Our new online store features two beautiful women modeling our jewelry. Choosing models is tough. The standard way is to hire the most impossibly skinny blond you can find, dress her in something expensive and trendy, and put some jewelry on her. But that’s just not us.
The whole idea of models troubles me—that there is a standard of beauty women should aspire to, and that we have to abide by that standard in presenting our products. Especially when the standard is set by women whose dress size is literally zero. And more especially when these women are usually photographed in fabricated fantasy worlds, passively enjoying their impossible lives. These pictures, which saturate our lives, paint aspirational pictures for women that are as unhealthy as they are unattainable.
Here at Ember Arts we think the dreams women hold in their hearts and enact with their minds and hands are far more important than their dress sizes. We think that beauty is found at the intersection of a healthy body, an active mind, and a positive, confident sense of self. Models, in this sense, are far more than just pretty girls. They are women we can admire.
Our search for models turned up two remarkable and beautiful women: Shiloh and Jovanna. Both are friends of the Ember family, and each brought her own story and style to the shoot.
While we were shooting, Jovanna told me that she dreams of hiking the Appalachian trail. She has a strong sense of adventure and wants, in fact, to travel the world, starting with the Appalachian trail.
For now she is busy working and studying early childhood development, her professional passion. “Those early years are such an important time,” she told me later by email. Jovanna loves working with children, and currently interns at a progressive elementary school in San Diego.
I asked her one of my favorite questions: If the world could be different in one way because you lived, what would it be? She said she hopes to inspire people to be more kind. “I feel sometimes that the world can be unnecessarily harsh,” said Jovanna, “and if everyone was just a little kinder to others, to animals, to our environment, or even to themselves because of me, well then, wow, that would be amazing.”
As a student, Jovanna is focused on the future—not only her own, but the future of education and all the children it touches. Thinking about Jovanna’s future, it’s wonderfully hopeful to imagine all the little girls and boys that she will inspire with her sense of adventure, and imbue with her value of kindness.
Shiloh has a tattoo on her arm that means ‘gypsy’ in Romanian. To understand what this means to her you need to know two things: first, gypsies are despised in Romania, and in the greater part of Europe; and second, Shiloh spent a good amount of time living with gypsies in Romania.
“My tattoo is a reminder of the family I made in Romania,” she told me by email, “and the sacrifice and love they had for me right from the start.” She said that American friends of hers who are ethnically Romanian have questioned her about the tattoo. Doesn’t she know that ‘gypsy’ has a terrible connotation? they ask. “I am able to talk about what my gypsy family was like and how they lived to serve and my experience in getting to know the deeper part of a people group on a personal level.”
The story of her tattoo illustrates two of Shiloh’s guiding passions. One is for travel. “I dream of living in Paris with two dalmatians, a bike, and a good typewriter.” said Shiloh. “I also dream of doing research on a boat somewhere in the middle of the ocean like Jacques Cousteau, and yes I would have to don the red beanie and turtleneck look.”
The other is her desire to peer behind the veils of culture and stereotype, and to engage people as unique individuals, each as human as every other. Asked what sort of difference she’d like to make in the world, Shiloh replied, “That everyone knows their importance and the effect they can have on others and how special and truly unique everyone has been made!”