Nodel Life

No, it’s not a typo.

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…am I a nodel?

Yesterday, waiting for a coffee-to-go in busy Gisborne, I flicked through the local rag.  I saw an article ‘Brands Waking to the Appeal of Real Women’ about recent research into fashion marketing.

[I don’t use the word ‘real’ myself, because all women are real women, regardless of size. I prefer the term ‘regular’].

The studies focused on the relationship between the type of models brands employ and people’s buying behaviour. The specific focus of the research was the use of diverse models. The article referred to these recent entrants into fashion circles with the slang term ‘nodels’  as in, ‘not-models’.  Pictured was one of the most iconic plus size models in recent years, Tess Holliday.

Research uncovered a desire for brands to promote images that reflected greater diversity and signalled that they felt this would lead to greater brand trust and longer-lasting consumer relationships. The media and brands are waking up to this…
from Suzanne Winfield, New Zealand Herald 26th December, 2016

‘NODEL’ stuck in my brain. I didn’t consider the ‘nodel’ label offensive; it’s just another nonsense word. But I mused for a bit about how I must be a nodel, and about how close the word nodel is to nodule, a very unattractive thing, or to noddy, something I am, often!

The word also made me think about the modelling work I have done.  Was I ‘not-modelling’ during those shoots?  Was the photographer ‘not-shooting’ and the makeup artist ‘not-making-up’? Was the job ‘not-selling’ clothes? No.
So the ‘not’ part must refer to the industry aesthetic attached to the word ‘model’.  To how I look, not what I do.

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I don’t look like a typical straight-sized (ie. size 6-8) model, I look like a regular woman.  I’m grateful to, and I don’t think nodels like me need a different label. Can we not all be models if we do modelling work? A simple thought to thunk, as my friend Pooh would say.  A mannequin is a mannequin regardless of it’s size. Come on fashion aesthetists, get with the program.  We all buy fashion, all sorts of bodies, it makes perfect sense that we want to see fashion modelled on bodies like our own.

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Today when I got home from our long Christmas road trip I was greeted by a package from Euphoria Design (thank you Monique and crew).
This beautiful New Zealand fashion label design clothes for women size 10-24.
Earlier this year they ran a model search called ‘Confidence is Beautiful’. You may have seen my post all about it. The shoot was about showing the relationship between inner confidence and beauty. It was about people like you and me. It was such a great concept! I was lucky enough to be selected along with nine other gorgeous kiwi women. We were from all over the country and all walks of life, we were many variations of ‘woman’. I made some wonderful friends that day, was spoilt rotten and enjoyed a glamorous shoot in a new season Euphoria Design dress.

Today, in that parcel was a cute framed shot from that day and a memory stick with all my photos, I’ve been waiting for them since our shoot and it is so cool to be able to at last share them properly on here! My Nodel Life! Haha! Seeing the pictures again brought back all the fun of the day and made me feel proud to be a nodel/model (whatever!) and a regular female of the human species.  I couldn’t be happier about being part of the movement for greater visibility in fashion media. We need to see more regular bodies. Our daughters need to, too. Desperately.

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PS. How gorgeous is this print?  The photos are black and white and don’t show the Navy and Milk white print in it’s true form, but it is such a fresh summer print. I love it, and unlike most ‘nodelling’ jobs, this time I got to keep the dress! I know!  Lucky!

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Do you like seeing bodies like yours in fashion media?
If you do, let your favourite brands know!

Every Woman

On Sunday I was flown to Sydney for the 2015 Autograph Curvy Model Search test shoot. I’ve written about what’s been happening here, here and here… and yesterday was the highlight of the amazing journey I have been on. It’s been so exciting!  I know some of you are keen for the lowdown, so here’s a little peek into my day being an ‘international curvy model’ (squeeee!)

Rachel, Lauren M & Rowena

“Maybe you could just photoshop that arm,” I self-consciously joked with the Marketing Manager for Autograph.
“No!” admonished Alexa, her corkscrew curls shaking emphatically, “We want real women!”  and I fell in love with that lady right there and then.

