- I signed up for nude modelling to challenge myself
Modeling naked for an art drawing or painting class is scary – even if you’re used to going naked at home sometimes or even visiting a nude beach occasionally. It’s even scarier if you have no significant experience being naked in front of strangers who will be staring intently at your naked body for an hour or two. Why did Sonya do it? A friend who had done nude modeling for years had “always spoken about how much fun she had found it.” Sonya writes that she had “spent so long working to the point of getting to be ok with my body, instead of being at war with it” – and she now needed to challenge herself on her progress.
She writes about her very first experience modeling naked, her anxiety about it initially, and her feelings in the first few minutes. “Disrobing was difficult. All those eyes, staring at me.” But it turned out very well. “Seeing myself through other people’s eyes, laid bare on the paper was amazing for my body confidence…. The next time I am asked to life model, I’ll respond with an enthusiastic “Yes!”.” In light of the next article to be discussed, what this shows is that the discomfort from people staring at one’s naked body is a challenge – but it can be conquered by developing sufficient self-confidence. Most naturists aren’t exhibitionists or ecdysiasts, and they don’t expect to get sexual gratification from being seen naked by others. But neither do they need to be scared or concerned about being seen naked. The pleasure of nudity is just a result of accepting one’s body and not being encumbered by clothing.
- “Staring is a big no-no”: All the questions you have about nudism, answered
This article from an Australian source relays advice from the founder of Get Naked Australia. Most of it is aimed at people who know little about naturism or nudism, but are curious about it (in a positive or negative way). The article’s title singles out one specific issue – the concerns people have about being stared at while partially or fully naked.
This is a more complicated issue than is generally acknowledged. On one hand, people having little or no experience with social nudity believe that most of its devotees have great self-confidence and no embarrassment about being naked. That’s not true, although it should be. On the other hand, people who do have some experience with social nudity often think that others who stare at their bodies are simply being gauche and uncouth. That fails to understand the previous point.
It’s usually very good advice not to stare – whether intentionally or not – at the bodies of anyone who’s fully or partly naked. While the naked person might be fairly comfortable with nudity, if they’re relatively new to social nudity they may feel mildly to severely uncomfortable about being stared at. Of course, the same is true of anyone who’s stared at because of almost anything “unusual” in their physical appearance, manner of dress, awkward behavior due to disabilities, etc.
However, people who know little or nothing about social nudity probably assume that anyone who’s fully or partly naked has overcome any sense of shame associated with nudity and therefore must be insensitive to and unperturbed by the stares of others. That’s not a good assumption.
There are now a variety of “public” places where nudity is accepted and perhaps even common – such as clothing-optional beaches and resorts, fairly isolated places outdoors, or legally approved public demonstrations such as World Naked Bike Rides. Anyone who chooses full or partial nudity in such places – either for a particular occasion or as part of a consistent lifestyle – has probably decided that nudity is at least harmless or actually quite a good thing. Such people have to some degree or other overcome unhealthy body shame and society’s irrational aversion to nudity.
There’s a mismatch of assumptions on both sides of this issue. People who don’t know much about social nudity may assume, incorrectly, that most who participate in it are quite self-confident about their nudity and have no feelings about shame or embarrassment related to it, and no concerns about how others will react to it. However, someone who’s nude in “public” may be just experimenting with it. They may have gathered the courage to try it, but are still quite sensitive to negative reactions from others.
On the other side, people who stare at others who’re partially or fully naked may be doubtful about the legality of the nudity and probably still think that open nudity is improper and even “immoral”. So if they stare at others who’re not “properly” clothed it’s not necessarily right to assume that the staring is consciously disrespectful or simply uncouth. It’s more charitable to assume starers still suffer from irrational body shame and are simply behaving in accord with their social conditioning.
Just as with people who become comfortable as nude models, most people who have enough time and experience with social nudity are able to overcome uneasiness when less enlightened others stare at them. Once one becomes convinced there’s nothing “wrong” about choosing not to cover certain parts of their body it’s easy to enjoy nudity and feel no shame about it. By realizing that staring results from the typical unfamiliarity or disapproval regarding nudity present in most cultures, it’s easier to understand and ignore impolite staring. Unfortunately, it takes a little time for people who are relatively new to being naked in a clothing-optional situation to become self-confident about their nudity. Since it’s usually difficult to know whether staring will cause discomfort to someone, the best general policy is not to stare.
- Third Time’s the Charm?
