On modeling and creating unreal images (with new photos from my fat positive line of bras)

The delightful Kriss Abigail has done it again. I thought I had just lucked into a fantastic photo when she took my head shot:

Photo: Headshot of a fat white queer femme woman with cateye glasses and red hair wearing a red dress. Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography

My new headshot for all the things. | Kriss Abigail Photography

Turns out there is a lot more that goes into a photo shoot. This is the last frame from the shoot, a result of trying to fluff up my hair between frames. I was rushing around that morning trying to get ready, and I just settled on a monochromatic look that I already knew looked good. I’m wearing the Sealed With A Kiss Designs Jessica dress in a 2x along with some jewelry from Forever 21.

I’ve long been an enthusiast of underwear as outerwear. I wear bed jackets like cardigans and négligées as dresses. But my most popular pieces are the bras I wear as shirts. I usually pick up a cheap bra and then either embellish it, reupholster it or dismantle it all together to create a unique item that I’d never want to cover up. And creating a collection of these bras has been so liberating for me.

After first working with Kriss, I knew I wanted her to shoot my line of body positive bras for Plump Pinup Couturier & Vintage Resale Shop. She photographed nearly my entire collection, and Kriss’s eye for detail has me looking flabulous. Here are some of my favorite shots:

The costume from my Little Mermaid burlesque act, complete with seashell bra:

Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras Ariel of the Little Mermaid burlesque costume full length Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras Ariel of the Little Mermaid burlesque costume headshot Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
My most popular piece, the hand-painted to perfection galaxy bra, lights up:
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras light up galaxy bra headshot Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
My signature burlesque costume features a fringe bra in fiery red:

Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras red fringe bra and shimmy belt burlesque costume full length Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras red fringe bra and shimmy belt burlesque costume headshot 1 Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras red fringe bra and shimmy belt burlesque costume headshot 1 Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography

Handcrafted from an actual disco ball, this hot pink bra is hotter than a disco inferno:
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras pink disco bra headshot Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
Proudly posing as a punk rock princess in my studded bra:
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras stud and spiked bra headshot Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography
Sporting the spectrum in my rainbow rhinestone bra:
Photo: Plump Pinup Vintage & Couturier line of fat and body positive bras rainbow rhinestone bra headshot Photo source: Google Images, Kriss Abigail Photography

I’ve had a glimpse into the modeling world and how photo shoots really work. These photos are not real life. They are a creation. They are the result of hours of primping and lighting adjustments and uncomfortable poses and hundreds of frames and editing in Photoshop. It’s beautiful, but it’s not natural. And now I see every photo for what it really is because I’ve peeked behind the curtain of this illusion and seen how its made. It took me having a photo shoot like this to understand that all the images I am constantly inundated with — that shape my perception of reality — are not actually real. They only exist in a fraction of a second that was manipulated with light and makeup and posing and costumes, etc.

Victoria’s Secret angel Cameron Russell spoke at TED Talks echoing these same issues:

I will demonstrate for you now 10 years of accumulated model knowledge, because unlike cardio-thoracic surgeons, it can just be distilled right into right now. So if the photographer is right there and the light is right there, like a nice HMI, and the client says, “Cameron, we want a walking shot,” well then this leg goes first, nice and long, this arm goes back, this arm goes forward, the head is at three quarters, and you just go back and forth, just do that, and then you look back at your imaginary friends, 300, 400, 500 times …

And I hope what you’re seeing is that these pictures are not pictures of me. They are constructions. And they are constructions by a group of professionals, by hairstylists and makeup artists and photographers and stylists and all of their assistants and pre-production and post-production, and they build this. That’s not me.

For more on modeling and creating photos, watch the video of Russell’s talk below:

A transcript of this video is available here.

Follow me on Instagram for my latest raw photos from the wild.

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