Body Positive Life Drawing for Teenagers

I remember being a teenager. It was possibly the most exciting, exhilarating and intense time in my life. For many years after I thought nothing could ever match it, but as I have finally matured(!) I’m at last able to appreciate an abundance from the adult life I have created for myself. As a teenager I dropped out, rebelled, and fully immersed myself. I did go back to education after a while, but I probably should have waited longer to get the most out of it (both the rebelling and the education!)

Our teenage years are a very important time, and we ought to allow more space for them, hold them in higher esteem. The brain is undergoing some epic changes – shedding old pathways to make way for new programming – and neuroscientists have only realised in the last couple of decades just how much more change is taking place than was previously thought. They can see why it’s the time we frequently take the biggest risks, and care an awful lot what our peers think of us. Some studies suggest we’d do well to focus more on creativity during that period of our lives, yet there’s still so much for us to understand – especially when it comes to the effects of social media.

This article explores how life drawing may be a potential antidote for some of the identity or image problems that young people often experience, and which may be exacerbated by over-use of social media. Issues such as negative body image need to be addressed at all levels of society, not just in school, and not just with life drawing. Other discussions, techniques and interventions need to take place, but life drawing can be a powerful way to draw attention to human issues, starting with the body.

Firstly let’s take a look at negative body image in its most extreme form.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition whereby the sufferer is extremely dissatisfied with their appearance and/or body parts. They experience highly invasive thoughts, resulting in compulsive repetitive behaviours which serve to temporarily relieve them from their ongoing torment. BDD can be triggered by a number of causes and often begins in the teenage years. The condition also frequently leads to eating disorders, and drives an unhealthy demand for cosmetic surgery.

Many of us love taking a good selfie but you may well imagine – or perhaps you have experienced – how having BDD would clash with, or be triggered by selfie culture. We have never been exposed to so many images before, increasingly altered images and enhanced. Filters perfect our selfie ‘imperfections’ because we’re constantly comparing ourselves with each other as well as celebrities! We’ve become screen slaves.

The largely Western condition of BDD is concerned with an individual’s distorted self image – mostly physical, but the problem lies in the mind. It appears to derive in part from a perversion of society and its mainstream culture. For all the amazing positivity out there on the web, sadly a greater amount of degradation persists. One chooses what to consume and it may take some years for a young person to work through the endless distractions and temptations, to figure out what nourishes and what depletes.

Digital

Millennials have never experienced life without digital technology. They grow up at the same time as their online identity. It is pretty much a requirement for many avenues of life now so opting out, for the young, is almost impossible. This poses problems for those with body image concerns, especially girls, as society defines women more by their physical appearance. Teenage girls learn early on still that their self worth is very likely tied up with their physical attractiveness, which also has a monetary value. It may be their bargaining power at some unspoken base level, involving a contractual agreement to their perpetual self-maintenance. Sometimes it’s not so unspoken – for example, when legitimised in dress codes for work, though increasingly this is being challenged.

Analogue

When I was a teenager I was able to switch off from the judgement of people in school or college when I left the school gates, and found great comfort in discovering very different communities elsewhere. The consumption of mass media manipulations was still relatively opt-outable, looking back. In the 90s most of us weren’t online but mobile phones were coming in. I realise now how much headspace that afforded people. Getting information often involved visiting a library, borrowing books and videos, or making music tapes for each other.

With smart phones and social media we are more permanently contactable than ever. It’s harder to escape when there are scores of people potentially checking on us, all in our back pocket. We are carrying them with us – all this judgement – because we care so much about ‘likes’ and attention. If left unchecked it can consume our energy out of all proportion to what is useful or healthy. Of course there are also untold evolutionary purposes for these devices and technology, some of them indeed healing; it’s just about getting the balance right.

Life Drawing

How about if there was more life drawing in schools for art students or indeed any students? It could be the sort of life drawing that encourages discussion, making it more available to newcomers, drawing themes from participants’ diverse experiences – the kind of event that anyone would feel comfortable trying, led of course by an experienced practitioner. It’s taking advantage of the way life drawing presents the human body for examination. There’s human stuff to talk about; whether it’s about our perception of our own and each others’ bodies, caring too much about what others think or finding a greater sense of embodiment and how that gives you more personal power – all things that are actually important for living.

