First of all, I have Asperger's Syndrome, hence the title.
So I recently got inspired to revisit my childhood dream of being a dancer. I did weeks of research on what I need to do to develop the athletic abilities that I need to learn dance: flexibility, strength, balance, fluidity, coordination, and agility. I discovered a few wonderful yoga and fitness instructors on YouTube to help me, and I've been practicing them every day.
My favorite fitness instructor of all is Cassey Ho of Blogilates. Cassey's Pop Pilates Workouts are EPIC! In my 5 years of practicing Cable TV workouts, I have never seen a cable workout series as cool, fun, thorough, dynamic, motivating, beautiful - I could go on & on! - as Cassey Ho's Pop Pilate's series on YouTube. After I tried Pop Pilates for the first time in November, I was awakened to the fitness rut I'd been stuck in. I also realized that the cable TV workouts are not enough to achieve my new dance-related goals.
Over the holidays, I created a new workout space for myself. Now I have the space to work to my full potential! I arranged Cassey Ho's 100+ workouts in 20 full body 1-hour playlists, and I practice a different playlist every day.
I hope I make lots of progress in 2013 at my independent fitness journey to becoming a dancer. If nothing else, I hope that in sharpening my body movement skills, I can give an edge to my Modeling Portfolio should that opportunity ever return. ;)
Henley Tee: American Eagle Outfitters
Bikini Top: Bisou Bisou
This past summer was liberating for me, because I came to an epiphany about food and body image. Thanks to the inspiration of others, and my own self-reflection, I finally decided to stop trying to deny myself, embrace my lifelong fondness for food, and eat whatever I like. To hell with my fashion and fitness aspirations. I never gained weight from my indulgences anyway, and I no longer care to lose weight, now that I no longer care about fashion.
After my attempt at modeling, and years of working in fashion retail, I started to reflect on the whole fashion industry in general, and I just completely lost interest in fashion. Being a recovered shopaholic, I'm relieved to say that I have not even looked at new fashion in over a year. I don't care to buy into an industry that is no longer relevant to me. I am now content with making the best of my own beauty and self care, without having to deal with fashion clutter and product buildup. I'm more excited about my new 0 credit card balance than I was with my size 0 jeans. Are those really a "0"? Who cares? That "0" looks much nicer on my billing statement, than it does as a fake marketing tool on an overpriced garment. I'm content with the clothes that I have, and can still easily fit into, dated or not.
I've come to terms with my gift of a fast metabolism, and now I look forward to fully enjoying my gift without any guilt or comparisons. I may become interested in fashion again. If I do, I'm fully confident that I'll be able to pull off any trend, in spite of my liberal new eating plan. For now, I'm dumping fashion for my new peace of mind.
Thanks for reading. I'm gonna go eat now. I gotta make up for lost time. ;)
These photos represent a friendship that began over Labor Day Weekend 2010. He is a professional, self-employed fashion and product photographer. I am a developmentally disabled woman. Just two months before I met him, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. In a nutshell, Asperger's Syndrome is a form of autism.
Our first conversation was on Friday, September 3rd. He said he liked my look and wanted to update his business card with my image. I met with him on Labor Day and we did a practice shoot in his studio. Given my lack of experience and slight autism, I was doing a lot of things wrong during the practice shoot. In spite of all that was lacking, this photographer befriended me, and over the following year, he mentored me, taught me how to model and how to interact with the camera. He also taught me how to use Photoshop to retouch my own photos. He said that I had potential as a Fashion Catalogue Model.
In spite of our efforts to reach my potential, there has been no success. Due to the economy, my limited ability to travel, and the lack of opportunities in Chicago for someone like me, I have not been able to pursue commercial fashion modeling as a career. I think I'm losing interest in pursuing modeling as a hobby.
However, we did create this portfolio of images during those months, resulting from all the time he spent with me in his studio coaching, teaching, and just being my friend. I'm glad I gave it my best shot, and that I got to model for such a talented, knowledgeable, and professional artist. Working with him was a blast, and I wish him the best.
