Category Archives: empowerment

what is it like to be a male model?

Let me begin by saying that I am not at all opposed to the idea of modeling or to the industry as a whole. I do, however, believe that we can do a better job at creating a safe environment for these men and women and abolish unrealistic expectations that oftentimes push models to engage in destructive and dangerous behaviors in order to meet expectations and, quite frankly, to make a living. Sara Ziff addressed some of these issues in 2011 by founding The Model Alliance, an organization that looks out for the safety and wellbeing of models. My hope is that the industry continues to gain momentum towards empowerment.

Photo by Mathius Brandt

Photo by Mathius Brandt
(courtesy of Ryan Murray)

In a recent conversation with my friend, Ryan Murray, he matter-of-factly mentioned something about being asked to stay “bulked up.” It made me wonder what it must be like to be a male model. I recall sparks of concern for male models after an emaciated YSL male model walked the runway this past January. We hear so much about what it is like for women to be in the modeling world but times when I’ve heard about the experiences of male models don’t come to mind as easily.

Ryan agreed to answer some questions about his experience in the world of modeling. Thank you so much, Ry, for sharing your experience!

How did you become interested in modeling? How old were you when you began?
My family entered my brother and I into a Modeling runway show when I was about 12 or 13 for Neiman Marcus and we both walked the runway, modeling Neiman’s hot fashion of the 90’s for youngsters!  I guess you could say that is where my interest began.  Then a few years later, in High School, I auditioned in a line of about 1,000 people at a cattle call for a Ralph Lauren runway show sponsored by Bloomingdale’s and Seventeen Magazine.  I was shocked when I was one of the 7 that were chosen from the crowd.  They said they liked my walk and that I had a stand out confidence!  I also had long-ish surfer hair and a pimpley sophmorish face… guess confidence really does shine thru!

under ladder

Photo by Gian Andrea Di Stefano
(courtesy of Ryan Murray)

What do you like about your modeling career? Is there anything that you don’t like?
I like the different experiences it brings to my life, when the jobs do come around.  They are few and far between sometimes because the supply of “good looking male models” is WAY above the demand of jobs!
Things I don’t like:  I wish I worked MORE! 🙂

What do you like/hate about the modeling industry?
I like the opportunity it provides and the trends it sets!
I don’t like how the industry is so narrow minded. It is very hard for some to think outside the box and many models get the short end of the stick because we don’t “look” a certain way, weigh a certain amount, stand a certain height… beauty is subjective and when you do not get jobs because of one person’s idea of the “beauty” they are looking for, it can be hard to swallow.

We’ve all heard about the tireless scrutiny and pressures for women in the modeling world. What pressures do you encounter as a male model?
There are definitely pressures as a male model.  Staying in a specific weight class depending on the “type” of modeling jobs you want to get; underwear, sportswear, bathing suit, lifestyle, runway, etc.
Body image is a very HUGE part of the job and I find that I am always comparing myself to other male models and thinking that I must need to look like “that” in order to book more jobs.

Photo by Mathius Brandt

Photo by Mathius Brandt
(courtesy of Ryan Murray)

What pressures do male models encounter to alter their appearance? Bulking up, slimming down, losing body fat, etc.?
ALL OF THE ABOVE!  Before many photo shoots I will not eat, or not drink water in order to “shrink wrap” my skin and muscle per se.
Oftentimes, if a job listing calls for rock hard abs or something of that sort, I know there will be a handful of other male models that will have more or better abs than me so I make sure to work out even harder… then it will all come down to the type of look they want as well. “Ethnically ambiguous” is VERY popular right now!  So there are so many factors but when it all comes down to it, if you don’t look a certain way, whether beauty is a factor or not, you don’t get the job.
I always feel if I can just get bigger biceps or a bigger chest or a harder butt, maybe THEN I will be what they want. It’s a lot of pressure, self-inflicted some of the time I will admit, but pressure nonetheless!

Many female models have shared the experience of having to compromise their principles in order to get jobs. Do you encounter this same pressure as a male model?
Well there is definitely a “sex sells” mentality and it is NOT just with regard to women!  There are times I have been on a casting or even a job and advances are made and the thought goes through your head, “if I say no will I get the job?”  More often than not though this happens when models are trying to update their books and looking for good photographers to shoot them. Many times they will make advances or want you to be a bit more suggestive than you had planned on!  You never quite know, in the beginning, what is acceptable, a true threat, if it will get you hired, or if it’s just the “way of the biz.”

How does not succumbing to these pressures impact your career?
It puts you on the slow track, a more moral track, a more freed conscience sort of track!  Good things come to those who wait, or at least to those who stay true to who they are.  There is such a need to feel wanted, to feel talented, to feel like you have an equal chance, and it is hard not to do “whatever it takes” to obtain those things.