The Arts subjects – music, drama, dance, fine art and photography – are in danger of extinction in UK schools, but they are vital to our creative and spiritual selves. It is important to have balance and to nurture all of ourselves, as well as having a space to let go, through art! The arts are like a bonding glue that makes all the more cerebral, less feeling-based parts of life work properly.

So much significance is placed on exam results, a privileging of the academic and scientific, but real life usually seeps in via the arts… or pours in, gushing and foaming over, allowing us to process the complexity of our lives. More of that, I say, because it’s about looking after our mental health, which struggles as ever under pressure. Whether it’s to look a certain way or achieve impossible targets, we need a chance to unravel negative patterns which are easily exacerbated by spending too much time online.

I want to emphasise how helpful it can be to have dynamic, structured guidance for drawing within a life drawing session. Aside from all the body political aspects there are styles that can encourage freedom of expression and a pure enjoyment in the act of making marks. I find them very accessible, not intimidating, and I imagine there to be a primal sense of reward in gaining confidence through mark-making. If you didn’t have digital technology and you met someone with whom you did not share language in common, drawing could open up communication. A little art history interspersed with guidance on technique helps you connect to different eras and understand better others’ drawings.

I’m proposing sessions that are all about the journey, not the end result of drawing.

Meditation

Learning to focus intently on one subject for a period of time can also be beneficial for countering the often constant pull of digital devices. This brings me to meditation.

Life drawing and modelling can both help you to deal with life. You have to slow down and be in your body or in the moment of drawing. It makes you use a different part of your brain to the more usual left-brain logical stuff, and this can help you find much needed equilibrium. It is quite usual to find a meditative state in a life room; so while there’s space for people to share their thoughts, a reasonable proportion of quiet drawing time is sacred.

Real Life

There’s also the value of mixing with different age groups and, while I think that goes for everyone, there is a particular benefit for teenage girls and women. We have the answers to each others’ problems and can help each other feel connected to groups beyond our peers. That is rarely possible in school so finding sources of a ‘real life’ nature – outside rather than online can have tremendous impact. It’s about building confidence face to face, not just behind a screen. Seeing each other – real people in person ought never to be replaced by a digital interface always mediating, dividing. It’s very easy to remain opinionated or confirmed in our beliefs without actually going out and meeting others to challenge that status quo.

Before the teenage years, problems of a body image nature often begin in childhood, and more awareness needs to be raised with parents about how this may be prevented, as well as in schools and other institutions. Looking at the way we talk about our own as well as others’ bodies may shed light on how we may improve our example for children and younger people.

There are societal biases deeply entrenched in our collective psyche – as strongly as inherent racism, sexism, and so on, like – for example, ‘fat phobia’. The idea that fat is unhealthy, in fact, remains unproven yet despite various sources of evidence to the contrary, is given as fact, official and undisputed – so strong is the currency of the bias. It is a bias of our time and culture.

Why do we tend to evaluate gender instantly on meeting or seeing someone – very much in the binary mode? As if that may help us understand a person more. Finding a way to notice these patterns helps to reframe them. Is fat sometimes the way people are meant to be when they are at their best, and does it matter to us if a person looks male or female? We can’t change everyone else’s habitual internal biases, but we can work on our own by starting with ourselves. If a child displays an androgynous identity it would surely be helpful for them not to unlearn their most natural childlike instincts, but rather bypass that particular categorisation of society. In this way they may hopefully find self-acceptance.

Regarding nudity, many children are taught that being naked with others is shameful and dirty. The association with sex is not necessarily knowingly inculcated, but it lurks, the ever expanding neurosis in waiting. A result of the taboo is the hyper-sexualisation that children so often undergo, which is both wrong and harmful. It is therefore extremely important to normalise the perception they have of the human body, and the human body naked in a neutral fashion. Society and the media groom them to be physically and mentally abused whereas life drawing can help them to change their perception not only about their body, but also about their mind.

Households where families are relaxed about their own nudity, at least in front of each other, is a very healthy alternative – to grow up relaxed about our bodies instead of fearing and loathing them; to not feel ashamed or constrained to maintain rigid grooming standards.

