Past me would not have said yes to a casting call.
Past me would have leaned into her introversion.
Past me would have been terrified of being judged on her (fat) body and her looks.
Past me may have been some combo of the above as of a couple weeks ago.
Today I went to a swimsuit casting call at the nudging of my friend and colleague Sexologist Megan. Megan was in town for a few days doing her thing and we made plans to get together and catch up as we tend to do. Friday evening rolls around and she texts me that she’s going to this casting call. I texted back, “whaaaaaat?” She links me to the call which is for a swimsuit collaboration with Swimsuits for All and Gabi Fresh. They were looking for femme folks (though the call did say “women”) sizes 10 and up. I hemmed and hawed for a little bit, but I decided What the Hell! in short order.
My next thoughts turned to my need to shave my legs. (Hey, it’s winter, even in Los Angeles! I was going to get to it eventually!)
They wanted folks to show up with their swimsuits under their clothing if possible. I only have a couple swimsuits. I was going to choose a zebra print halter one piece, but it just didn’t feel right on me in the moment. Instead I chose a string bikini halter and high waisted pair of bottoms and threw a dress over it all.
When I got to the venue, I was a little overwhelmed, but there was great energy in the space. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t like scenes I’ve seen in movies where there’s a specific “type.” Looking around, there were femmes of all colors, shapes, sizes, heights, and ages. It was beautiful! It was how it should be. I think that speaks to Gabi’s overall brand and what is important to her.
After putting my name and info down, there was a bit of a wait, but the time went by quickly as I chatted and caught up with Megan. It was super cool to ogle the varying types of fashion aesthetics that everyone had. Bold colors; floral patterns; form fitting; stripes; flowy; denims; there were so many gorgeous outfits. Not everyone was dressed up and made up to the nines and that was cool, too.
Eventually my name was called. I joined a cue of people and we shuffled one by one to first get a Polaroid taken. (I love how this is a revamped version of old technology!) We were given instructions to take off our shoes and outer clothes, leaving on our swimsuits, keeping hold of a paper with our information and photo attached.
Surprisingly I wasn’t super nervous about this next part. Thank goodness I’ve been able to develop some measure of body acceptance and confidence through Orgasmic Yoga and being in sex positive, body and fat positive spaces fairly regularly.
It was such a treat to meet Gabi and shake her hand. When asked why I was there, I explained that I am a sex educator and I’m all about embodiment, body positivity, and encouraging folks, if they cannot get to place of body love yet, to get to a place of neutral, appreciating all the things that our bodies can do and experience. She loved that! And she complimented my swim top (link to an old photo) which has purple strings and black triangle cups (Thanks Big on Batik! They are not an affiliate or a sponsor.)
Finally, we had to take some photos. I had a sort of out-of-body moment where I paused and thought about how skeezy things (that is putting it hella mildly) have been in the news with men, stories about power dynamics in various industries (Hollywood and modeling, and others of course), and on and on. I got a tiny bit nervous there. As a general statement, that feeling is not at all unwarranted, and is totally valid. In this space everything was just fine.
Even though I was getting photographs taken in my swimsuit, I felt comfortable, not at all objectified in any gross way. I received many compliments on my hair color (a purple-y magenta situation) which was nice. I posed in a few different ways and just like that it was done.
I’m really glad I had that experience! Modeling is something I think I’ve wanted to do on some level for a while, but was never something I pursued, mainly because I’m short (5’1″) and partly because I’ve always been fat. It’s amusing to me now to think back on how uncomfortable I was when I was slimmer (never ever “skinny,” let’s get that clear). I was uncomfortable in my skin, judgmental about my weight and shape. Why? For what? What a waste of energy.
Whether I get this gig eventually or not, is almost irrelevant. Almost. I mean, it would be pretty darn cool. But as a piece of my embodiment journey, I am proud of myself for stepping a little out of my comfort zone and exploring something new to me!
Below is a little video snippet of the photo shoot portion that Swimsuits for All posted on Instagram.