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naked in front of strangers

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Monday, August 03, 2009

I was suddenly reminded of something this weekend, and I thought I'd share.

I did some nude modeling at a local university for an art class once.

I was 6 months pregnant, and this was before my breast reduction, so I was hardly the American ideal of beauty.
The teachers were so excited to get a model that wasn't a size 2, because normally the only people comfortable enough with their bodies to model for art classes are very thin, and change is good.

So, I sat there, naked, and got paid $35 to let people draw me.

At the end of the class, I covered up and I went around and looked at the drawings.
As I looked at the students' drawings, I saw that none of them looked anything like me. They had changed my proportions drastically to make me look more like America's socially acceptable ideal of beauty.

I wondered why they made me look so different.
Did they actually see me that way?
Did they only see the figure they expected to see, instead of what was actually in front of them?
Or did they consciously change their drawings of me to make me look "prettier"?

You'd think I'd have been flattered, but I wanted to cry.
I was ashamed that they felt the need to "hide" the body I had, and replace it with a body that had no bulges, bumps, or sags.

..then I came upon the last student's drawing.

He drew me accurately.
He drew every part of me that I hated, and captured it all so perfectly.

This one stranger saw me exactly as I was.
This one stranger saw artistic value in my every imperfection.
This one stranger took the time and effort to preserve every one of them on paper.

I stood there staring at his drawing, and I never felt more beautiful than I did right then, in a roomful of 20 strangers, wearing nothing but a bathrobe.

I wish I could have kept his drawing.

So if you look in a mirror and only see your flaws, and you wonder how anyone can see past your flaws, know this:
No one has to "see past" your flaws.
Your "flaws" don't have to be hidden or ignored for people to find you beautiful.
Your "flaws" are beautiful and amazing because they're part of YOU.

..and if you have a hard time remembering that your imperfections are a cherished part of you, don't feel bad.
I forget sometimes, too.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What a beautiful experience to share. Thank-you for writing this.
    3187 days ago
    Awesome! thanks for sharing!
    3194 days ago
    Thank you for this... simply thank you.

    3213 days ago
    THank you.....
    3213 days ago
    This is a great blog that I really needed to hear. I have needed to have 2 reconstructive surgeries to have excess skin removed off my body since I have lost my weight and I have a 3rd one coming up in 8 weeks. I went out to the shops yesterday and was looking at myself naked in a dressing room at all of the scars I now have on my body and got really emotional and teary. I actually still am a mix of scars and excess skin. I find this difficult to deal with especially when it comes to members of the opposite sex! Your story gives me hope that one day I will find that guy that won't care about how my body looks and he will see past my scars. Just like the person who drew your picture did. I haven't yet accepted my scars totally and I worry that no guy ever will either. Thankyou for sharing. It has made a difference. Bel :)
    3213 days ago
    i love this. I had life drawing in college, but for me it was the locker room in college and later at the Y. Everyone was different, all sizes, not a perfect one there.

    I have also had the same feeling when someone talks me into a *make-over*. I hate the way heavy make up feels AND don't like looking like I am wearing a mask, or actually a doll or android. No thanks, human imperfection for me.
    3213 days ago
    When I clicked on your blog I was surprised to read what you shared... recently I went to visit my husband, he works on the east coast, I live on the west coast (AZ) My first night there I slipped and fell OUT of the shower... I landed on my back and my husband came running, I lay there a bit embarrassed and in quite a bit of pain (I have rheumatoid arthritis) my first thoughts were PLEASE cover me up! As he stood over me deciding how to get me up without hurting me further my heart was pounding. He ended up getting me on the bed and I moved everything... couldn't be hurt toooooo bad. my upper back and my ego pretty bruised. I can laugh about it now, my words were " That was not how I intended for you to see me naked after being away for three months" I am surprised my first reaction to my husband of 34 years was embarrassment, how self conscious we become about our bodies! It was a joy to read your entry! I will try to change my feelings about my own body. It really helped me to read this. Thanks emoticon
    3214 days ago
    What a great way to look at yourself...through someone else who really "sees" you. Thanks.
    3214 days ago
    This was an incredibly moving story - thank you
    3215 days ago
    I read this and immediately thought of some anorexic (diagnosed) people I know. I thought that it would be good to give it to them to read so they could see that people often don't see what is there, but also see things that aren't there - much like an anorexic often does. You have put your thoughts beautifully. Thank you for sharing, and having the guts to bare thus enabling you to share!
    3215 days ago
    One of my favorite clothing stores has "women's only" warehouse sales. Their clothes are very flowing and they fill a gym with racks and racks. Since it is for women only and there are no dressing rooms, women of all shapes, sizes and ages are flinging off their clothes, trying on new things, flinging them off again. And you know what? They're all beautiful! After a while you realize that if all the other women in the room are beautiful, then you must be too! Even if I don't buy anything, it's worth going for the reality check.
    3215 days ago
    I think this is an incredible entry and I think that you have come to find who you really are inside and out! :) Thanks for sharing your story!
    3215 days ago
    hw come you write a blog about being naked and it is beautiful and moving....,i write on about the same thing..and everyones is laughing their hineys off! ( wink) But i think we were both making the same point- only you were MUCH more eloquent! Thanks for baring yourself- in more than one way and for sharing your insight!
    3215 days ago
    What a beautiful, insightful, teaching story. Your ability to cycle through so many emotions that night - especially pregnant - was awesome, courageous, and beauty in itself. I wonder, did you tell the stranger? To have that much impact on another's life must be pretty incredible, too. Either way, the effect took hold. Six degrees, right?
    3215 days ago
    That is an incredible, insightful story! Thank you so much for sharing!
    3215 days ago
    I used to take a life drawing class, and only one of our models was anywhere close to a perfect size 2. I used to love it because the models ran the gamut from too skinny to fat, young to old, every variation you can think of. It was great because it made me feel so much better about my body! In this day of constant photoshopping, it was such a relief to see so many unaltered naked people.
    3215 days ago
    so touching, thank you so much for sharing with us.
    3215 days ago
    WOW! Very touching and motivational. Thank you so much for sharing. emoticon
    3215 days ago
    i am touched emoticon
    3216 days ago
    Wow, this brought tears to my eyes...thank you for such a poignant blog.

