Hooking Up With Tila Tequila: Chapter 3: Photos

tili

[Image: Tila Tequila posted suggestively against a doorway. A gate is visible in the background.]

Chapter 3 of Tila’s book consists of one paragraph of text and 31 pages of photos. Hence the clever title. But her idea to include so many of her modeling photos seems to be problematic, not just for her, but also for many of the other claims in the book.

The paragraph of text reads:

What? Are you expecting me to get all defensive about the fact that I got my start (and made bank) in a bikini? Nah, I’m comfortable with who I am and the fact that plenty of people seem to think I look hot in the buff. This is jerk-off material, plain and simple. So go get some lotion, do what you have to do, and enjoy the next half hour of your life.

Tila brings up her decision to go into modeling several times in the book and each time, notes it with some hesitation. She says that she never really wanted to model, she was uncomfortable doing it, and so on. Tila also constantly has to bring up that she’s not ashamed of it and not embarrassed by it. Which, if she wasn’t, she wouldn’t need to protest so much. It’s not clear why Tila thinks this about her modeling.

She notes later in the book that she was always a tomboy and being a girly model did not fit in with her image. However, she never seems to overcome whatever shame she feels about this decision. While claiming that she’s proud of what she’s done, she never manages to mention it without qualifying and justifying it, when it doesn’t really need either.

In the end, Tila never seems at peace with her decision to model and it shows. Seeing her modeling photos throughout the book just serves as a reminder that society wanted Tila to take her clothes off and Tila obliged out of necessity. At this point in her career, her book would be incomplete without copious photos of herself. It’s not just how she got her start, it’s how she has marketed and packaged herself on social media and throughout her career. Tila Tequila is not who she is without her boobs on display for the male gaze.

And make no mistake, for all of her claims for advocating bisexual rights as well as visibility, this chapter is meant for men. She calls these photos “jerk-off material” a euphemism for male masturbation. She then makes a remark about lotion, something that men use to masturbate, but is not safe for women to use. This chapter is all about straight men and what they think of her body. And in a way, it seems more of her acknowledgment of the limitation that she has pigeonholed herself into rather than a sex-positive way of her displaying the product that she is most proud of.

The photos are a collage of pictures, showing Tila in various stages of undress. A lot are in bikinis or lingerie. Some are casual photos, in one her hair is in rollers and she looks like she is getting ready for a shoot. Some are professional shots of Tila in bikinis, with her legs spread, her expression innocent and come hither.

It’s strange that Tila has marketed herself to be someone living an alternative lifestyle. Her small frame has tattoos and in some photos she has a mohawk, wearing scene kid clothes. But for all of her attempts to be different, she is still conventionally attractive. She is slender, with breast implants and curves. She wears high heels and traditionally sexy clothes. She poses with enticing expressions and plenty of skin on display.

In her photos, she never really differentiates herself from every other naked woman on the internet vying for the attention of men with credit cards that want to look at attractive women. And in her book, that’s all she talks about doing. Her image is so problematic in part because it is never definite or defined.

But this chapter is simple; it’s up to the reader to exploit her photos for sexual gain and continue to look at her and treat her as the sex object that she continually claims that she’s not throughout the book. While it would be one thing if Tila demanded to be treated as a person with a sexuality, she finds herself playing both sides. When convenient, she wants to be a bunch of photos that people use to masturbate to. The rest of the time, she wants to be more than her physical form or these photos. She wants to be the intelligent, go-getter of a woman that made a career off of very little talent and lots of bikinis.

Case in point; the next chapter is about how Tila forged her career as a media personality with nothing but her wits, her body, and her ability to be on Myspace. But never fear, men who bought this book for the photos; there are always more photos to be had through the text. Tila (poorly) explains the reason for this in a future chapter.

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