Photographer since 2001

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Who has the right to be tattooed?

I had an interesting encounter this morning at Tim Hortons. Granted, I was wearing my unicorn jammies and yesterday's makeup (don't judge me) and probably looked a little derelict.

 I also may or may not have assaulted a stranger with a GOT reference which he totally did not get. (he looked EXACTLY like Jon Snow and when he couldn't get his damn order straight I started laughing and shouted: "you know nothing, Jon Snow!!")

The dude behind me got it, we high-fived. My life is awesome.

Anyway, an older gentleman was chatting with his friend and I was passing my time, waiting for my double-double, eavesdropping. (what else am I supposed to do, come on!) He said something really interesting: "I don't think big girls should get tattoos, it only looks good on thin young women"

Excuuuuuse you?

That has got to be one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Yes, tattoos are meant to be ecstatically pleasing... to the person they're on. It's called choice. Granted, some people make stupid choices - but that's their damn prerogative. So shut your judgy mouth sir. Like, right now. I smiled and raised my coffee to him and strutted my unicorn-clad, tattooed, round, fiiine ass outta there. Tattoos are for those that want them, regardless of age, gender, size or race. 
The End. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fetish Weekend 2014

Two new images I've worked on that were chosen to promote Montreal's Fetish Weekend. 
For more info and tickets to the most amazing weekend of the year click HERE
Photo: Marisa Parisella
Latex: Sis Progressive Designs
MUA + Model: Audrey Ivory

Photo and Ropes: Marisa Parisella
MUA + Model: Lavender May

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Online Dating is Hell

A while ago I started a little social experiment. I've been documenting my online dating experience using dating sites like POF, OKCupid and the like. These days online dating is widely accepted as an alternative to traditional dating (you know, going up to someone and saying "hi"?). A large majority of photos I take for people, both clients and friends, use these images for their dating profiles... and they all say the same thing: online dating is hell.

I'm no stranger to online dating - I met an awesome dude and we had a short-term but happy relationship that I would classify as a non-hell related experience... but this was YEARS ago. Apparently the online dating game had changed and I wanted to see what it was like for a plus size (16-18 US) 30 year old woman with lots tattoos, irregular work hours and a non-conforming job.

I did this experiment in three parts. The first part I put my "best" foot forward, the images I deemed the most attractive as well as a profile that described my best qualities to almost a self-involved fault.

The second was a more honest profile encompassing my entire personality and life as well as what I'm able to offer in a relationship. This profile was brutally honest and I had to take a hard look at myself to see what I was realistically able to share with another person in a relationship such as: time, commitment and passion. I used images that I loved of myself as well as candid photos from my "everyday" life that gave a realistic portrait of who I am.

The third was a bit of a joke that I threw in last minute. I used some horrible pictures that I harass my friends with via texts and PMs. Ie; no makeup, non flattering poses, etc... My friends and I don't take ourselves too seriously and we tend to prefer laughs over appearances any day. I wrote barely a phrase about myself and threw it online.

Yes, I'm going to share all of my profiles.
I'm also going to show you responses from men that have contacted me, both good and bad. There were some genuinely lovely men out there and I want to give them their dues. There were also a TON of slime bags. Filthy, filthy slime bags. I've been compiling information for this article for 12 months, 2 weeks and 3 days... at which point I just gave up. it looked something like this:

I'll break it down into parts per profile; the "self-involved" profile, the "honest" profile and the "joke" profile.
I want to discuss the severe CRAZY that's out there and the constant harassment that women online face. I'll also discuss the effect that online dating has on real-life relationships and expectations... I found after the entire experience I've discovered a lot about myself; including that online dating is not for me. Now, I know a lot of people have had positive experiences so keep in mind that this is simply MY experience as well as my personal reflections and opinions. I've left out names and photos ('cause I don't want to get sued, yo). 

In every profile I specified my age, body type and that I was looking for a relationship. I used tag lines like: "Looking for someone interesting" or "Seeing what's out there" - very general and non-exciting. I had every intention of meeting and going out on dates with anyone that "clicked" and keep in mind that though my profiles varied I didn't make anything up about myself - I simply hid or accentuated some aspects of my personality based on other profiles I had read (about 300+) on various dating sites.
So here we go...

