A few years back I signed up with a company that does marketing focus groups. It’s a nice source of income. Although they don’t call me much at all and I’ve only ever ended up qualifying for one thing they called me about.
Anyway, heard from them the other day about a group they wanted me for. These groups are always looking for people from specific demographics so the lady had to ask me questions about my life to see if I qualified for one of the remaining slots. She asked me how old I am, if I live alone, if anyone in my immediate family works in promotions or publicity in some capacity (I guess the focus group had to do with that and she was checking for conflicts of interest) and eventually she asked me what I do for a living.
I worry that my job as an art model is so “out there” that it wouldn’t count under any of the categories in their system. And I don’t like bringing up my job to people I’m dealing with in any “official” capacity because it’s a naked job, and a job most people don’t really understand, and I don’t feel like having to explain it to people outside my normal sex-positive, body-positive, non-slut-shamey social bubble.
But when I’m put on the spot I’m usually too slow-witted to lie, so I went ahead and said “art model” anyway. And that was the beginning of a very frustrating conversation.
The woman interviewing me clearly did not have English as her first language, and I would imagine people who aren’t involved in the art world at all might not have any idea that art modelling is a thing. But damn, dude, I explained it a bunch of different ways – in simple terms, enunciating carefully – and she just was not getting it at all. It was like:
“And what do you do for a living?”
“…I’m an art model.”
“You…you’re an artist?”
“No, I pose for art classes.”
“So you paint portraits?”
“No, people paint me.”
“When art students are learning how to draw a human body, I am the person they draw.”
“I go to art schools and I stand there and the students draw or paint me.”
“I go to art classes and the people there learn how to draw a person by looking at me and drawing me.”
“So…you do what kind of art?”
Finally she went and talked to her supervisor, who apparently told her to just put down “model.” Which is what I should have said in the first place, I suppose. But the word “model” all on its own carries an implication of conventional hotness that I know I don’t live up to so I avoid it. Even telling doctors etc that I’m an art model, I see this fleeting look on their faces sometimes of “Really? You?” – they don’t say it out loud but it’s clear.
Anyway, after all that I didn’t end up being in the income bracket they were looking for so I didn’t get the gig.