This was the one “act” that completely scared me: standing up in front of a bunch of strangers in a classroom-like setting NAKED while holding poses for 15-20 minutes at a time. Yep, all the feelings you’d expect were coming up for me but…that’s also what intrigued me to do it. I wanted to know…How would it feel to be that vulnerable? To be starred at for that length of time? Would I learn to love my body more or would I freak-out, cause a commotion and run the other way? And honestly, if I can’t do it at FORTY, when would I do it…at Fifty? Sixty? Besides, it’s a classy, safe environment. I knew it would be okay. What I didn’t prepare for…getting my period. Oh yes, I’m going there! I was on the second day of my menstrual cycle, not feeling good in my body and trying to figure out how to hide my tampon string (I ended up cutting it!) I was nervous, uncomfortable and just wanted to get it over with.
I arrived at the location and decided to make the most of it. After all, it’s not often I get to be called a “model” so I mine-as-well live up to my professional title (this is what I kept telling myself to feel better). I entered the elevator along with some of the “students” and all I kept thinking was…THESE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SEE ME NAKED IN TEN MINUTES!!! We made our way to the classroom, I entered first, cause you know, I’m the model and was greeted by Simon, the organizer. The class was a FIVE-HOUR Anatomy Workshop & Sketch Drawing Class. Yes, FIVE-LONG-ASS-HOURS! Now, I had imagined the class would have a proper stage in which I would stand, some incredible dimmers and a spotlight with perhaps a smoke machine with a wind-blowing fan for my hair (upstairs not downstairs!)…but no, this classroom had none of that. It was a very cold, office-like setting with unflattering florescent lights (think hospital waiting room) and cheap, portable seats (seriously, some had to sit on a piano bench).
The first two hours were considered the “lecture” whereas the instructor would occasionally ask me to stand up on a very, unstable cube-like piece of furniture (covered by a blanket), which if I wasn’t careful, I could fall into one of the holes. He would then point to a few body parts, describing how they are similar to a baseball or whatever analogy he was using, and then I’d sit back down. And the class was packed; thirty-three strangers were going to see parts of me that not even my closest friends/family would ever see. At one awkward point, while standing on the unstable pedestal, the instructor’s head was right at my private region, in which he pointed and said, “and here’s the pubis…” and all I kept thinking was THANK GOD I left that landing-strip!!!!
I started to relax after that wonderful moment. I realized the only way to truly feel comfortable in this scenario would be to imagine everyone else NAKED, too! And listen, I had plenty of time to fill in the details. I kept myself so entertained that I would catch myself cracking up in the middle of his lecture. (and yes, I was imagining mr. lecturer naked, as well).
After the two-long hours, it was time to start posing like the naked model I was! The room was configured in a circle and I was to stand in the center and hold 3-4 poses for 15-20 minutes at a time. At this point, I was so comfortable being naked, I was cracking jokes, finger-pointing to the students, looking them in the eyes, peaking at their work…I mean, I just didn’t feel exposed at all. The only time I was reminded I was without clothes was when I looked down and saw my thighs…then I thought, oh right, I’m not wearing anything!
But the whole “being starred at” was really no big deal. I wasn’t looked at like a sexual being at all. I was just a model posing so they could sketch my figure. And that was it. It wasn’t like walking down the street in New York City where every corner some guy is undressing me with his eyes and making inappropriate sexual comments. In this setting, I was respected. And the shocking part was…I didn’t feel vulnerable at all. I felt empowered. To be here…at age Forty, openly exposing all of myself…even when I didn’t “look” my best (feeling the extra puffiness from my cycle)…none of it mattered. I just felt free.
I snapped pictures at some of the artists’ work but I didn’t feel any connection to the woman they were sketching. It was strictly their interpretation of this figure (me) and I didn’t take any offense either way. I just observed. And by the end of it, I respected them, as well.
Once 5 o’clock came, I was ready to put my clothes on and leave. Five hours is a long time to observe your insecurities, your weakness, your humor, your strengths, your imagination, your daydreams. I felt full, satisfied…but I couldn’t quite articulate why…until now.
I realized if you were to ask my younger-self what I would be doing at age Forty…I would have never, ever predicted this as my life. And that really thrilled me! Because if you are truly living with integrity, and a sense of self-awareness, you must allow yourself to veer off-path and start blazing your own trails. And that’s me. A trailblazer. The fun and the excitement of life is in the moments, the details, the darkness, the unknown, the surprises, the joys…all of it. And just when you think you’ll be the most scared…you surprise yourself and actually feel the most confident.
I don’t think I’d ever do this type of “modeling” again, but hey, you never know with me. I’m a rebel; I cut strings off of tampons and pose nude while strangers point at my “Mount Majesty” (found this gem on #BuzzFeed.) You just never know what the future holds for me…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. #thisismyforty #nudemodel #artclass #anatomy #nyc #brave #vulnerable #sketchclass #meetup #women