Suki the life-modelArt & Life6. Fat is not just a feminist issue


6. Fat is not just a feminist issue — 1 Comment

  1. These were the 35 Responses from the original blog. They have been copied here to the newly revised website. However, unfortunately some of the original comments contained images that have sadly been lost. It is possible to add further comments below.
    1. Gavin Pollock says:
    May 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm
    The “ideal shape” for men has changed quite a lot over the years. Eugene Sandow was considered perfection at the turn of the last century, but compared to a Menshealth cover model, he’s blocky in the waist and has hardly any pecs. Until the 1950s, nobody thought of building a bench to lie on so they could build up enormous pectoral muscles…because muscle was supposed to be for doing useful things, not just for show. Other advances in technology, like thinner bars that could take more weight, but could still be held, and machines for isolating muscle groups, resulted in an “ideal physique” that can only be achieved down the gym. Working on a farm, or down a mine, will give you a strong back and legs, but not a six pack or pecs.
    So young men are being sold a lie, just as much as young women, albeit a more achievable and healthier lie than the one women get. I think men are getting more self conscious. I was alone amongst my friends in going down the gym in the 80s, but now they’re crowded. Cosmetics too have taken over; it makes money and the companies that sell such stuff obviously realised that the same tactics that worked on women will work on men (create insecurity about something…like “white stains” from deodorants – did anyone ever notice these before? Then create an expensive solution).
    Whether this is why we can’t get young men to pose nude, I don’t know, but we certainly get more fifty and sixty year olds offering!
    2. Suki says:
    May 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm
    Thanks for this bit of history re ‘What makes a good-looking bloke’, Gavin. But are you sure that the ‘lie’ men are being sold is more achievable than the ‘lie’ women are being sold? I would have thought it requires a lot of effort and discipline to achieve and maintain that six-pack? Also, women of every height and build can aspire to ‘body perfection’ for females (though they will of course mostly not achieve it and feel crap), whereas a man who is just, basically, short… Well, what hope is there?
    ◦ Gavin Pollock says:
    May 31, 2012 at 6:01 pm
    Nobody can do anything about their height, but the amount of muscle on a Menshealth model is fairly easily achievable, and a sixpack is just watching what you eat. The danger is when young lads start thinking they have to take steroids to achieve it, which is ridiculous; you need steroids to get to Schwarzenegger sort of size, but not to reach 13 stone at 6 foot.
    There are always going to be “standards of attractiveness”, but I think men get off pretty easy really. Height has been a constant standard throughout history, but plenty of male film stars are quite short, and I don’t think male attractiveness has been quite so standardised as women’s yet.
    3. Nic Carlyle says:
    May 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm
    Why older men and not younger men? I really think it’s as simple as the ‘erection fear’. For gentlemen of more mature years, believe me, it’s no longer a problem (keeping awake is).
    ◦ admin says:
    May 31, 2012 at 6:50 pm
    ‘Gentleman of mature years?‘ Puleeze. We are the SAME AGE, Nic. Stop being old.
    We are not.
    ▪ Nic Carlyle says:
    June 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm
    It’s not how old you are in actual years, but how old you feel – so I’m 73 at least, and I like wearing thermal long johns practically all year round, I like Radio Three’s Essential Classics, I often go into another room and find thing that I’d forgotten to collect the time I’d had a senior moment previously, and the extent of my desire is a cup of tea and a rich tea finger (Ruth likes them too).
    • Nic Carlyle says:
    June 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm
    But she doesn’t like the long johns.
    4. Mike says:
    May 31, 2012 at 5:57 pm
    “The fact that I lost the weight soon after I started life-modelling is co-incidental.”
    Yes – of course it is.
    No really, I’m sure you are right.
    It can’t possibly have been to do with wondering what other people saw when they looked at you so intensely, when they scrutinised and drew every curve and every blemish.
    No – of course not.
    Or could it have been? Just a little bit?
    ◦ Suki says:
    May 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm
    Are you one of those Astute people, Michael?
    5. David Thomas says:
    May 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm
    Stuart, who models at Grassington, has a beautiful body, an engaging personality and poses well, but he is an exception.
    Could it be that we’re back to that old sexuality thing and that there is a normalcy in young women’s bodies being gazed at and admired whereas for a young man there might be a fear that the acceptance of that gaze (rather than the gaze itself) might in some way threaten their self imagined “normal” sexuality?
    I do find it concerning and infuriating that both men and women’s bodies are increasingly being forced into a nasty fascist and totally unrealisable ideals not only by commerce but, in this year of unconfined joy, by sport.
    Thanks for all the thinking Sue – it’s necessary and I enjoy it.
