Friday, 28 July 2017

Why I Gave Up Modelling

Modelling was never something I really planned on getting into, as when I was growing up I was ridiculously camera shy and would avoid being photographed at all costs; but after being approached a few times when my confidence was finally growing, I figured what's the worst that could happen? So I did the whole London trip and went to a studio to get a professional portfolio done for myself, which included a website to promote myself as a model, and I jumped into the industry with an open mind. I'm not gonna lie, it's great fun getting to dress up and try out different make up and hair styles for a day and you meet some amazing people along the way but even from my short time trying it out, I came to realise there are also some pretty serious down sides to modelling too which ultimately led me to giving up before it affected my self confidence too much and I became obsessed with my looks. 
This is just my experience, and I'm in no way shaming anyone who models, so please don't take anything I say here personally, it is purely my opinion. :)

Firstly, you have to be a certain size and have a certain look for most modelling gigs and if you're even a slightly bit under/over their expectations then you can miss out, no matter how beautiful you are. I learnt this when I first went to the studio in London and was sitting in the make up chair alongside a couple of other girls who were making their portfolio as well. Each and every girl there was crazy stunning, I was amazed some of them weren't models already to be honest, they exhaled confidence and rocked every single look they were given which was something I didn't feel I did. There was this one Latina girl, she must have been about 18, and she was quite honestly the best looking female I think I've ever seen in real life. So I did my photoshoot and afterwards you have to wait for a little while whilst they go through and edit the photos before you go in and have your consultation to see how well you did and if you are 'model material' as they say. Anyway, I went in and had the whole chat, purchased the rights to my photos and then was told due to my height and skinny frame that I was perfect for modelling and I should aim to stay the size I was for as long as possible. This threw me off a little as personally, I've always believed I was too skinny, and despite forever trying to put weight on, my body just shed it off - it also surprised me as the Latina girl I mentioned had these gorgeous curves that I was envious of, so I half expected them to tell me I had to gain weight, not maintain/lose it. That was when the lady said she unfortunately had been rejected due to a) being too short, and b) not having the right frame and honestly, I've never been so shocked or felt so bad for a stranger before. She was clearly upset as she left the studio and I could not believe someone that looked like her had been rejected and someone like me hadn't. I mean, she looked like a young Shakira, I'm not even kidding. I can't freaking compete with girls like that.

Next thing that put me off really putting myself out there for shoots was how competitive and nasty some people are in the industry. I was on multiple modelling websites promoting myself and actively looking for work on a daily basis and although there are some super friendly faces that make the whole experience really easy and comfortable for you, there are also a lot of really jealous and spiteful people that put you down for absolutely no reason and make you wish you hadn't even bothered. I guess I should have expected as much as being a model is basically you selling your face and body so there's a certain level of ego there, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get verbally attacked by girls who were applying for the same shoots as me and wanted to get me to back out. I've always been the kinda girl that supports women empowering other women and had hoped to work with like minded people, but unfortunately life doesn't always go your way and you get tested. This was one of those things that really tested my mental state as I had only just got my confidence up anyway after many personal things in my life that had knocked me down, and doing modelling was a huge step for me, so when I had other girls abusing my looks online, it hit pretty damn hard. It's one of those things that sounds really silly as looks aren't everything, I know, but in a society where standards are the way they are right now and girls put so much effort into looking and feeling beautiful each and every day, it's never nice to hear negative statements that are already playing in the back of your mind.

All in all though, I think the main component that made me throw in the towel on modelling was how often I was being told I had to do nude shoots if I wanted to get anywhere and make real money. Word of advice for anyone - whether you're trying to get into modelling or not -  NEVER compromise yourself for other people. Nude/lingerie shoots were something I was certain I did not want to indulge in, not just due to confidence issues, but also because once them pictures are out there on the internet, you can never get them back. People can find and use your pictures anywhere in the world and it made me incredibly uneasy to think that one day, my child could potentially come across those photos and call me up on it or in a worst case scenario, some random stranger could get a hold of my photos and use them without my permission. Not saying that doing nude/lingerie modelling is in any way a bad thing; like I said earlier in my post, these are purely my opinions and I respect anyone who does that kinda work, do whatever make you happy! :D 

But yeah, almost every other enquiry that came through my website was asking me to do some form of artistic nude shoot and a lot of them were TFP (Time for Prints - so you don't get paid for your time, you get a selection of your photos in exchange). The money wasn't the problem at all, I never exactly expected to be cashing in massively from modelling as you have to be doing it for years and get signed by an agency before you really get any big shot gigs anyway, it was just the way most photographers came across in their emails that made me uncomfortable. It was always so casual, they preached how easy it would be and you could bring a friend/family member along to feel safe at all times, your modesty would be covered by your hands, etc etc...but personally when I agree to do a shoot, I want to know the ins and out of the details beforehand so I can see that it is a legit opportunity and the whole thing isn't just some creepy guys/girls taking naked pictures of people for their personal portfolio that never ends up going anywhere. You see so many horror movies where this kinda shit goes wrong and I was very aware that I had to make sure I never put myself in danger, especially just for a few pictures to add to my portfolio.

