That Pressure We Models Face

A lot of people reached out to me yesterday when I published my post “No more nudes? Let’s talk about it…” and I am so… relieved that most people understood where I am coming from and are supportive. What I am not so relieved about was the number of models who let me know that they feel very pressured to do “more” than they do as well.

Here is that portion of my blog post to get you caught up in case you haven’t read it:

“…there is always this pressure to do “more” and this feeling that no matter how nude I am, it’s not enough. People are constantly wanting open leg, more erotic work, girl/girl, flat out porn, etc. There are plenty of models who do those things, so if someone is looking for that, they can easily find it. But I feel like people actually press for it because they know I won’t do it and if somehow they pressure me into it, that’s an enjoyable thing for them. Why can’t people just appreciate what I do? Why is what I do not good enough? I’ve felt that way about myself for my entire life and it’s not something I want to keep enabling.”

As a model, I came to terms early on that people would ask me to do things I don’t do sometimes. It happens. For example, before I started posing nude, people asked me to pose nude all the time. I didn’t get upset about that as long as they were polite about it. I just said “no thank you” and moved on. Those times were not a problem for me.

However, I have had some photographers (and occasionally fans) who actually pressure me to shoot more explicitly than I am comfortable with. Notice that I am using the word “pressure” because they are doing more than just asking if I do or will. They say things like “I could make you so much more money if you’d just do this” or “I bet your fans would like you  more if you showed your pussy.” I had someone once tell me that doing this for the art was stupid when I could be making tons more money.

And it’s taken me some time to be able to put into words why this is such a problem, but I’m going to do my best now. As a model, I feel that what I do has value. What I do is pose. I create lines and shapes, moods, and sometimes characters with my form. Sometimes those things may be sexy or erotic, sometimes they may be raw, but I do what I do as an art form and as a source of enjoyment. At times it has also been a source of income, though now that comes more with my self portraits and photo sets on Zivity than being hired by photographers. But the “thing” that has value is my skill, perhaps talent, my experience, and my knowledge in what I do. It is not my body that I am “selling,” though I am hesitant to use that phrase, I cannot think of one more clear at the moment. If it were, I’d just be standing there looking down with no creative lighting, no composition, just me standing there the same way in every single photo. My body is part of what I do, but it’s not the sole “thing” and, in fact, is actually quite a small part of it compared to the rest.

With that said and as I am an artist who offers skill, talent, experience, and knowledge, I have limits and that is no different than anything else in life. We all have limits and we do not like them to be pushed or to be pressured past them. Sometimes, maybe, I might want to walk the line of a limit of mine. If I choose to do that I will likely reach out to someone to help me in that or, in my case, simply photograph it myself. But that is my choice. I decide when that will happen. That is exactly how I came to nude modeling. It wasn’t because I got so many offers I had to do it. It wasn’t because money was thrown at me. It was because I saw art nudes photos and I enjoyed them, and I wanted to be in them. I contacted a photographer who had let me know that if I ever wanted to shoot nudes, he would shoot them with me. It was a casual statement he made without any air of pressure or trying to convince me. And when I was ready, I did it.

When someone pressures me to go beyond my limits, especially when they try to use to guilt or flattery to do so, I feel immensely disrespected. I don’t feel disrespected because I think more explicit modeling is “bad,” and I don’t think it is bad, I just think it’s not within what I want to do. I feel disrespected because I am being treated as if my body is all there is and my limits, my skills, and so on are not any part of what I do.

If you enjoy my work, enjoy my work. Appreciate it for what it is, not for what you hope I might do. If you are a photographer and want to work with me, than do so because you want to work with me, limits, skills, talent, experience, and all. If you want something that I do not do, than find someone who does that willingly. They are out there and they will probably be happy to have your support as a fan or to work with you as a photographer… as long as you respect them.

I think this issue is one of the most common reasons why so many models, both new and very experienced, eventually leave the modeling world. We already feel we are putting so much out there that when we are asked for even more than we are comfortable giving, we feel unappreciated and begin to wonder why we even do what we do or begin to think that maybe we are simply doing the wrong thing for ourselves in being a model. I can only hope that most of the people who pressure us like this don’t have any idea of how much of an effect this can have on us, either immediately or over time. Part of the reason I am writing this is to try to increase the understanding of this problem and to encourage other models to realize that this is an issue outside of us. We are doing nothing wrong by having limits and modeling isn’t about posing in the most explicit way possible. It’s about creating images we are comfortable creating whatever our limits are.

I will finish by saying a very sincere thank you to the wonderful majority of people who I am honored to have worked with (and who I will work with), who take on the title as a fan of my work, and especially those who have sent me such wonderful supportive messages over the past few days. You inspire me and your support fuels my creative fire. You are awesome!

And as always, you are more than welcome to share this article on social media, to link to it, etc. I want these thoughts to ripple. I welcome you to write your own blogs on this subject, too, and I’d love to read them.

If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to support my creativity, consider becoming a Patron on Patreon or purchasing a print or digital set from my shop.

That Pressure We Models Face - Dekilah

  • Mike Robison

    I consider myself rather a fanatic about “respecting limits” in particular. I go to great lengths to make sure the model is OK with what we’re shooting / what becomes public. However, two related things sometimes cause misunderstandings, and create the wrong impression, either by mistake, or to suit someone else’s goals.

    First, since I essentially always want to shoot nudes as part of a session, I rarely agree to a trade shoot with limitations that don’t allow it. Some are quite offended by that.

    Second, I sometimes shoot “erotic”, or “explicit” things. I want to only do this with models who are comfortable with that. But, for obvious reasons, models don’t always broadcast such things, especially on social media. So, it is sometimes necessary to have a rather extensive conversation to sort out what *is* within the model’s comfort.

    • In your first example, I can see a model not wishing to shoot with you because she doesn’t shoot that, and that would be okay (I mean we all decline shoots outside of our limits/interests), but getting upset or offended just seems silly.

      And I think your approach on the second example is a good one. I know my own limits for erotic work are somewhat specific and I don’t broadcast them either as I rarely shoot erotic work anyway.