||||| NOTE: I’ve rewritten this post about 50 times now. It’s such a topical and difficult issue to define when you are trying to squish it in to a blog post. I would love to hear from anyone, whatever size you are, about how the fashion media, particularly fashion photography affects you. |||||
Soon, very soon, I’ll be jetting over to the London College of Fashion for a summer course in Fashion Photography. You don’t have to tell me, I already know I am a total nerd. Summer time nerd-fest. If only I had the words to convey my excitement. Really, I cannot wait.
Before I forget to mention it, the college are streaming their Graduate Fashion Show Live online tomorrow at 6pm. I’m definitely going to check it out. Last year, you could virtually tour the photography exhibitions and it was incredible. I’ll be sure to link to it if it’s online again this year. I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed for next year. I’d love to do their MA in Fashion Photography, which is a large part of my summer course motive. Hurray!
Completing the course is also a small part of my ‘grand scheme of things’ type plan where I take over the world and have lots of lovely curvy ladies everywhere in the media. Ahem. Photography invaded my life in 2008 and has since completely taken over it. Most of my experience comes from working as a music photographer, which is incredibly fun and I have no intentions of stopping, but I would, someday, love to work in fashion. Everyone says that, I know, but I feel this giant plus sized fire in me and I just have to give it a go. (See what I did there? I made a joke. Well, sort of. Oh, no. Shame!)
I’ve been studying photography as part of my Journalism & Visual Media BA for the last two years, and I feel it’s almost ironic that I’ve been drawn towards fashion photography. I love it. I can’t help it. But, I hate it in equal measures. Ahah, and so my conundrum begins.
I am a tall, plus sized lady. YES.
I am excluded from the majority of high street stores due to my height and dress size. YES.
(I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for the record, I’m not the size of a planet or anything. I was once described as a ‘boulder of a woman’ by my boyfriend, but he is the lady in the relationship and I can beat him at arm wrestles, so whatchagonnadoaboutit?! He is very lovely though, and funny. Hai, Gav! x)
I enjoy ingesting any form of fashion media, be it online, print, or television. YES.
Absorbing all things fashion in the media makes me feel worse and even more excluded because there is very, very rarely anything about plus sizes. YES.
I like to look at fashion photography/fashion spreads/anything with a model and clothes in it. YES
That also makes me feel bad. YES
So, I asked myself the big question. Do I, Sara Ellen Devine, want to be part of something that makes me feel bad?
YES….and here’s the big, fat BUT: I want variety and real girls, short girls, fat girls, tall skinny girls with boobs so big they would knock your brother over; ALL the girls. And I want them as they are. I really don’t think I have it in me to alter a girls appearance in Photoshop. I spend hours editing, messing, cropping etc. I’ll turn you blue if you’d like, but I can’t liquify you. I’ll never make your legs longer or remove your muffin top. You get the picture.
The other question I was forced to ask myself was whether or not I was, excuse the phrase, pissing in the wind. Will I ever work if I’m so specific about what I’ll do? I’m not really sure and that really worries me. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me not wanting to do those things, but I guess time will tell.
Part of the course includes Photoshop and Beauty retouching, which I’m going to learn. Absolutely. I want to absorb everything I can so I’ll know I’ve made the right decision saying no to it. I’m already pretty sure, but there’s no harm cementing it. I’ve already done some ‘straight out of the camera’, aka no photoshop shoots with my lovely friend Hannah, who was nice enough to be my tester model. (See posted pictures.) Hannah is studying Special Effects Make-up and we have lots of amazing shoots planned for the summer.
(Before anyone mentions it, Hannah is a lot smaller than me, and yes she is far from plus size, but she is my friend, and shooting with her really opened my eyes to the insecurities smaller girls have. Being closer to that illusive ideal doesn’t mean you are void of paranoia or body issues. They are just different ones, and I love Hannah the way she is. The matter here is whether or not the girl is real. Hannah is not photoshopped here, so she is real. That’s the way she is and I think women wouldn’t beat themselves up so much if they knew the women in the photos they were looking aren’t weren’t 100% natural. Even though I know, and a lot of other women know the extents of digital retouching, you can’t help but look at it and think ‘Wow, I wish my skin was that clear.’ I know there’s a lot of make-up/hair/styling involved, but you can replicate that to some extent in the real world. You cannot replicate a photoshopped model. There is space for all of us, no matter what size you are, in the fashion industry.)
Tangent: I’m already researching the shopping, which will definitely take up a post of it’s own. Apparently, there are H & M stores in London carrying plus size stock. I’m literally going to ring every store in London tomorrow. I hope the internet didn’t lie to me.