Modeling is one of the most objectifying and sexualized careers out there. Has this ever impacted your self-esteem?
Constantly!  Even today, I woke up feeling puny, untalented, out of the loop, all because I have not been able to muster up the energy to lift weights after all of the spinning I teach.  I sometimes feel like I will never get a job again!  “Bulky muscles” are the key to being attractive and getting noticed, the voices in my head tell me. It is a constant battle I face because my body is my package and I am constantly having to “reinvent” in order to feel relevant, attractive, etc.

What advice would you give to someone who was interested in a modeling career?
Be happy with who you are and remember, confidence and self worth REALLY DO SHINE THRU!
Even though I had a horribly red and pimple ridden face and long hair when I went to stand in a line of 1,000+ people for that Seventeen Magazine/Ralph Lauren runway show, it didn’t matter to me because I believed in myself and KNEW I could do it!  (I should take my own advice!)

Photo by Charles Victor

Photo by Charles Victor
(courtesy of Ryan Murray)


the struggle for control

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Control. People struggle to get control, to keep control, and conversely, people also struggle to let it go. But here’s the thing, It’s all been an illusion. You never really had it to begin with! That’s the good and the bad news. The bad news because there have been times when we’ve all wished we had more control. As for the good news, consider this: What if you actually did have absolute control over everything in your life? Imagine the responsibility and pressure it would bring. It would be too much for anyone to handle.

The reality is that we have very little control over most things. Yep, it’s true. What you can control is how you move through what life throws at you. So what now? For starters, you can stop trying so hard! Let go and reclaim some of the energy that was hemorrhaging into your struggle for control. Redirect it towards being in the present moment and doing the best you can with what you have in front of you.

It may be scary to consider this shift in thinking but if you give it a try, I’m confident that in time you will experience a sense of relief and empowerment.


stop worrying, it’s not going to help you!

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If you think that you might have something to worry about, don’t.

Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. recently blogged about a surprising finding in The Huffington Post. He created the Legacy Project in order to find out what elderly people knew that younger generations didn’t. He and his team asked 1,200 men and women over the age of 70, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” Answers consistently addressed time spent on worrying.

Pillemer shares some of the sentiments in his blog:
I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”
Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.”

I recently heard someone say that, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”

Truth be told, this seems universally easier said than done. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of Pillemer’s recurrent answers to his Legacy Project question reflects the tremendous amount of time and energy people feel they’ve wasted on worry over the course of their life.

So what can we learn? When we feel our wheels turning (and turning and turning and turning…) and the worry begins, we can use this as a reminder that worry doesn’t actually solve anything. It won’t get you to an unknown answer more quickly and it won’t help you prepare for what is ahead. Don’t waste your time dwelling and when you feel your marble rolling in that direction, stop it! Make an active, conscious choice to reframe your thoughts and focus more on what you do have control over. And if you don’t have much control in the situation at hand, then acknowledge that you are in a difficult place and try to sit with it. But don’t worry! It won’t help you!


how do you define beauty?

089 La Paz Butterfly 15

Merriam-Webster defines beauty as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

Pythagoras and Euclid attribute beauty to the geometric concept of the Golden Ratio (a+b is to a as a is to b). Science has even backed up the idea that this physical symmetry seems to be more attractive. But what does that mean, anyway?

So what really defines beauty? The good news is that it’s totally up to you! YOU define beauty. YOU decide!

How do YOU define beauty?
Do you define beauty by physical attributes that you have very little control over?
the size of your jeans?
the color of your hair?
the number on your scale?
your age?
your height?

Or do you define beauty by inherent characteristics?
how you carry yourself?
your morals?
your values?
your personal ethos?
your confidence?
your energy?
your character?

Consider what you find beautiful in and about others and what makes you feel beautiful. Are these things that you notice and value every day? How much do you focus on physical attributes? How much do you focus on inherent characteristics? What would it be like to focus more on who you are as a person (your innate awesomeness) rather than focusing upon your external appearance? How would that shift your relationship with yourself? How would it change the ways in which you interact with others and move through the world? Perhaps it’s worth experimenting with. Spend a day or spend a week making this conscious shift. What do you notice? How do you feel about yourself?

In the meantime, I want to know… how do YOU define beauty?


what do you think about these mannequins?

Swedish department store “Åhlens” made a splash when they brought out curvy, natural looking mannequins! (see here for photo). “Awesome,” “It’s about time,” and “Finally!” were only a few of the positive reactions that have been buzzing around the internet. Thank you for keeping it real!

What do YOU think?


it’s 2013… now what?

It’s February 2013. By now the mad rush of everyone trying to live up to their resolutions may be dying off. Now what? Figure out what you want and go get it! It’s all about imagination, honoring yourself and intention (here, too!). Don’t underestimate yourself, there are plenty of people around who will do that for you.

By the way, I’m not talking about resolutions here. I actually don’t believe in them. It’s difficult for me to feel passionate about any statement that is made solely because of a date on the calendar. I do, however, strongly believe in intentions (you may know this by now if you have been following my blog). I also believe that you can consider your intentions at any time!

