Getting down.

Today I thought I would write a little blog about my daughter. As most of you who read my blog are aware I have 2 kids, one of which, my 2 year old girl has Downs Syndrome.
Firstly, what is it? Downs is where the person has 3 copies of chromosome 21 instead of 2 which is the normal amount. Nothing causes it, it is just something that can happen as cells decide when a baby is being created!
Downs not only causes a slow mental development but a physical and health ones too. Over half of people with downs are born with heart problems and my little girl was one of them. She had a complete AVSD which was holes in all chambers of her heart. At 9 month old she went through open heart surgery and thankfully was fixed! She has been so lucky that despite her heart she has had no other serious health issues. Many children with downs have bowl and intestine problems. Some have breathing problems and also kids with Downs have a 50% chance of getting leukaemia.

When my little bundle arrived we had no idea she had downs. We didn’t have the tests done as I’ve always said I would love and care for my kids no matter what, and I was right! Myself and my other half were both under 30 so she was a 1 in 5000 chance baby as most children with downs are born to older parents. Getting the news was quite a shock, no, a surprise I like to call it! Ok, she had downs, nothing we could do and we still had our baby girl it was just a different path our lives would go down! I can’t even say its been a bad path to go down. It has brought us all together more, certainly made me stronger and we have met so many wonderful people along the way.

It’s certainly tough sometimes. A lot of sleepless nights (kids with downs don’t rest well), I have to give her an hour of physio a day, try and do some speech with her, she has a home schooling system called Portage which has to be done daily and not to mention all the care she needs as she has a 2 year olds body, the mental capacity of a 9 month old and the mobility of a 6 month old.. But would I change her? Absolutely not! She’s loving, funny, extremely cute, smart, cunning and most of all…. She’s MY daughter!

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Owed to Sophie.

I’m sure that most of you are aware of my passion for a certain charity, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. I thought I’d give you a little background onto why I am so passionate to this particular charity.

Sophie and her boyfriend were brutally attacked one night in Bacup for no other reason than the way they looked. They were of the gothic culture. Both suffered horrific head injuries and sadly Sophie lost her life.
It didn’t have to be like this though..

I moved from Sheffield to a little place in Lancashire named Rossendale to be with the man I was to marry. It seemed such a lovely little place. We had our home in Helmshore and as soon as I moved in I started looking for work. As fate would have it, I went into the off licence at Rawtenstall for some cigs and there was a job vacancy for a supervisor. Having my NVQs in bar management, cellar work and held a national licence certificate, they snapped me up! I had only been there 2 days when the manager quit. Before I knew what happened they threw me up in Burnley court, had me swearing the oath and suddenly the licence on the shop was mine! I was manager, I loved it! In the neighbouring town, Bacup, we had another shop. Again the manager walked out! They had very little staff to cover so I was really thrown in at the deep end and was now looking after 2 shops.

To cut to the chase, I had to do the late shift in the Bacup shop one evening. 10pm came I shut up shop and headed for the bus stop. The accrington bus (my bus) was about every half an hour at this time of night and the bus stop was in a little weird back street (although it’s been moved now!). I was stood all by myself. I had a long black coat on as it was chilly and well, I’ve never had ‘normal’ hair! A group of youths came up to the bus stop, stood right beside me. One started to get right up in my face asking “ere are you a goth? Are you one of them moshers?” trying to stay calm I giggled slightly and said no. They continued to invade my space, getting closer and more in my face until, thank the lord, another man came for the bus. Most of the lads then backed off. All but one, but his mates told him to back off and they all walked away. It was a really scary experience and shook me up. I never waited for a night bus again, it was a taxi for me. A few weeks later it was on the news that a boy and girl had been attacked in the park in Bacup. It was awful news. As details emerged a photo of Sophie flashed up on the tv screen. A beautiful young lady and not one I was unfamiliar with either. I’d seen her a couple of times and like a lot of Alts/goths do, give each other a hello and a smile as we walked by!
Then the biggest shock of all came. Another face on the TV. A face that sent shivers up my spine. The lad who had been goading me at the bus stop. The one who didn’t want to back off. I went cold, I felt numb. Thoughts ran through my head, that could have been me. It should have been me! If I had taken a beating then she wouldn’t have died! I felt so much guilt, I know I shouldn’t. But it was always in the back of my mind that if I had taken a beating, she wouldn’t have.

I moved away from Rossendale as my marriage broke down. I never forgot about what happened to Sophie and always carried her in my heart. A couple of years later I randomly stumbled upon a facebook page. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Run by some amazing people including her wonderful mother, Sylvia. Since then I have never stopped spreading the word of the foundation and the wonderful things they do to stop hate crimes like this happening again. Until my dying day I will remember Sophie and I will do everything I can for the foundation. At least I know that if anything like this happenes to me again, I have a voice through S.O.P.H.I.E.

Bullying

A lot of people are doing blogs today about bullying thanks to Jodie Marsh and her fantastic programme last night. I thought I’d join in and tell you my story.