The Self Involved Profile

About Me: 
Hiya! I'm a young successful entrepreneur here in Montreal. I love going out to concerts, drinking my Jamie and having a whole lot of fun! I work weird hours, but whatever - you'll figure something out if you want to hang out! I love my life and am willing to make a little room for someone interesting! I'm in an artistic field - often behind the camera but often asked to pose. My style is a little goth mixed with pinup and I consider myself cute, fun and funny. I like going out to movies, reading about fashion and playing with my dogs. Drop me a line if you see something you like. I don't like boys; get your shit together. I have lots of tattoos, I pride myself on choosing the best artists for each piece. You don't need to be tattooed, no worries ;) 


The Response:
Let me just specify that this profile makes me cringe and I hate it to the point of being disgusted with myself. This isn't even the worst one that I wrote - but definitely the one that had the most activity.

I received about 5-10 messages a day making it impossible to answer everyone on top of my regular work load. I gave about a half hour every couple of days to check and reply to messages (at like, 3am). 
The majority of messages are something along the lines of: "Hey"(207), "What's up"(212), "I'd hit that" (164), "Cunt" (97). Amount of men that sent an engaging message with a complete profile (by complete I mean their "about me" section is actually filled out with coherent phrases): 32. The rest, well, it's pretty sad. Quite a large amount of guys would simply send me "hey" over and over again (often when I wasn't even online); after about 4-6 "hey"s they'd actually begin to insult me. "stupid slut", "fuck you too then", "Stupid bitch" were all on the menu. I even got a "fuck you, you deserve to get raped". Keep it classy, Montreal.

The majority of men completely overlooked what I ACTUALLY wrote and skipped straight to: "you seem so nice and down to earth" REALLY? If you're going to copy paste those compliments sir, you had better make sure that they make sense! The fact that I was a plus size woman never came into discussion, not even once. This really surprised me actually - I really thought I was going to get hit with the "I love your curves" lines. I mean, how better to appeal to someone so obviously self involved than to compliment them on their physical attributes? Apparently the one liner approach is no longer skin deep - which made me wonder; 
1) Is humanity taking a turn for the better and are people appealing to personalities instead of boobs and asses?
2) Did they assume that as a plus size woman I would be easier to appeal to if they took a non-physical approach?
2.5) Am I making too many assumptions? Oh dear.
3) Are men genuinely attracted to this exaggerated facet of my personality? (This thought was promptly followed by sadness, a bag of Cheetos and an ice-cream sandwich)

Dates I went on: 0

The Honest Profile

About Me:
I live here in Montreal but seem to have difficulty meeting new people, due to work schedules and me being a bit of an introvert! I'm going to be super honest here and let you know right away that I work a lot... Like, whatever you think is a lot, multiply that by 2. This seems to cause problems with some people so I'm putting it out there! I work mostly on creative projects and things for clients - I'm pretty fortunate to run my own artistic atelier, I put my heart and soul into it - but I also have a fucking blast doing what I do. This is an experiment to see what's out there in the internet dating world! I suppose, to sum it up, I suck at flirting with strangers in bars and I'd like to meet someone to spend some time with on nights off - which are usually spent hanging out with friends at pubs, going to concerts, playing video games or having a spur of the moment get-together with random people and friends at my place. If you suck at flirting too and want to go be awkward together over a beer, send me a message!
Music and literature will never be lost on me. There's a deep seeded love for all things Metal, grunge and macabre in my heart. Neil Gaiman novels make my knees weak. I have a fur ball that will want to climb on you, kiss you and he WILL insist that you throw his ball at least 10 times. I can't stand to be with someone that doesn't love animals. Though my friends tend to be loud and over-the-top at times, I always seem to be the calm logical friend that gives solid advice with sarcastic (occasionally monotone) wit. I'm really bad at answering the phone (see above paragraph about work) and I don't do so well with clingy people. I don't give a flying fuck about personal fashion but I can talk to you for hours about fashion marketing, branding and new tendencies... if you're into that. Bottom line: name brands won't be the thing I find impressive about myself or you ;)
Hard-headed and opinionated are things people love or hate about me - though I try to be fair an open-minded because I don't believe in fighting just for the sake of it.
I suck at shopping; one hour tops then I quit and turn into the grumpiest little italian lady you've ever met! I love cooking. I love inside jokes. I love trying new things. I love tattoos, tattoo art, street art, cult movies (even the really bad ones) and the entire baroque period. 
I'm terrible with negativity, people who don't have their shit together and people that can't or won't put themselves in other people's shoes. We're all just people, man. Be fucking decent.
The people that I love, I love with everything I've got. I believe a strong relationship is based on connection, sexuality that clicks and knowing that your partner's got your back!
Things I'm looking for: Well if you like 3 or more of the things I listed above, we're off to a good start. I'd like someone who enjoys time with friends and doesn't need to be with me 24/7, who's a little brainy (that really makes me happy), has pride in himself but doesn't take himself too seriously ALL the time and can enjoy nights out with friends.... see, you can be awkward; but there's a difference between awkward and reclusive asshole. Physically I tend to be drawn to scruffy, taller men - but I've dated a whole spectrum of shapes, colours and the thing that draws me in is confidence. 


