I could say that I was mortified about having every mole, pimple, and hair on my body captured in an eternal digital file. But the truth is, I didn’t really mind. I could say that my knees got weak at the thought of posing in a completely vulnerable state in front of dozens of people who studied every detail of my figure...but instead, I anticipated the moment.
“Why?” You may ask. “That’s pretty much anyone’s worst nightmare.”
Question one: Why?!
Well, let’s break it down. I’m an artist. It’s my job to stare at nude people for hours; trying to match the shapes of their bodies. I know what the creative mindset is—which alleviates the thought that people are judging me. To be honest, they’re probably worried about the other people in the class judging their work, or the professor.
That being said, I know what’s exciting to draw. I know what positions I enjoy recreating and I know which poses will help artists gain a greater understanding of anatomy. That kind of control is so empowering to me. I get to determine what these people are creating and how they’re learning.
And in terms of photography, I want to give off the essence of The Birth of Venus. The depth of The Ponderer. I want one to view a photo of me as one would view a Renaissance painting, valuing the curves, contrast, and dynamism found in tasteful and artistic nudes.
Which brings me to the next question.
Question two: But what about perverts?!
Ah yes, the illusive pervert. Well, these untasteful human beings see the female body purely as a sexual object. They do not see a point in appreciating the work that has been put into capturing it. They just want to reap the benefits of their own visual conquest.
But, I believe that our (American) cultural upbringing pertaining to nudity is a large factor that goes into this kind of thinking. Take violence for example. I remember seeing people’s limbs getting chopped off in movies at a fairly young age, but God forbid I see a nipple. I believe we as marketers and consumers alike deliberately normalize certain topics and bring other topics farther into the “taboo zone.” Nude beaches aren’t even conceivable around here in the Bible Belt. But, think about other cultures that walk around without shirts like it’s nothing. It’s not the fact that our bodies will give off the wrong impression, it’s the fact our culture has fed us into thinking that if we show our bodies, we want sexual attention.
So, where does that leave us? What about the perverts? Well, the only way to halt ignorance is to educate. Educate people on why they may see the body the way they do. Show them a body through your eyes. Describe the torso like you would describe how to get to your house from the entrance of your neighborhood. How many trees are at the first right? Is the street wide or narrow? Is the asphalt smooth or rough? This is what it is to truly see a body for what it is. I know the photo will attract perverts, but the real question is, how will I use that opportunity? Do I want to ignore them, or do I want to have captions that educate them?
So, for those of you skimming: educate the ones who can’t see you for anything but a sexual object. Even if it’s just planting a seed.
Question three: But what about your significant other?!
My significant other needs to be supportive. If he wants to claim visual rights to my body and erupt in a jealous rage anytime anyone sees it, he isn’t someone I want to be with.
If I was dating a man who nude modeled, I would be his number one fan. I would help assist on shoots, show him my favorite photos of him, and proudly state that I was with him whenever someone commented on his photo. Like, “Yes, he is absolutely a dime and he’s the best man I could ever ask for.”
For me, I take it as a compliment when I see that other people are attracted to the person I’m with—whether it be looks or personality. It makes me that much prouder and more grateful to be with them. It means that out of everyone out there, this amazing person saw something special in me and wanted me to join them in their adventure of a life.
Question four: But what if you have children and they see them?!
Girl, it’s not like I’m flashing my whole hoo-ha for the world to see. If one day, my kids happen to stumble across a photo and they see a nipple, well it’ll be the first time since the last time they sucked on it. And they can deal with it and move on like normal civilized people.
Question five: But what about creepy photographers?
It is true that it’s almost impossible not to feel like you’re friends with someone after they’ve photographed you. There is usually a lot of casual conversation and joking involved, just to keep the mood light. Sometimes, being a photographer is a lonely job, and many people they shoot with just want the photos and not the experience. Photographers can get attached when they meet someone who enjoys the whole experience or lives in the moment or just doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
This can be categorized as creepy, but it doesn’t need to be if the right precautions are taken. Just always be honest- if they’re texting too much, just let them know it’s a little overwhelming. If they want to shoot again and you don’t want to, just tell them that you enjoyed the last shoot and you will personally let them know if you would like to shoot again. There are a lot of gentle ways to tell someone that, well, they are just being a little too much.
THEN. There are the blatantly creepy photographers that just want to see you naked. I usually talk to models that have shot with the photographers before to see what their experience was. I’ll also look at their credentials and basically do a little background check. If I’m on the fence, I can always bring a friend or have a backup plan in case I want to leave. If there is a case when I’m shooting with a photographer and I only discover he just wants to see me naked during the shoot, I’ll just politely refuse to get naked. Easy.
I pick up vibes pretty easily, so I haven’t had any real trouble so far. I’ve been able to discern the photographers who shoot because they want to make art and the ones who shoot because they want to get some. I always let people know where I’m going to be though and how long I’ll be there, just in case anything happens.
So, I hope this was informative and may have answered any questions you had about why people enjoy nude modeling.
Now, go young padawans! Be naked! Be free!