I know I promised this blog was not going to be about me. I am going to use the “I”, “my” and “mine” quite a lot in this post as it refers to a lot of my close friends…

Ever since I started modelling, my friends have been scaring me. Not in the “Oh, no! Modelling is bad for you, there are conmen out there and you don’t want to develop and eating disorder…” kind of way but more in the “You are so photogenic, I look like a rat, a blob, a mess, I’m ugly, I wish I could look this good…Blah blah”. What actually scares me is the fact that those statements come from women I admire for their guts, intelligence and drive. One of them is actually a marketing executive who speaks 2 languages fluently, managed to complete a part-time MBA and was my bridesmaid at my wedding (and I secretly wish I had her figure). Another is a mom to 2 lovely little boys who has found the courage to divorce her abusive and inconsiderate husband of 11 years so her boys could have a better quality of life. On top of taking care of her boys and running her house, she is dealing with a chronic condition called fibromyalgia. She is officially disabled as a result of it. However, despite her recent and successful spur at getting her life sorted and getting a lovely new boyfriend, she still has massive issues regarding her self-perception and refuses to have her picture taken.

I have plenty more examples of this, I could go on for ages but I won’t. I have been trying to explain with no avail that given the right photographer, lights, make-up and clothes, any woman’s inner beauty can shine through on camera. I did tell them that I, and any other model/celebrity, do look like cr3p on amateur pictures taken on the fly by friends and family, just like everyone else. They just haven’t had the occasion to work with a proper photographer in a proper studio.

As a result of this, I have had an idea germinating in my head… I think I will have an interesting talk with my photographer friend on our next photoshoot. Maybe I can prove my friends wrong: they too can look good on camera.


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Interesting Reading…

February 28, 2010


Why do we trust that “beautiful” people are nice? What drives us to make that (stupid) assumption? The answer to the question might lie in Robert Cialdini’s book: “Influence: The psychology of Persuasion”. Please note at this point that I am not promoting this book, I just came across the following (long) quoted passage and found it to be serving the message of this blog: do not cast judgements based on appearance only. “ Although it is generally acknowledged that good-looking people have an advantage in social interaction, recent findings indicate that we may have sorely underestimated the size and reach of that advantage. There seems to be a click, whirr response to attractive people. Like all click, whirr reactions, it happens automatically, without forethought. The response itself falls into a category that social scientists call ‘halo effects’. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. And the evidence is now clear that physical attractiveness is often such a characteristic. Research has shown that we automatically assign to good-looking individuals such favourable traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgements without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process. Certain of the consequences of this unconscious assumption that ‘good-looking equals good’ scare me. For example, a study of the Canadian federal elections found that attractive candidates received more than 2 and a half times as many votes as unattractive candidates. Despite such evidence of favouritism toward handsome politicians, follow-up research demonstrated that voters do not realise their bias. In fact, 73 per cent of Canadian voters surveyed denied in the strongest possible terms that their votes had been influenced by physical appearance; only 14 per cent even allowed for the possibility of such influence. A similar effect has been found in hiring situations. In one study, good grooming of applicants in a simulated employment interview accounted for more favourable hiring decisions than did job qualifications – this, even though the interviewers claimed that appearance played a small role in their choices. Equally unsettling research indicates that our judicial process is similarly susceptible to the influences of body dimensions and bone structure. Good-looking people are likely to receive highly favourable treatment in the legal system. For example, in a Pennsylvania study, researchers rated the physical attractiveness of 74 separate male defendants at the start of their criminal trials. When, much later, the researchers checked court records for the results of these cases, they found that the handsome men had received significantly lighter sentences. In fact, the attractive defendants were twice as likely to avoid jail as the unattractive ones. In another study – this one on the damages awarded in a staged negligence trial- a defendant who was better-looking than his victim was assessed an average amount of $5,623; but when the victim was the more attractive of the two, the average compensation was $10,051. What’s more, both male and female jurors exhibited the attractiveness-based favouritism. Other experiments have demonstrated that attractive people are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more likely to obtain help when in need and are more persuasive in changing the opinion of an audience. Here, too, both sexes respond in the same way. In the helping study, for instance, the better-looking men and women received aid more often, even from members of their own sex. A major exception to this rule might be expected to occur, of course, if the attractive person is viewed as a direct competitor, especially a romantic rival. Short of this qualification, though, it is apparent that good-looking people enjoy an enormous social advantage in our culture. They are better liked, more persuasive, more frequently helped, and seen as possessing better personality traits and intellectual capacities. And it appears that the social benefits of good looks begin to accumulate quite early. Research on elementary-school children shows that adults view aggressive acts as less naughty when performed by an attractive child and that teachers presume good-looking children to be more intelligent than their less-attractive classmates. It is hardly any wonder, then, that the halo of physical attractiveness is regularly exploited by compliance professionals. Because we like attractive people and because we tend to comply with those we like, it makes sense that sales training programs include grooming hints, that fashionable clothiers select their floor staff from among the good-looking candidates, and that con men are handsome and con women pretty.“ The rest of the book is actually a very good read and provides useful insights into how salespeople, conmen, advertisers, lawyers, etc… try to influence you into doing what serves their interests. It does set some good foundations for anyone who wants to understand the power of influence and turn it around to their advantage, whatever side of the fence they are on.