The Response:
I received about 4-10 messages a month. Nine were from genuine, interesting and courteous men who restored my faith (a little) in online dating. Three of which I royally pissed off because I'm an asshole and have terrible communication skills (I was clear up front about not having time to check every day, but feelings were hurt and I'm sorry about that, obviously, it's not a match). Two men declared undying love after a couple of dates - What? What the fuck are you thinking talking about kids and marriage after a couple dates? It worried me, not only for the complete 180 in direction but also my lack in being able to see it coming. One guy was pretty persistent in meeting and when I refused due to his constant harassment (10-20 texts a day), he told me he only liked me because I was ugly and fat; therefore easier to control and better wife material... I wish I was joking. 
One guy sent me a link to his profile with the accompanying message: "Eww, gross"

One guy copy pasted Literotica with some pretty explicit things he wanted to do to my ass. That was... special. Most men simply commented on our mutual interests - which seemed to depress me, even though it was a positive thing... I just keep wondering when the "crazy" in them would rear it's ugly head. To be completely fair though - this profile DID yield the highest amount of guys that appealed to me and most men were super respectful and decent. I got a lot of the slut badgering similar to the "Self Involved Profile" (Seems like pretty general behaviour according to all women that I've spoken to). Some dudes just disappeared after a few conversations or once they saw sex wasn't in the cards on the first date - this seems to be standard for internet dating for both men and women (myself included). It's like an all you can eat buffet, of course you're going to get distracted. 
One guy asked me for money. One genius asked me for drugs (What? Why?). Two guys asked me "how much?".  Some guys just made random comments about my anatomy. 

(you can't even SEE my boobs)

Some guys accused me of extreme feminism... 

some guys totally didn't even read my responses, nor have any logic whatsoever:

A lot of men wanted to cheat on their wives... 

...and then there was this sort of thing:
Dates I went on: 10
Why it didn't work out: No one was a great match. Some great guys... but after some personal reflection, here's why I think internet dating was a disaster (for me): Filling in the blanks - Which I'll go over in probably too much detail later on. Finally; the last profile....

The Joke Profile

About me:
Dunno what to say here would really like to meet someone nice I guess

The Response:
I'm blown away by the sheer volume of response to this profile. On any given day, anywhere between 5-20 messages. This was NOT what I expected. IF anything, I expected more slut bashing or other ugly commentary every couple of months.... not this....
An overwhelming amount of sexual advances... from what I personally find to be some pretty good looking if not gorgeous men. It became pretty obvious that these men perceived my profile as easy prey and that I'd jump at the chance to sleep with them. As Audrey, my makeup artist would say: "LOL LOL LOL" to a joyful little tune. 
What the hell? I don't even know what to think. I'm pretty disgusted with a couple guys - they basically turned to name calling and slut bashing once it became clear I didn't "Want the D" (as one guy put it). 
If this many guys are initiating this approach, then there must be a certain amount of success to their efforts. Why does a woman become vulnerable when she doesn't fit into the standard constraints of modern beauty? Simple: We do it to ourselves. We're told we have to fit in to a nearly impossible beauty standard all the while living in a society that encourages fast-food living yet shames the bodies it creates - insecurity is a powerful tool. (I wish I could find the amazing video that originally brought this up; so if anyone comes across it, please post it. It brings up some valid points that I could go on about - but it will have to be another night). The only advice I can possibly share to my fellow ladies living this experience is - enjoy the one night stands (if you're into that) but know your value. No one deserves to be used and if men like this make your soul hurt; perhaps change your approach to a more detailed profile that shows people just that: I value myself and what I can offer you. 

