never be treated because of course the pain had to be in my head. Our society is sick.

I challenge my readers today to leave the TV off for one week. You can get your news online, but at the very least try going one week without a sitcom, action or adventure. Spend some time with your books, family, or in the roaring silence of peace. Document the ways that you feel before and after, and see if there is a difference between your perceptions. How toxic can our current media system be?

Some other questions you might ask yourself?

1. How often do I see people like me (ability, race, gender, sexuality etc) represented on the news? In TV shows? Broadcast network shows? Cable shows?

2. How often do I see people like me represented as broad stereotypes (the angry guy in the wheelchair, the ugly woman in the wheelchair, the lesbian for a week, etc)?

3. How often do I see people like me represented as the villain?

4. How often do I see people like me represented as the victim?

5. How often do I see people like me as the hero?

6. How often do I see a person of a moderately healthy weight or a person who is plus sized ?

7. How often do I see a plus sized person as the lead, hero, villain etc?

There are dozens of other questions you can ask, but, the most important:

How does the lack/plethora of people like me in the media make me feel and effect the perceptions I have of myself/others?

I look forward to reading a few responses, and I think I may go and read a book.

The Rape of Innocence (Trigger Warning)

Literal. I lost my innocence, as defined as physical virginity to my father. It was rape. It was never consensual. Incest is bad. Typing these words is extremely difficult but my day has already been one full of tears, therefore, I am going to go with it. His excuse for rape, his reasoning that made it A-Okay to violate, subjugate, and to hurt me sexually was this. “You look just like my mother.” I was four years old. Today I was triggered. This isn’t an easy thing to admit, and I feel uneasy each time I come across things that remind me of him, and at times my PTSD is triggered by a harmful thing. Today I was already in a bad way due to pain, some of it is residual effects of my abusive childhood.

Some of it comes from feeling violated at having to see another doctor, since my service animal makes me unworthy of another. Some of it comes from this post on Feministing.com. I do not care that this game came from Japan originally. That does not make it better. I do not care that their society has a history of subjugating women, so surely all of their rape fetish bull is perfectly acceptable. Not to me. I want to reach out to the women of the world, for an uprising. It is in this moment that I state I am a feminist, in the definition that states I am pro women’s rights and equality, I am pro disabled equality, and I am pro mental health equality. I want to be healthy, I do not want to feel the edges of Victim burning at me again and again when I skim the internet, go outside, or even sometimes when I try and think of a happy moment. It is always there.

I am not the cause of my own rape. How can I be at fault for it? Yet games like this propagate the victim is at fault mentality. I remember when I turned my neighbor in. He was molesting me during the same period when my father decided to rape his mother allegory. I remember being asked by the prosecutor, at the age of five, if I wore short skirts to turn boys on. I didn’t even know what that meant. I remember, however, the after effects. I rejected my body, myself, and I tried to become a boy.

This attempt at maleness included trying to cut off my breasts when I was thirteen, shaving my head repeatedly (and discovering that my head is very lumpy) as well as rejecting my identity. I could not be Rebekah. I had to change my name. I did, as an adult. I found a name that fill sme with the sensation of security, health, and the desire to be happy. I do not cringe when I hear my name anymore. I never out grew the after effects of being raped. I was repeatedly assaulted through my life, and this was also used to overshadow real medical problems.

When I was eight years old my mother and father sent me away for hypochondria and Bulimia. It took adult hood to realize I never was bulimic. I also have a great deal wrong with me, and none of it is in my head, except what neglect and trauma put there.  All of my current illhealth cannot be attributed to the childhood neglect, but, a majority can. I am an advocate for anyone who needs it because there is so much to choose from. How do I choose between mothers and their need for proper nutrition, childhood health awareness, Celiac Awareness, Rape is Bad Mkay awareness, and the awareness that as a wheelchair user I need a door that is wide enough for me to not scrape through.

I am in tears today from pain, physical and emotional.  I am a woman. I am 24 years ago and it has been 11 years since my father last raped me. I have since seen him and he cowers with fear, he actually pissed himself when he saw me using a walker and fled in terror. I am not someone who causes fear but, I am a survivor. I was a victim and when I tried to say something, when I found out I should, I was denied that right. The district attorney felt that my case was not compelling enough because I was a mere child and had been sent away by my rapist for not being exactly what he wanted. I was denied justice, and I know my assailant is out there.

Knowing he is afraid of me doesn’t take away from being afraid of him. It does not take away from the sensation of the little hope I had being crushed because I wasn’t worthy of the time to take a bad guy off the streets. It doesn’t make it alright.

I hope whoever reads this finds either peace, awareness, and the understanding that if they themselves are a survivor of rape, abuse, or anything at all, that they are worthy. I understand as an adult why so few women report rape, when it is always the Victim’s fault. Eventually I will write more on my experiences with the mental health system as a child. I will write about my diagnosises, and the secrets that I am not sure my biological mother wants shared online. Someday she will google me and will discover that I am not the all accepting child she still perceives me as. I do not take the burdens she places upon me. I leave them behind.

I was about to submit this when I came across this in the comments on Feministing.com, another link. Amazon pulled the english version of the game, though it is still availible elsewhere. I am shaking with relief and rage. How do we protect our children when things like this pervade? What is to stop this from normalizing rape in our world? It might. It might not.

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