Ellie Caswell

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Seasick, Part II: How I Turned into a Mermaid

Ellie Caswell, 28 weeks pregnant

Photographer: Anthony Collins 


Second trimester went a lot better for me! I didn’t stop throwing up until about 18 weeks, but something changed like magic. A big part of it had to do with my perspective. 

Sometimes, you look around and you notice that you’ve got some unhealthy friendships but that, really, you are the one to blame. Not because the friends are flawless (who is?), but because you’ve created the space for them to upset you. There are some people who make everything all about them, but they can’t do that unless you let them. There are people that make you feel shitty about yourself- but again, a big part of that is how you allow yourself to be treated. And when you look around and start noticing a pattern like this, it means it’s time for three things. First, it’s time to stop interacting with certain people all together. Second, it’s time to show the people who treat you wonderfully how much you appreciate them. Once you’ve identified your role in the icky interactions, try not to engage in those dynamics with the good ‘uns.

This worked so well for me, I stopped throwing up all together- pretty much the day I made the decision to change how I interacted with whom. On this particular beautiful day, someone close to me was being pretty unpleasant. I realized that it wasn’t really about me and that, poof, I didn’t have to put up with it. A few days prior, I had noticed that I had other friends who were negating my discomfort with the pregnancy, or who were being incredibly self-absorbed, or (my personal favorite) guilting me for not necessarily wanting to be around them. Listen, unless we’re related by blood or law, I reserve the right to avoid interacting with anyone who is making my life a little bit worse. Shit, I reserve the right to avoid interacting with people when I’m in hibernation mode. Period. The self-defeating poetry of guilting me for that decision is fairly glorious. So I stopped interacting with multiple “friends” completely. I changed my interactions with a few others (“Oh, you’re being unpleasant to me? That’s cool.. I’ll be somewhere else. Let me know when you feel like being nice.”)- and, most importantly, decided to shower love and attention and kindness on all of the people that had made me feel loved and supported over time. Not just in the moment. Flattery and sweetness are easy when you aren’t connected on a certain level. That’s when things get messy. Anyway, it was a seriously awesome Spring/Second Trimester. 

I’m not going to pretend like pregnancy wasn’t still tough for me. I wish I were one of those lovely, glowing ladies who just adores being pregnant. I’m not. I’ve had lots of things cause discomfort: minor heart annoyances, pelvic issues, sciatica, fatigue, a bad case of the pregnancy dumbs, blah blah blah. But I do really enjoy the sacred feeling of making a tiny human being. The aches and pains are totally worth it for every moment my little guy kicks. 

When I went to visit family in NYC, I put up a modeling travel notice. I was completely floored by how many photographers wanted to pay me a serious amount of money to do pregnancy shoots, most of which weren’t nudes. Between scheduling conflicts, being overwhelmed by the response, and my own picky tastes, I chose to only work with one photographer while I was there, and it happened to be the smallest paycheck that I was offered. I may be a terrible business woman, but hot damn, do I have good taste. 

If you are in NYC, GO SEE HIS EXHIBIT! NOW! It’s over on July 7th and I’m not in this one… but his work is really really beautiful. 

Anthony Collins and Nick Stavrides, Chashama Gallery - Fashion District, 266 West 37th St 

Working with him was a total dream. He was hilarious, professional, and incredibly considerate. I was out of practice and Anthony gave very clear directions. I kid you not, we managed to do an entire shoot in 18 minutes. Such awesome vision and talent. Anthony’s artistic partner, Nick, is working on adding a mermaid tail to the photo, so I can be the pregnant mermaid in their gorgeous set. I was far too pregnant to march in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade this year, so I’m totally stoked to have gotten a little bit of my mermaid on anyway!

This, however led to a resurgence of the issues that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. How do I balance vanity and insecurity? When is this whole business of doing nudes a feminist act and when is it exploitative? How do I balance my own desire to look “pretty” with my discomfort with the societal expectation and value placed on women looking pretty? Why have I been generally hiding my pregnant body?

So, I did a preliminary shoot with an awesome photographer (and one of the kindest people I know) yesterday and we’re going to do a follow up in a couple of weeks. Time to explore all of this madness again!

Filed under Pregnancy mermaid modeling nude artnude

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Seasick, Part One

by Dan Smith | thePhotosmith.com | prints | contact | ©

In December, I found out I was pregnant. Although we were actively trying, I was having a hard time celebrating the news that I had been waiting to hear. First of all, I had some health issues that made the whole thing feel kind of scary and tenuous. To complicate things, you know how everyone talks about post-partum depression? It turns out that pre-natal depression is just as common, but nobody really talks about it. I mean, think about it…. you’re tired all the time, you feel sick all the time, your hormones make you cry all the time, food disgusts you, the smell of your favorite people disgusts you, and you alienate yourself from your social network because you’re not allowed to tell anybody during the first trimester anyway and you’re just not your fucking self. I had the added bonus of randomly gaining about 10lbs within the first few weeks… 

Now, as someone who is adamantly stubborn about trying to maintain a positive body image, I handled this poorly. I desperately wanted to be okay with the changes in my shape but I felt like so much of my body was out of my control at this point. I’m not going to lie, my brand new pregnancy breasts (Lefty, in particularly) were pretty darned juicy and fabulous. But I was covered in pimples and stretch marks and I was vomiting so hard that I was peeing my pants. Attractive, right?

To make matters worse, I didn’t really feel like I could tell people and instead of being a normal person and saying, “I’ve got a lot going on right now, I’m sorry I’m going to go hibernate until I’m back to myself,” I just disappeared. First trimester was an ugly ugly time!

This story will be continued and I promise, it gets much less whiny from here!

Filed under pregnancy depression body image

5 notes &

Badass Model of the Day: Christy the Amazon



"I wish I could say that I am not ashamed of my body. In particular, my sexuality. I grew up in a big Catholic family with a lot of brothers, there was no place for my body. So in my adult life I have explored different avenues—sports, sex, dancing, modeling—in hope to find a place for my body to exist." - Christy the Amazon

This past weekend, I was honored to share a stage with some incredible burlesque performers, including Christy. Christy the Amazon is one of my favorite performers in the area and just happens to have recently moved in with the incredible performance artist and friend, Marilyn ManHo. There are a couple of amazing ladies who perform locally at a level that far surpasses what one would expect to see outside of a major city. Not only is Christy a master of her craft, but her performances are creative, powerful, sexy, and just fucking fierce. I am totally awed by her incredible physique, presence, and confidence. I mean, oh my fucking sweet jesus, look at that fucking photo! Despite knowing better, I find myself floored that she could ever experience shame.

Part of my exploration of my own issues with objectification, body image, sexuality, etc, is recognizing the power of our perceptions of and interactions other women and how it relates to shame. A couple of behaviors that I’ve noticed:

Read more …

Filed under Burlesque Christy the Amazon Inspiration Body Image Sexuality Identity Self Image

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xonoh asked: No offense, but you see "big thighs" and I see "GIMME SOME OF THAT MMM". No homo.

No offense taken. Quite the contrary. I’ve learned to love my big thighs. Partially because I love juicy thighs on other women. And small thighs. Thighs in general, actually. In fact, I think a lot of my progress towards body acceptance has come from how beautiful I think other women are… that and the budding belief that shame is a form of narcissism. #SOhomo