There were three women on the monitor in front of us.  One of them was me, 41, a wife, mumma and writer. My arms are roundy, like my Grandma’s used to be.  Baker’s arms, dimpled and soft like a warm bun.  Those arms make my embraces comforting. Then there’s Rowena, 25, a cop, daughter and girlfriend.  Her tiny waist curves the way down to her voluptuous rear end. But hers is not a standard pear-shape figure, no… she’s all spicy pear! The kind of wiggle when she walks that makes all the guys look.  And then there is Lauren, 26, a wife and mum to two under three, working for an airline. Cheekbones to make Pocahontas insecure and a figure with all the right oomph in all the right places, including a little curve on the tum, that beautiful space where she carried a baby just one year ago.  Our ethnic backgrounds are diverse.  I am a kiwi Pakeha.  My genes fetching me down through generations from the viking clans, through the British Isles and to my Aoteoroa.  Rowena is a Samoan Australian and Lauren, an multiracial-Australian. We are all testament to the antipodean pull of the decades; our families settled us in the lucky countries. We’re Tasman neighbours and new friends. We are every woman. Our bodies express our life experiences. We represent some of the vibrant spectrum of plus sized women down under.

Today, we’ve gathered here, from across Australia and New Zealand.  Altogether we are ten, chosen from more than 4,500 entries. The studio space is incredible. Hanging plants and exposed brickwork in an impossibly funky foyer space.  There’s a portrait photography exhibition in the foyer/cafe; the whole venue oozes artsy cool. Our studio is huge. A concrete curved backdrop arcs up the double height wall. The equipment is extraordinarily technical. When I first arrived and walked past all the monitors, lights, stands and foam partitions,  I realised what an out-of-the-ordinary day awaited me.

Ahead of me, the other girls had swished into the waiting area.  There were leather chairs and sofas, a big table, lighted makeup mirrors and all the trappings that attend a shoot. Clothing racks bedecked in bright summer colours, accessories in a jumble, a big bowl full of sparkling waters and Italian soda. The food had already begun to arrive.  Sourdough with avocado, goats cheese, tomatoes and basil.  Tiny little granola and yoghurt pots. Bamboo spoons. Fruit platters bigger than Carmen Miranda could handle.

It was all so chic!

I introduced myself to the makeup team and then to Nicola, the marketing rep from Autograph. She is all cool sophistication. Ruler straight caramel hair, groovy glasses, structured tunic, stovepipe crops and pretty flats. She is warm, too. Friendly and welcoming. I felt all fluttery and excited but also strangely relaxed. The atmosphere in the studio echoed the brand… all bright, comfy; happiness.  I found myself exhaling and letting myself go with it all. I could barely believe I was really there.

The clothes I saw on the rack were my kinds of clothes. Tunics, floaty dresses, crop pants. There were the necklaces that help bigger girls achieve outfit balance. Clinky bracelets and dangly earrings. I was in my fashion comfort zone. And the colours!  Deep cobalt and coral, apricot pink and sunshine yellow, jade and aquamarine. The happy colours of summer. I kept taking deep breaths and trying to memorise the moments before they slipped me by. I heard Richard the photographer asking about a light test, so I volunteered to step into the studio space. He sticks down two strips of tape on the floor (my ‘mark’) and I stand there, ready for him to set up his equipment. I love that moment, the first moment there in front of the camera.

He feels strangely close yet far away, a familiar stranger, connected to me via the invisible line between the camera’s lens and my iris. In the second the photographer bends to his lens, it’s just him and me. I am imagining what he is seeing.  Smiling at him through the lens. I think, Hello over there, Richard! He smiles back.

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After adjusting the flash and moving some of the foam walls, he said “Why don’t we just do this?” and that’s how it started, I was having my test shoot! I felt giddy with happiness, floating around my mark in a coral embroidered kaftan. I felt beautiful. Someone blew cool air towards me from a gap in the movable walls.  It made my hair blow back from my face, just so. And the coolness was so welcome under the lights.

I still can’t get over being able to stand for this long. To feel the energy coursing through my body. It makes my heart sing, this freedom to move. It’s not that long ago that I could not have done this and the familiar gratitude fills my heart. It is so easy for me to smile.  Who wouldn’t? The joy of life bubbles up and engulfs me. I want to giggle. A girly giggle for all the girly goodness I am experiencing. I am modelling! I am blown away by all this. So lucky. So incredibly grateful!  For health, for opportunities, for this life of surprises and soulfood. Thank you, I think.
Just thank you, for this. For all of this loveliness.