All my life I’ve been different, never really fitted in. At school I was in the crowd of misfits. The Goonies as we were called. I wasn’t from a well off family, just a typical steel workers family, sadly my dad lost his job when the steel works got shut down. This meant we had to shop at charity shops, we relied on the education grant (Eddy Grant) for school clothing, which was not a uniform back then! The high school I went to was situated on the biggest council estate in Sheffield, full of low life scum who wouldn’t think twice about robbing and running catalogue bills up to clad their kids in designer names and branded clothing.

This is where it all started. From the first day I started that school, I knew straight away that I didn’t fit in. Most of the other girls looked me up and down and giggled. I knew I looked out of place but I didn’t mind too much. One girl took a serious dislike to me, even without talking to me! I got name called by her and her mates everyday and it was awful. Fatty, (and I was!) minger, fat arse, gypsy, tramp, munter, and many more besides. The worst part was when we was left in a class room without the teacher, the ring leader girl came up to me and said “What the fuck are you wearing?” before I had time to turn around she had thrown me to the floor and was stamping on my back while laughing her head off. This must have carried on for 5 mins, I lost consciousness so it could have been longer. I was taken to hospital and the police got involved. A few days later, although still a bit sore, I returned to school. I was told by the head that the girl had been suspended for a week. Nice, I get chronic pain and she gets a week off school! Plus the police never did anything as she was a minor!

She returned to school and it was like nothing had changed. Still the name calling, beatings, but worse now because I was also a grass! I can only think it was a sign from somewhere that in my last year of school arsonists burnt it down and we had to spend a lot of time off. I knew I had time to stop the bullying. I started watching what I ate obsessively, working out and doing anything I could to lose weight. I went from a size 12 to back in kids sizes. I was seriously under weight. I saved every bit of money I could and bought myself new clothes and shoes.
The day we went back to school I felt so happy that I knew there was nothing they could pick on me for. Also for the first time ever even the boys noticed me!.. But this opened up a new can of worms. No longer was I the little un-trendy fat kid, I was a rival to them. So the bullying continued.

Finally it was the end of school, no more bullies! I went to work in a hair dressers on an apprenticeship. That was worse than school! The rivalry between girls trying to be top dog, the best looking is one nasty world! I had the name calling all over again. I lost more weight. By this time I had completely stopped eating. I hid it from my family really well. I knew I had a problem and I didn’t want them knowing.

Finally I left the salon when my boss sacked me telling me ‘it wasn’t working out’ me being there! It wasn’t me causing the problem but it was easier to get shut of me than the 5 girls who were bullying.

Ever since then I have never let anyone push me around or bully again. I’ve only recently put some weight back on and I’m the best I’ve ever felt! Luckily I was mentally strong enough to come out the other side and it made me an even stronger person.

The best thing is, I added these bullies on my Facebook and how I laugh when they post photos of their little lives on the dole, 5 kids to different dads, binge drinking every night and still on that old estate. And they see mine when I post photos and tear sheets from publications of my modelling work.

I know which one of us came out the better person! I guess I should thank them really!

Winning!

If you’re reading this via my twitter you will notice I’ve been pushing and pushing for votes in a competition. I never do these comps or beg for votes but this was different.
A few days ago you may have read a tweet of mine saying “imagine if all of twitter just donated 1p to charity” not long after I tweeted this I saw Mez tweet a link to a modelling comp site, it was too good to be true! So, I signed up and spammed you all to shit to vote for me. To make me a cover girl!

Firstly, anyone who knows me knows that being a cover girl is really not my scene! But you all voted. The last figure I saw on there was almost 2000 in the space of 48 hours. That’s a lot of votes! You all took your time out to go and vote.

You had the choice of a rate of 0-10 on the site and most of you hit the 10 (thanks by the way!) now, and this is the issue I wanted to raise…

Imagine if I had been a charity, no pictures of me scantily clad to look at, just people who needed as much help as they could. The slider had been money, donate anything between 0p and 10p would you? Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t notice a loss of 10p like you didn’t notice the time out you took to vote, retweet and gain even more votes. All those votes into 10p’s mount up to a lot of money that could help someone so much and not just some pretty faced model trying to get some publicity on a site that really has no bearing on the modelling world at all!

So next time you go and vote in an online comp, just think, all those votes converted into just 10p each could help someone who really needs it and go and donate to a charity that’s close to your heart!

Sorry I didn’t tell you the truth but I am a big believer in charity work and wanted to raise an issue I felt very strongly about.

The big picture

I wanted to talk today about another style of modelling. As you will all know I do alternative work which is the dark side I guess, but I have friends who do all kinds of modelling and are amazing and unique in their own way.

I’d like to talk about the BBWs of the industry. I love these girls! The larger ladies who are proud of Who they are and show it with pride. I’m inspired to write this on behalf of a very good friend of mine, KimB aka Busty KimB. This girl is really an inspiration to bigger ladies. She knows what her modelling type is and does not delude herself into being anything else. She has the most massive pair of knockers and knows how to sell them! She’s not all boobs though, she has such a pretty face and a great personality to go with it. I have seen so many hurtful and hateful comments aimed at her for what she does but brushes it off with very witty comebacks and takes it with a pinch of salt. If these comments do get to her then she doesn’t show it and is a very strong and independent young woman.
I guess being a BBW isn’t much different from alternative modelling. It’s about being proud of who you are, for what you are and showing the world that you are happy in your own skin!