Nash Disability Law
I want to share my victory here, and thank Nash Disability Law in Chicago for winning my Social Security Disability case. I was recently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. After my diagnosis, Nash Disability Law decided that I qualify for Social Security Disability on the basis of my developmental disorder, and they won my case.
Because of Nash Disability Law, I now have the carefree lifestyle that allows me to pursue my modeling hobby at a leisurely pace, and hopefully turn it into a career. If I am deprived of that opportunity - because of discrimination or whatever - I can live with that, too. I can also revel in the freedom of doing this for fun, and not because I have to.
To all my ex-employers and haters:
I wish you all the best of luck with the economy, your jobs, and your aspirations, as I finally get back some of what I contributed during my working years.
EDIT, Sunday May 8th:
I also want to thank the women in my life who helped me win: My Mom, My Sister, and My Therapist. Thank you for being my advocates. Happy Mothers' Day. :)
UPDATE, Tuesday August 16th:
While building my modeling portfolio, I was given Photoshop CS2 and some learning materials. Friends have strongly encouraged me to develop my talents in photo retouching and related arts. I have since learned how to retouch my own photos.
While I have all this time on my hands, I will use what I was given to teach myself the entire software. I hope to become a Self Taught Photo Retoucher/Graphic Artist. I'm not sure how far I'll get, but learning the software will be lots of fun. :)
I will be sharing my progress on my other profile here:
I am banned from Model Mayhem for publishing this journal about them in June of 2010:
This past spring, I was a muse to an artist...a pickup artist. I was a muse for all of the pickup lines he crafted especially for me during our friendship in April and May, until he abruptly cut me off on Memorial Day.
In February of 2010, I joined a social networking site called Model Mayhem. It's a site for models, photographers, photo editors, make-up artists, and stylists to get together and create photos. I was really excited when my profile was accepted, but then...
I started posting on the discussion forums. I never made any friends... except one. This friendship began on March 31 and ended on Memorial Day in the most ugly way. On March 31, after reading a post I had written in the Suicide and Violence "Help" Thread, this photographer wrote to me:
From Peter, a.k.a. "Reflected" on Model Mayhem
"I may have stopped posting in the forums
but I just want you to know I've followed your recent posts with great interest and complete sympathy. I hope you'll continue to have access to a community of online friends. On MM, via email, on the phone, you have access to me as well.
"I encourage you to believe you're more than capable of self support. You're also unusually pretty, which never hinders finding work or friends in a shallow world.
"I was fascinated by the sheer volume of images you've put up on your myspace page. I committed myself to looking at each of the first hundred pages and did so. Happily. It's a painful, beautiful exercise you've undertaken that way - modeling for yourself in isolation.
It seems music is your closest friend. I don't recall a time when, despite "real world" attachments of all types, it wasn't mine. Talk to me about it or anything you wish, as you wish. I'd enjoy knowing you.
Email is easier for me (I log on here less and less). But whatever is comfortable for you. I prefer actual conversation, minus the typing, so let me know if you'd prefer it as well."
That was the beginning of our friendship. Peter asked me to look at his portfolio and he solicited comments from me. I happily went through his port as he asked, and left comments. From there, we exchanged private messages on Model Mayhem every day. He hinted at dating me. He gave me his phone number and email address, and constantly told me how pretty I was, among other great things. He encouraged me to move our conversations to email & phone. He even strongly encouraged me to move in with him, and get out of my home which he referred to as "a toxic pond I was swimming in". I made the mistake of publicly venting about my isolation and very protective family, so he tried to use my own family against me.
The conversation moved to email when I gave Peter my email address so he could send me a photo of himself. We were emailing each other every day, and quickly getting to know each other, or so I thought. The conversations got increasingly flirty, and he was constantly praising me, and offering encouragement and support. He replied so sweetly to every single email I sent, complimented every photo, in private. He kept inviting and insisting that I move in with him, and always flirted with the idea of us dating and living together. I very kindly and thankfully declined to move in with him, and he said he was cool with it.