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The day passed after that in a giddy blur.  Two more shoots happened. I met my Australian modelling agent, Ekke, and the Vivien’s Model Management boss, Catherine.  They felt like family within minutes. We talked about the lovely people at 62 Models in Auckland.  We sipped on our Italian sodas and organic juices. A lavish lunch arrived. There was time to chat and selfie with all the girls; every one, a beauty, inside and out.

Every now and then I felt old. Eleven years separated me from the nearest in age to me.  All the other girls were in their twenties, fresh of face and firm of curve. I felt a little intimidated in flashes, and then I just told my brain to shut up. It was the only way. To stop that inner critic so I could enjoy being myself. I’ve been practising it a lot more lately. Once I’d silenced my self-sabotage-software, I enjoyed just being there with them, sharing their youthful energy and infectious laughter. We all changed into a second outfit for a small group shoot. I was grouped with Rowena and Lauren, all of us in gorgeous summer dresses.  It’s impossible not to feel breezy and beautiful in Autograph clothes. I linked arms with them and felt their warm energy, their hearts hammering in unison with mine in that small space. We joked with each other and the laughter came easy. I am glad I have had the chance to meet them.  Impossibly lustrous hair, velvety skins, clear healthy eyes. There’s that familiar internal self pinching again.  Was I really there with those beauties? It made me smile.

Rachel, Lauren M & Rowena (7)

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All of these women are not just beautiful because of their outward curvy lusciousness. They’re not just beautiful because of the expert hair and makeup attention they’ve received today. They’re beautiful because of the lives they live, the families they love, the work they do, the women they are. Like me, they’re representing every woman. Women like you. I wish I could have had you all there with me in that studio yesterday. I wish you, too, could have been treated to makeup artists and hair stylists and friendly warm people making you feel like a million bucks. You there, with the roundy arms, or defiant boobage. You, with the mumma tum, the wobbly bum. You are woman, and you are beautiful.

I hope you feel beautiful today. X

I HOPE YOU

 

The Bunny, the Book and the Blog

and a happy little side effect called euphoria

Oh it’s a buzzy world I inhabit today!  I’ve just had my monthly infusion and that makes me feel a bit manic, a bit weird (just quietly) and like I can manage anything (I think that is the euphoria side-effect, again): only I don’t. Manage anything. Because it’s just a feeling, not a practical reality.

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(it is hard to find ‘a’ words to go with that picture, so A-nother had to do! I’m not tired of them, as that word implies, I am very, very grateful for them).

In reality, I’m here on the sofa, letting the weird win over, waves of bust-outta-my-skin-feeling, crazy, heat, palpitations, fuzzy vision and a yuck post-infusion taste in my mouth.  Thankfully, the flush is yet to begin, I can look forward to that joy tomorrow. So I’m riding it out, resting and hanging out with my bunny-onesie-pyjamioed daughter.  We’ve been giggling.

I like it.  So here we are while I fizz away in my slightly manic post-infusion-way and show her how I post on my blog.  Why? She wants to start her own, how cool is that?… I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!  Here she is, modelling my current reading material.  You’ll see why, soon.

 

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 “So, Mum. How do you write a blog post?”

“I’ll show you!”

NOTES FOR MY GIRL
(and anyone else who wants to write a post someday)

STEP 1:
You find something that you want to WRITE about.   It might be a conversation that you want to discuss, a picture that inspired you, something that riled you or a moment that ‘smiled’ you.  Whatever it is, get writing. Start with some context for your blog piece.
I want to write about a great evening with you, my girl and how it relates to learning to blog.  So I start to tell the story, like this:

We’re in the lounge, my BobbyD, and me.  We’re having our special after dinner cuppa and unwinding; we’re discussing this bookDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. The kids have gone to bed (or so we think….) and I’m inspired because Gladwell’s way of pulling things together is totally brilliant. I already love his other works, and he has written here about something I am passionate about… the misfit. By the way, have you read ‘Outliers’?  I think it’s essential reading for every parent teacher and coach.  This one looks to be just as good!