Marinella Mezzanotte

My colleague, beautifully describes how life drawing may be beneficial for young people (or anyone in fact), not just for learning how to draw, but also as a way to address body image issues, and rewire conditioned gazes:

“I’m not a visual artist myself but I know that in order to draw something that’s in front of you, you have to stop seeing it as what it is to an extent, the brain has to reduce it to a combination of shapes so that the image can transition from 3D to 2D: for that reason I think, drawing from life models demystifies the body, and makes all bodies equal (body equality is something that Esther references in her recent blogpost about The Body Beautiful? event – and if you’ve watched that video, I’m the one talking about ‘in-between bodies’).”Working from nude models also weakens the very strong association between nudity and sex, because it isn’t about sex, it’s about drawing (or painting or sculpting) and the reason it’s one of the best ways to learn drawing is that the human body, with all its possible variables and all the different positions it can take and hold, is one of the most complicated collections of forms found in nature – and the fact that there’s a live person holding that position in front of you means that you only have it for a limited time and forces your brain to override all those associations so you can get on with the task.

“While a life model’s nudity isn’t about sex, it is about attention, which brings me back to body equality: having a variety of bodies nude in front of you over a period of time, a variety of shapes, genders, ages and ethnicities, really drives home the concept that any human body is worthy of that particular type of attention, in exactly the same way. As the brain focuses on picking up those 3D shapes and transferring them onto a 2D surface, it also does some very important rewiring: those very tight circuits between certain body shapes and sexual desire, between sexual desirability and a person’s worth, between female and passive=to be gazed at, between male and active=entitled to gaze, slacken and become contaminated by different images, different responses, and different priorities.

“We are all bombarded by visual messages, and young people have had less of a chance to develop the boundaries needed to deal with that in a healthy way: I’m not suggesting life drawing in schools as an infallible shield, but as one of several ways of disrupting those very exclusive narratives, proposing alternatives, and creating the mental space needed to develop self-awareness.”

Schools

Not all schools offer life drawing, and certainly not usually to students who aren’t studying art or design; but that is what I would like to propose – a widespread campaign to bring life drawing to as many teenagers as possible, involving as wide a selection of models as may be available, and ideally with a little speaking by the models in order to underline that they are people, not objects.

It would be a good idea if students were free to share any thoughts that the experience may bring up, either during the session or at the end, so the class would be run by a facilitator or teacher who is switched on or trained in managing an inclusive and body positive environment capable of handling the many sensitive human issues that could emerge. It’s about being able to speak openly. This is not just good for individuals; it helps everyone present to grow socially, responsibly and sensitively. This could be an art class, but it could also be PSHE (Personal Social Health Education), which will soon be incorporating body image as well as sex and relationship education.

Research

These ideas are backed up by some empirical research by Viren Swami, who measured the effects of life drawing on a group of teenagers.

Particular points of note made in the feedback of the study by the teenagers, suggest that the life drawing would be better off taking place outside the school as they were so uncomfortable with being teased by their non-art friends afterwards. They also wanted to be able to talk about how awkward they found it to be confronted by a naked person. It’s such a shock, overwhelmingly real and more than they have ever been exposed to before, especially so long in the same position! There may be many layered reactions to the experience and if they don’t have a chance to surface and be acknowledged, they remain somewhat buried. Unpicking could reveal more than they can at first see. How do we feel seeing this person, and why? The teenagers also wanted to draw more varying physical types as had only had two models.

These results align with my own beliefs, which is really encouraging.

Interviews

And finally, here I am espousing the benefits of life drawing for teenagers on Sky News and Mexican channel Televisa – with the help of some teenagers and friends!

Tampering with Nature, & the Making of Ritual

I knew that Leytonstone wasn’t so much about the people I don’t know. My focus is definitely concentrated on the artistic and therapeutic direction, while my marketting skills are falling behind. On that front I really miss Lucy, but I wish her all the ground-breaking success she deserves in overcoming the skeptics and the nay-sayers on her quest to become a teacher – with a life modelling past. I mean it’s not like she can erase her name from press quotes relating to Spirited Bodies, so better to be upfront. I have a lot of faith in her. She is a great teacher and showed me much on the path to growing this project. The English education system is missing out enormously if it discriminates against those who have been or are life models. If it won’t accept her on those grounds, it is because it is not worthy of or ready for her. A pox on those naked fearing bureaucrats. If they knew Lucy they’d rewrite that protocol. It is time that any anti-naked religion took a hike. Early Christians knew that nudity meant being closer to God, free of society’s masks. This lingering, prevailing Victorian attitude needs to be dropped in a country, well a city at any rate that is more multi-cultural and integrated perhaps than any other on the planet. Let’s adopt some more timeless values. We are human animals for Goodness sake! Living in fear of man’s savage behaviour denies our higher feminine principles.

