Of Bikinis And Medical Degrees

In contrast with the illusion that society is prepared to welcome empowered women with open arms, I have met with a tremendous amount of opposition when I am evaluated for my medical expertise. Wanna know why? Because I competed onstage in blingy bikinis, because I continue to model in bikinis, and because I am not afraid to flaunt what I am blessed to still have. And it pisses me off.

You would think that societal influences have relaxed enough to allow a female physician to flaunt her femininity without getting dinged for it, but I continue to encounter resistance. In keeping with this double standard, there aren’t too many female docs who are confident enough to push the envelope and post images which may be considered more alluring. Female doctors are expected to remain covered up, with very little skin showing, in social media posts. I’m not talking about jeans and a t-shirt. I’m talking about professional business attire and a white coat, or scrubs. Evidently women who are physicians aren’t allowed to reveal who they are outside of the clinical setting. That’s ridiculous, and I refuse to give in.

If a client has a narrow-minded view of physicians and expects me to fit the mold of an uber-conservative nerdy person, that client will quickly reject me. I think it’s utter nonsense that my credibility has been questioned, simply because I also happen to be a model. I have a LIFE. I have a certain manner of dressing which includes a certain fashion flair. The way I dress for work is by no means gaudy or slutty, but because of my abhorrence of ultra conservative clothing and the white doctor’s coat, it is obvious that I refuse to play the stereotype game.

Tell me this: how the hell am I supposed to feel empowered when narrow-minded idiots insist on throwing their judgment on me? I admire a strong, intelligent, educated, accomplished person who also happens to beat the aging process and who isn’t afraid of flaunting it. Such people are courageous, not scandalous.
As a fully credentialed, board certified physician who also happens to be deeply involved in fitness, bodybuilding and modeling, I know that I stand out a bit in a sea of medical professionals, and to be honest, I am proud of it. A good portion of the world also seems ready for such empowered career women, but when those women are being considered for an ad campaign or other large scale project, they are quickly criticized and cast aside for their fortitude and boldness.

I don’t see why I should feel a drop of shame for modeling in bikinis. What the &*%@ is wrong with bikinis? Women all over the world wear bikinis, and even dare to go sans suits in some locales. So why should I be made to feel like I am being scandalous if I model in a bikini? I have modeled my entire life, and I have no plans to stop at all, especially if I have a physique which is bikini-worthy.

My life is so varied, full and exciting that I can easily escape the dry and often depressing climate of medicine and enjoy something that has twists and turns. None of my other pursuits diminish what I bring to the table as a healer. If anything, they add a humanness and relatability which I think my patients appreciate. I have said before and will say again that I have never been, nor will I ever be, a “typical” physician (whatever that means). So don’t try to mold me into something I am not.

It’s MY Image And MY Branding

I have been struggling to assemble various elements of my personal branding on my own, but this task has proven to be extremely challenging. One of the first things I worked on was a logo, but after seven months, I still have nothing to show for it. Part of the problem is that I only have ideas of what I want to convey, and I have to rely on the creative vision of a logo designer to interpret my ideas in a way that is cohesive with my brand. This project has dragged on and on, and I am now beginning to doubt whether I will have a logo before the end of the year. There are countless other things on my to-do list, such as compiling an email list, revamping my three websites, designing a newsletter template, etc. I don’t have the expertise, nor do I have the time to do all of these things on my own. So I have been sitting on these projects as well.

Another thing I was hoping to get into place was a public relations person to help me with my image and to increase my exposure. Here’s where I ran into another wall. I had a meeting recently with a very competent and talented PR person but as we continued to discuss my goals and my vision, I realized that there was a disconnect. This person went through my images online and explained why certain images fell outside the realm of certain goals I was trying to achieve. While I understood that some images were less conservative than what a typical physician would take, I also felt attacked and restrained. Part of what I love about being who I am right now is the fact that I AM atypical, that I am defying the odds, and that I am challenging stereotypes.
black tassel beach logo only 2
One thing this person told me was that I needed to consider what a certain television show producer would think of me if he saw how I portray myself on the internet. With all due respect, I don’t live my life for others, and I will NOT conform for the sake of being invited on someone else’s TV show. I have enjoyed my personal freedoms and feel that as long as I honor the boundaries of common decency, I am NOT going to start doing photo shoots in business suits. That is simply NOT me and I would be miserable if I was FORCED to do that. I will never be the kind of person who will fit in a neat little conservative box. Try doing that to me and I will rebel.

In an era where the more outlandish and crazy someone is on television, the more popular they are, why is it that I am expected to remain on the straight and narrow path, with the reins pulled tight against my expression and my personality? I honestly don’t want to EVER sell out and become what a TV network or what middle America expects me to be. Perhaps Dr. Oz’s popularity stems somewhat from his conservative vibe, but I can tell you that when it comes to image, I will never be a predictable female version of that guy. No way. Don’t expect me to wear scrubs on a national TV show or dress in conservative garb just to appease the viewers. I am an IFBB Bikini Pro and very proud of it. So what if I model swimwear and fitness apparel? So what if I like to look sexy? Since when is that a crime?

My plan is to keep doing what I am doing, remain true to myself, maintain my integrity and keep moving closer to my ultimate goals.

Living Doll

Doll faceI love modeling, especially when the project or gig embraces an outside-the-box concept like a superhero, vintage look, dark warrior, or abstract body art. Though there is artistry behind a standard bikini photo shoot, I become very excited when get to serve as a canvas for avant garde makeup and hair, body paint, unusual wardrobe or costume items. In that sense I get to serve as a living doll playing dress-up. On more than one occasion I have been told that I am someone’s muse, which I regard as one of the most flattering compliments a human being can bestow on someone else. It is an immense honor to be the inspiration for a creative person’s endeavors.

Modeling isn’t easy at all. It requires the prep time of sitting in the makeup chair and allowing makeup and hair artistry to take place. If you’re extremely fidgety, or you don’t like people in close proximity to you, applying makeup, directing you to open or close your eyes, turn your head, etc., then you won’t even make it through the first important step of modeling. Sometimes all the tugging and teasing of hair which needs to take place during vintage shoots, or shoots which demand a more elaborate hairstyle, can be downright painful. The image below was taken after sitting in the chair for almost six hours, and the hairstyling alone took two hours. It can make you downright cranky, especially since you can’t drink much water as you are being prepped.

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Then there is wardrobe, which can often be problematic for so many reasons. The most basic wardrobe issue for a model is usually wearing something very thick and heavy on a very hot day, or wearing next to nothing on a cold day. Other issues which may arise include wardrobe or costume items which don’t fit, pieces which are torn or otherwise broken and must be held in place with clamps, pins or tape, heavy props which the model is expected to hold for lengthy periods of time while posed in the desired position, and the list goes on and on. A model may be expected to stand on an unstable surface and strike a pose while trying to balance. Other times a pretzel pose is requested, and not only must the model strike it, she muse hold it until the photographer gets the shot. And the model had better deliver the moods, facial expressions and energy required of her if she wants a flourishing career. Again, it is NOT easy being a model.

I have been out of breath, freezing cold, blazing hot, sticky from paint, dealing with sand in crevices, suffering from muscle cramps, exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated during shoots, but I can without hesitation say that I truly, deeply, love modeling in all its forms. It’s fun for me, and I get to be part of the creative process and bring ideas to fruition, often lovely, at times dark and eerie, but always interesting.