…and then you SAVE DRAFT and carry on writing until your piece has a beginning, a middle (and eventually, a clear end) like this:

So anyway, I’ve always loved the story of David and Goliath.  David’s bravery, his self-assuredness, his strategic approach to what seemed like insurmountable odds. It’s a great story for the book to start on. So I’m regaling my hubby with Malcolm’s pithy, easy-to-read, yet intelligent writing style, when our tween enters the lounge. She crosses her long legs underneath her on the sofa and settles in to listen. I pause, and remind her that it is bedtime. She says, “But… it’s just…” and I wait for what usually follows. (Insert here: I’m thirsty/ I have more homework/ One more chapter/ just another hug…).  But she flashes a huge grin and continues,
“it’s just that… you’re cool when you have cuppas and talk about books.  I want to hang with you.”

Is it a cunning ploy? If so, she’s getting good. If not… oh, if not!  I am completely taken by the notion that I might, finally, after ten years, have achieved “cool” status with my girl!  And it’s connected to cups of tea and books! I don’t want to let go of that loveliness, not straight away. Maybe she could stay up. Just a little longer…
…she is clearly very astute.  Because it doesn’t stop there.

In a master stroke, she tells me I am also cool because I blog. That she would like to blog, too. She offers to get my computer, and retrieve some of my secret chocolate stash from the censored location (so much for that spot!) We settle in to write this post together.  We take some photos to use in the post. She wants to know all about how it works.
How cool, is she?!

I’m suckered right in. She’s here beside me now and we are blogging. 🙂

STEP 2:

Gather what you need.  Computer, chocolate, photos.  This is really what you do right at the very beginning, but it came up in the story now, so it will have to be step two.  Yes, Bee.  The preparation is important, it will save you time later.

STEP 3:

Click that button up there to the right that says, SAVE DRAFT.  Then, ADD LINKS to all the text which make sense for linking outside the blog (to relevant websites) and to your own (to something you’ve written before).   Links are the highlighted words in your post that will take readers to other webpages. I will link the text about Malcolm Gladwell’s book so people can find it, and then I will link the text that refers to my daughter, to a post I made last year all about her.  She adds that I should link Daddy’s name to the post I wrote about him
(see? She’s cool and clever).

STEP 4:

Source and edit and UPLOAD YOUR PHOTOS. I keep it pretty simple, I either take photos on my iPhone, or pay and use licensed pictures from Canva (an online blog graphic app). I do that to make sure I am not breaching copyright with other peoples’ pictures.

When you’ve edited them and got them looking just so, add them to your page and make sure the settings are right. I could go on about that, but my girl has to go to bed now, so showing her this bit might have to happen next time I am cool enough for her company…

I interrupt this transmission to put her, firmly and finally, to bed.

Wow.  That was fun!  I think I am going to like teaching her how to blog!  If I am the admin of her site, I can keep it as safe and as private as possible.  She wants to blog about her favourite pastime, horse riding, followed by…
“horse gaming, horse pictures and horse products and horse books and favourite horse gear…” (take a breath, girl!)  I think finding her ‘niche’ will be pretty straightforward!

STEP 5:
SAVE DRAFT.  Check, EDIT, go through your post.  When you are sure it looks right (Bee, that means when Mummy is sure your post is ready, appropriate and proofed!) you can schedule it or PUBLISH it immediately.   I always check it again the minute I publish to make sure I didn’t miss things.  It’s easy to miss things in the wordpress draft format. In fact, I find editing after publishing to be highly motivational!

STEP 6:
Let people know it is there! Link your post to your blog’s facebook page. Add it to the ‘link ups’ or ‘share threads’ you are part of on any facebook groups you belong to.  If your blog has a subscription plug in, people should get an email to say it is there.

STEP 7:
…aaaand, finish with a question or two.  It lets the reader know that you would love their interaction.  It turns it into a conversation.  Much nicer.

Tada!  That is how I write a blog post.
If you are a blogger, is your process similar?
And even more important, are you COOL, too?

 

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Photograph by Bee Cox (my girl)

Ah!  I’m cool, yes I am. Maybe only for one ten year old girl who doesn’t want to go to bed.
But it counts, okay?