There’s a shitty old joke that fat chicks are like mopeds: fun to ride, but you wouldn’t want anyone to see you on one.
And indeed, I’ve heard fat women say that often there’ll be guys who want to fuck them…but not date them, not be seen in public with them, not let the world see that they’re attracted to someone who’s not thin.
I think I’m getting kinda the same treatment, but in the context of work.
On a whole bunch of different occasions, it’s the first time I’ve posed for a particular art class and the organizer comes up to me during a break to tell me “You have the most fantastic poses” or “you have such a great energy; your poses are so interesting and different from other people’s.” He (it’s always a he*) says this with a starstruck expression, and usually reiterates it several times during the course of the session. These dudes aren’t paying hollow compliments, is what I’m saying; they really do seem kind of…entranced. And they hire me again and again.
But it would seem that despite the artistic community giving lip service to diversity, the trendy body type for art models is: thin to the point of ribs and hipbones being clearly visible (I think of ballet dancers and gymnasts), small breasts, long hair, conventionally attractive face. I say this because when these art guys show off their drawings on their blogs or Facebook pages, or use one of their drawings to illustrate an ad for their life drawing night – guess what body type they choose to showcase, almost always?
And I’m really pretty tired of it. You think I’m so amazing and different from the rest of the models? Show your support of what I do by posting pics of me sometimes. Those drawings you post act as publicity for the models. At present I’m not getting any of that publicity; to someone who follows art blogs but doesn’t necessarily go to classes, I am functionally invisible. Meanwhile, other women – women who are not necessarily as good as I am, women who may not work nearly as often as I do – get their faces and bodies everywhere.
Funny story: there’s a Facebook page for the local arts community and some models were having a discussion recently about how pay rates really need to be raised soon. I mentioned that posing is actually really strenuous work and it’s not like the schools pay us benefits, so some of my pay goes toward Epsom salts/physiotherapy/chiropractors to keep my body functioning well enough to work, hence the need for a pay raise – gotta cover the cost of living and the cost of staying healthy, y’know? Another model – one of the slender ones whose drawings pop up everyfuckingwhere – chimed in to say yeah, it’s one thing if you only model now and then, but once you get up to 15-20 hours a week at this, it makes you really sore! Which is true. But I found the statement hilarious, for two reasons:
- She (a twentysomething year old athlete) was acting like 15-20 hours of posing in a week was almost more than a human body can bear, and I (a fortysomething year old with no background in athletic stuff at all) have done twice that amount pretty consistently. Okay, maybe when I say it’s “hilarious” that she said this, I really meant “validating.” I’m not crazy for feeling exhausted all the time to a point of nervous breakdown! Huzzah!
- By the number of drawings of this chick circulating online you would think she was just about the only female art model in my entire city, and now I knew that she was only just starting to score 20 hours of gigs (7-ish classes) a week. Innnnteresting.
No hate for the skinny chicks, by the way. I’m sure some of them are as good at the work as I am, albeit in a different way; the drawings they inspire are lovely. I’m not at all suggesting that thin women get work only because they’re thin (or that people with other body types only get work by being talented; there are a lot of places that’ll basically hire anyone willing to get naked and hold still. For real.). And part of drawing a body well is understanding the underlying structure, so it’s good to have models where you can actually see that there’s a skeleton in there.
But it’s important to see and understand fleshiness, too. And drawings of me are also lovely; I am soft and curvy and I project emotions when I pose, so a good drawing of me will have a feeling about it; it’s not just a rendering of a chick sitting still and being bored.
Hell, some drawings of me are even make me look conventionally attractive – I know how to work my angles. But even those images never see the light of day. And it’s weird and it’s frustrating and I’d like to get the same free publicity as the pretty girls kthx.
*By which I mean that most drawing classes around here seem to be run by men, but also when a woman runs one she does often post drawings of me.