Get Naked and Get a Job

(originally posted 9/10/09)

Edouard Manet's OlympiaI’m Back!!! I drove twenty hours non-stop from Montana to be back in time for the NGR “So You Wanna Be a Naked Girl” event. Our theme for readings this month was nudity. So in preparation I found myself researching nudists colonies, streaking fanatics, models who posed nude at the Met and got arrested, scientific studies that prove the sight of a naked body can enhance concentration, critical essays on socialized shame and nudity, articles about the difference between the collective idea on the nude in America vs. Europe. I could have gone on for hours the research was so fascinating.

Being one of your Chicago naked girls has so been good for my brain. I challenge you to play along from home and use the theme of the month as a way to do some guided learning. In our day-to-day hectic modern lives it’s hard to resist the lure of just coming home and zoning out. While sometimes you need to “just veg,” it can also be incredibly rejuvenating to activate the parts of your mind that perhaps you don’t get to use much at work. A long day at work can really take it out of you. Most people I talk to admit sadly that while they read a ton in college and loved it they find they don’t have much time to read anymore. Some say what they miss most is having the opportunity to discuss what they read with others who’ve shared the experience because it enabled them to digest what they’d read and really connect with it. I find I sympathize with these sentiments. The most important thing we can do is stay engaged. Reading is a huge part of that because so much information and knowledge is disseminated via the written word. The more you delve into whats out there the less you’ll feel like just another spent working stiff. It’s not just the nakedness that gets me going, it’s the joy of continuing education.

I suppose I could have just said, “Learning is FUN!” – who knew? ha ha but thank you for reading anyway – I feel much better now after my impassioned rant. To reward you for getting through that last paragraph of evangelizing, I’ll share a tidbit about the first time I exposed myself to an audience.

Seeing all the lovely would be naked girls bear it all this last week. Go Girls! I’m reminded of my first experience with public nudity. Those who know me will admit to you that I am very mischievous! When I first turned 18 years old my father insisted that to build character I should go out and get a job. Not a summer job mind you – I’d been wanting one of those since I was 16. A during the schoolweek after school special kinda gig. Yuck! Did he want to ruin my social life? But, my dear pops was not going to budge. However he did not specify what kind of job – wink wink!

Now teenage girls are already devious by nature and if you think otherwise then obviously you’ve been successfully duped. They are without a doubt lovely creatures full of energy and exuberance but watch out! I was no exception and I was ornery to boot. I scoured the wanted ads, internet posts, and bulletin boards for days looking for a way to push the envelope. My criteria were as follows: find something that will take a limited amount of time, payout well, and get under my dad’s skin. Eureka! Live Nude artists model wanted for college co-op figure drawing class!

I responded directly. The pay was awesome – and for only an hour a two at a time after school. At first I didn’t tell my dad exactly what job I’d found I was vague. This is a well known teen tactic. You don’t exactly lie… when probed by dad, “What kind of job did you find?” I think I may have said I got a job helping out with art classes at the college – I’m not really exactly sure yet what that will entail but it will be great experience.” He must have thought it sounded legit and he let me borrow the car to get back and forth. Now while I was ornery I wasn’t irresponsible. I diligently interviewed the head of the Co-op. So I could be sure this was a legitimate operation I made sure I’d have an escort to and from my car. I checked to be sure that the co-op wasn’t just in somebody’s basement. I covered all my bases.

But all that diligence could not have prepared me for the actual moment. Where I stepped out in front of a whole class full of college kids not much older than me and dropped my robe. I wasn’t mortified exactly but I was super nervous. I had no idea what kind of poses to do, should I ever make eye contact. The room was completely silent for two hours. I soon discovered that while holding uncomfortable positions and being stared at by twenty sets of eyes. The mind wanders. In time I would come to value this as kind of meditation but on that first day it was mostly just me thinking about what they were thinking about me. Ha! I’d never felt more exposed it was as if I felt that by the fact of people seeing me naked they could see into my soul in the same way that native cultures unexposed to western civilizations were hesitant to be photographed. A captured image of you was like your soul trapped on paper, a butterfly pinned to a board.

After the longest hour of my life the head co-op director came up to me and said. You were great here’s your money you are welcome back anytime. I only have one criticism can you try to make your poses less, “pretty” we want less pin-up and more natural for next time. That’s where I drew the line, ha! If I was going to be naked I was damn well going to be a lady about the whole business. I wanted regal nudity – Like Olympia by Edouard Manet. Not cop a squat, slouchy, unseemly nudity. Yeesh, this was art not the bath house it was supposed to be stylized. Instead I said, “Sure thing” making a mental note to find the middle ground. So you see my deviance and sense of mischief has led me to some very shaping and telling moments.

It turns out that the teenage girl ended up being duped because the job did build character. Damn if dad wasn’t right! The nude art modeling helped me to gain a confidence and an acceptance of not just my nudity but of nakedness in general. It engaged parts of me that had been dormant and captured my imagination. I would follow a year or so later by applying to and being admitted into some of the countries most prestigious art schools. I eventually joined the co-op I modeled for, befriended many of the artists in it and drew others naked right along side them. I felt accepted. When eventually I came out to my dad about my extra-curriculars he seemed more or less okay with it so long as I was safe about the whole thing. Ha! So not the response I’d expected. So I went out and started dating a boyfriend who just happened to be four years older than me and yep that did the trick. OH my poor father!

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~ by ngrblogadmin on January 11, 2010.

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