For more information about Robert Cialdini, click here.

To buy “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, click here.


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My first role model…

February 26, 2010


The role model of this first week of blogging is a colleague of mine. We both work for an IT consultancy and things can get tough career wise: you hit a glass ceiling as there are certain things and perceptions you cannot beat (especially when it comes to women). In came my role model: she pulled me out of a dreadful place and gave me a chance at proving that I could do things more intellectually demanding than just filing documents. She was 33 at the time and the best mentor that a 24 year old could ever hope for. She was tough yet kind, demanding yet forgiving and extremely good at what she was doing yet able to transfer that knowledge smoothly. Despite all the travelling that came with our jobs, she still found time for being part of a book exchange club, serving as a buddy to an orphan as part of a charity effort, stick to her vegetarian diet and maintain an allotment. 3 years have passed since we have worked together and despite the fact that we live in different parts of the country and the separation the nature of our work induces, we still keep regularly in touch. She was invited at my wedding. She is so good at her job that she managed to get promoted twice in the space of 3 years, a massive achievement considering that it usually takes 5 years to get promoted once. You would also think that being nearly 10 years older than me, she would not be bothered with my friendship: when people more mature than you bother to keep the friendship alive, it usually means a lot. She was invited to my wedding.

Which brings me to why she is one of my role models: 2 days before our wedding, I receive a call from her saying she might not be able to make it to our wedding. Her dad had a brain tumor.

Eventually, she managed to make it to the wedding without having to sacrifice her family time. However, a few months later, her father is not getting better and the prognostic is of the gloomiest. In the face of this, most people would want to retire themselves within their families and hide with them. Not my friend: her fiancé proposed to her on Christmas day and they are planning their wedding for June. It is most likely that her dad will not make it until then. I guess they do not want to spend the little time they have left with her dad being sad and despaired but happy so their memories of their last times together can be bittersweet rather than just bitter and sad.


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Ground rules

February 25, 2010


This blog is not about me but about the people I admire and think worthy of the “role model” title. I might add my own experience into the mix when it comes to perception of self, eating disorder, hang-ups but I will not speak about my personal life, my job or my side projects. I might have the occasional rant about something that has happened to me or someone close to me provided it is relevant to the subject of this blog but will keep things as anonymous and vague as possible. My aim is to get people to stop judging other people on appearances only.  And by people, I most specifically refer to young women out there: if this blog can get one teenage girl to accept herself as she is and lead a successful life in whatever projects she dreams of realising, then this blog’s mission would be fulfilled. If you don’t fit into the usual/mediatised/distorted definition of “beauty”, your life is not over. There is more to you than just your image. As a matter of fact, it is more often what people cannot see that makes you who you are and what you can be proud of. The reverse situation applies: you have to stop casting judgements based on the outer beauty only. For all you know, you could be discarding the company of a potential best friend, mentor, substitute mother… If you are not convinced yet then let this blog convince you.


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