We’ve featured people, companies and ENTIRE round-ups of both in the past that fit our mission of hyper-inclusivity. We’ve asked for examples in our community as well. We share things all the time that are not necessarily sewing, craft, or even craftivism. We posted a company called Wolves Theatre on Instagram yesterday because they do very much meet our mission.
Often pattern companies have difficulties with budgets, population availability, and other barriers to finding inclusive models they so very much want to use. It takes all of us working together to change the market. Wolves Theatre came up with a new financial model to afford clothing models over the age of 40. This could be a huge change and open the door for more intersectional model availability around the world.
Relative to this discussion: We also work rather closely with other sewing social groups; Sewover50 is definitely one of our favorites for collaborative efforts. God, Mother Nature, or Luck willing, if we are not currently, we’ll all be part of that group eventually. Of our permanent editors, I’m first in line to join, so my personal love of art, our sewing community, and my #sewover50 envy makes me biased. Those folks are awesome.
Now for the purpose of this post. Art is a sticky thing, isn’t it? I respect the image posted could be a trigger. I’ve shared with you very personal triggers of mine.
We create art. Or maybe I can’t speak for you, but for me, as a maker, I’ve had some hard looks at my body, my relationship with my makes, and my relationship with my creations. I have a LOT of privilege. I’m white, fit into the hetero-normative world, able-bodied, and fit in the 0-18 size set. Not to go down the other slippery slope of comparison, but I have it pretty easy when dealing with commercialized aesthetics and I still have to come to grips with body image, triggers, and how art makes me feel.
This image without context and without any explanation could most certainly hit triggers. I respect that. I respect the comment that it could very much hit that “posing for the male gaze” trigger. Oh, believe me when I tell you my anger for the patriarchy is right there with you. But I did read the context, I did vet the art, and I knew the model was in a performance pose, not in a sexual pose. The intent being the performer is showing a power pose. She’s taking up space. To me, assuming a woman is in a sexual pose for the male gaze is also like assuming “she wanted it because she wore a short skirt” and that has its own set of triggers, doesn’t it? Another pointed out it might look like a “cougar pose.” Totally not something I’d ever see. These may be triggers to others that are upsetting about this pose.
Maybe it’s MY projection that she seems a woman in the “invisible age bracket” not afraid to take up space but being that I don’t see anything sexual in nature, that’s more telling about me? I don’t GAF about the male gaze nor do I see value in it. I don’t know. I’m not you nor do I want tell you what to assume or not assume about the pose, nor can I tell you how to feel about it. I will only ever be me and ask for you to be you. And that is all I want.
We’re on a line here. Art makes us look at lines, makes us look at ourselves, makes us face those triggers and sit with those emotions. Sometimes we don’t like it. Sometimes I don’t like it. There are things in my cache of childhood/life trauma I’m not interested in sitting with, and I don’t expect you to sit with anything you’re not ready to…and trust when I tell you I’m ok with you feeling differently on different days.
Regarding the commission/affiliate financial model for art part of the post. Yeah, it’s a different business model, isn’t it? Do you find it ugly to see the financial model? Would you rather not know what/how models and photographers are paid for their art? Or worse, asked to do it for “exposure?” I’ve tried paying my bills with “exposure,” and it doesn’t work. (My attempt at levity in a heavy topic – I can’t help it. Childhood trauma makes me joke about almost everything. That’s my survival mechanism. I’m aware of its pitfalls.)
I moved this here for further discussion, so we can talk more. Please, be real. Tell me your feelings. You can feel all the feels you need and I’m here for it.
“I have a patriarchy to demolish.” – Becky Jo
All photos property of Wolves Theatre Company.
As someone who is 37, i find photos like these and from the SewOver50 crew so cathartic. 10 years ago, I had a fairly socially-typical view that as I aged I would eventually be “over the hill” and “mutton dressed as lamb”. I’m so thrilled that seeing badass women everyday in the sewing community has totally changed my perspective. My husband turns 40 next month, and i feel slightly envious that he is hitting the “come into your own” decade before me… I look forward to getting better and better as I age! For me, that’s what these pictures make me think of.
Mutton dressed as lamb?? My gawd. I’ve never heard that one. The insults levied against women never cease to astound me. How very cruel.
40 is awesome. Heck, late 30s are awesome. You do it all very well.
I’m a huge fan of sharing financial details. I have an ‘ick factor’ from my Yankee upbringing but it’s worth squashing that feeling, as concealing information about pay/salary only advantages the status quo. Plus, on a purely practical level, when I was starting out as a freelancer it made it hard to know the industry norms and negotiate a fair wage!
Meeee toooo. I am big proponent of smashing anything and everything taboo. Taboos are dangerous. They allow people to use information as power which I’m completely against.
I am over fifty and am excited to see models over fifty. These models very much fit in the traditional societal standards of beauty. I hope that inclusivity will come to mean models that look like my friends and neighbors. Perhaps that is why I love the sewing community so much. Nothing makes me happier than seeing real sewists modeling their makes.
Thanks for opening the conversation.
Oh yes. I would love to see this expand. As a pioneering effort, it’s better than nothing IMO and I love the proposal of a different financial model. I see it as trying to be innovative and disrupt the status quo.
Oh seriously, yes!! Please include the body parts that aren’t even remotely defying gravity. The bits that sag and bag and drag. The folds, wrinkles, and rolls. Model all of it at every age. We all deserve to be seen, especially as we grow older.
