MODEL FRIDAY! Melina DiMarco @ MSA Models

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Can you tell me about your upbringing?
I was a really quiet, shy child. And much like then, I tend to observe rather than vocalize. I came from a very large Italian family with several characters that helped shape my perspective, and encouraged me to make my own decisions based on my interests. My family always stressed the importance of education, which has been both positive and negative. Sometimes the academic world can put you in a box and restrict creativity; you feel like your thoughts are unworthy unless they conform with society. However, without an academic background, I might not have reached the understanding of what it is to express with concept and meaning instead of superficial ideas. My upbringing taught me that it is crucial to do what you like, rather than adhering to social “norms.”
When did you start modeling?
I started modeling in college. Many of the photographers from the Photography Department began asking me to work on projects with them. I quickly became enamored with the creative process and when I graduated I began pursuing it full time with a more specific purpose.
What other creative outlets do you have?
I, myself, come from a background in design. For quite some time now I have been working on a project to help reduce the stigma around the vagina. I have always been perplexed by the lack of comfort in regards to the word/form, and I feel it is important to open a dialogue on the subject. Often, the physicality of the vagina is either over-sexualized or spoken about only on a clinical level. I spent over a year photographing vaginas to further understand their diversity as well as aid in the design of my project. The goal of this work is to celebrate the beauty and form of the female; to allow all genders to appreciate the subtle artistry that is the vagina.
What is the hardest thing about modeling?
I think one of the hardest things about modeling is the perception and expectations from not only outside of the industry, but also, from within. As a model, it is imperative to tell a story. I feel that there is a lot of concentration and focus in this industry on the “lifestyle” a model can depict rather than the work we can create. We are more obsessed with the number of followers we can cultivate on Instagram than of the message we can express through our work. The collaboration process and the art behind the image get lost. I have walked through many agency doors where the first question asked was, “how many followers do you have on Instagram?” Because I had below ten thousand followers, they weren’t interested. It is sad that this takes priority over looking at the work I have done.
What is the easiest thing about modeling?
Perhaps the easiest (and most enjoyable) thing about modeling is my schedule. It is hectic and forever changing, but it gives me space to create and explore my various interests. I never feel restricted by a 9 to 5 schedule, which for the most part seems like a waste of time (Yo, Tim Ferriss).
Who do you hang out with the most?
For the most part, I enjoy my isolation time. I really need time to myself to function properly. However, I do find it necessary to learn and listen to others; it is the only way to grow and change. I am very particular with who I give my time to. I had the honor of being surrounded by a talented and diverse group of people while in art school. I’m a really big fan of the elderly community. My Grandmother is my best friend. I’ve learned so much about life from her.
Tell us about one of your favorite jobs?
My favorite job by far has been working with the THINX team (Underwear For Women With Periods). They are a wonderfully fun and progressive company. Being a part of their most recent subway campaign in New York City has been the most important work I have done thus far. Being involved in a small way to help reduce stigma around the reality of being a female was so meaningful to me.
Where is your favorite place in the whole world?
This is a fucking hard question. I don’t even think I can answer this properly. But, two things came to mind. My Grandmother’s house for one. It is the Mothership of love, the one place that our lives come together and share a commonality. Two, Dough Donuts. They just started taking credit cards… I am screwed.
What stresses you out?
I recently looked up a bunch of agencies that I was interested in working with and they had a cut-off age of twenty five. I never cared about age or aging, but I suddenly was overwhelmed with the fact that the industry I am in really does. I worry that I will not be able to create all that I want to in the timeline that they have imposed, and that this is out of my control. I stress about the lack of diversity in the modeling world. While it appears to be slowly changing, it is still not representing all types of women unless it is “trending.” There are so many descriptive labels that typecast models. A “plus size” model does not need a specific category. She is a model, and we don’t to need to give her any other title than that.

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photos / Atisha Paulson


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