Back to Thursday evening. It was largely about my friends. I have the privilege of interviewing them, after all some have taken part in numerous Spirited Bodies events, and being friends I might catch them at more opportune moments. Other participants I didn’t know so well before, but now I do. Maybe we are friends now after sharing so much, but regardless I am grateful for the personal intimacy shared and aired. This ritual is growing as I learn incrementally how to work it.

These people have landed in all kinds of uncommonly normal circumstances. Overdue on their credit card payment, reacting unfavorably to high blood pressure medication, stuck in a job with the NHS administration that gives just 30 minutes for a lunch break, unable to chew their food properly, broken stomach, sexually abusive family, didn’t face their biggest fears till their 40s/50s/60s, tall but can’t walk without a stoop, have always had just enough so never been pushed to challenge themselves more, know there is something massively missing in their lives but no clue how to remedy.

If you are stuck in a rut, there seems no way out, just a long waiting game. A series of expected hospital appointments, courses of medication, rounds of relatives paying their respects. A gradually diminishing diet, bank account, and circle of friends. A partner oscillating between losing interest and reaffirming her raison d’etre. Just a few things are constant, you really get to know what they are. Maybe there is never really a partner, just a Mother, reluctant, unavailable and always in absentia. She can’t moan about you because she can’t even remember your name.

But if you have a chance you may describe the rut, listen to your voice, and watch others listen as they try to draw you. Do they get it? Do you gain something by hearing your voice amplified in a hall with others listening? Does it make the words sound more real, or like you are watching it on Jeremy Kyle? You hear the silence, sometimes a laugh when your audible sincerity hits a mark of recognition. Perhaps you sound daft, insecure or indulgent; but if you didn’t you wouldn’t sound like anything at all, and from awkwardness, at least you emerge with a voice.

There is responsibility; are these people vulnerable? Being exploited by me for dramatic material? One model reveals an undiagnosed personality disorder on tape. He has a nervous stutter, and describes a most unfortunate, horrific life, but is in the later portion of it. He is candid and unbothered by the consequences of openness – what does he have to lose? Not a lot I think. And he may gain more people understanding his shy, reserved character. Not just looking past him, perhaps imagining him as a creep – so quiet and nude, more than a little awkward. His voice has been heard, not overly edited to be politically correct. It is borderline but perhaps we need that, and to hear about mental health as it really is instead of carefully packaged to avoid lawsuits.

He stands alone, but he is supported by the others who are more comfy characters on their respective journeys. They are either artist or model, gaining experience or utterly professional as Ursula is. We hear their insights – on colleagues discovering their life modelling life, on the horrifying prospect of trying life modelling themselves, on the idea that men cannot help but look at women as objects; we hear advice from one who has overcome her fears to become a respected professional life model involved in theatrical events.

At some point I long to return to having a big event of the scale we have had with London Drawing in the past. I just need to be utterly sure of how that could manifest. Now that I have rebuilt the event with a therapeutic model, combining that with a stronger view of artists’ interests may come next. My shaman friend who attended on Thursday was inspired to write as well as draw during the session. She started describing to me a vision of how this could grow into a big healing and art event, with different types of artists, poets and alternative therapists joining in. That is a very beautiful idea.

Something else which enhanced our Leytonstone gig, was a playlist of music tracks to accompany each interview. After all, the zone of life drawing is a meditation, and too many words could get in the way of that.

Some pictures from the event; poses were between 1 and 20 minutes long

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Many thanks to all who made this event possible. The other thing I realised about how to run Spirited Bodies is, no one should make a profit from it, it is a labour of love. All proceeds are going to an orphanage in South India called Goodwill Homes (it turned out not to be the right time for the charity in Guatemala we originally had in mind). This is because the models are posing for free, and this needs to be for a higher purpose. I gain plenty in other ways from making it happen.

Model Interviews at WOW part 2; LaDawn, Sabine & Tansy

In this second instalment Lucy speaks to LaDawn and Sabine, who have both modelled with us a few times and taken up some professional life modelling, as well as to Tansy who first life modelled with us at our first event when she was 17 (with parental consent). She is now 20 and a London based life and photographic model.

Lucy (FLS): LaDawn, you modelled for us at BAC (in October), and you came to several workshops beforehand. What brought you to modelling and what brought you to Spirited Bodies?

