We interviewed model and social media presence Jaime Geter about sexual imagery on social media, her experience stripping and what she’s hoping to study in graduate school.
LJ: You just graduated from undergrad and are looking to continue on in academia with a focus in gender studies. I know you also have a background in stripping and in modeling. Can you tell me what you’re up to currently?
J: I graduated from Rutgers in New Jersey this May and since then, I’ve moved back home. [I’m applying to grad schools] so I’m working on my research proposal now. I’m looking at cosmetic medical tourism and specifically the commercial realization of body parts in terms of like the Brazilian butt lift.
In undergrad, I did a thesis on the body images of strippers—that’s how I ended up being interested in the topic of plastic surgery. In college, I was a bartender and involved in nightlife and I stripped a little bit too.
LJ: And you also do some part time modeling currently, is that correct? Tell me more about that.
J: Ever since I was really young, I was told to get into modeling. When I was in high school, I went to modeling school in New Jersey and I did a few fashion shows here and there but nothing that important. In college, I tried focusing on modeling again. I would do photo shoots with different photographers in New York for free, and then eventually I went to a bunch of open calls at different modeling agencies and then an agency was interested, MSA models. They signed me, but they signed me as a plus sized model. That was something that was really surprising to me, because back then I was even smaller then I am now. I was literally like a size 4 or 6 so I was surprised that plus size started that small. But it was cool to know that I’m about to be signed. I thought that meant my whole life was going to changed. I thought I was getting a record deal, you know?
LJ: What did you notice about being a plus size model who does a lot of lingerie or nude photography?
J: I never thought it was weird, or extra courageous, to do photo shoots in bikinis or lingerie and shit. Those were just like the images I saw of the models that I looked up too. I always loved shows like America’s Next Top Model, and Project Runway. I always loved fashion and different images of women not wearing clothes, from hip hop and music videos. I never thought that was weird or out of the ordinary. So I was really shocked to know that once I became known on Instagram, that my images would be seen as porn and would go on porn websites. I never thought they looked like that until people started pointing it out to me.
LJ: Right, because there are so many images that are mainstream that include nudity that aren’t considered pornographic. You flip through Vogue and there are definitely images of women in their underwear and that is definitely not seen, by most people, as porn.
J: Exactly. Especially if the women in magazines are skinny and white, they’re not perceived as explicit. There are so many things I never realized about my body until I started putting it all over the internet, which made me totally rethink putting sexual images of myself on the internet. If you look at my page, I used to post way more mirror pics that I thought were sexy until people started trolling me so bad. People would call me pepperoni nipples. I was just shocked, even when people were trying to compliment me, it would come across as gross and vulgar and I just didn’t like the comments and shit people were saying. Lately, I’ve been rethinking how I portray myself sexually. I want to be careful about it because, emotionally, I’m more sensitive to this shit. I wish I could be more ballsy, like I used to be, but I’m just becoming more sensitive. I guess I’m internalizing more shit.
LJ: Let’s go back to the beginning. Do you remember when you were younger and when you started to think about your body as an entity? I’m curious when people think about their own journey with body image and when that started for you?
J: That is something that is pertinent in my memory of my childhood. I’ve always been super tall for my age, taller and bigger than everybody else. All my friends were like these petite, really skinny, white girls so it was always noticeable to me, especially in pictures, that I was just bigger. Everything about me, my feet, my hands, everything. I remember my boobs were growing and I would put my hand over my boob to measure one boob. I would think, oh my god, once my boob is as large as my whole hand, I’m going to hate myself. Now, my boobs are two hands put together and I love them.
LJ: Can you tell me more about your relationship with your body in middle school before you started modeling?
J: I grew up around preppy culture, ya know, Vanessa Carlton, Blink 182 type of shit. I was born in Trenton, NJ, in a super hood area but my parents are both professional, college graduates. My dad is an architect and my mom has her masters and she’s a guidance counselor. We lived on one good block in a bad city. It’s really hard to explain those dynamics to people, but I literally like wasn’t allowed to walk outside of my house. I didn’t have friends in my neighborhood. I first got introduced to black culture in puberty years and that kind of shaped the way I viewed my body. I was always interested in black men and hip hop culture and that was something that I aspired to, even though in school I was always around very thin, white girls that had very different ideas about what was attractive and ideas about sexuality.
LJ: You started working in nightlife and stripping in college. What was your body image experience like during that time?
J: When I think about femininity and the ideal female body, I definitely think about height, especially when I was a stripper. At a lot of strip clubs, you have to wear the stripper heels. I’m 5’9”, so when I wore the heels, I’d be over 6’ feet tall. That would make it harder for me to walk up to certain guys that were shorter. Some places didn’t let you wear shorter heels. That was definitely something that made me feel less attractive, especially being a stripper in New York City.
I’ve been in so many situations where I was the only girl without her body “done”, like without plastic surgery, without having gone to the Dominican Republic or whatever. I was literally sitting on a bed with four of my female friends and they were looking at my butt and they were like, Oh Jaime, you could just be like us and go get your body “done”.
LJ: How did you first start stripping?
J: In college, I got my bartender’s license with a friend. I thought that was a cool idea, working in night life cause I was like, yo that’s kind of like a party but you get paid. I never wanted to get a job when I was at school because, when would I ever do my homework? At Rutgers, anybody that had a job, it was really hard to juggle everything and I didn’t have a car in college.
I started bottle serving at this little shitty strip club 20 minutes away from my school. It was what you would call a truck driver strip club: it was like all these white trash guys and it was disgusting in there. It was a bring your own bottle place, they didn’t even have a liquor license. The waitresses would wear sneakers and like black bootie shorts and a black bra, you couldn’t look as sexy as a stripper. You’d just bring people ice and change. At that time, I was watching so many documentaries that were sex positive and I’m learning so many things that are so mind blowing to me about women in gender studies. And so many of the OGs and famous academics had been strippers and prostitutes. That was mind blowing to me. This was before respectability politics started changing how I view everything.
I started dancing because it seemed like easy, legal money that could be made on my schedule. I didn’t want to work during the week when I had classes, so working two nights a week seemed like a better option. When I first started dancing, I was less tainted by the restraints of respectability politics. Like I didn’t understand that for the rest of my life people would immediately put me in the category of bad girl because of my choice to be involved in nightlife employment. It happens to all girls in nightlife: bartenders, waitresses, hostesses, wristband girls, dancers, etc. But strippers get it the worst—outside of prostitutes of course. Even people that participate in nightlife live within this hierarchy along gender lines. Bartenders at strip clubs have more respect than the dancers for example. Now post-dancing, I’m more sensitive to others’ sexual perceptions of me.