Glamour modelling, empowering or exploitation?

In this slideshow, we hear aspiring model Alice Beauvoisin, 21, share her perspective on the world of glamour modelling.

In this short video, I interview both Alice Beauvoisin and Sammy Dobson, 26. Alice speaks out about equal rights, her choice to pose nude, while Sammy, an actress, tells all about the impact that topless modelling has had on her acting career.

Hundreds, potentially thousands, of young women aspire to become ‘glamour’ models in the UK, but their quest for fame could make them vulnerable to fraud, exploitation or even assault.

Celebrities such as Katie Price or ‘Jordan’ have used topless and nude modelling as a platform, to create multi-million pound empires that branch in to, television opportunities, clothing lines and fragrances.

In the hope of hitchhiking their way on to this road to success, young women could potentially be exploited – or worse, in danger.

Aspiring model, Alice, believes it is her choice to pose nude or topless and the experience so far, she has found to be empowering.

“I am a model because I choose to be one. I choose to pose nude, because I can. I love what I do, it’s art. I find it very liberating. It feels like releasing the shackles of a fear of being naked.”

Although Alice claims to feel liberated by her modelling, when accompanying her to a photo shoot, she did not appear to be in control of the scenario. Paul Gallagher is a 54-year-old photographer who contacted her over the internet. Paul picked the location, the theme and gave very strong direction throughout the photo shoot.

Alice was not paid for her time and the photographs are not going to be used in any magazines or other publications. It is difficult to see which part of Alice’s experience

When asked what her friends and family think of her modelling, Alice admits that not all of her family know that she poses nude and the people she has confided in are not completely accepting.

“They think I should not present myself in that way, as a sexual object.”

Despite the obvious risks of arranging a meeting with a stranger via the internet, it seems that Alice may not have thought through the potential repercussions of being photographed nude.

Sammy Dobson, a 26-year-old actress, wishes that she had thought more carefully about the effects that nudity could have on her career.

“I arranged a shoot with Nuts magazine when I was 18. I, now, as an actress am limited to the parts I can audition for. Bid companies like Disney and Warner Brothers do very thorough background searches.”

“It’s one of those daft things you do when you’re young, when you think you know your own mind. Things like that stay with you forever.”

Sammy arranged the photo shoot herself, but once she got to the studio, she quickly realised that she was not the one calling the shots.

“I regret it from a career point of view and although I felt like I was in control at the time, I was not. The poses, I was made to sit in, the things I was made to wear, I regret arranging it. I regret putting myself through exploitation at such a young age.”

Sammy’s mother, Mandy Dobson, 52, voiced her concerns at the time.

“Her dad and I tried to talk her out of it at the time, but Sammy had made her decision. I’m just thankful that she chose a well known magazine, you hear horror stories of young girls being extorted, abducted and even assaulted.”

Charlotte Lockwood, a 21-year-old model, represented by Tyne Tees Models has heard her fair share of horror stories.

“I’ve heard of people making shoot arrangements who’ve then gotten themselves into situations they wish they hadn’t. Paying for a portfolio that never materializes, organizing shoots with inappropriate photographers and worse. With all modeling, I think you just need to be as sensible and safe as possible, always take someone with you if you’re not going through an agency.”

If you have approached an agency and they don’t think you’re suitable for modeling, don’t let photographers take advantage of your aspirations. Reputable agencies or photographers will not ask for money and they will not object to a friend or family member accompanying you to a meeting or photo shoot.

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The power of we to end sexism on world blog action day

If you’ve picked up a newspaper or tuned into the news over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that 2012 still isn’t a brilliant time to be a female.

I’m a feminist. There, I said it. I, like a lot of people, feel uncomfortable with the F word. It’s often said with a tut, a blush, maybe even a snide remark to the stereotypical bra-burning, or perhaps you start your sentences start with “I’m not a feminist but…”

 You may think that sexism is a sad and cruel beast of our past; defeated when brave ladies threw themselves in the path of a horse for the vote, or burned their bras to combat objectification. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Sexism is so engrained in our society that people fail to even recognise it.

Fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has been shot by Taliban extremists for writing a blog about how important education is for young women in Pakistan. Comedian Justin Lee Collins has been convicted of subjecting his former partner to months of domestic abuse and mental torture, yet his sentence amounted to only 140 hours of community service. Perhaps the most obvious; is the investigation into the late broadcaster Jimmy Savile, with more than thirty women coming forward to say he sexually abused them.

An article in The Independent last week detailed that The Everyday Sexism Projectreceived an email from a concerned email from a first year physics student at the Imperial College in London. She forwarded a mail out that had been sent to all members of the physics society claiming that; “Fresher’s lunch will be mainly a chance for you to scope out who is in your department and stake your claim early on the 1 in 5 girls.

So female students, potentially miles from home and familiar faces and surroundings are being marked as sexual prey by their male piers before their course had even commenced.

Another concern was raised when a male fresher’s week volunteer emailed the Everyday Sexism Project to report the “horrific normalisation” of sexist attitudes and sexual pressure during fresher’s week. His emailed described acts by a group of first year male students named “slut shaming” and “slut-dropping.” The group of male student would drive around in the early hours of the morning looking for girls who were alone and looked inn a post-nightclub state. The female would then be offered a lift home, upon entering the car the male students would ask her address, then drive as far and as fast in the opposite direction as they could. The girl would then be forced from the car, left at the side of the road alone, often miles from home.

The Everyday Sexism Project also shared several fresher’s week events that were underlined in sexist themes. The University of York had a “Slag and Drag” themed night, while Derby University held a “CEOs and Corporate Whores” event.

I don’t doubt that the persons involved in planning the fresher’s events had fun in mind and no malice was intended, but I think its toleration of sexism at this level, the shaping of the business leaders of tomorrow that will shape the way women are treated in the future.

Feminists, like any other collection of people have stereotypes or radicals, but guess what; some feminists wear bras, some shave their pits and some may even do housework, some feminists are men, some feminists are old, some are young, some white, some black and some are even Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starfleet Enterprise. In the main, feminists are people with a bit of sodding common sense, who recognise that females deserve to be treated as equals, not as sexual objects.

So I’m finally admitting it, I’m a feminist and you should be too.  World Blog Action Dayhas set a theme titled The Power of We, so with reference to this I’d like to ask everyone to combat sexism.  I don’t expect any grand gestures or messages written on the moon, but little steps like pointing out inequality in your place of work or study.

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