In this long-awaited follow-up to our previous interview with professional model, Megan Farmer, we're taking an in-depth look at the ways Megan's career has taken off and reflecting back on everything the model has accomplished over these past two years! We're also discussing body image issues, the pressures that come hand in hand with the modelling industry, her favourite photoshoots, the reasons why posing nude has helped Megan fall in love with herself, the ongoing issue of Instagram censorship, and more!
Britain Uncovered: Hi Megan! When we last spoke back in May 2021 – which was shortly after you started modelling – you mentioned that you weren’t intending for your modelling work to become permanent, and explained to us that it was really born of necessity. However, it seems to have taken on a life of its own and has clearly been a huge success – so is photography still the priority going forwards, or has the modelling become the primary focal point now?
Megan: The modelling has definitely taken over, and it is definitely more my main focus now. I still enjoy taking photos, but I wouldn’t call myself a photographer anymore. I still take pictures of friends, my partner and myself, but I no longer do it for a job now. The modelling has definitely taken over, and that is now my full-time job and the way I make a living.
I love photography and the technical side of it, and my background of photography still helps me to this day. It’s improved how I see lighting and has really helped me with collaborating; as even on paid shoots I will put in my own contributions towards what I think could happen creatively. My photography background also means I’m able to assist with equipment, in a studio shoot for example, because I know how to handle the equipment. So I just have a bit more of an understanding, and that’s been really helpful.
BU: How has it felt adjusting to becoming a model on such a regular basis, and has taking part in nude or semi-nude photoshoots changed your perception of yourself and your relationship with your body?
Megan: Yes, is the short answer! I have had a very up and down relationship with my body. On the one hand, posing nude or in lingerie has made me fall in love with myself. I appreciate the things that my body can do and the different ways my body can look. Doing high fashion or art nude photoshoots, you move yourself in a way that doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be far more striking that way, but it means that you have to learn to be okay with stomach rolls when you hunch yourself over, and there’s going to be looser skin too. You have to accept that your body in its natural state is not going to look the same as when it’s posed, and it’s understanding that and falling in love with that and learning to accept that your body is going to change.
But the other, harder side of it is, because I am on display like that, it means I am also overly aware of how I look. And I become far more aware of exercise and eating – and I struggle sometimes with the eating. I have caught myself a couple of times begin to spiral into the possibility of an eating disorder. I wouldn’t say I do have one, because I’ve never fallen into that, but the temptation is very strong, I won’t lie. It’s there. And it’s normally at those points where I actually end up putting on weight, because in trying to not starve myself I end up compensating by eating a little bit more to ensure that I don’t do that. And then it’s a little bit of a weird cycle. But generally my weight is pretty consistent, and again it’s just that learning to accept that your body changes, and that’s okay. I have quite a tricky relationship with it.
BU: It seems as though eating disorders can sometimes go hand-in-hand with modelling, unfortunately.
Megan: I was looking into agencies recently, and I can’t remember which agency it was, but based on my current measurements, they said I would be classified as a ‘plus size’ model. My waist is 26 inches and that, to them, makes me a plus size model. That was frankly shocking to me. I’m a size six to a size eight dress size, and apparently just on my measurements of bust, waist and hips, I would be considered plus size.
BU: Which is absolutely crazy, and it just shows how much pressure there is on models to have these incredibly tiny figures. But I’m confident that societal attitudes are starting to evolve away from this type of mindset, as we’re gradually seeing a greater diversity of models, so hopefully agencies will soon follow suit. I think they have a duty to be more responsible too, as turning down impressionable young models for being ‘plus size’ – when they’re really not – could cause lasting damage in so many ways.
Megan: Very much so. It’s very scary, and if your body doesn’t naturally meet the requirements they are expecting, it doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful, and it doesn’t mean you are not worthy of a place within this industry. It just means that they have unrealistic expectations, and they are looking for a very specific type of person. I can understand why they would want that specific type of person, but at the same time, the percentage of people who actually look the way they are wanting people to look is so slim. And it’s very damaging to a lot of people, especially with the way they go about telling you that you are not what they’re looking for.
BU: I can imagine they can be quite cutting and to the point.
Megan: Yes. I haven’t had the pleasure of being rejected face-to-face – I’ve just had no reply. But I can only imagine what it feels like to be told to your face that you are too big, that your measurements are too much, or that you don’t have an interesting enough face. It’s very hard.
BU: Are you therefore quite pleased that you’ve been able to find your way into the industry and forge a career without having to go through a modelling agency?
Megan: Yes, in the one part I am. I am very proud of myself for everything that I’ve managed to achieve in, frankly, such a short amount of time. But I am currently looking for an agency, purely because I want to try and take my modelling to the next level, and they obviously have those connections, especially in brands. I would love to get into brand work or more commercial projects, and they know who to put me in contact with.
