In the fashion industry, “plus size” is a term for models who are size 8 and up. But in the real world, most people would never think of a size 8 as plus size — most plus-size clothing doesn’t even start until a size 16.
Robyn Lawley (see left), a currently categorized “plus-size model” is well known for her voice regarding some of her issues with these discrepancies:
“In a world where you’re telling women that plus-size is sizes 4 and up, you’re causing body image issues. You’re causing unrealistic expectations that every one — every woman — should be a size 4. To bring that into the plus-size community, where you’re using sizes 8, 10 and 12, when sometimes the stores don’t even start carrying the clothes until size 14, you’re telling women, ‘You want to look like these models. This is what you should look like, but it’s never going to happen.’
In fact, not so long ago plus-size models were around size 10-12, but that number has recently shrunk to an 8. According to Anthony Higgins, the director at MSA Models, “[catalogs] will use a size 8 because they think size 14 and 16 will relate to that person and size 4 and size 6 will relate to that person. They do not use size 18 as much as they should for print – though… size 18 makes the most money.” The pathetic truth is plus-sized models’ bodies are headed in the opposite direction of actual plus-size women’s bodies.
According to the CDC, the average American woman is a size 14, and yet the dominant sizes in the industry are 0, 2, and 4. At size 8, the plus-size models are considerably smaller than the average American women, and if that isn’t indicative of how delusional we are about what the majority of woman’s bodies look like, I don’t know what is.
All that being said, in today’s world of fashion, I myself would be considered a Plus Size model. Many “plus-size” models are beautiful and healthy, and I’m so happy they have flourishing careers that perhaps felt impossible ten or fifteen years ago. Of course, we continue to see fashion predominately on thin bodies because we’re told that’s what sells. But the fact is, it’s just what we’ve been fed for so long that we don’t know what the alternative would look like. This could change, but the fashion industry would have to want it to.
I was zoned out in my car, driving my usually routes where there is just enough time to really sit and settle on a topic in my brain that I can ponder over for a little bit, when I started reflecting a lot about who I am to myself versus who I am to others in my life. I remember one of the most hurtful things I had ever been told in my life was, “I do not see in you what the rest of the world sees.” This was primarily hurtful because it was coming from someone I thought knew me better than anyone, that I had trusted with all the ins and outs of my being. However, I had carried the comment with me for a while until I began work with releasing it. I had not thought about it again for a very long time until the other day in my car after I had been meditating on my Solar Plexus chakra (when I meditate, I allow whatever needs to come up to come up because usually it’s what is needed). However, when I reflected back on it, I was surprised with what came up.
Initially when I used to reflect back on this, I would always point it back to myself and wonder how it was that I might appear that way and what it was that I was doing etc. This time when I reflected on it, that second intuitive voice popped right into my head before I even gave myself a moment to sit on it, and it asked me, “well…have you changed since then? It is true?” and the answer to myself was “no, I have not changed, but I appear to have, it’s never been true.” Honestly, this conversation that was happening between my head and my heart really surprised me. When I answered with that, I scrunched my face and asked myself where that answer came from. So I reflected on that instead. What makes me say that I haven’t changed? I most certainly have gone through a substantial amount of growth and thrown myself into some pretty incredible experiences that opened many new and different doors. But all that aside, when I sit in my body and in my mind and in my heart, it is no different today than it was then and here’s how…
I have always been immensely spiritual as well as very intuitively intelligent. However, I stood in my own way this whole time and I have since redirected my focus to break down that wall. I did not give myself the opportunity to surround myself with positive, uplifting energies because I silenced what was in my heart – the core of my being. The things I believed, felt, and knew in my heart I kept quiet because of the space I held for others around me. I have always been terribly afraid of appearing stupid. Ever since I can remember, I physically spoke less because I was afraid of what I would say and who I was saying it to. I definitely grew much more vocal past the age of 18 but still remained quiet about topics I felt caused controversy. However, when I was presented with the space to be alone (not in the physical “by myself” sense, but in the “unattached” interpretation of the manner), and when I settled in and allowed myself to be on my journey, on my own, I hadn’t realized that what I was doing was actually giving myself permission to connect to a whole other intuitive level that I had suppressed for so long — I found my voice.
So circling back to my initial thought – would someone look at me and say that I’ve changed? Yes, absolutely. I am no longer afraid of being overly affectionate with the people in my life – they deserve my love and attention every moment I spend with them. I am no longer silent about when the universe amazes me, as it does every single day and always has. When I make decisions that appear to not make rational sense and I am asked “why,” I am fine with saying, “it just feels right,” because that absolutely is a good enough explanation, and one that I should have used many times before now. This was all who I always was, I just kept her quiet. I released a huge fear that was a silent burden on my entire life. Not to mention the fact that my entire perspective on this particular thought had completely shifted, going from allowing it to crush me rather than build me. I allowed what was in me all along to present itself to the world, and let me tell you, incredible things have happened since then. So I’ll end with this note — never let a soul on this Earth suppress that fire inside of you. Your heart speaks every single day and it is your JOB to give that back to the Universe. You being you is the magic that the world needs.