If you think it’s scary to be stared at naked in a life drawing class of maybe 10 or 20 people, what would you think about being naked in New York’s Times Square in broad daylight – open to the stares of many hundreds of complete strangers? It’s actually possible to do that legally, with the proper permits. And it can be done without embarrassment, even if you’re not an exhibitionist (which, hopefully, you aren’t). The naturist activist who goes by the name Ton Dou has been organizing that very thing, in the name of “Bare Body Freedom”. Last year he performed (naked) an “Ultimate Freedom Concert” in the Square, accompanied by two dozen naked men, one naked woman. (Some others were partially naked.) This year he repeated the performance, but this time – as the blog of The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society notes – with about one dozen naked men and four or five women. So the better gender balance is, at least, a “step in the right direction”. Naturists can hope that the third time, next year, could be better still.
It’s worth noting that in 2016 the OCTPFAS put on performances of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with the all-female cast mostly naked. There have, of course, been a number of amateur and professional theatrical productions in recent decades with significant amounts of full nudity – but hardly ever so openly in a public park. Just imagine how comfortable the casts of such productions needed to become with stares from the audience. And incidentally, the women of the OCTPFAS regularly sunbathe topfree during the summer – completely legally – in New York City parks. Stares? Who cares?
- Care home welcomes naked male model after residents request a nude drawing class
While on the subject of nude life modeling, it’s worth mentioning that people who take art classes offering this aren’t in it for sexual thrills either. Most people will never be acclaimed artists, but artistic skill in depicting the naked human body is something that most people can develop with sufficient effort and practice. Accomplishments in such endeavors are as satisfying as achievement in any other type of artistic pursuit – from making music to making furniture. This type of satisfaction is available to people of almost any age. And the nude models who enable learning how to reproduce the human form on canvas or in clay need not be embarrassed by their role, regardless of who the students are.
More: Old people’s home invites nude model for life drawing class
- Art Residency: International artists live in the nude for ten days
This type of Art Residency is a relatively brief organized program for people who are serious about developing their artistic skills. The immersive experience helps them focus on and improve different aspects of their craft. In this case, the artists themselves work as nude models. This helps artists in various ways. Probably the most important way is understanding the diverse meanings of full exposure of one’s naked body to the gaze of others. Nudity, of course, has a sexual meaning, but it’s only one among many. There’s the pleasure, which naturists know quite well, of directly experiencing the natural world instead of the artificial world of clothing. There’s the self-confidence manifest in lack of concern about others’ perception of one’s naked body. There’s the satisfaction of demonstrating the naked body’s aesthetic beauty. The better that artists appreciate these different meanings of nudity, the better they can express them in their art.
- Do’s and Don’ts: Making Nudist Friends
In a previous collection of recent articles we considered How to Find Other Nudists. Among the approaches mentioned was visiting nude or clothing-optional beaches. It was noted that this can be tricky, since visitors to such beaches have a wide range of experience with social nudity, and differing amounts of interest in acquiring new friends while enjoying the beach. The article here offers a number of good suggestions on how to navigate around these complicating factors. Since it was published by the official organization of Haulover Beach (Florida) users, the suggestions should be very pertinent and reliable.
- A Naturist Girl
Here’s a good statement on naturism by Aleah, who was raised in a naturist family – and has not seriously wavered from the enjoyment of nudity, in spite of the various trials and tribulations that afflict most people’s lives from time to time. It’s one of the first posts on a new blog: Our Natural Blog. The blog is actually the work of Aleah and her husband Sam. Both Aleah and Sam introduce themselves in earlier articles on their blog. There’s also a very good background article on Aleah and Sam on the Naked Wanderings blog.
One of the best comments in the article explains how the fear and shame usually associated with nudity is a noxious, harmful fact about our culture (as well as most others):
“We are taught to grow up,,, to wear shoes and stop climbing trees. We are taught the concept of modesty and shame. Taught what the “ideal perfect body” is supposed to look like.”
Naturist blogs from partnered couples are a relatively new thing. It will be great for naturism if the numbers keep growing, since such blogs should be especially encouraging for women to discover that naturism need not be primarily a male thing. Other good examples of this trend are Twonaturists Blog by Hannah and Nick, and Our Naked Story, by Blake and Elle.
- Three-course dinner where ‘clothes are optional’ is coming to Cambridgeshire this chilly winter season
The good news for people in the Cambridge area is that the event is not until January 25, so there’s still plenty of time to sign up. Naked dining events are still uncommon in the UK – but less uncommon than in most other countries where many naturists live. Events like this don’t usually just happen spontaneously. In this case, the event has been organized by the Eastern Region of British Naturism. (The folks who also organize other good things like skinny-dipping events and festivals for young naturists.) Sadly for naturists in the U. S., we do not have national (or regional) organizations that facilitate such things. One does have to wonder, though, why whoever wrote the article described the event as “risky”. Evidently a writer for the local news outlet – who isn’t a naturist.