But you have to work ten times harder when you’re freelance because you don’t have that support. You have to do everything by yourself and you have to make those connections yourself. I love doing it and I love the freedom of being able to do the shoots I want, when I want, and I love that I can organise them all myself – but at the same time, I feel quite limited. It might just be that I’m putting myself down with my capabilities. But yes, I think it’s almost an easy road, and an agency might be an interesting way to go. It’s also something different to experience, because I’ve never had that and I’ve never tried before – so I guess we’ll see what happens.
But I am glad that I started freelance. It gave me a chance to work out what’s what, and work out what I’m made of in the industry.
BU: One of your recent photoshoots that caught our attention – likely because of the air of body confidence and human vulnerability present in the final images – was your shoot in the woods with Sussex-based photographer, Jim (@view.from.space). What was the concept behind this particular shoot, and what were some of the themes you were seeking to convey through these images?
Megan: When coming up with an idea for the shoot, I simply had a look on Pinterest and found some inspiration that I liked the feel of. It was just very light and calm, and – although not quite voyeuristic – I liked the idea of a girl walking through the woods and being captured while in the woods. There wasn’t really any particular story behind it.
Despite that day being so unbelievably cold, it was probably one of my favourite shoots to date. Being able to go and do that with Jim was just fantastic. We came up with the inspiration, we found some clothing and some lingerie to fit the vibe of what we wanted, and then we just waited to see what the landscape looked like and where the inspiration and creativity would take us. And I love working like that – it’s so free.
As for the vulnerability in the poses, that was more what I was trying to convey, because at the time I had it in my head that poses needed to be these really big dramatic things where arms needed to be in the air, and I needed to do these really big twisting shapes. There is a place for that, but you can also create something really powerful by not doing those really extreme movements, and instead you can pose very naturally – and almost in a way where it looks like you are just standing, rather than posing.
Of course you are posing, but I was experimenting, basically, and I’m very proud of how it all looked – especially as the conditions on the day were, as I said, so very cold. I was wrapped up warm, and I would take off whatever cover I had on for maybe five or six minutes of very quick shooting, and then I would cover up again to try and get warm. I didn’t have time to overthink my poses so I just had to go with it. It was a very raw shoot, and it made for very interesting conditions to shoot in!
BU: Having started out as a nature photographer yourself, we can imagine that this project would have been very close to your heart – and in many ways, it almost brings things full circle. So maybe your passion for nature in general helped inspire that shoot and made it seem so special?
Megan: Well that’s where my photography started. I’d take pictures of flowers, chickens, dogs, or anything I could get my hands on! I was so fascinated by anything that was nature-related. I was always surrounded by nature too, and we’d go on walks in the woods and it was just so big in my life; and I just started seeing all the small details. So to be able to model and put myself in those details is frankly a dream come true.
I remember when I was applying to university to do a photography course, I explained how I don’t like perfect flowers. I would much rather photograph a crumpled leaf that has been completely destroyed on the ground and discarded, because that to me is far more interesting than a perfect flower. And it’s the details that people miss. It’s the tiny bug that’s sitting in the centre of the flower that people don’t notice. It’s the discarded and the broken things that I find I love the most, and it’s always been that way.
And I think especially in the pictures with Jim, we were photographing in October, and the woods were barren. It was so brown! There was no greenery, there were no flowers, and it looked dead. It looked cold. And that to me was a very happy place, because it’s a time of year that a lot of people don’t appreciate. But I love it. And as you can see, it created some stunning images, because it was so barren and so cold you could create something really beautiful and really vulnerable with it. But it’s the things that aren’t appreciated the most that I have always loved.
BU: In our interpretation, many of the images from your woodland shoot resonate with us because they present an individual merely existing in their own skin without any overtly sexual overtones, and projects such as these can really reinforce the value of seeing people naked in a desexualised environment to help dispel the narrative that ‘nudity equals sex’. Do you feel as though desexualising the female form is necessary to some degree, or is it really all about the context?
Megan: I don’t think there’s a need to necessarily desexualise the female form, and yes, I think it’s understanding the context more than anything. It’s not that the female form shouldn’t be sexual, but it doesn’t always have to be. You can have a moment where nudity is just nudity, and you can have a moment where it can be really sexual. It’s understanding that there is a difference, and not every time a woman is naked does it have to be sexualised, and that is the main thing for me.
Because feeling sexy for any gender, in any context, is a good thing. Feeling sexy, feeling good about yourself, feeling sensual and feeling erotic can be a really good thing, and to be perceived as that can feel really good. But it’s all about context, and it’s reading a room really. It’s looking at the picture and seeing if the context of the image is supposed to be sexual. Or are you just looking at a naked body?