I guess when I saw these photos I knew the context… and I saw only strong women, in control. I had been in discussion with the theatre company as to whether we could and would share the idea/ proposal on our account at SewOver50. Thanks for bringing this up …I will remind myself to look through others eyes…. good discussion.
We don’t, or I don’t, regret posting it at all…in fact the more I go over it, the more I’m good with it. But I like hitting these things head-on and having discussion. The entire team and I worked on this post last night. I’m good with provocative imagery. I don’t care if someone DOES want to be sexy… that’s cool too. There’s imagery/art that does get to me, but this isn’t it. It may trigger others, and I’m ok with hearing it and talking about it if they’d like to discuss. If they don’t, that’s good too. I don’t judge someone if we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything. Well, other than Trump, because what a POS. 😀
Looking at the instagram photo, without context, I wasn’t bothered by it.
But: I was also extremely confused by the post. I found it very hard to read. It takes something like three paragraphs to explain what the post is about, when you could have said something like “We’re exploring paying over-50 models via an affiliate model” up-front instead.
I think that if you’re going to post potentially triggering content, you might want to be more careful about how you communicate about it. You received several IG comments about it seeming like an ad and being hard to read. I agree with many of those.
Oh, ok. To be ultra clear: it is an ad. I did regram an advertisement intentionally. We do often regram advertisements from companies that serve our mission. We promote companies that better serve our community and promote those with less societal privilege. We are vocal about loving Michelle Morris who bootstraps the only truly diverse sewing magazine. We have given accolades to both Patterns 4 Pirates and Friday Pattern Company for their gender inclusivity. There’s probably enough material on here about Cashmerette to create an entire vertical. We have boosted minority-owned fabric stores. We do not accept payment or endorsements, and we work hard to keep personal things siloed; that said, it’s a small world. We are volunteers and pay for all of this out of pocket. But yes, it was intentionally boosting an advertisement.
Thanks for the reply! That makes sense.
you bet. it does seem to be more clear in long-form to write it out, but I don’t want to take away from the intended focus, which is, “look – someone is serving a neglected segment of our community better” if that makes sense.
I loved the Instagram image. As an over50, woman of colour (multiracial, so kind of hard to identify anyway) I applaud the posting of it. And I very much appreciate how the Sewcialists sewing community supports inclusivity while acknowledging all the ways we are diverse. And thank you for not shying away from challenging topics!
That said, I too found the accompanying write up hard to read and unclear. I think if the stated purpose, just as you wrote it above, “someone serving an underserved segment” sort of thing, and maybe adding “this is an ad we are posting in order to boost this wonderful company,” that would really help add some IMO, needed clarity, and you’d likely see fewer negative responses (and at least the naysayers could be clearer about their naysaying? I felt like I was reading “I don’t like it,” with some confusion in there,
You’re right, perhaps more context would help. I pause at saying, “this is an advertisement” due to confusion with FTC & “sponsor” or “influencer” or any payment confusion. If we regram an advertisement…. and say it’s an ad, in the common nomenclature that means we are getting something in return. Even if that particular post wasn’t an ad, as we often regram, say, Friday Pattern Company just released a gender-inclusive / neutral pattern with her brother as a model….Friday was advertising the release, we reposted… is that not also regramming an advertisement? Are we to say it then also? Sort of “thinking out loud” here. We are in a sticky position. We promote solutions to social issues. NOW people have an issue with it when the model isn’t completely covered & the pose isn’t completely innocuous? I’m not going to name names, but some pattern companies who’ve released swimsuits also get similar comments, including ones not directly complaining about a female with less clothing, but suddenly at the swimsuit release they don’t like a font. Correlation may not equal causation, but I’d gamble we’ve got some projection going on here.
Yes, I can appreciate the challenges with that! It IS sticky. And what all of you do here is wonderful – and a labor of love – you’re all volunteering your time and energy to carry this site and create content that resonates. It’s not easy at all.
Perhaps adding that “we are not affiliated with, nor financially benefitting from reposting this ad,” could be useful. This will help defend the mission and vision you most value: “we are posting this because we want to bring your attention to this great business/organisation that is serving the undeserved/supports inclusivity (etc.).
Since your broader message is inclusivity, sharing resources and information about the companies who meet that mandate of being inclusive for sure is a big part of that message. And disrupting the negative, body-shaming mostly not conscious messages so many humans experience is incredibly valuable. For sure there’s a lot of projections coming your way, often the internalized (self) hatred does get triggered, as it were. This is particularly strong around body shaming and the policing of bodies, I have found. So many narratives around this, and when you disrupt these narratives, out comes the outrage and hatred. I applaud you and support you for the writing and the stance.
Argh! This is what happens when you post without editing!
There ought to be a close to that bracket and a full stop, not a comma. 🤔
Great discussion, thanks for opening it up. I had not heard of Wolves Theatre and now I”m very keen to find out more! I found the images to be beautiful and strong.
Just in line with a couple of the comments already made, I actually got a bit confused by the jump from ‘over 50 female model’ to ‘financial model’ 🙂 Had to read that paragraph a couple of times to work it out – lols – it’s been a long day!!
hahaha. I find financial models offensive! yeah. sorry. I probably could have worded that better. It made for a long weekend. 😀