Thursday, July 31, 2008

Baring All

The debate about Britain's Missing Top model continues to rage even after the winner was announced as Kelly Knox. The main issues getting people wound up seem to be the type of disability and confusion over whether the winner should be a role model and spokesperson or model first and foremost.

My experience of modelling was actually directly
related to becoming disabled. After I returned from the USA nursing the first of many failed shoulder surgeries and years before I would be diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome I found myself in the position of being unable to work full time but desperate not to claim benefits and so add to my then status as lazy malingerer. I worked a variety of part time jobs over the years but all were incredibly poorly paid and when people suggested I work as a glamour model to earn some extra cash I eventually decided there was no reason why I shouldn't.

It was also years before I recognised myself as having a disability which leads me to wonder whether some of the problems relating to the acceptance of disability in the modelling industry have more to do with the label than anything else. As I didn't recognise myself as disabled I never used the label when talking to photographers but I did always explain not only the problems I had with my shoulder but that I tired easily and was in constant pain. It wasn't an issue for any photographer I worked with, but I suspect most of them would have shied away had I declared myself as 'disabled' despite there being no difference in the issues created.

I didn't think of it as needing adaptations, there were just positions I could hold, and those I couldn't. It was always something worked around by myself and the photographer, my yet to be labelled hypermobility compensating by providing an ability to move into more poses than it prevented.

Glamour modelling was never a career for me, in my mid 20's by the time I started it was simply an easy way on occasion of earning a bit of extra cash for myself that fitted in with the random nature of NHS appointments. The experience of learning to ask for and accept assistance for personal care meant I rapidly lost any self consciousness I might once have had about my body after years of being bullied for my appearance and gave me the confidence I needed to model nude.


Trixie said...

I do love that photo of you!

cogidubnus said...

Oh god...again...

Quick nurse, more iced water!

Open Flaps said...

yes, very nice pic,

alhi said...

You look GORGEOUS!

Mr. Nighttime said...

Ok, I'll get this out of the way first...but, I'm speechless. What a beautiful photo, what a beautiful body. The fact that it is done in b&w makes it all the more gorgeous, especially with the shadowing in all the right places.

Your bravery and grit need not be explained away to anyone. There are others who simply would have given up, but you didn't I admire you tremendously.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting about being poked-and-prodded vs. self conciousness about one's body. I was born with a cleft lip and palate and had a number of operations on my mouth and face when I was younger, and think that's probably partly why I have little or no self conciousness about being naked (except where it's causing embarassment to other people, important distinction), it's not that I had to strip off often in the course of my treatment but it gave me a sort of detatchment from my body that has its up and downsides... but I have friends who also had a lot of contact with NHS services and are totally hung up on modesty.

Anonymous said...

You look fantastic nothing wrong with them shoulders the wrist looks a little lumpy
jurid xxxxx

Unixman said...

Anon 5:15 Funny thing is that I am exactly the same. I am perfectly happy to take my prosthesis off and sit almost naked (when there are people around) and completely bollock naked when there aren't. I haven't worn anything at all in bed since I was a student and frequently just strap the leg on in the morning without much else!

Oh .. and yes ... doesn't she look absolutely gorgeous!

steph said...

Bendy - that's a superb shot. You should be well proud!

I find the comments on self-consciousness very interesting. I no longer have any modesty when in hospital as you're just another anatomical specimen to be poked and prodded while there but when I get home, I sometimes find I don't want to be touched at all. Why? It's called freedom of choice, something that is very much denied in hospital.

I think we should call you Curvy Girl from now on ;-)

transfattyacid said...

Good Lord - wait a moment while I put my eyeballs back in.

Slip said...

Yum Yum!

having my cake said...

Beautiful pic Miss x

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Trix: Thank you honey. I do too, it became really important to me when I was at my most ill, something to hang on to I guess. From what I've seen of you I reckon you'd take amazing photos in this style, if I had any skill the other side of a camera I'd offer as a 40th birthday thing!

Cogi: Deep breaths now while I explain I'm really a 70 year old man ;) lol mwah!

OF: Thank you lovely

Alhi: Thank you :)

MrN: you've made me blush, but thank you so much. It was taken on my first photo shoot and I think it was a combination of luck, being bendy and the photographer being such a genuis with lighting that produced the image. As for not giving up...well, you know all about that one ;) x

Anon 5.15: I completely agree it's funny, and I wonder what causes that difference between saying sod it and losing your self consciousness or going the other way all together. It's definitely the feeling of detatchment from your body that does it,which is something I've found even more important in dealing with long term pain.

Jurid: Thank you :)..didn't know you were a medical man?

Unixman: Ah well, there are worse side effects of disability than lack of self consciousness. And thanks!

Steph: Thank you. I completely understand and agree with you about that feeling of not wanting to be touched after being poked and prodded medically. As already mentioned it's the need to detach from your body in certain situations, especially important in hospital and can take a little time to feel back to normal again when you're home.
Couldn't agree more with you about the lack of choice in hospital x

TFA: heehee ;)

Slip: TY x

HMC: Thank you lovely. Now Ruf is such the photographer I'd like to see what images he could produce of you in a similar pose!

LceeL said...

If I ever get the courage to try painting a nude, would you pose for me?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Lou: Absolutely, I always loved working with artists, which is partly why I never made a huge amount of money from modelling (the money is in top shelf magazine style/porn) Not sure how it would work with model in one continent and artist in another though?!

kingmagic said...

Lil sis!!!...mam will go crackers if she sees the pic!!!
(nice picture though not in an incest sort of way!)
Big bro x

Bollinger Byrd said...

You look as gorgeous now as then, admitedly I've only met you with your clothes on.... LOL

Are you well enough to come to my partyon the 16th, would be great if you were?

Scottish Libertarian said...

You look stunning!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Big Bro: Thank you, I know what you mean ;)

BB: Aww, thank you! I think the captain may be home that w'd, but that often changes, so I'll let you know if it does and be sorry to miss your party if it doesn't x

SL: Why thank you, my head is getting awfully big with all these compliments!