I did a three hour standing pose last night (with breaks at regular intervals, of course), and I valued the time to just be alone in my head, letting the thoughts run through my sometimes overactive mind. Given my physical state at the time, I started thinking about nudity in our society and how my job as an art model is perceived by the general public. Society trains us into equating nudity with sex and that, because of this, we have to keep our bodies covered at virtually all times. And for most people, this is a self-fulfilling condition; the sight of a nude body does generate a sexual response but only because they so rarely see it and because they expect such a response. I have modeled nude with quite a few other models over the years (although not that often since most schools and art groups can’t afford to pay two models for the same session). In each instance, I have taken just a very brief moment to admire my fellow model’s form and beauty (because all bodies are beautiful) before getting to work myself. I have never felt that that admiration and appreciation of the human body has ever been sexual. I’ve been doing this job for over 30 years, and I’ve seen quite a few other nude models and works of art created from those models. I’ve been seen countless times myself, and at 48 years old and with a few fat layers from my full-time job sitting at a desk and looking at computer monitors, I still marvel at drawings done of me.
I do think that there is an allure to nudity because we as a society hide and cover it so much. When people succumb to that allure, they turn to “adult” entertainment which keeps perpetuating the lie that naked bodies are only to be used for sex. But then again, pornography itself is a lie, with atypical bodies saying and doing atypical things. I’ve often thought that if we as a society were more open to nudity in everyday life (especially nudity of the average body and not the idealized bodies that our media almost exclusively presents us) that pornographers’ incomes would come crashing down. But instead, our society has prohibited simple nudity from the public arena. When singer Erykah Badu got nude on the spot where JFK was assassinated for one of her music videos, authorities in Dallas launched an investigation to find someone who witnessed it and who could be convinced to file a complaint. Once that person was found and the complaint filed, Erykah was charged with disorderly conduct and fined. Why go to all that trouble for a “crime” that had no victims? It just saddens me.