Stand Your Ground- The WOW Project

Considering my background in theater, I’m already accustomed to being labeled a prude. There seems to be an theory in the industry that an actress or model must be willing to do whatever it takes in order to “make it.” Those who draw a hard boundary line are often slapped with the label of prude or told they’re not really cut out for the job. But this ideology leaves the door wide open for producers, directors or photographers to take advantage of women (or men) who are trying to establish themselves in the business.

This industry is broad. There is plenty of room for everyone to find a niche. There is a place for artistic nudes, boudoir, and even ‘sexy photos.’ And there are plenty of other styles for those who are uncomfortable doing such shoots. What there is not room for, however, is photographers who use a model’s trust and body for personal enjoyment. Whether this involves unwanted touch, unwarranted use of nudity, or simply shaming a model into pushing past her own clearly established boundaries, it is inappropriate and inexcusable.

I’ve been fortunate, thus far, to have been largely treated with respect while on shoots – even by photographers I was later warned against working with. I have a generally positive perspective on the photography community here in Wichita. I have only once attended a shoot where I actually feared for my safety. However, I have attended a couple of shoots where I was asked to pose in a manner that was both beyond the boundaries I established at the time of booking, and also irrelevant to the style of shoot. There was no need to be asked to do “sexy poses” at a headshot shoot. Nor was there an excuse for pouting about pre-approved cosplay costumes not showing enough cleavage or leg. I do my best to screen portfolios to make sure my style matches up with a photographer’s, but when I am approached by a photographer and he agrees beforehand to the style and theme of the shoot, it’s disheartening, to say the least, when I am then treated as though I am “difficult” because I won’t suddenly start acting sexy. I have found this mindset particularly prevalent in “for trade” shoots, where the photographer behaves as if the model owes him compliance because he is volunteering his time. In reality, both parties are investing time and energy into the shoot, and both parties should behave professionally.

We as models need to remember that our time and talent are valuable and that we do not have to compromise our personal safety or standards while on a shoot. Communicate clearly before the shoot begins, speak up if a photographer’s conduct is unprofessional, and speak out if you believe that other models could also be at risk. Let’s all remember that “whatever it takes” should never include harm to or exploitation of our bodies, especially by professionals whom we should be able to trust.

-A Local Wichita Model

An Open Letter To The Person I love But Can’t Be Around

To be honest, I miss you.

I would by absolutely lying if I said that I don’t think about you every day. Some days, I would give anything to text you, see you, or dance with you again. Before you left, we used to hangout all the time. I miss how we would stay up talking. I miss how you would give me feedback on my Lama Leah posts. I miss learning from you, and how you would challenge me on a weekly basis to be a better student of the Torah. I miss that. I miss you.

I truly believed that you were trying your best to uptain the Torah. I believed that you loved the law. I believed that you were following it.  Maybe I put you on a pedestal. Maybe I began to look at you, instead of the Tanakh. Maybe I should have spent my time with more people who are willing to be vulnerable, open, and real.

I don’t miss how you didn’t support my choice to start pursuing the industry, even though, in a way, you had the same desire that I had. I just went about it in a different way. I don’t miss how it sometimes felt like you were judging me when I broke a Mitzvot. I know you did it out of love, but I didn’t appreciate how you would lecture me when I didn’t wear Kosher clothing, or did something fun on a Saturday. Sometimes it felt like your entire religion was based on a set of rules but those rules were not in your heart. I hate that you felt a need to tell me what I, “can and can’t” wear to a photo shoot. Or that you cautioned me more than you supported me.

What I hate the most is how things ended. I hate how I went months with no explanation of why you were no longer around. I hate the fact that I didn’t know if you were safe or even alive. For a few weeks after you stopped responding to any form of communication, I went to a few of your hangout places, hoping that I would find you, hoping that I would be informed that you were okay. I did not know if you were safe, or even alive. I cared alot for you. We saw each other multiple times a week, so my life felt weird not to see you often.

What bothers me the most, is finding out where you are, and what you did to be placed there. It scares me because I truly thought I knew you. I have had sleepless nights since you have tried to contact me again. I have thought, “This could have been me. I could have been your victim.” Ever since I found out who you are, trusting people again has been hard. What did I miss about your persona? How did I miss knowing who you are?

I choose not to allow you into my life anymore because I need to spend my energy with go getters and you are not that. If I want success in life, I need to spent time with successful people. I want you back in my life, but from a distance. However, I need to put myself first at this point in my life.

I miss you, and I will always love you, but at this point you are not worth the tears.

~The best friend that had no idea who you really were

Jesus Wept 

If you know me on a personal level, or even follow me on social media, you would know that basically two things are basically my life right now- modeling and writing. In 2017, I had 66 photoshoots, traveled to several different ciqties for modeling related events, and made like minded friends that will last a lifetime. As a writer, I worked on my first international project as well as producing content on a local and national level. It has been a busy time of life. 

I am a driven individual but sometimes drive isn’t enough. As much fun I’ve had in the past several months, I’ve also had alot of stress. Being brand new to modeling, I had to learn the hard way who to trust. I was shown the dark part of the industry from a singer at the very beggining, following a few photographers who tried to take advantage of my newness of the field. I have had to make career making or braking desicions when it came to agency’s to pursue. I have had to ask myself, “Is the sexual harrasment worth the opportunity?” I has been difficult to navigate. I’ve prayed for God to give me clear answers. I’ve cried from a place of stress and I have come close to screaming a few times as well. 

Over the weekend, I received a pep talk from a friend when I wasn’t believing in myself. The next day, I got to return the favor to another friend pursing the industry who was not believing in themselves that night. As I was pep-talking my friend I thought, “How in the world do they not realize how talented and special they are?!?” As a friend, I see the talent even when they are not believing in themselves. Likewise, I wonder if God thinks the same thing when we are having doubts about our ability to achieve greatness. I wonder if He hurts for us when we watch someone we love is hurting. After all, whats the shortest verse in the bible? The two words, “Jesus Wept.” 

I think the most important reminder that I’ve learned in the past few months is, “Remember who I am, and who’s I am.” This quote can go for someone in any part of life. Tonight I want to remind you that you are a child of the King and NOTHING that you could do, or be said or done can change that.

Love,

LAMA-LEAH 

Email: lamaleahblog@gmail.com 

Facebook: Lama Leah blog

Instagram: @modellamaleah & @lamaleahblog 

Apology for Dissaperaring 

Hello, long time no see. I want to appologize for dissaperaring from this sight. I have incredible readers and I know this blog would not be where it’s at today without you. Truth is, I have been struggling emensly with anxiety. I will have posts written and then stress about the content not being good enough. I have had troubles sleeping at night and then I have been having a difficulty functioning during the day. Responding to emails and DMs have been a challenge for me and I haven’t been treating Lama Leah the way that I built it up. You all know that I’m about being transparent and this is a post where I’ve had to be transparent. 

Love you all,

~Leah 

Email: lamaleahblog@gmail.com

Facebook: Lamaleahblog

Instagram: @lamaleahblog & @modellamaleah 

Twitter: @lamaleabblog