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From Lingerie Blogger to Brand Model: My Experience

  |   By Wen CGNB

In the era of social media, the word “model” has acquired a broad definition. I grew up thinking that models were glamorous people featured in runways, magazines and large posters. So it's a word I have a hard time associating with myself. But starting my blog opened my eyes to different aspects of the fashion industry and some doors for me too.

This article isn't meant to be one on “how to become a lingerie model." I realize everyone's journey is different and I'm still trying to figure things out for myself. That said, I am happy to share my personal experience and hopefully help others know more about how things work.

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Self-portrait, Paris 2019

I started Comics Girls Need Bras in November 2015. At the time, blogging was something I wanted to do to share with others, talk about my experience with lingerie, and become better at writing English. I am a native French speaker, so I wasn’t sure if I had anything to bring to the table to English-speaking readers. There were already many other lingerie bloggers. I was passionate, nevertheless, and decided to do it anyway.

At the time I had no experience in photography or modeling. I was living in a tiny town in Canada and couldn’t ask for help on this project. All I had was a small camera, my lingerie collection, and a student room with bad lighting. But I had to start somewhere.

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From Ellesmere lingerie Lemuria collection
Photo credit: Burcu @ladyjiyan

During the first month of blogging, I didn’t know if I wanted to show my face on the internet. However, I began to realize that having no face would make it harder for my readers to relate to and appreciate me as a person, instead of a bank of information. Another significant concern was the lack of black people in the lingerie blogging community. I thought it would be a good idea to show other black women that, although it’s not readily accepted by every family/environment, being in underwear on the internet isn’t something of which to be ashamed. Plus, lingerie is for everybody, and I wanted them to feel included in some way.

Now, this is a subject for a whole other article, but as a Caribbean woman, word of mouth and slut-shaming was a big concern of mine. I am not implying that these are problems specific to Caribbean culture, but islands tend to be way smaller than countries. I am so glad to have a supportive and open-minded mother, who encouraged me to go ahead with this project.

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From Ellesmere lingerie Fruit collection.
Photo credit: Kieran @girafboy

To my surprise, I quickly received love and support from other bloggers in the community, even from lingerie brands. Partnerships helped me grow my platform, and after a year, I was feeling a bit more comfortable with industry people, bloggers, customers, and brands. It’s around that time that I came across Ellesmere lingerie’s designer.

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From Ellesmere lingerie Julep collection.
Photo credit: Gaëlle Leroyer

Instagram is a fabulous place to e-meet new creative people. We quickly connected when we realized that we live in the same part of the country. I moved to Montreal shortly after our encounter, and we started working together on shooting her lingerie collections.

At this point, I only posed in front of my tripod with the timer on, or my boyfriend. So I have to say that it was a very different experience. There wasn't much direction during this first photo shoot because Julia, Ellesmere’s designer, prefers catching the natural essence of her models. Shooting on film also made things a little more complicated for me, but thinking about it now, it was excellent training. I learned how to communicate with a team to get the best from each picture, and how to pose in a more intentional way instead of by trial and error like I used to with my self-portraits.

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From Maude Nibelungen Grey Area collection.
Photo credit: Audrey Belval

A few months later, I got to e-meet designer Maude Nibelungen who wished to work with me on her Grey Area collection. This time, it would be a different aesthetic, and I didn’t know if I was fit for the job. But Maude believed in me and gave me that chance. I am very proud of my modeling on this project. It went smoothly and allowed me to learn even more about working in this industry.

I'm not with an agency. According to some agents, I do not fit the industry criteria. I am only 5’7", and I am either too thick or too thin. And I also have a full bust. I chose not to listen to people who don’t believe I can make it. There are a lot of people who didn’t fit the mold but still managed to get what they wanted.

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Pillow Book Sirens collection
Photo credit: Splendide Visuel

Although being a model is not my primary goal in life, it’s a passion and something that keeps me motivated daily. I want to do it without becoming a whole different person. I think for someone like me, independent designers are the most friendly clients. However, there is no reason to limit ourselves, and sometimes you can be just the right person for more prominent brands, too. I recently worked in partnership for Montelle Intimates, a Canadian lingerie brand, and had a good experience.

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Aakar Intimates Star Dust collection
Photo credit: Bruno Balmokoun

Something I learned from working with very different brands and photographers is that every experience is an occasion to grow. Either as a model, blogger, and businesswoman. Being a blogger, I get to choose my own aesthetic and my favorite photographs. But as a model, I have to forget about what I want to look like and try to understand what the designer wishes me to exude in their collection.

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It’s not an easy industry if you don’t have an agent or anybody to look out for you. And it takes some research and networking to avoid disappointment. I consider myself lucky to have met kind and well-intentioned people along the way. My mantra at the moment is “it’s about time." I practice patience (still not very good at it, but I am trying) and creating opportunities.

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Wen CGNB

Wen CGNB is a Montreal based blogger and freelance writer with a passion for the lingerie industry. Through her blog, Comics Girls Need Bras; she discusses ethical and full bust fashion to make it more accessible to everybody. She believes lingerie is one of the best cures for body acceptance and always a nice treat for oneself. She has been modeling for independent designers like Ellesmere label and Maude Nibelungen and is currently a contributor to The Lingerie Journal.
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