    6. Suki says:
    May 31, 2012 at 8:44 pm
    Thanks for the ‘thanks for the thinking’, David. I am so pleased to get all of these responses.
    So you mean that a young male with a good body might be scared of being ogled by woofters (artists are all woofters, aren’t they)?
    Actually I have the impression there are many more woofter writers than woofter artists. In fact I find male artists to be relatively macho. Is that a REALLY stupid comment? It’s my experience.
    ◦ David Thomas says:
    May 31, 2012 at 9:15 pm
    No, round here people just think all artists are wankers.
    I think it’s more complex than being looked at by woofters or being thought one- partly it’s to do with a perceived passivity and activity.
    Mind you I’ve drawn a few climbers who all have lovely bodies and delight in their bodies.
    I did model for a painter when I was much younger and it didn’t feel like a big deal but I was a hippy and there was a culture of unconcern about the naked body then. Nowadays I just wouldn’t be giving people their money’s worth
    7. Suki says:
    May 31, 2012 at 11:37 pm
    Oh, modesty David! (re – ‘wouldn’t be giving people their money’s worth’)
    8. David Thomas says:
    June 1, 2012 at 7:23 am
    Anna and I have just talked about this and she said that when she were a lass at St Albans art college they had students from the building trades dept. who all had interesting, strong and young bodies and we wondered whether that would happen today or has anxiety about sexuality got worse since 1976? I really don’t know.
    She also drew from Quentin Crisp but he wasn’t a builder
    ◦ Suki says:
    June 1, 2012 at 10:09 am
    I guess anxiety about sexuality has got worse in the last few decades. For men. It’s harder being a man. That’s a big leap to make isn’t it? (-: I have that latter thought a lot. In this context, I mean it’s harder to be self-confident about your sexuality.
    9. Suki says:
    June 3, 2012 at 11:57 am
    This is off the subject – am experimenting to see if this new widgetty thing works, whereby we can all, if we wish, upload our own saved pics along with our comments, using the ‘browse’ box immediately below the ‘Leave a reply’ box (huge thanks to Website Genius for coming up with this brilliant feature). So here below is Suki in the flesh rather than in the charcoal/oil/acrylic, in case you have not yet delved around this website sufficiently to find the very few actual photos of me which were taken by extraordinarily talented photographer Mike Kilyon: these are to be found by clicking on ‘About me’ above the Facebook and Twitter icons (I am extremely camera-shy, unlike that show-off my manager Sue Vickerman).
    In the photograph shown below, I was modelling the frock of a quiet little student at Joan Murray’s end-of-year fashion show in Skipton and being a bit prima donna-ish about it, so Quiet Little Student whose name I didn’t catch buggered off and left me in it (it was a two-person job to get in and out of), serving me right…
    Alors, me voila!

    10. Suki says:
    June 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm
    To return to more important matters, I am still waiting agog for any responses to the remark of ‘Feisty Fraulein J’ about some men being too hairy to draw. I think she meant – there’s no definition: where’s your muscles, Monkey-man? (that’s a rough paraphrase).
    Also there is the matter of What To Do if a certain incident occurs when a gentleman is modelling.
    ??? It’s Sunday, it’s raining, I am procrastinating instead of completing my KUNST poetry collection manuscript (inserting QR codes on each page for Ronnie, CEO at Indigo Dreams Publishing, why did I say I knew how to do this?) and am watching my blog in the hope of Interesting Thoughts from any one of you, my faithful audience of three punters and a dog…
    11. Gavin Pollock says:
    June 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm
    Some male models are too hairy to draw, yes. Unless they stick to shorter poses and concentrate on gestures, in which case it doesn’t really matter. If there’s a big mass of black chest or back hair, it’s really hard to depict in black and white. It’s the same with my shaved head; if I let it grow out a bit, and artists try to draw it in, it just looks like an odd shadow.
    12. Suki says:
    June 3, 2012 at 8:08 pm
    Surely it’s rare to be quite SO hairy, isn’t it? I must admit I am a bit flummoxed about it being so much as to be a problem. Maybe it’s just my imagination letting me down. I can’t actually visualise anyone I’ve ever seen with THAT much body-hair…
    Sheltered life, perhaps.
    ◦ Gavin Pollock says:
    June 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm
    It’s unusual, but I have seen it. There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, it just makes it tricky to draw in pencil.
    13. Nic Carlyle says:
    June 4, 2012 at 9:59 am
    In my opinion, hair, except for sweeping tresses, is a bugger to draw. Except for head hair, hair is neither fur nor flesh – it can just seem as hirsute scribble across form, and makes skin tones fuzzy.