Glamour modelling, for example, is supposed to be of a sexual nature. However, art nude, just because there is a naked body there, does not mean it is sexual, and it should not be sexualised. The human form is beautiful in its own right, and it does not automatically mean that it’s sexual. Boobs are not a sexual thing. They can be, but as a premise, they’re not sexual. Any part of the human body is normal and natural. It’s not sexual, but it can be sexy, if that makes sense. It’s all about context for me, and I think when it comes to my work, I hope I’ve managed to differentiate that in a lot of places.
For example, when I was working with Cariad in Iceland, there are some shots of her and I creating nude art together. It’s supposed to just be that – it’s nude art, and it’s supposed to be the human form in an icy scenery. Just because we are nude together in that scene, it doesn’t automatically make us lesbian lovers! It doesn’t have to be sexualised just because we’re naked in a scene together. It’s beautiful, vulnerable, normal and natural, and it can be sexy – but it doesn’t have to be.
It’s all about the context of a picture, and the context of a situation, even in everyday life. Take a woman who has a large chest, for instance. Just because she wears a top or a dress where she has more cleavage, it doesn’t mean that she’s trying to overly sexualise herself. It’s because that’s how her body is, and that’s okay. And it can be beautiful. But just because she’s put a top on, it doesn’t mean that she’s trying to put her boobs on show! And it shouldn’t be the case where people sexualise her for the sake of how her body looks.
BU: Do you find it frustrating sometimes if your followers end up sexualising a photograph or a piece of art or content you’ve created that wasn’t intended to be seen in that light?
Megan: Yes, and actually, a way of trying to manage that was creating an OnlyFans. Although I don’t use it in the respect that a lot of people do, I’ve put a lot of my uncensored content on there so that I can channel where those types of comments go, and I can also channel where those people go. I can put my art nude content that I can’t share on Instagram on this particular platform and because I don’t advertise it as a sex site – it’s not – I’ve had a lot of people go there to pay and see art. They go and see the things that I have created. And yes, there are a few people who will look just to see me naked – but that’s a given, and that was partly why I created the site, so I could manage that and I could put it in one place so that it didn’t get overwhelming, and so that I didn’t get massively frustrated. Because I was expecting it.
But when it comes to Instagram, I have had people sexualise me since I was 14 years old, by men who were far older than me. And it was really hard. They would talk about my face, and my body, and how I would dress – and it didn’t matter what I did. The fact that I can now control what is seen, and where they go to see it, gives me a sense of power and control that I didn’t have before. So when I get those comments on Instagram it can throw me, but it’s normally the ones that I get in my inbox, because I have people telling me things that they want to do to me, and it’s really uncomfortable.
Or I have the complete opposite, and telling me that my dignity is non-existent, that I need to find a husband, and that I shouldn’t be showing myself. I had somebody ask me if I believed in god because I needed to start preparing for hell. I’ve had a lot of very hurtful comments, and I’ve had a lot of people try and sexualise me. But trying to put it all in one place has made it a bit more manageable, and I’ve actually created a very lovely community on my OnlyFans platform, with people who respect me far more than I thought they would.
BU: Having participated in several nude photoshoots, do you have a newfound appreciation for clothes-free experiences that you might not have had prior to your various modelling experiences – and do you feel as though they can have a positive impact on an individual’s relationship with their body and help them to embrace it at times when they might be struggling? Also, might you now be tempted to try out other social nudity events on the basis that they could further strengthen your relationship with your body?
Megan: I’ve always liked being naked. I don’t know if it’s a sensory thing, but sometimes I really struggle with the feeling of fabric on my skin. I do think it’s worth spending time looking at yourself in the mirror, naked – actually looking at your body, and taking the time to look at everything you would call a flaw and to just take a second and be nice to yourself – to say, “You know what, I do have a bit of a tummy, but that’s okay”, or, “I do have these stretch marks, and yes they’re visible, but I actually quite like them.” Or even just to say to yourself, “You know what, they’re there and that is a part of me. They’re natural, they’re normal, everyone’s got them.” I have them. I’ve got stretch marks all over my body.
But people are so nasty about themselves, and taking the time to be naked, to let yourself see yourself… it does help. And it’s a really hard journey to love your body, but people like [body acceptance model and influencer] Nelly London are absolutely fantastic, and I admire her so much. She has a body which a lot of people and a lot of society would say isn’t pretty, but she is one of the most beautiful women I think I’ve ever seen – and she makes so many body positive posts. She’s gone through so many surgeries, she had a breast reduction which went wrong, and she has taken people on a journey through that process. She has taken them through processes of loving their squidgy bits and their wobbly bits and their stretch marks, and the ‘imperfections’ – their flaws. She has helped so many women, including myself, to love their bodies for what they are.