LaD: In July 2011 I was holding down a job – I was a high powered IT operations director for a really large FTSE company, and I had a nervous breakdown. By October I was unable to drive my car or leave the house, I had zero, zero confidence. I made two suicide attempts, I spent 6 months in a psychiatric clinic, and there was nothing of me left. Coming to Spirited Bodies was a way of… I thought it was just going to be one go, I thought it was going to be the October event at Battersea. I did the workshops and I found these to be very calm, very safe, very empowering. I felt like I could probably cope with this, and we went to Battersea Arts Centre and I think it probably changed the trajectory of the rest of my life. Because I started thinking of myself as a work of art, regardless of whatever shape my body is in, or whatever condition my mind was in, I completely changed my whole approach to life. So when I see you as artists out there drawing us and regardless of whether someone wants to stand up and say it’s a good drawing or a bad drawing, the fact is that it is art, and it’s of us women with all our flaws and breakages. We’re all broken in some respects and it was my experience with Spirited Bodies that propelled me on to a path of almost wellness where I felt I had the strength to move ahead with my life and to gain my confidence back.

FLS: I got into modelling because I’d been ill and I know for me one of the things that I like is the fact that I could help other people achieve their dreams, I could help the artists achieve some art and that got me out of the house and got me moving, made a big difference.

LaD: I was only thinking of me.

FLS: You’re supposed to only think of you.

LaD: But now it gives back in amazing ways because I did go onto the Registry of Artists’ Models, and I did register and I now have gotten to do some really amazing artwork with some artists in the Eel Pie Studios in Twickenham. I got to do some more with Dulwich Art Group… these artists are so amazingly talented… At first I wasn’t going to show any of my friends the artwork but because it was art I had to show them. One of the husbands of one of my good girlfriends – he just calls me juicy (which you know, there is nothing salacious in it), – he says it’s beautiful and my husband initially was horrified. He was so worried the first day when I went to the workshops, he was in tears, and when I got home he thought I had done something that was unsafe. Now he has seen what it’s done and how it’s changed me, and he just encourages me to go out. He’s offered to become my booking agent and everything, like my pimp!

FLS: [admin side of modelling, I can certainly do without]

LaD: As soon as he takes out the rubbish.

FLS: Sabine – you came to model with us at the BAC – we do model other places – in February and that was mostly before we started doing workshops, how did you find it?

Sabine: I found it really amazing, it was a great experience, I must say I’d never done this group modelling before. I have modelled before when I was about 20 and I was at university; I modelled for sculptures. I was doing architecture and we had some sculpture class as well. So that was a one on one thing. For some reason I didn’t do it in ages; I always did life drawing myself, so I was interested in posing, modelling. Then I came across Spirited Bodies because I went to London Drawing life drawing classes and (there was this chance) to get a bit of experience, and so I went there and it was a really amazing experience. First of all the group experience; there were artists and models and it’s not the usual one model and lots of people. It was also very desexualised I must say, which I really liked. It was a very relaxing atmosphere and yes, unfortunately in most of the other instances when I have modelled before there was a sexual aspect, between especially male artists and the models, so this classical ‘muse’ theme (of life models being courtesans etc) and that sort of put me off. It was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling, so I wanted to get rid of that, and with Spirited Bodies, I’m quite relaxed. That this is not the case and especially like today as well amongst women, it’s very nice and relaxing, and when I model … probably it’s a bit like Esther. I do like to think of poses, what I can do or when you set up the one with the queen (Arleen was our Queen with a court of female subjects), I immediately thought, ‘what can I do here?’ so I quite enjoy that part.

FLS: Performance element?

Sabine: Performance element, because I’ve never done drama and I’ve never been involved in theatre plays so that’s my way of expressing myself.

FLS: Have you gone on to do a bit more (life modelling)?

Sabine: I did indeed yeah. Again very suspicious about some male artists who really it’s pretty obvious if they have a group and they only employ female models. I think it is not a very serious thing because if you teach people drawing, you want to give them different bodies, male and female, so I just wonder why is it just female? They always give some kind of excuses, but it is just for someone to see a naked woman.

FLS: At one group – they loved drawing me but they wanted their work to be commercial (hence they prefer young, slim women), which tends to be more the case when people have come out of the advertising industry. People are not always honest about what they like, and they may go for the norm because that’s acceptable, the pressure we’re all under.

Sabine: Also the other way round, so… some people see me as the norm; yes, I’m slim and that is attractive. I am being reduced to that as well. I’ve been told a few times in my life by a boyfriend, ‘I hope you don’t get fat’, so I kind of feel that my appearance is in the way of having a loving and fulfilled relationship in a way. Again I feel quite confident with my body so the modelling is an experience for me, especially of not being an object, not being objectified and that is very nice.