    Biological anthropologists have suggested that the natural delineation of female pubic hair is a sexualization of the pubic area arising after developing a bipedal stance to compensate for the loss of display of engorgable estrus skin. (When she’s ready, a female chimp’s nether regions swell out into an inviting scarlet cushion). Arguably culturally enhanced by bikini lines, etc. I’ll leave for others as to whether the total abnegation of pubic hair is desirable. My slight unease on this goes back to the previous topics.
    14. Suki says:
    June 4, 2012 at 7:35 pm
    Thanks Nic. Gulp.
    15. Suki says:
    June 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm
    And thanks for not uploading illustrative pic of female chimp.
    How did we get onto this from anorexia?
    Is no-one interested in my folding bicycle?
    16. julia* says:
    June 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm
    Had to smile when I read about hair problem as it was actually me who came up with it The model I had to think of was extremely hairy and it was more like an overall fur. The very hairy model was indeed difficult to draw as there was no muscle and therefore no shadow visible which was a shame. I ended up drawing the body outline. But I think he was still a better model than for example a too cold hairless model covered up in blankets.
    Regarding the whole discussion I think it might be that many younger men don’t like to model because because they think of sex more? Male friends of mine react to me doing life drawing much more shocked and the almost first question is if I do draw the penis. They seem to think that all artists focus it as they probably think of their jewels all the time?
    17. Suki says:
    June 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm
    Hi Julia, yes I think a model “covered up in blankets” must undoubtedly be less satisfying than a hairy one. How dare a model, however cold, swathe him/herself in blankets? We have a job to do.
    I had a lovely time draped upside down on Jenny Oldfield’s sofa in Ilkley last night. A cellar, but not cold. It’s always a novelty modelling in people’s houses. The cat came to say hello. The dog came to say hello.
    18. Jeannie says:
    June 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm
    Why didn’t they just draw the erection … … …
    19. Suki says:
    June 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm
    We’re currently on to HAIR, Jeannie. Pay attention.
    20. colin morgan says:
    July 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm
    A few years ago I was drawing a young man sat on a chair facing me. He got an erection. At break I said to a woman artist that his erection was uncalled for. She said she hadn’t noticed as she was doing a portrait! I like to think it was the sight of me that was arousing him!
    21. Suki says:
    July 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm
    Colin, it HAD to be the sight of you that was arousing him.
    22. Francis says:
    August 7, 2013 at 11:13 am
    Regarding the glut of men in their 50s and 60s wanting to life model, well I first have to say that includes me, so guilty as charged!
    As for reasons, this is only speculation but I have a few suggestions. My first thought was that perhaps older men who have been through divorce might have something to prove, similarly if they have lost their job or had to give up their career (‘The Full Monty’ comes to mind). Could it be some natural instinct to pass on their genes while they still can, resulting in a form of exhibitionism to attract a new mate?
    Might it be that they now simply have more time for such things after decades of work and family-raising? That could apply to women too.
    Could it be that the thought of life-modelling would have been too scary as a young man? Easily aroused and all that…
    Like I say I’m only guessing here, perhaps there is scope for sociological research!
    I think in my case I can add that I did a course in higher education as a mature student which involved doing some life drawing and that aroused my curiosity, especially when the tutor said that everyone should try it. And this at a time when I had experience of clothes-optional French beaches so I was somewhat attuned to the idea of public nudity not being such a big deal.
    And of course these days such programmes as C4′s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ must help to desensitise people vis-à-vis embarrassment and inhibitions.
    I do now wish that I’d started a few decades earlier though, which might incentivise me more to life model while I still can.
    ◦ Suki says:
    August 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm
    I think to be fair, Martin, the most innocuous of the reasons you have put forward for the tendency for male models to be in their fifties or older – namely, the fact that they simply have more time – is possibly the main explanation.
    After all, many of the actual artists in the groups I model for are in that age bracket- and it is because they are (early-0 retired, have got shut of the kids, have more recreational time for their personal self-development…
    23. Francis says:
    August 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm
    Well I’ve been called some things in my time … but never Martin
    ◦ Suki says:
    August 8, 2013 at 7:13 am
    Hee hee – sorry Francis. At least I got that it was two syllables. In my early-onset senile dementia state (in my paranoid moments I think this is my state), I just throw the most recent name at someone that has been uttered in my vicinity. I am currently in Berlin and might have called you Ferdinand.
    24. Francis says:
    August 8, 2013 at 10:30 am
    Or Franz, or even Angela with a hard ‘g’. I wondered if it was some sort of Freudian slip, from Francis of Assisi to St Martin de Tours. Either way, enjoy your trip to Deutschland
    25. Francis says:
    August 8, 2013 at 10:40 am
    Re your earlier comment, is it a Brompton?

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