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I’m a Model, Not a Sex Symbol!: Adventures in Nude Modeling

Age 19

It’s true. I model nude. I’m also not a sex symbol, or a twig, or unfed, or in magazines, or on a runway. I model nude for art classes in the area of my hometown. Why do I do this? Well, for many reasons. I started modeling for art classes at the age of 19 y/o to pay for my college books. My mother had done it when she was in college and introduced me to the teacher she had modeled for. At 19 I was going to model for the art classes she taught at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT. This modeling gig led to fifteen years (so far) of a modeling career (and to my meeting my partner!).

I’m not the type of person one thinks of when they hear the term “model”. I’m not stick thin, or glamorous, or sexy. I’m an over-stuffed hourglass with wide hips, large breasts, and long curly hair. (Height: 5’7″, Weight 285 lbs. Breasts 44DD) Does that sound like a model to you? Well in the Art Community - I’m more beautiful and graceful than any Size Zero in a magazine. The reason for this is because I have curves.

Age 22

Artists like drawing curves because its easier than drawing lines. When you walk into an art class to model nude you must remember that the people drawing you are not looking at you like you are a sex symbol. To them….you are a bowl of fruit. Simple as that.- No sex appeal. No personality. You are an inanimate object for them to draw.

This evening I returned to nude modeling after a year hiatus to have a child and mend a broken ankle. I model at an art gallery here in Rutland, VT. It is a small group of artists that come to the Life Drawing classes, which aren’t really classes, but more of a free drawing period with a model provided. I get paid $20/hr to sit on a platform nude in different poses that I chose in front of a group of strangers. The only person that talks to me is the person that hired me and gives me my check at the end of the gig, usually a teacher/gallery manager. (This isn’t rude, its a sign of respect to the model. After years of modeling I now speak to some of the artists that have been drawing me for years and have learned that they can actually speak to me like a person and I won’t be offended.)

I arrived 10 minutes before the gig starts because 1.) I like to be early/on time for a gig. 2.) I like to look at the art displayed (because its free!) before I have to sit still for 2-4 hours, depending. I talked to the assistant that ran the gig as I came in. I walked around the gallery, which has 2 floors and 5 rooms dedicated to displaying art. This month’s show was a collection of art done by children around the area ages K-12. As I finished my walk around I went to the bathroom and got out of my clothes.

Painting of me by Anonymous

I usually bring a bag with me because it carries my large bath towel that I wrap around myself during breaks and to walk around, and it also holds the clothing I’m wearing when I arrive (along with my cell phone, wallet, glasses, etc.). I get into my towel, grab my bag and shoes and head to the second floor. The room we use for the class is at the front of the building with the windows covered from prying eyes. It is also one of the rooms they show art in, so every time I model I get to see the latest show. The problem with this is you never know what you will be stuck staring at while people draw you and you can’t move. This evening I got the pleasure of looking at a large amount of artworks by small children. The most imposing piece was a 7 foot tall orange cyclops wearing a blue bathing suit missing one toe on his right toe. I got to look at it for 3 hours. You couldn’t miss it.

So I start the gig and I’m told by The Time Keeper (the before-mentioned gallery assistant) that I will be doing 5 minute poses and she will tell me when I have one minute left in the pose. Its a simple system that works. This evening we began with 3 artists, but ended with 5 (sometimes artists show up late or leave early). I’ve noticed that when I model for a college class that there are many students, but very few if its in a gallery class. I’ve learned to be prepared for either size, but I prefer the smaller classes.

A painting of me found in an art gallery

Posing is harder than it looks. When you see a model in a photograph that person had to stay still for as long as it took for the photographer to set up the shot and push a button. For an art model they have to sit still for 1 minute to 1 hour at a time, depending on the pose. The class I model for does a series of poses for different times. I start with simple 5 minute poses and end my gig doing a 25 minute pose. The only problem you have to look out for is body parts falling asleep. It takes a model YEARS to figure out their body enough to know what poses they can and cannot do and for how long and what will hurt or fall asleep. So you model and you learn.

This evening while only my right hand fell asleep in one pose, I was thanked 3 times for the pose I had done and thanked profusely at the end of the gig for being a good model. This is the highlight of my modeling gigs; getting praise. I’ve been told by complete strangers that I’m beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, voluptuous, curvacious, and the best female model they’ve ever seen. This is my ego boost. This happens after the gig is finished and the artists are packing their supplies up. I walk around and see what they’ve drawn. It is the best feeling for me to see how others perceive me artistically. Being an artist myself I know that everyone sees the world differently, but its only in art when you can actually see how someone else sees the world. To be a part of that is wonderful for me. I like seeing how others see me because it makes me feel better about my own image. I’m reminded that I’m not as ugly and disgusting as I feel sometimes. I’m actually rather …beautiful.

Sketch by Richard Weiss 2012

Over the years I’ve suggested to friends that they also get into nude modeling. None have taken me up on the offer. I don’t know why. It is good money for little work, you are helping artists develop their skills, and you are contributing to the world of Art. Who knows, someday you might be the next Mona Lisa.  Tonight I found out that one of the artists drawing me tonight has been drawing me for 15 years now, just sold a painting of me, and has a gallery at home that has a few framed prints of me. *BLUSH* Stuff like this just makes you feel special knowing that you are so beautiful that you are art.

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