    Keep your face toward the sunshine,

    3216 days ago
  • ALICIA0099

    3216 days ago
    Great blog!!! I enjoyed this.
    3216 days ago

    Thanks for sharing.
    3216 days ago
    Wow this was a great blog....it's hard not to be hyper critical of ourselves and your experience was so interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    3216 days ago
  • D_K455
    I dont' think I would have that kind of courage no matter what my weight was.
    3216 days ago
  • JRENEE25
    Wow, this is amazing. Thank you for the reminder to love myself as I am.
    3216 days ago
  • TYTANIA999
    emoticon emoticon
    3216 days ago

    It made me want to cry, very deep, so touching!

    Thank you!

    3216 days ago
    Something to think about...perceptions, illusions, and truths...
    3216 days ago
  • JKSTEIN123
    Good thoughts and very deep thinking.
    3217 days ago
    3217 days ago
    What a blessing.
    3217 days ago
    Very nice reading and thanks for sharing. Fortunately, not all the artists, as you noted, felt the same about body size. Kudos to that artist! Kudos to you for being a nude model too!
    3217 days ago
    wow! those words are words of wisdom... thank you for reminding us that we are what we are, and beauty is something else than just a size 2...
    3217 days ago
    That was interesting reading thany you for sharing it with us.
    3217 days ago
    Gosh, that brought tears to me eyes--thank you for sharing it.
    3217 days ago
    This was a beautiful blog! I loved it and thank you for sharing it!
    3217 days ago
  • CHALLENGE130!!
    The best blog I have read yet!! Loved it, thanks for posting.
    3217 days ago
    Awesome blog! Thanks for sharing.

    3218 days ago
  • MY-2-GIRLZ
    Wonderful blog. This blog also brings to mind a question that I always ask myself - why do people use size 2 models' pictures on their pages?
    3218 days ago
  • LAURITA1977
    Thanks for your blog. I am a big woman and often don't understand how my husband can find me attractive. Folds, fat, love handles...I've got it all. And yet he still thinks of me as beautiful. I don't understand it. YOur blog was an eye opener.
    3218 days ago
    Wonderful blog! Thanks so much for reminding us who we are!!
    3218 days ago
    Back when I was in school and drawing from a mode in classl, what I found totally consuming were the wonders of how the light and shadows fall on any part of the body. My instructors were adamant that our life drawing pieces reflect what the assignment was - if it was to accurately draw the model, we had better do that or get a bad grade. Perhaps those students you were sitting for had a different assignment than accurate representation of the model. I'm probably being kind here.

    I still prefer to draw and paint the more rounded person since there are fewer harsh shadows and such gorgeous half tones.

    After all that rambling, I'm just saying there are many things going on in an artist's mind before that mind directs her on what to put on paper. Unfortunately, thinking of the model as a person is seldom in the mix.

    3218 days ago
    You must have been using your awesome pyschic abilities to read my mind and knew i needed this.. GREAT BLOG.
    3218 days ago
    My husband is an artist and once he took a class with a live model. When he got home, I HAD to see his drawings, thinking that it would be the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, and probably wouldn't be able to compete with that kind of beauty.

    Much to my surprise, he was captivated by the way the arm folds at the inner elbow, and how her hands laid with veins showing, and the way her back bone showed subtly through her skin. It was literally bits and pieces of this girl.

    I had to laugh, because I was expecting him to look "skin deep" at this person, when in fact he was mesmerized by the design and structure of the human body!
    3218 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this with us. I appreciate your candor in dealing with the issue of society and their view of people and weight - acceptable and non acceptable. That stranger was a gift from God for you.
    3218 days ago
    ABSOLUTELY Loved this blog. are you trying to make me cry!!! GOD!!!

    You are so wonderful! I hope you know that. Gone Fishing needs an update on your art exhibits ect. I am your groupie now.

    I will have to pass on dinner. I feel bad because I so want to go but I am swamped with work for being out of town, clint told me he wants to "talk" tonight so I need to gear up for that and we are BROKE!! my only computer for school is on the verge of crashing and I can not be without a computer and now i have to save for a new one. i will send you my schedule for working out this week as soon as i have it!
    3218 days ago
    Yes, definitely food for thought! Thank you for posting this.
    3218 days ago
    I found this very interesting! Something to think about.
    3218 days ago
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