Monday, 25 November 2013

Bridging the [thigh] Gap

What the fudge? This opening line is quite ironic because the people I am talking about would never eat fudge for fear of their thighs touching. What is the obsession sweeping the developed world with  ‘thigh gaps’?  If it feels like I am yelling, I am. I am confused, astounded, dumbfounded; since when has a gap between your thighs been an indicator of beauty? Or an indicator of anything for that matter. I thought the social media ‘selfie’ abs photos were enough, but now I am being bombarded with selfie crutch shots too. We have outdone ourselves with this first world problem, that’s for sure.

I was introduced to the ‘thigh gap’ phenomenon by a mother of a high school aged girl, who was becoming increasingly alarmed by the way her daughter was obsessing about the fact that the top of her thighs touch, constantly taking photos of her ‘gap progression’, and having to be reassured by others that her gap is visible and coming along ‘just fine’.  It was during this conversation I had the stark realization that the only image that is seared into my brain when I think of tops of thighs is a hot summers day and the resulting possible chaff that indicates I am human, it is hot and I have been active. Does the fact that I haven’t been stressing about how far apart my thighs sit make me less beautiful or even worse, out of touch with reality? Someone pass me the talc!

I walked away from this conversation shocked and immediately instagram searched  #thighgaps to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather (something a plus size model would rarely say!). Photo upon photo of girls and woman’s crutches dolled up in lycra bike shorts or the latest fashion print underwear, all there on the web for us to inspect, to see the ever evolving and more often than not, unnatural looking ‘thigh’ gap’. There is even a ‘wiki:how to’ guide on getting a thigh gap. The only reason I stopped looking at the photos was to cough up the bug I had swallowed while my jaw my touching the ground!

Thinspo on instagram

Wiki: How to get a thigh gap

I have been entrenched in the fashion world for long enough now to know that ‘body hate’ and negative body image is somewhat of a constant and sadly is an issue that affects men and woman of all ages and sizes world wide. However, what is more disturbing is the proliferation of young men and women publicly hating on their own bodies, proudly stating they are ‘pro ana’, meaning, pro anorexia, girls commenting on how they can not wait until amenorrhea kicks in and encouraging others to get on board the ‘thinspiration’ bandwagon submerging their lives in meaningless banter and down right destructive behaviour.
Please don’t get me wrong, some people are naturally skinny and a ‘thigh gap’ is an attribute that they don’t need to work for, their bodies are naturally lean. I am not saying that this is unhealthy, however, subjecting your body and your mental state to a level of extremity to gain this, as a characteristic of beauty, is ridiculously unhealthy. The level of insecurity and self hate evident in this behaviour is the most devastating realisation of it all and to see it amplified and encouraged through social is frightening. 

To say that I have perpetual love for my thighs would be misleading. My thighs are the biggest part of body, but I have come to terms with that and that’s all right with me, especially since I now rely on them to pay my bills and have enough money to eat. I have thighs that touch, rub, overlap and have done so since I was young. It was never a bother, never a thought and certainly not something I would condemn myself for.  The fact that a ‘matchbox’ car cannot drive up my inner thigh and make a u-turn at my vagina does not worry me in the slightest. There are much bigger and many more powerful issues in this world to worry about.  Most people should be grateful they have enough food to consume to actually have thighs that touch.

No thigh gap, no worries! 

Good luck retouching a thigh gap onto my legs! Photo courtesy of Plus Model Magazine.

My best attempt of a thigh gap at work. They still touch

Scrolling through the endless array of pencil thin legs and protruding hip bones visually poking me in the eyes, I started to worry about the possibility of having a child and the life and ridiculous body image expectations that they will be subjected to. And then I thought, hold on, they will have a mother and father who portray healthy body image, a mother that has thighs that touch but one that has thighs that can squat, run, jump, kick and look damn right good and healthy. If they are brought up in an environment that teaches them from a young age that there are many more important things in life than the size of your thigh gap, things like environmental protection, world poverty, discrimination, and world conflict; than we will have hopefully bridged the ‘thigh’ gap and given these future leaders a solid leg (s) to stand on! (pun intended).

Having a thigh gap does not make you beautiful but being a good and humble person, helping others and being happy will surely lead you on the path of a fantastic life more so than giving gale force winds the ability to blow between your thighs and literally and emotionally knock you down.