I’ve never experienced a nude beach, and I’ve never really experienced naked events, so I can’t comment too much on that. But I can imagine, especially being around others and seeing how confident they are, that being naked isn’t such a taboo thing anymore. Because it is – people are uncomfortable with nakedness because it’s supposed to be taboo, when it shouldn’t be.
BU: The issue of censorship as it relates to nudity – particularly with respect to female bodies – continues to be rife, and we’ve noticed that Instagram’s heavy-handed approach has seen the deletion of several of your own posts and images over the past few months. How frustrating do you find this, and what are your thoughts about this ongoing level of censorship?
Megan: Oh, so frustrating! I actually have a warning on my account currently about it potentially being removed, because of how many have been taken down – which is why I created the back-up account, so that I can share the pictures that might be slightly more risky according to Instagram guidelines. So that if that was taken down, it’s not too much of a hardship, because it’s not quite as big as an account. But yes, it’s very frustrating.
BU: I don’t know if you heard, but an advisory board recently suggested to Instagram and Facebook that they should finally ‘free the nipple’ – a concept which seems long overdue! Is that something you would welcome, or could see happening?
Megan: I was going to put up a story actually about that whole thing, but I didn’t want to praise the fact that they’ve finally started to consider it until it’s gone through. But it would be incredible if it did! The amount of stunning work that is ruined by blurring and lines and trying to come up with inventive ways to cover is ridiculous.
The fact that men can be shirtless and have a nipple showing, but women can’t, is also ridiculous. And it’s that kind of sexualising boobs which, yes, can be sexy and sexualised in the right context… but as they stand, they should not be a sexual element, and it is incredibly infuriating that things are not equal. But they could be, and that’s really exciting.
BU: Although we discussed your woodland photoshoot in fairly lengthy detail earlier on, which other photoshoots stand out to you as being your favourites? Have any had a particularly big impact on an emotional level and/or resulted in a set of images that you’re especially proud of?
Megan: I have loved every single shoot that I’ve gone on, but there are three which I would put into one category – which are the ‘travel shoots’ I had in 2022. Over the course of the year I went to Venice, Paris and Iceland, and the fact that I could travel to another country to do a photoshoot absolutely blew my mind! And they were all so different.
Being able to go to Venice for 24 hours and to create content in the streets, in the hotel and just to experience Italy in general was incredible. I absolutely loved my photoshoot in Paris and shooting with Remi too. We created nude art that was so weird and quirky, and I posed in a way that is so unconventional for art nude. I had never done anything like it before, and it properly changed the way I saw art nude.
BU: What was so different about it?
Megan: This was a shoot where I really had to be okay with looking a little bit weird! I was twisting my body in very strange ways. I was contorting my body in whichever way it would go, and I was actively creating rolls on my stomach, my side and my back to try and create texture on my body. It was the strangest thing I’ve ever done! Remi was lovely to work with, and it was just the most incredible experience. It completely changed the way I saw myself and my modelling.
And then there was Iceland! Being able to travel with a group of photographers and another model, Cariad, and to have such a fabulous group of people to spend a week with – and to experience the landscapes and the unbelievably chilly temperatures in a place that none of us had been to before – was just so incredible. I loved every second of it.
BU: Well congratulations on everything you’ve achieved in the past two years since we last spoke, and we’re so pleased to see just how much you have accomplished during that time. And thank you for sharing so much with us during our conversation today too – we’ve loved hearing about your journey, along with your thoughts on so many of these fantastic projects you’ve been involved in! As we bring things to a close here, how do you see the next year or so going?
Megan: An agency would be nice, but it’s not an absolute. I will still try to apply, but if I don’t get it, then it’s not a big deal-breaker for me because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. It would just be an extra added bonus.
But as for the plans so far, I am hopefully going to be doing three shoots abroad this year with three different people; and I am also going to be going to Croatia for an entire month from September to October with a luxury event, and that’s the Artemisian events.
Other than that, my whole goal really with modelling is just to see how far I can go, and have fun with it. I don’t have a plan, or a goal in mind for where I want to reach. I’m going to take each job as it comes, and I’m going to try and go as far as I possibly can.
I feel like if I was to have a goal of where I wanted to be, I would become very tunnel-focused on only achieving that goal, and I wouldn’t be open to other possibilities; and once I got there, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself after. So if I limit myself with a goal, I won’t appreciate everything else. So I am just taking it day by day and seeing what comes up.
- To see more of Megan's modelling work, be sure to join the other 20,000 people already following her on Instagram over at @meg.modelling.