A little bit about my experience of posing nude

A colleague recently shared with me something surprising and shocking, she rarely looks in a full-length mirror, and when she does, it is only superficially. “T” is beautiful, thin, married and able-bodied. Women with disabilities are not alone, able-bodied women also struggle with body love and self-esteem. Sometimes it is easy to fall into poor victim mode and blame everything on whatever your “thing” is, mine is my visible arthritis. As I often do, I put on my therapist hat with “T”, probing, validating and offering ideas.

I didn’t suggest this to “T”, but something that helped me see my body more deeply was when I posed nude for a photography show a few years ago. It’s such a long story of how I got to do this and the story of The Raw Beauty photography exhibit was life altering for the 20 disabled women who were models for our exhibit. That is another column and one for my memoir actually. I’ll share with you the highlights and what opened up for me. Out of the twenty women who posed, I was one of three who posed semi-nude.

At age 42, I stood taller and stronger in self-acceptance; I was happy with work and had a guy who was crazy about me, so when the opportunity to do Raw Beauty came to me, I said yes. Usually I would analyze and over think, but this time I didn’t. I thought people stare at me anyway, why not have them stare at a beautiful photograph. Don’t get me wrong, when the big day came to bare it all, I still felt nervous, shy and hesitant. But our photographer was incredible, he was a gay guy, I think that helped a bit and he had a chronic illness which I think made him more sensitive to body image stuff.

We don’t often think of when or how we feel most beautiful and I got to design my very own photo shoot. I met with my photographer before the shoot to discuss specifics of clothing, poses, looks I liked. I began clothed, in my favorite jeans that accentuate my butt with a sheer green top. In between sips of espresso flavored vodka, I lost more of my clothes. We had a blast, the music blared, the bright lights blinded, it was exactly as I envisioned a real model shoot. I’m excited for all women to do this. After my shoot, I felt so inspired and altered, I called the other models who were vacillating about posing nude and screamed, “you gotta do it, it was amazing!” I know I inspired one of my friends with arthritis; she secretly hired a photographer for her own boudoir shots and gave them to her husband on their anniversary. He loved her nude photos, of course.

Let go of your fear and take the photos for you; I have a few of them framed in my apartment. When I am feeling low or down about anything, I glance at the photo and it cheers me and takes me back to that remarkable day. I remember my beauty, my essence. Give this gift to yourself and hire a professional photographer to take gorgeous photos of you in the buff! Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I often use poetry to describe important happenings, I thought I’d share the poem I wrote about Raw Beauty.

Photo Shoot

Just look natural for the camera-

she thinks when the team arrives at 9:30am on a Sunday.

Strobe lights, a green backdrop, camera stands, leather cases,

two photographers buzzing and changing the square space

to make room for her friend’s large wheelchair.

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she worries as the make-up artist prepares his first palate,

Ann’s pale face.  She wanted her friend

to go first as she was a model and actress in her former

life.  And after all, she turned 60 the day before.

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she watches as Jesus makes Ann’s sea green eyes sparkle

and she remembers when she played

Titania painted in silver in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.

Ann floats beyond her wheelchair.

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she wonders how she will do this.  Ann

makes it look so easy as she disrobes with her friend Ralph’s help

strategically placing her new cobalt boa over

her private parts reclining sideways in the chair.

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she sips her espresso vodka as her turn approaches.

Madonna and R Kelly play in the background

as Jesus transforms her face.  Fake eyelashes,

smoky colors enhance her jade eyes with her wild brown curls.

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she stares in the mirror and does not recognize herself. 

Everyone is watching her; she is a real model, beautiful,

yes, breathe, beauty overwhelms her disability, wow,

move this way, that way, the light is better through the door…

 

Just look natural for the camera-

 

she poses in tight jeans and a see through green wrap.

As the music, alcohol fuzz her brain, she begins

to trust the photographer and see only him.  She disrobes and for

the first time she considers using ice to make her nipples hard.  

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