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Modeling Tip: Contemplating Posing in Lingerie

In college, when I modeled in Denver, I recall that few of the girls at the agency modeled lingerie. At the time, I wouldn’t.

Miranda Kerr at VS 2012

Miranda Kerr, Backstage at the VS Show

Now when I watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (which aired last week on CBS and airs again tomorrow on CW), I wonder if refusing to pose in panties is considered overly prudish today. In an era when the VS Angels have replaced Miss America contestants as role models for girls, does all that bare skin even faze anyone? Do the erotic blown kisses, taut tushes, and sizzling bedroom eyes make teens squirm if they’re watching with their parents?

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2012

VS Show 2012

I don’t have the answers, as my kids are all too young to watch. I do know that Coco Rocha has a policy of no lingerie, not even swimwear or revealing couture, and she has 425,000 Twitter followers, so she must be considered pretty cool.

I also know that decisions are swayed by cultural norms. At age 22, I headed to Germany—where hanging out naked in the park was no big deal to the locals—and within a month I found myself in front of a camera in a bra and panties. Here’s an excerpt from my book about that shoot:

I’d never done a lingerie booking before and wondered if there would be an audience of male photographer’s assistants present, or worse, boxing brief-clad models—maybe even guys I’d face later at the gym, who’d smirk knowingly at my padded sports bra.

Bettina Putzkammer’s studio, in the basement of the photographer’s home on the outskirts of town, turned out to be testosterone-free, but I still managed to humiliate myself. I didn’t know that the robes and slippers offered to lingerie models are not to make them feel cozy, like guests lounging at the Four Seasons; rather, they provide coverage so the model can remove all of her undergarments to ensure there are no lines on her skin when the shoot begins. I put the robe on over my bra and underwear and neglected to take off my socks. So I felt doubly stupid when I was reprimanded for the lines my socks had left on my calves and for the tan lines from my bikini top.

“Oh, you Americans,” said Bettina, referring to our resolve to keep our boobs modestly under wraps, unlike all those swinging free among the sunbathers at the Englischer Garten. Gawking at bare bodies in the park was a highlight for the American guys who came to visit their model friends in Munich. In the Schönfeld meadow, men and women, of all ages and sizes, tanned and frolicked in the buff.

Other than the novice upkeep of my skin, which for 250 DM (about $150) an hour ought to be seamless, my initiation into panty posing went smoothly. This type of job was considered racy in Denver but it was no big deal in Munich. Maggie didn’t even ask whether I “did lingerie” or not. Anyone who had the right body (not too skinny, not too flabby, and a 34B/C, pre-Victoria’s-Secret-Extreme-Cleavage era) did, even though these skin-revealing shoots didn’t pay double-time as they had in Denver. The significant decrease in the likelihood of family and friends seeing the pictures of me in my skivvies made up for the lower rate, not that I would complain about $500 for a morning’s work. If I never got another booking, I had airfare home.

I don’t regret deciding to model lingerie. These days, teenage girls go to prom wearing less (have you seen band-aid dresses?!).

Band-Aid Dress

Herve Leger Band-Aid Dress

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is airing again tomorrow, Wednesday, December 12 at 9/8Central on the CW. If I were walking that runway, I’m not sure what would scare me more, the tiny bikini bottoms or the towering stilettos!
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