Instagram:  @laurawellsmodel
Twitter:     @laurawellsmodel 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Curve Ball of Fashion in Reality.

Fashion industry standards vs Realities perceptions.

When I became a model I always expected to and consistently did put the word ‘plus’ in front of the word model. This was due to the fact that I would get looked up and down and be judged on my appearance, I wasn’t small enough, and had tits and ass for days compared to the ‘normal’ stereotypical model that the industry is used to.  I felt it was easier to call myself a ‘plus model’ to relieve any feelings of confusion on the bearers end. I never felt any animosity toward the word, it is actually what I am, a plus size model, and I was proud of my size and the positive message I was relaying to the world.  I never thought I would have to defend myself for not being ‘plus’ enough, which is something that seems to be occurring more frequently.

I am a size 12-14 US, 14 AU, 14-16 UK, well and truly a plus size model by industry standards. Although, what I have come to learn of in the last few years modeling is that industry standards and reality do not equate. My measurements as a ‘plus size’ are actually realities average and it can cause a hell of a lot of confusion within the public forum when someone of my size is considered ‘plus’.

When compared to an industry standard (clothes horse, heroin chic, cocaine chic, whatever word you would like to use, I don’t approve of any of them) model, my measurements are significantly larger.

-       Bust              33 inches:  41 inches  (30a-b:  36 DD-E)
-       Waist            24 inches: 30 inches
-       Hips            34 inches:  43 inches (Dang girl, that’s a sweet boot-ay)

                  Left: Victoria's Secret Model, Right: Laura Wells (me) 18th November 2013 

My thighs are around the size of both a straight size models thighs joined together, and I definitely do not have a thigh gap, I could probably start a fire between my thighs if we were desperate!
Yes I have a waist and a relatively flat stomach; it is something I have always had. I don’t sit at home constantly working out my abs (thanks for the enquiries), my weight is distributed mainly around my bum and thighs.
I work out, eat healthily but don’t stop myself from indulging (I just ate a delicious chocolate brownie) or being happy. I have muscle; I have normal sized calves, yet I still have issues buying winter boots that will do up.  I have home grown boobs and struggle to find shirts that do up without looking like the buttons will fly off and stab somebody in the eye; I have a butt that has on a few occasions bust the seam of a skirt or pants at the most inappropriate of times.  I find it hard to wear certain styles of clothing without looking like a block and have only in the last few years started wearing jeans again because I used to feel to ‘big’ to wear them.
I choose my swimsuits wisely, 1. So my boobs don’t go flying out when I go swimming and 2 so I don’t get a muffin top that makes everyone at the beach hungry for pastries.
I, like majority of others have body insecurities, I have overcome a lot of them but most of all I don’t let them rule my life or stop me from doing what I want. I refuse to let a trashy gossip magazine tell me ‘what’s hot’ because if I did next week I’ll be the shamed Miley Cyrus of the local area and licking the local wrecking ball will no longer be cool.

The disparities between the modeling industry and reality are profound yet we need to consider them for what they actually are not how they are expected to be perceived. When the fashion industry labels something as ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’ it should not be taken literally nor be the essence of our culture.  Beauty is perceived differently by each individual and comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and textures. It is not airbrushed, and rarely has straight pearly whites; it often has cellulite (god forbid) and doesn’t need to be adorned in thousand dollar designer garments for the benefit of someone else’s approval.

Just because someone is a ‘plus size’ doesn’t automatically make them less beautiful, just as if someone is skinny does not necessarily make them less attractive, on drugs or extreme diets. A woman is a woman no matter how curvy or straight she is and it is about time that that is recognized instead of the ideals we are forced to believe.
If we judged people on the size of their smile, the fullness of their heart, the width of their generosity and their breadth of compassion, beauty would be a much larger cross section of reality and negative body image an issue from the dark ages.

I am a plus size model, in reality I am average size person with a healthy BMI and a goal to be as happy and healthy as possible. I understand the confusion, the strain and the negative connotations that has to society.  But we need to stand up and be our own judge of beauty, ignore the media hype and be the best people we can be for the sake of our own happiness, our children’s future and the legacy we want to leave behind. If I wasn’t labeled a plus size model I would have no platform to deliver my message of positive, healthy body image.

Laura Wells