With all that being said, I did have some fun times modelling and met some incredible people along the way that made my whole experience memorable and safe. I'll always treasure the photos that I did get from my time in the industry as they show that I did something that was out of my comfort zone for once and I should be proud of myself for that, no matter how short my time was. I hope this post doesn't put anyone off trying out modelling if you are interested in it - everyone has different experiences and it is very fun when you work with the right people - if anything, I hope it just makes people aware of some of the things that can go down so you can be prepared and stand by what you believe in, no matter how much money is being offered, it's not worth compromising yourself.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Baby Blues & Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression has always been something I've worried about since finding out I was pregnant. Having depression in the family already made me incredibly weary I was likely to suffer from it as well as the many stresses of having a premature baby; but luckily I think I've managed to avoid it so far and am hoping I can keep it up as it's not something I would wish upon anyone. That's not to say I haven't had my down moments over the past 2 and a half weeks though, also known as baby blues. Here are some of the things that have given me crazy anxiety since Cassius has been born and how I've attempted to handle them without losing my mind and thinking I'm a bad parent! 🙈

Firstly I'd just like to clarify that being a mum has been an amazing experience so far and I don't regret it one bit. Seeing his little smile every day and having long cuddle sessions is the most incredible feeling, nothing beats it. However, it's been far from easy to say the least. I feel like I've unintentionally put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect mother and follow all the 'guidelines' that the midwives and healthcare professionals recommend when ultimately I believe he will tell me if and when he wants something and my instincts automatically kick in when I think something is wrong. At the end of the day, every person I've spoken too, professional and not, has had different opinions on the different aspects of looking after a newborn so you've just got to go with what feels right for you. After all, nobody knows your baby better than you do!

The main bane of my life, as a lot of other mothers suffer with too, has been breastfeeding. Oh my god. Nobody warns you about this shit. Honestly, it's almost as painful as labour, no joke. The start to my wonderful journey into breastfeeding was Cas immediately struggled to latch on at the hospital thanks to my flat ass nipples. After a few brutal hours of midwives teaching me positions and tricks, he finally passed their observation of being able to latch on but I'm telling you now, he still doesn't latch on properly and it is genuinely so upsetting. There is no worse feeling than believing you are failing to feed your baby naturally. So, much to my midwives dismay as she was always preaching how exclusively breast feeding is imperative, I bought an electric pump and have been expressing my breast milk and topping him up with Aptamil on the rare occasion which has been working a dream. It's not what I had originally planned for him but when you develop Mastitis in the first week and feel like your boobs are gonna explode and your nipples are going to fall off, it seemed like the only option to keep myself healthy and sane. I even tried nipple shields in a last hope that he would be able to suck the milk out of me easier, but it seems both of us got too frustrated too quickly and our feeding sessions always ended up with both of us crying over spilt milk, literally! I know it's a super controversial subject with mums online and I'll most likely get backlash over it but in all honesty, as long as my baby is eating well and gaining weight at a healthy rate then I'm happy, you know? Whether it be breast or formula, milk is milk and women shouldn't be judged if they can't/don't want to breast feed. 

The next thing that played with my mental state was the fact that within the first week of his life, he got thrush on his tongue and had a sore armpit - which ultimately ended up being a little fungal infection from left over protective 'gunk' from my womb basically and cleared up within a few days of applying cream from the doctor but still - it scared the crap out of me which led to a rough panic attack in the middle of the night one night. I couldn't help but think I was doing everything wrong for a little while and with him being so tiny and fragile, it worried the life out of me that I wouldn't be able to take care of him properly if this was what was happening after just one week. But thanks to Dane being a boss at calming me down and reminding me that it's not my fault and we were doing the best we could, it faded and I got over it within a couple of days. Unfortunately I've come to realise that I can't put my baby in a bubble to stop anything bad from happening to him and I just have to be strong for the both of us when things get hard. Thankfully, everything has cleared up now and he's healthy as healthy can be which makes me one relieved mumma bear 😀