The New Moon will occur tonight, May 6 at 19:29 UTC.
I see it as ever hopeful, the signal for all new beginnings, and when it happens to be a spring moon, I am even more infatuated with its influence on the human condition.
May’s New Moon is indeed going to be a spectacular event, as it is also a Perigee Moon (or Super Moon). The moon will be at its closest to Earth in its orbit. But even more magical than that, it is under the influence of five planetary retrogrades—Mercury, Pluto, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
Before we fall into despair over how to survive these astrological and astronomical shenanigans, let us remember that all of these events are simply a call for awareness.
We can do more than survive the upcoming lunar cycle by following a few conscious steps.
While some may say that anything in Taurus is a tedious journey, I personally am grateful for the Earthy sign, which lends a degree of the reliable and practical to a moon dancing within retrograde energy.
Since the moon will be much closer to Earth this month it will tug strongly on our emotions.
We are already feeling unbalanced from the frenetic energy of Mercury Retrograde, and perhaps struggling with relationships as they relate to communication. Add to that Mars Retrograde, the planet of war and sex and we shouldn’t be surprised to see sparks flying between partners. For some, those sparks may mean the beginning of new relationships or the renewal of old ones, with passion at the forefront. For others, it could mean arguments about the smallest things. Either way, we must watch our emotional reactions to what is in front of us or more importantly, what we perceive to be in front of us.
The new moon means new beginnings.
But what shall we begin?
A new direction at work, in love or inspiration?
Or is it a new philosophical direction in life?
Typically, when the moon is new in Taurus we would do well to begin long-term projects with an eye toward completion. The problem with anything long-term is maintaining our enthusiasm for it. Taurus is a good teacher of determination—as long as we do not become too rigid in our expectations.
Let your plans come to light as Luna turns from new to full. Be expectant of good results. Often it’s our attitude that determines our success.
Like the moon, we will be unfolding and springing into action.
2016 has been a whirlwind so far. Tap into this energy with the new moon—line all of your ducks in a row and make a push toward the unknown. Isn’t that always the hardest part of any new beginning? When the new moon light is still low, we cannot get the full perspective of what we wish to accomplish. We have to have faith that all will be revealed in due time.
Areas to pay attention during this new moon are love, finances and health.
As Taurus would advise, eat well but with a tendency toward cleansing/spring foods like spinach, asparagus, fresh salad greens and plenty of lemon water. This will allow for renewed energy and create healthy space in the body and psyche.
In finances, be wise in your spending but not stingy. Spend where needed—if it is a new business and requires a faithful leap, this is the time. However, purchase what will move the business forward and avoid frivolities. For example, you may need to spend on quality advertising, but you could probably wait for the fancy letterhead.
I am making the biggest move of my life during the retrogrades this May, (hardly advisable), and the new moon is spurring a lot of activity around my house preparing for said move.
I am grateful for this energy to add to my own initiative.
Normally, I would refrain from taking such a huge step during all this planetary madness.
Here’s the thing—are we going to be able to organize all of our affairs according to what is happening with the moon or the planets? Of course not! An awareness of outside influences is what is most important here.
Love could become a confusing conundrum, even though it’s normally advisable to begin a new relationship with a new moon. But with the influence of the retrogrades, we encounter our shadow side—a good teacher if not somewhat over the top. Just take things slowly, if starting something new. Set good boundaries, and remember that vulnerability, while seemingly a risk, will take you places you never expected with a lover.
While the moon waxes from new to full, and the month is in the exciting stages of new growth, we can practice these things:
While making plans for the future, remain conscious of each passing moment and remember that today is all we truly have. It is good to prepare for the future, but life is lived moment by moment. Do not lose today to worries of tomorrow or regrets about yesterday.
Jump wholeheartedly into new beginnings, but keep sight that it is the beauty of each present moment layering with the next present moment that will make your dream come true. Enjoy the process.
Practice Conscious Awareness:
Awareness is accepting what is and allowing all that is to move through you without judgement.
“Instead of reacting to the content that arises in your life—thoughts, external events, other people, the scenery, and so on, allow the content to be. That is, instead of identifying with what arises in the now, become aware of the now itself, beyond the phenomena that arises in it. To become aware of the now itself means that you become aware of the stillness that underlies everything.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
Be the observer, as obstacles come up in the next few weeks. See them for what they are, a challenge to overcome, not to get so caught up in the struggle that you lose sight of your goal.
Luna will ebb and flow and so will you. As anger, or frustration or disenchantment arises, learn from them and then let them go. Letting go isn’t easy, and believe me, much will be kicked up as the moon traverses all of these quirky retrogrades.
To stay sane, and not lose any sleep over what else could go wrong, breathe through the tension and consciously decide to release.
Because communication may be compromised in the next few weeks, things could easily escalate from a discussion about how to squeeze the tube of tooth paste to contemplating divorce. A waxing moon is no time for letting things run away with themselves. Just let go of the little things that our partners do, and forget about trying to prove who’s right or wrong.
“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” ~ Tahereh Mafi
Above all, enjoy the mystery that surrounds you.
