With models like Carla Delevingne and Kate Moss speaking up about the need to protect the rights of underage models, the recent French model bill requiring models to present a doctor’s note proving they’re healthy enough to work, and the ongoing buzz to enforce the Models Bill of Rights, the way people in the fashion industry treat models has been under a lot of scrutiny lately.
However, Now Toronto‘s new “Love Your Body Issue” features a powerful photo series that the fashion industry could learn from for a number if reasons:
1. The photoshoot considers the individual needs of models
Rather than treating models like objects, photographer Tanja Tiziana photographs subjects naked in a way that’s both honest and respectful.
Tiziana went above and beyond to make sure photography subjects felt comfortable during the shoot. “I know stripping down can be a really daunting task, especially when there’s a camera involved, so I wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be any audience to contend with as well,” she tells SheKnows. “Subjects were invited to bring a friend/support along with them and several did.”
Now also gave the models an opportunity to open up about the issues we should really be talking about, ranging from body insecurity to real-talk about what being a woman means.
2. Models had a say in the creative process
Instead of treating subjects like objects to arrange how she sees fit, Tiziana let them help determine how they’d be portrayed: “After a set of photos, I would always invite the subject over (if they wanted to see) and show them what I was creating with them,” she says. “If there was an angle or a certain pose that they felt uncomfortable with, we’d review and try something different till we were both content to have captured something strong and something that they’d be proud to see…”
Giving models some say in the creative process enabled her to really capture the individual personality of each model.
3. Models overcame body insecurities
Model Adam Benn recalls that the shoot was incredibly frightening at first: “Taking off all my clothes and being in front of people is hard because of that instinct to second-guess myself,” he writes in Now Toronto.
Most of us would be afraid to get naked in front of other people, so Tiziana made sure models felt they were in control, telling them they could even bring props if they felt they needed to hide any parts of themselves. “I could see the shock of [being naked] pass as we got familiar with each other, the space and shared a few laughs,” she recalls.
4. Stripping down became an empowering act
Far from feeling vulnerable, models felt empowered in their own skin. Stripping down seemed to help free people from “all the baggage we’re taught to carry around with our own bodies,” says Tiziana. She noticed models “grew comfortable in their own skin, stronger and more free. They ended up ditching the ‘cover’ and standing taller, brighter and bolder than when they’d started.”
5. The shoot sparked needed conversations
Models used the photoshoot as a platform to talk about their own body insecurities: Esther Jun, an actor in Next Stage Theatre Festival, shares her anxieties about her pregnancy body: “I have not been happy with my body lately, although I’ve been trying harder to accept it. I had a baby about three years ago, so I’ve been through some massive changes, and it’s been hard,” says Jun. But she adds: “… as my daughter is getting older, I realize this feeling is not something I want to pass on to her. There’s nothing wrong with my body; it’s just not the image I have in my head of what it should be.”
And trans woman, burlesque dancer, writer, stewardess and activist Xica Ducharme shares her experiences overcoming adversity through dance: “The only place that I actually feel safe is on the dance floor. Every time I’m there, people are so accepting and inclusive,” says Ducharme. “It doesn’t matter how much the world tries to put me down. I will stand on those heels, naked, in front of anyone, holding a fan to cool myself off from all the struggles. Making myself beautiful. Standing tall.”
So let’s give these guys a hand for being so literally and metaphorically naked with us, and inspiring us with their strength to work past obstacles.