His sleeping habits have also been a bit of a nail biter for me as not only does he sleep for England and forget about waking up for his feeds sometimes (he totally gets that from his dad btw 😉), he also sounds a lot like Darth Vader whilst doing so. I've done lots of research and asked the midwife about it and everyone has assured me it's totally normal for a newborn's breathing to vary and make all sorts of funny noises, but nothing is comforting about trying to nap when your baby sounds like a villain. Once again though, it's just one of those things I have to take on the chin and not panic about as I can't control every little thing he does. As long as he's breathing safely and isn't struggling then all is well in the world. I swear, don't have a child if you're a naturally anxious person, every little noise they make will freak you the fudge out and you'll be googling it trying to self diagnose like I do 😅

But anyway, despite all these bumps over the past 2 and a half weeks and the extreme lack of sleep and food on my behalf (naughty mumma, I know), baby Cassius has been such a blessing and I'm content knowing that we're both new to this and are learning together, at a snail's pace, but we will survive another day as long as we have cuddles and a hell of a lot patience!

Are you a mum and have similar worries or have advice on dealing with baby anxieties? Let me know in the comments :)


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Welcome to the world, baby Cassius.

So it's been a while since I've posted but I have a pretty good excuse, hear me out - I did it, I had my baby! 💙 Crazy I know considering his due date wasn't until the 26th of this month, but turned out my little man just couldn't wait any longer and didn't want to miss out on his baby shower, haha! It's been such an overwhelming experience, but I couldn't be happier with our bundle of joy and I'm so proud of his progress considering he was born at 35+5 which is considered preterm.

Officially becoming a mummy has come with it's ups and downs, I won't lie, but I think a lot of that is down to the spontaneity of his birth, after all, I didn't even really know I was in labour until about an hour before he arrived! People have been telling me how beautiful labour is throughout my pregnancy and I'd been reading Mindful Hypnobirthing in hopes of making the whole ordeal as stress free as possible as I'm not known for my pain tolerance 😅 But alas, when it came down to it, due to being blissfully unprepared both mentally and physically - thinking I still had 4 weeks to get in the zone - it was actually quite a dramatic experience which I wouldn't necessarily want to go through again.

It all began last Thursday morning at 2am when I had slight period like cramps... 
Being a first time mum and not having attended any antenatal classes just yet, I was completely ignorant to the signs my body was giving me all through the night, up until my mucus plug came out and I realised it wasn't just a rather severe case of Braxton Hicks, my baby boy was actually making an appearance. The entire labour which consisted of me being bent over on all fours and borderline throwing up into a bucket every couple of minutes lasted roughly 7 hours, and it wasn't until my boyfriend finally got his head around the fact it was happening that he called the midwife and ultimately an ambulance for help.

The midwife unfortunately didn't make it until after the birth and the paramedics nearly didn't either as by the time they arrived at my house, I was bent over in my hallway crowning and screaming half the neighbourhood down 😥 I was incredibly lucky to have such understanding and on the ball paramedics though as literally 5 minutes after they stepped into my house, the baby came. On my sofa. In the doggie style position. Biting down on the gas and air pump. Classy as always Jess. 😂 It also didnt help that we were dog sitting at the time so we had 5 dogs locked out in the garden barking during the whole thing which was slightly offputing!

It all sounds very traumatic now that I'm writing it out but in all honesty, despite having a completely different birth plan in mind - originally I wanted an epidural and not a home birth at all - when he finally came into the world, after just 2 excruciating pushes, I instantly fell in love with him. Weighing a tiny 5lbs 7oz, he is the cutest little angel and I could not be happier with my little family. Dane was incredible throughout the experience, even when he thought I was being a wimp and exaggerating at the beginning, he was such a solid support beam and I can't believe I've been so lucky to have a beautiful baby boy with someone like him. Having someone who can take your shit when you're screaming at him and squeezing his hand until it goes purple was a huge sign to me that I picked the right guy to start a family with. ❤ 

Being 4 weeks early, we'd expected to be in the hospital for ages, have all these complications and were dreading the first few days but we were discharged the next day with the all clear and our baby bear has been doing an almighty job so far, smashing his feeding and growing rapidly in just 7 days, I can't believe how strong he is. Just like his daddy. So there we have it, my labour story is far from perfect and there are lots of things I would have done differently if I had the chance and been prepared but ultimately, our little Cassius Johnson is totally worth it. And today he turned 1 week old, where did that time go?! 😍

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