FLS: Is it kind of ironic to go pursuing not being an object and not being objectified by being an artist’s model, being an object for an artist?

Sabine: Yeah it is a bit of a contradiction but there is a certain distance that I feel…

FLS: One reason we wanted to share the modelling experience, share the good things in it, is to get a bit more respect (for artists’ models); not just the, ‘you get naked in public so you’ve got to be a bit dodgy’ attitude.”

LaD: In Dulwich, they hired me knowing I was a full sized model… full sized so I’m not miniature – and it was for a long pose, week after week. They were preparing artwork specifically for sale and they felt that everybody had paintings of thin naked women on their walls so they wanted something slightly different, so it does change, I think it really does change. Although someone put me in a bath tub.

FLS: I love that picture of you in the bath tub. Tansy, you’re young, thin – we’ve just been talking about that; how does modelling make you feel? How do you use it?

Tansy: Modelling helps me leave the house. I’ve had my own fairly severe mental health problems and I still can’t go to school. I’m 20 years old and I’m still doing my A levels because I lost about 2 years of education, and I’m home schooling because normal school is just way too stressful. Modelling forces me out of the house. Because I’m home schooling I live in this isolated bubble and modelling exposes me to the real world, it forces me to do things, because otherwise I can… just stay in my house and not leave for 3 or 4 days at a time, which is quite unhealthy. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been having quite a few negative days, where all I want to do is stay in bed. I feel incredibly apathetic and de-energised, and I don’t feel like I can cope with anything, but modelling forces me to challenge myself to get out of the house, to do something productive because its my part-time job now, I can’t be late, I can’t not show up, its work. I need to show up to do my job. And it gives me a space to have undirected thought. When I am posing, I just let my mind wander, it lets me see things in context, to help let go of things and stop stressing and gives me time to think through all of the stuff that’s going on in my life. And with my body, it’s made me think about my body more; less as a kind of object to fulfil other people’s desires and more as a collection of bones and tendons, muscles and nerves, which might sound negative but I feel like it’s positive because it’s given me admiration for my body as a kind of a piece of engineering, almost. I see it as much more than a vessel for sexuality. I think of it, I admire the shape of my hands, and I admire the way my feet can carry me around all day. I mean I weigh 72 kilos and my feet can carry me around all day. They’re not very big …and [they do the job] yeah and the way they can deal with any form of terrain or rough ground, go up hills and things… modelling has made me appreciate my body from that point of view.

FLS: We’ve had someone come and model in the same Spirited Bodies you did – which was SB 1 – and she came because she felt as a middle aged woman who had no children, she was invisible and that no one had anything to talk to her about. She wanted to come and model to, if you like, persuade herself that it was worthwhile taking care of her body and that her physical self still had value, because she could help other people with their art and she also found it a very liberating experience.

It’s interesting what you say because you do a lot of photographic work, don’t you, which is quicker – well, I assume its quicker but I’ve never done it, I don’t do any photographic work ever.

Tansy: My photographic bookings average about 4 hours, whereas life modelling are usually 2 or 3.

FLS: But the actual poses?

Tansy: Oh yeah they are definitely quicker, photographic modelling is a whole different set of challenges and photographic modelling is a lot of kind of body judging which can be quite tiresome at times.

FLS: I’d find that demoralising to be honest.

Tansy: I find it demoralising sometimes but most of the time, I don’t care.

FLS: It’s developing that resilience, not to care.

Tansy: Yeah, I mean a lot of photographers especially fashion photographers are, “Oh, she’s a bit fat, isn’t she, I don’t want to photograph her”. Well I’m like a size 12 and sometimes a size 14, I’ve got really wide hips, and in photographic land, that’s plus size, definitely plus size. But I don’t mind really, because some photographers want to photograph that, they are more inspired by old masters, by Renaissance work, by Rubens, by… they want to photograph that type of figure.

EB: Thank you, we are just about coming to the end of that pose.

Photos are from the event, copyright of Sophie Stanes, www.livinglifethroughalensphotography.co.uk; unfortunately we do not have the names of all the artists.

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Smiling model LaDawn
Smiling model LaDawn
angular poise
angular poise

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by Cloe Cloherty

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by Kate Hardy
by Kate Hardy

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