I don’t want anyone to think I am a professional model. And I don’t want anyone to think that I myself think that I am a professional model. I’m not and I don’t.
Annnd I don’t want to be.
Well, maybe I do… but only when I am stuck in a meeting or staring at a spreadsheet for hours and hours. Daydreams aside, it’s not something that I think is remotely possible and it’s not something I am even pursuing. Over the last few years I have, more or less, forged a path in my femme life of, well, doing what I want.
Which sounds incredibly arrogant but I don’t mean it to be. I have said no to plenty of opportunities that I felt contradicted my whole “thing” if you will. I’ve turned down partnerships with some brands that I didn’t think were for me.
I have a small belief that once you make a decision and you are truly committed to it AND you work hard towards making it happen, the universe, more or less, gets out of your way. There are always barriers that will impede our goals but that’s when you continue to work hard and you recommit (again and again) to somehow making it work.
I mean, things don’t always work out but it’s Friday and with Fridays there is always that built-in optimism so let’s focus on when things do work out.
When the MN T-Girls had our first of what became our annual professional photo shoot, it opened up a friendship with Shannonlee, our photographer. Since then she and I have had dozens of shoots over the last five and a half years. We have done shoots in various places around the Twin Cities and in a variety of studios. It’s been so much fun. Most of that fun comes from working with Shannonlee. I like collaborating with creative and talented people.
These professional photos built up my confidence and that confidence led to… ah, hubris, which led to me contacting various designers who created clothes for girls like us. I started doing reviews and modeling which brought me to partnering with En Femme.
These reviews and modeling have consisted of everything from lingerie to leggings to dresses to stilettos to pants to jewelry. The photos have been included in advertisements, websites, and email marketing campaigns. It’s fun to see a photo used in this way but I also feel strangely detached when I do. It’s like, oh, there I am.
This type of exposure has led me to becoming, in a way, a public figure in our little community. My website had more traffic, my Twitter followers grew… that kind of stuff. More people became aware of me and more people started to comment on photos or send emails.
Some comments and messages are a little explicit and some are sweet and some overstep a boundary. Some hyper focus on something in a picture, like the guys who really like when I am carrying my purse in a picture for some reason.
Through all of this attention to, well, my body, I have learned to just roll with it.
And again, all of this all sounds incredibly arrogant. I don’t have the greatest body in the world and I don’t think I do. I don’t think I am Cindy Crawford or Heidi Phox.
As I mentioned before I am a little disconnected when I see a photo of myself on a platform other than my own website or my own social media. If these instances, my picture is likely being used to advertise or market something. Which is fine. I mean, that’s what the photo was meant to be used for. It is flattering, though. It’s fun. It’s affirming.
As I get older and as I continue to model clothes I have started to become a little… hm, detached (there’s that word again) from my body, even in real life. It’s like, yep, that’s my thigh. That’s my tummy. That’s my, ah, feminine flaw in that panty.
We are all just skin and blood and bones and muscles.
The final straw, I suppose, was starting to model lingerie. It was a humbling and weird experience. I felt exposed and arrogant and shy and silly. When I saw the photos I didn’t look at them so much as thinking I looked amazing, it was more like, yes, that is me. That is my body with all it’s flaws and power. It was like… being at peace with it.
What I mean by power is that I am blessed to have my body. I can walk and run and use my hands. I am able-bodied and I am fortunate. I am getting older each day but I will never be as young as I am now.
Lately I feel that, ah, enriching my soul and taking care of my body and mind and heart and my relationships have become more important than ever. I am becoming less self-conscious of my body and how it may or may not help me looking feminine. It’s like, yes, those are my broad shoulders and giant hands… pretty masculine, right? And then not caring at all.
After my first lingerie shoot I decided it would be my last. But then a few months went by and it was like, screw it, let’s do it again. These days standing around in a corset and stockings in a studio while Shannonlee sets up the next shot is pretty normal. I don’t feel sexy or shy or anything. It’s just skin, right? Who cares.
It’s this spirit that leads to empowerment. Becoming detached, whether intentionally or naturally, to one’s physical body is, well, freeing. I have become less interested in beauty standards and gender norms. Less interested in passing, less interested in minimizing or hiding characteristics and physical features that are less than traditionally feminine.
Of course, this doesn’t mean nude or sexually explicit photos. I do have SOME modesty. I do think some mystery is sexier than a full reveal.
As Shannonlee and I create videos for ‘Help Me Hannah’ we do multiple takes and send them off to see what the editor chooses to use. We did some lingerie segments at the first video shoot and we shot more material than what will be used. This is an outtake that will not be used but wanted to show you what these videos may look like. Of course, this is before any sort of editing/sound enhancement/magic is utilized so please don’t be toooo critical of the quality of the clip itself.
Here I am, in all my feminine flaws and awkwardness.