To contradict myself in a previous blog, I guess this does prove that all kinds of women can be models. You just have to find your niche and do it! Girls and women like Kim actually inspire me even more to be happy in the body I’m in, fat bits and all! We are to believe that larger people are unhappy and dream of being thin, this is far from the truth. Some may do but others love who they are and there are also a lot of men out there who adore these women. Kim has a bigger fan base than I do so I think that’s a big wake up call as to weather men prefer curves!!

I know Kim has been trying to lose some weight at the moment but I believe it’s more for health reasons rather than looks (I hope so anyway!) She is a true star in her own right and so are all the other BBWs out there.

They are doing it for the larger ladies and proving that there is a market out there for the bigger models!

Want to be a moggle?

I get asked so many times “How do you become a model?” and “Could I be a model?” Well, here is your answer!..

Firstly, as I have said in a past blog, you need to know if you are sellable. You have to have a complete honest look at yourself. Who would you appeal to? Are you good enough? If you think you’re not then you might as well stop reading here!

So, you think you’ve got what it takes? Right, the first thing you need is a portfolio. To start off with you don’t need anything flash. Basic head shot, full length, clothed shot and underwear shot to show what you have. Minimal makeup and as natural as possible! A lot is talent is signed up to agencies on the basis of these minimal shots as it is the true representation of you. They don’t even have to be professionally taken! To build up your port of pro photos I would highly recommend finding a top photographer in your field of work and paying them! You can go down the TF route but it can be a disaster!

TF work, for those who don’t know is either TFCD (time for cd) or TFP (time for prints) which means the model and photographer works without a cash payment. The model gives up her time for free images to promote herself and the photographer gets images to use as promotion too. The problem with this is the majority of photographers who do TF work are not very good, new to it or just there for the kicks of seeing half naked women sprawled out in front of them, no doubt having a Wank over them later in the day! So, if you are new to the industry, it would be like the blind leading the blind and you will have wasted a day shooting for something that would even get rejected by Housewife hussies!! I’m not saying that all photographers who do TF are bad. Some top pro’s still do it if the model is outstanding or they have an idea they would like to try out. Just be very picky! The same applies to yourself. Do not over saturate yourself with TF work. You will be labeled as a model who will work for free and getting paid work will be extremely difficult. Again, there is a time and a place for TF. I do it occasionally but stick to no more than once a month just to keep myself topped up in recent images. I tend to collaborate with photographers I have used before and know their work. It ends up being more of a catch up but with lights and cameras instead of over a coffee somewhere! It’s lovely when you become good friends with others in the industry!

Where do you find work and photographers?, I hear you ask! Well, the best place is here! The Internet! I really shouldn’t be giving these secrets away but fuck it. I’m at the end of my career so really don’t give a shit! There are portfolio hosting sites such as purestorm, model mayhem, purpleport and many more. You can host your photos and info on there to be seen by other models, photographers, makeup artists, agencies and stylists that may be interested in working with you. These sites also have casting call sections where you can apply for work being advertised. It’s a bit like the job centre but for beautiful people and smells better!

If you want to stay self employed Then keep doing all the above. But if you want to be agency represented then you need to do a lot of hard work. Some people are very lucky and fall into an agency because you are just what they need on their books. I was extremely lucky as my first agency approached me walking down Fargate in Sheffield!! As I’ve got older (and weirder) it’s got a lot harder though! You have to be submitting every week, and don’t take knockbacks too hard. And never ever pay to be with an agency. They make money by getting you work, not money off the model themselves. Any agency that asks for money are conning you. Be warned! Also don’t take a place at any agency just because it sounds good to have representation. Some of the best models I know are completely self reliant on finding work. You could also find yourself limited to the work you do and not be able to work freelance alongside agency work, which is a bit of a knobend. If you do get signed with an agency then read the T&Cs first, carefully, very carefully and then read them again before signing anything. Plus a lot of Internet based agencies are not real. If the agency does not want to meet you in person before signing you then something is wrong, VERY WRONG!! you could be submitting anyone’s photos and they wouldn’t know!

So, hopefully that should help you if you’re thinking of stepping into this weird and wonderful world. But please remember, it’s not all glamour and big money. It’s a lot of hard work, dedication to your upkeep and paperwork and for very little money. There are very few people who earn lots of money at it. Personally, my set rate is £10 an hour. There’s people cleaning the streets for more than that!! so yeah, hard work, shit pay, working conditions can be cold, wet, smelly, and that’s just some of the studios! Location work gets much more fun! People leering at you, being treated as a piece if meat, people looking to use you as much as they can and a lot of travel!

Welcome to the world of modelling!!!

I do love it though!