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!

The Bold and the Beautiful

I’m getting older, aren’t we all?  And as the years tick over I become ever more conscious of how fleeting life is. Or maybe that is because my kids are growing older and seeing them grow up makes me reflect on how that was me, what seems like just yesterday.  Or perhaps dealing with being sick for so long has given me a better appreciation of the importance of doing what you yearn to do, because tomorrows are unpredictable. They are not to be relied on. That’s what I figure.

Michael Leunig understands Life.
Michael Leunig understands Life.

Speaking of figures, I’ve wasted a lot of my years feeling ridiculous about mine. Have you? Like, embarassed, ashamed, exasperated. Even before I had reason to. In various ways over the years I have castigated myself for the shape I carry.  Too this or too that. And if you added up all the kilos I have lost on various diets, I think I’d have lost my entire body weight. But lately, it’s just been gains. Chronic illness and my medication side effects have made weight control difficult for me.  If it’s not the tummy cramps of my pyridostygmine and motilium, it’s the insatiable appetite and trademark round cheeks I have acquired on high dose steroids. The delayed gastric emptying, chronic constipation, dizziness and especially, the ever present fatigue. ‘Just Do It’ is a huge mountain to climb. Any one of those issues pretty quickly puts exercise at the bottom of my priority list. And, um, I love cake. So, slowly but surely, I’ve gotten rounder.

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And that roundy-ness has made me feel less beautiful. Fat does not equate with beauty in our media; most of the time. But that is changing.  There are women like Tess Holliday, above, who are changing things. She is so gorgeous! Then there are others, it’s a new frontier. Just google ‘plus size model images’ and you’ll be wowed!

In spite of all the reasons why my fat sits there on my frame, I haven’t been good at looking at myself as though I have beauty. I look at other curvy people and I think they look beautiful, but not at myself. Lately I have been following a curvy stylist on facebook. Seeing her daily looks has been inspiring to me.  A fellow roundy girl who celebrates her inner self; on the outside.  She’s bold.  She’s sassy.  She’s awesome. I really like Jenni, from Styling Curvy for her down-to-earth approach to life.  As a cancer survivor (she calls it being a cancer thriver) she sees life for all it’s imperfect beauty. She knows it’s for embracing. And she has changed the way I look at my wardrobe, my body, my self. And I think I’m ready to do this ‘being me’ thing a bit differently. I’m ready to feel beautiful, anyway.

 

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Jenni, from Styling Curvy

I’ve been shopping for plus sized clothing online for years. My inbox receives updates from all my favourite big girl stores, and the other day, one of those newsletters caught my eye.  I love Autograph clothes, they have sensible price tags and comfort, not to mention flattering styles. And they’re online. Half my wardrobe comes from them.The women in the shot were women like me. Women wearing life on their frames.  But they were confident.  I saw them and I thought I want to be like that. And a small voice in my head scoffed at me. It told me to get real. After all, I’m forty. And probably too big even for a plus-size model.  And I’m sick.  Yeah, don’t forget that bit, Rach. I clicked through to the Star Now website. I made a profile. I sent it to Autograph, anyway.

 

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The 2015 Autograph Model Search is open all August. Get into it!

And last Friday, in the midst of my downward spiral about my diminishing treatment prospects, I got a call from Vivien’s model agency in Sydney. A very sophisticated scandinavian-sounding guy told me I need to get myself to their partner agency 62 Models, here in Auckland.  I’ve been shortlisted. So on Thursday, I’m off for a bit of a shoot and an interview. Can you believe it?!

It’s probably a foolishness on my part, but you know what?  I don’t care. It has been a wonderful distraction from the upcoming surgery on Friday.  I’ve had my nails done! I have some outfits to take along, it’s been fun having something exciting to look forward to.  I hope I can do this thing, but I have no idea if I can.  There is just this belligerent part of me that recognises how short life is, it calls me to be bold.  I’m not sure if my boldness will equate to the beauty they are looking for, but I’m going to give it a shot. It’s already given me such a boost.

Wish me luck!  Do you wanna see me in my outfits?
I’ll let you know if my boldness becomes something beautiful. x

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