It is 8:45 a.m. Thursday morning. I am wide-eyed and sporting a top bun, hoping to hide the laziness as a result of a persistent case of senioritis. For a brief moment, I am unaware of my surroundings, enclosed within the bright lights beaming on me. I quickly pan the room, shifting my eyes only to catch the intent stares of unfamiliar faces. I panic and glance downward. My worst fear has been realized; I am ass naked. But, oh wait…I did this voluntarily.
The spring semester before my senior year, like the all too familiar majority, I devised an exceptional bucket list. One filled with campus traditions, amazing classes, and of the course, those “dare to dreams” to keep me hopeful and my semester unexpected. I thoroughly evaluated my options, cross-referencing which were actually viable and nixing those which didn’t suit my fancy. Somehow, become a nude model for a semester made the cut.
Out of my entire list, this item was by far the most rewarding and the most unforgettable. Again, how could it not be when you spend three hours, yes you read that correctly, three hours completely naked in front of strangers.
To be honest, though, I have always enjoyed being naked. Yet, this item was terrifying in all its essence – it stared deep into my soul surfacing all my worst thoughts and insecurities about myself. And I loved it. Like far too many women, I fall in and out of hate with my body. But, this experience changed everything. So, I committed.
I contacted one of the class instructors and comprised a work schedule. I was being paid to be naked; I had found the holy grail of campus jobs. I worked several times a month on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30-11:30 a.m., each time undressing in front of 12-14 strangers. I wished I could admit it became easier with each passing studio, but it was far from it. My sweaty palms, shifty eyes, and bottomless pit of a stomach defined a new normal for me every time I entered the classroom.
However, what seemed like a mistake at first quickly turned into the most empowering three hours of my week. The majority of the class period, my instructor would “pose” or “position” me on a platform in the center of the room where I would remain motionless until told otherwise. Every twenty minutes the class took a break in which I quickly dressed in my robe and walked the perimeter to admire the student’s work. I was speechless. Every flaw and insecurity was nowhere to be found. In fact, at one point in time, a student gave me bigger boobs– what a steal! Most importantly though I got to experience my body as other people viewed it, a beautiful work of art.
While most aren’t jumping at the opportunity to get naked to gain self-confidence, there are plenty of other ways to become comfortable in your own skin. Here are a few that help me maintain a positive body image despite the negativity from the media:
- Remind yourself that true beauty is internal, not external. You are a unicorn – uniquely wonderful and full of magic. No one else is like you. How cool! Embrace that.
- Avoid negative media outlets. Several months ago, I committed to disregarding all tabloids and reality television shows. It made a huge difference for me, both personally and professionally. My mindset shifted away from negative habits such as gossiping and I began to appreciate myself in a whole new way. I was also able to develop more personal relationships with those around me. I was no longer comparing myself to my peers and was focusing more on self-development to be the best version of myself.
I continue to ride that roller coaster of self-loathing from time to time, but I am forever humbled by that experience and the confidence it gave me to love my body, but more importantly, to love myself.