One night, after reading "I wish I could hear your voice", I surprised Peter with a phone call instead of an email response. He was delighted to hear my voice. We chatted & flirted for about three hours. We shared our histories and personal tastes. We talked about Model Mayhem and the people on the forums. He vented about how he was tired & jaded with MM, among other things. Peter trash talked some of the forum regulars (who I now know were his friends). We had about three or four phone conversations like that over the course of our friendship. The phone call he gave me on my birthday was the most fun. When we learned we had a lot of the same tastes in food, he became intensely flirtatious and even joked about our "wedding cake". I really liked the younger "Tyson Ritter" photo of himself he sent to impress me.
Honestly, as much as I enjoyed our conversations, It also worried me because I wanted to keep things platonic, and I wasn't sure how serious Peter was about the flirting and the marriage jokes. I expressed that to him, and he assured me he was cool with being friends.
So we continued to email each other. Sometimes Peter would post on the forums. He even stood up for me when others were rude to me, and bragged about how he "would get them brigged". It seemed to me that Peter was tight with the moderators. I really looked forward to his phone calls and emails, but I sensed he was growing distant, so I sent him this good bye email for my own closure:
"Well, I just want you to know that I really enjoyed talking with you. Your words were a real comfort to me, and your emails, PMs & phone calls brightened my day. I still have them. If I never talk to you again, I'll still remember your words whenever I'm feeling down or caught up in yet another ugly argument or critique."
But Peter replied that he wanted to continue our friendship.
As I looked at Peter's portfolio, I wanted the friendship to be public, like all of his other friendships. It also dawned on me that Peter never ever left public comments on my photos, and he rarely interacted with me publicly on Model Mayhem. All of his communication to me was private. I started to question our friendship. I spoke to Peter about how I felt in private emails, and when he called me on my cell at night. He dismissed my concerns with excuses which turned out to be lies.
I tried to communicate with Peter in public by bumping his discussion threads with witty replies, commenting his photos, and leaving friendly comments on his profile like all his other friends. He got annoyed with that and deleted them. It really felt like Peter didn't want people to know we were friends, as if our friendship was a joke that he wanted to keep hidden. After I asked him about it, he again explained it away and grew more distant. He stopped replying to my friendly emails.
The final blow was when I simply commented "Happy Memorial Day" on Peter's profile the night before Memorial Day. He deleted it the next morning and then accused me of "stalking" him. After all the conversations and jokes about "living together", I was really furious and hurt that he said that. I left it alone, thinking he'll cool off and we'll resolve it eventually. But I never heard from him.
Three days later, on June 3rd, I tried to reply to our original private conversation that Peter started with me on MM, only to find that he blocked me. I was crushed and insulted that he called me a "stalker" and just totally cut me off without any closure.
Without revealing his identity, I vented about him on the forums. I started a thread called "cheesy pickup lines" and I posted every compliment and invitation that Peter sent me from day one, to prove that I am not a "stalker".
Everyone who read it got a good laugh out of it, and said whoever this guy was is a "master bullshit artist", "cheesy", "creepy", etc. Most - if not all- of these people were friendly with Peter.
While this ordeal was a joke to Peter and his friends, it left me with questions. Why did he go out of his way to reach out to me, act like he deeply cared about and empathized with me, and then abruptly cut me me off at the most difficult time? Did he mean any of the things he said? Or was he just amusing himself because he was bored? Has anyone else on Suicide And Violence Help Thread been lied to by "supporters" on the forums?
I still have all his praise, glowing reviews, and everything he wrote to me in my in-boxes. I still have his final email to me: his lengthy, four-paragraph attempt to deny all of his flirtations, suggestive emails and phone conversations. That final letter was condescendingly sweet, as he used everything he learned about me against me, and to his own advantage.
After another month of posting on the forums, I finally came to accept that he was no different from the rest of the forum clique, if not worse. The only difference being that he is the only one who actually went out of his way - for two whole months - to secretly pretend to care about "the forum whore" and then abandoned me when he didn't get what he wanted from me.
In spite of being banned, I can still pull off the approval of the ever-clueless gatekeepers.
This is my latest thread to be censored by the ignorant Moderators:
Link To My Model Insider Blog