The effect that online dating has on real-life relationships and expectations... 
Filling in the blanks

Naturally, you fill in the blanks. It's impossible to get a complete first impression until you actually meet. Your brain fills in the blanks in the mean time (regardless if you say "No Expectations" or not) so when you finally DO meet the person, it's pretty fucking hard for them to live up to your "fill in the blank" version of them... Especially since most of the men I met put only their best foot forward and hid major things like depression, KIDS, hating their jobs as well as huge social and/or health problems... even mundane things like hair loss, body type, financial problems... etc... were locked away like some dirty secret. What is so wrong with having no hair, being broke and being round. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Hell, welcome to being an adult. I'll get the cake. 

As for the serious issues; DUDE; nobody is going to love that fake you and not everyone has the time or patience to give you a chance to try again once they figure it out.
Everybody has problems and if yours are so bad that you can't sleep at night - you have no business dating and dragging someone else into your mess. Take some "you" time to reflect on why you're fucking up, sort your shit out, then learn to love your life (and live it well) no matter what bullshit cards you've been dealt - because that's life, that's being a grown up. Start looking to share your life when you have something concrete to build on with an honest foundation... and please, please don't fake it. If being shy is your hang up, SAY SO. You may be awesome when you have a half hour and an iPhone to answer a text - but I don't want to date your god damned smart phone. Don't fake being a casanova online when you can't even string a god damned sentence together face to face. So what if you're awkward and conversation doesn't come easy - WELCOME to life for 99% of people! HUZZAH!! Being honest about oneself is hard, I get it - sometimes our perception of ourselves is warped. I know. But you have to try to scratch deeper than the surface of yourself before putting yourself out there! (For you as much as anyone else). Being ignorant of oneself seems like a freaking epidemic today. It sucks! There, I said it! This whole huge monologue just to say; it fucking blows!

A question I've been frequently asked while writing this never-ending entry: "What is it that you want? You want people to list on their profile every single hang-up they have? That's not possible!"
No, of course not. I just don't want people to use the internet like a shield against real life. You shouldn't be making shit up - everyone's a god damned MacGyver making something awesome out of nothing. Also, I don't want random guys telling me I'm a slut because I didn't respond to their message right away... I'm good with getting those two things, if nothing else.

I would date this guy, actually...

Basically this whole experience taught me that if you feel uncomfortable about sharing aspects about yourself - you're not ready to date. That's what dating is; sharing. I want to love you for YOU and all your weirdness... I want to share my weirdness with you! Be responsible and don't engage someone's affections if you're presenting them with an alternate you. SO WHAT if that "awesome" person doesn't dig you because you have (insert your hangup here); (S)he's not a good match if (s)he doesn't embrace it. It's their right to not be interested, it doesn't mean they're a bad person... It simply means that a whole hell of a lot of energy is NOT going to be wasted building a relationship on your crazy flim-flam phony-ass crap. I learned this as much about myself as anyone else.

The worst part is, for the majority of these "fill in the blank" guys - I probably would have really liked them (hopefully they would have liked me too) - if I had met them in a more conventional setting that didn't allow for quite so much embellishment. Bullshit is easier to call and it's definitely harder to lie when you look someone in the eye.

In conclusion; I'm done with online dating. It's not for me and I salute those of you that have the patience and stamina to put up with it all and not go completely insane! I was feeling exceptionally dejected about the whole thing when I came across some Louis CK gold. I'm sharing it with you because this is exactly how I felt after receiving countless whore/slut/cunt messages. It made me feel justified in sticking up for myself - even if it was only online with strangers ;)

If anything - the whole experience has taught me the value of going up to people and meeting them. Like, actually buying them a beer and saying "hey". I've become even more fearless with my face to face flirting; because let's face it, what's the worst they could do? Call me names? Say no? 

Been there, done that (as my mama would say)