We are creatures of the Universe, all connected through a unifying matrix. There is beauty in the workings of the heavens, and since we are beings made of ancient stardust, we will always be influenced by the movements of the moon and planets.
But the truth is, we influence them too. As above so below, as the old alchemical saying goes.
Ahh, the largely debated topic of how much editing is too much editing? When it comes to photography, it’s hard to determine, especially when editing can be considered part of the art. There are definitely MANY styles of photography that require more editing than others. However, where is the line that we as artists cross between artistic editing and unethical editing?
In my career as a photographer, I stumbled across this question several times when editing photos, and I have to say, it’s an extremely tough call. There have been numerous occasions that I am specifically asked to “take off fat” and “whiten teeth” and “make me look 10 years younger.” It’s even more heart-wrenching when a younger person will ask me to make them look thinner. It breaks my heart to think that they have such a poor reflection of themselves that they would not want to see an unedited photo because they would feel personal embarrassment/shame. But what do you do when it is specifically requested of you? I have found myself between this rock and hard place many, many times.
Since I was 13 when I had my first job, one of the first lessons I learned was that the customer was ALWAYS right, even when they were not. When a customer/client asks something of you, even if it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t look good, or you know will not achieve what they are hoping for, it’s helpful to put in your recommendation, but ultimately in the end you need to deliver what they request. I came across this several times in other jobs that I had. There are ways to work with your clients on their vision, but if you must sacrifice your own vision for their satisfaction, that is what you are being paid to do. It’s a little bit different with photography; since photography is a form of art, most of the clients that I have come across have been attracted to my particular style of shooting. However, coming full circle with my initial point, what does a photographer do when they’re approached with extreme editing requests?
As most of written posts are, this is a loaded topic for me! And per usual, let me give you a bit of background about why this is so important to me…
Whenever I have been asked how I got into photography, I always say that photography chose me. To be quite honest, I’m not really sure how. It really does feel like one day I just woke up and started booking sessions, but I can promise you that it came hand-in-hand with PLENTY of hard work and no time-clock restrictions! But since day one, I remember being super passionate about it and not really understand quite why. But hey, I’ve never been one to question when I feel a pull from the universe (just say yes and figure it out later, right?). I quickly discovered a love for fashion/model photography; to this day, I still feel like I am most creative when I work in this field. However, as you can imagine, I also quickly found the dark side of this particular part of the industry. When I began working in this field, I found that I absolutely loved the feeling of making people feel beautiful about themselves (this was part of what lead me to start the fashion shows). It’s a bittersweet feeling when I am at a shoot and can show the client the photo straight from my camera and they look at it with the response, “oh my God, that’s me??” How wonderful and sad it is to think that this person DIDN’T think they were that beautiful before this photo, but that they can now see the completely raw, untouched version of it and still feel that way. Over the course of time, I have discovered that my purpose is to work with, build up, heal and support, young women. It is so amazing to me that photography was part of the path to lead me to this discovery – who would’ve thought? Power of the universe, baby!!
As wonderful as this probably all sounds, it doesn’t always turn out this way. There is a pressure as a photographer – or there is for me, anyway – to try and deliver a photo that best reflects the way that person looks to me in person. But we are all our own worst critics. I came up with the term “ethical editing” after a few of these instances and continue to market myself as an “ethical editor” in photography. Personally, I love laugh lines and freckles! When I see a smile, I see it in the eyes just as much as the mouth, and when you take pieces of that away, you remove a little happiness behind that smile. So many times I will edit a photo to the extreme and then completely undo all of my work because it just seems like such a plastic reflection of that person. The story in the video below is a beautiful example of how this shift is taking place!
So what exactly is “ethical editing,” although I think you could probably guess. I like to describe it as follows — I will edit the person in the photo to the extent in which I see you in real life, with added natural edits such as levels, saturation, brightness/contrast etc. However, my policy is that if you are not happy with your photos, I will redo your entire shoot for free, and if you would like additional edits to any particular photos, I will make them for free upon request, as the client is ALWAYS right and it is most important to keep the client happy with their end product. I will absolutely say that the way people look in person is definitely different than in a photo on a computer screen. I know that my personal experience when I am interacting with another person is that I do not see your flaws. Actually, let me rephrase that – I see past them. When I am talking to you, I am not scanning what you look like; I am listening to you. When I am walking alongside you, I am not paying attention to what others are looking at; I am staying present in the moment with you. When I look at your face, I am reading you from the inside and not scanning the exterior. Ethical editing is the ability to bring this into the final photo; editing the photo only to the point in which I actually see you. I love that a lot of companies are daring to become realistic with their advertising! I believe this is making room for us to become more artistic rather than critical, and how wonderful is that??
The last thing that I will leave this post with, and call me cliche but, beauty truly is from the inside out. I have said this so many times and will say it again – I can’t tell you how many people I have initially met that were incredibly beautiful on the outside and as I worked with them over time, I found it harder and harder not only to edit their photo, but just to take it. I have also seen the reverse happen. How you treat the world is a true reflection on everything about you from your outer layer to your core. Always stay humble, be kind to everyone you meet as you don’t know what battles they’ve been given, never pass judgment based on the cover of the book, and above all things, love unconditionally.