Given the ubiquitousness of January resolutions and promises, this year I encourage you to trash your grand resolutions and consider what it that you want more/less of? More free time? More sleep? Less anxiety? Deeper relationships?

The best place to start is recognizing the things getting in the way and what would it be like to remove whatever obstacle (or belief) is preventing you from having met your intention. Work it out and watch yourself soar!


e=mc²

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Energy = Mass x Speed of Light (in a vacuum) squared

What is energy? Intensity or vitality of action or expression.

All energy can be transformed or converted into different types of energy. Energy can also be refocused. The laws of physics state that total energy remains the same while only the type and focus changes.

It seems that people tend not to consider their energy until it is depleted. At that point, they feel frustrated that they can’t engage in things but think less about their relationship with their energy. So let’s think about it together…

Where do you direct your energy? Do you even think about it? Are you discerning? How do you decide where to invest your time and your energy?

How do you balance your energy? We live in a world that leans in the direction of multitasking. It is impossible to be fully engaged when you are multitasking. Energy is not well used and is often wasted when there is too much going on. Did you ever read an email in the flurry of your day and realize later that you misread it? I certainly have. Consider multitasking less than you do. Notice the difference in your efficiency when you carve out some time and focus on only one thing. Notice how much less energy this takes.

How do you conserve your energy? Conservation of energy is critical in order to not become depleted, overspent and crushed by exhaustion. Your energy is your currency so treat it respectfully and wisely. Manage it well and it will work better for you!

How do you restore your energy? What do you find to be restorative? What is nourishing to you? What helps you breathe deeper? How often do you make room for these things? Is it a priority for you? If not, why? How do you imagine things will change for you if you prioritize restoration in your life?

Remember, it’s your energy and if you stay conscious of it, then all of the above become your choice!


personal resolve (a reminder)

resolutions

Year-end is a marker of time and offers a natural moment to both reflect and look forward. During this time of year, it seems most people are talking about resolutions. What kinds of decisions, changes, etc. they will be making in their life beginning January first.

While these tend to be done with good intention, the truth is that most of these new year’s resolutions are quickly forgotten or broken, leaving behind a feeling of failure. While many remain entrenched in the new year’s resolution cycle, some sway in the complete opposite direction by making no resolutions. And of course, let us recognize that there are those for whom these resolutions stick.

No matter what your experience, I invite you to make this year different by replacing your resolutions with personal resolve.

What is personal resolve? A lifelong commitment to yourself. Knowing your own personal truth no matter what. It parallels the age old existential questions, “who am I?” and “what defines me?” When we know our own truth we become grounded in ourselves. Thus, less likely to become emotionally wiped out by other people or events. When we know our own truth, we make better choices and decisions, as they match our internal value system, ultimately creating more satisfaction in our lives.

This year I challenge you to get to know yourself better and to understand what makes you tick. I encourage you to cultivate your own personal resolve. Begin by noticing your actions and reactions. What gets you excited? Angry? Sad? Passionate? What are your intentions?

Take a moment and consider your own personal resolve. What do you know to be true about yourself no matter what?


vulnerability

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

My favorite quote… “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness. But it appears that it is also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” – Brene Brown

Watch this and then get out there and allow yourself to be authentically seen!


honor yourself

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I can’t believe that it has taken me until now to write about “honoring yourself.” If you know me at all, you know that this is an immense part of my personal ethos. So let’s go there!

Among other things, “honor” has been a tenet of religion (e.g.: honor your father and your mother) and culture (e.g.: honor your country). Not nearly as much focus and attention has been paid to honoring yourself. Scratch your head about that one!

What does it mean to honor yourself? Well, that’s up to you. It’s all very personal. What do you find self-honoring? Nourishing? Fulfilling?

What honoring yourself does require is for you to cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself. One that, at minimum, includes self-care, being attuned to yourself and being connected to yourself both physically and emotionally. After all, how can we honor ourselves (and our needs) if we don’t know what they are? If we are not connected to how we are doing?

If you already consciously honor yourself, ask yourself if there are any ways in which you don’t.

If you realize that you don’t honor yourself, get curious! What prevents you from doing so? What would it be like to shift this idea into your values, ethos and consciousness?

Here’s a challenge for us all… as the brisk air, whistling wind and occasional flurries remind us that a new season is swiftly approaching, take this opportunity to notice how you are doing. How do you feel physically? What do you need more/less of in the cold weather than you do in the warmth of other seasons? Notice shifts in your body. Perhaps your body tightens when it’s cold. What need must you honor in order to address this? How about food? Are you honoring your hunger/satiety? And emotions? How is your mood? What need(s) must you honor in order to take care of yourself emotionally?

Pay attention and notice what you notice. What feels easy for you to honor; what feels more challenging and why. Off you go!