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The Naked Truth This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   I love being naked. I love art. I need money. I'd had some trouble getting enoughhours at my campus job, and so an ad outside the college's financial aid officecaught my eye. "Nude models, $9 an hour. No experience necessary." Howhard could it be? Best paying job on campus, or so I heard. I quickly contactedthe fine arts department and filled out an application. The coordinator stressedthat I would indeed have to get completely naked. Well, yeah, I thought. Isn'tthat what a nude model does? I take showers naked. I sleep naked. I've goneskinny dipping. No one bats an eye when certain athletic teams streak. And yet,the fact that I'm a nude model never fails to amaze.

It's not something Ibrag about. When I need attention, taking off my clothes isn't the way I go aboutit. Anyone can get naked. At a recent party I was asked, "Are you KatieBaker? Aren't you a nude model?" They were well-meaning, but I was a littletaken aback. I have no reservations about letting artists draw me; still, I don'twant it to be my identity. In fact, I seriously considered writing this articleanonymously since I don't want my name to be immediately associated with thispart-time job. I also vacuum in the dining hall and work at the DickinsonHomestead, but no one ever asks me about that. However, if I wrote thisanonymously, I'd be implying there's something embarrassing about modeling,something to be ashamed of. And there isn't.

"Wow, you must be reallycomfortable with yourself. I could never do that," a friend in a drawingclass told me. As a feminist, I find it upsetting that most women are insecureabout their bodies. And I'm writing this - with my name - forthem.

Admittedly the first time I modeled I was anxious. I nervouslyquestioned the other model about the procedure, and she assured me the studentsweren't judging me sexually; they were only interested in drawing. Fortunately,she was completely right. The first couple of minutes, when I actually took offmy clothes and got into a pose, were frightening. But that was it. People reallyjust come to draw, and many of them have either modeled themselves or feel theywould never have the guts and appreciate what we we do. Being naked was noproblem - staying still was.

For Professor Sweeny's classes, I had to holda pose for 15 minutes before taking a break. Modeling made me more aware of mybody. I learned what pose I could easily hold for half an hour and what I couldbarely hold for five minutes. Putting more weight on one foot is hard, holdingyour arms up is nearly impossible. But when you feel your body, you can't pretendit's not there. It's hard work: once I nearly passed out. But it's relaxing, too.Sweeny accurately compared it to meditation. But the most incredible partis walking past the drawings after class. That's really me. I'm part of art.There's no distinction between me and art. The shadowing, the background, thecurves and angles. I'm a shape, or a combination of shapes, and I can see myselfas a piece of art. I can't deny what my body looks like, with the weight I'vegained over the year. But it really is me.

I feel a stronger connection toother art now, too. I love women's bodies. Often people in high school would askif I was a lesbian after seeing the naked pictures of Madonna plastered around myroom. One of my favorite paintings is Renoir's The Seated Bather, which shows avery voluptuous woman. And many paintings are of bigger women, women with curvesand even rolls. But they're still strikingly beautiful.

When I arrived atcollege last fall, my body was in the best shape ever. I had run cross-countrythe previous year, and had continued running 20 to 30 miles a week all summer, aswell as lifting weights. My roommate, an artist, has a poster of Cabanel's TheBirth of Venus on her wall, and one night I emulated the reclining pose for her.I still have her charcoal drawing on my wall. My body, though full-figured, wassculpted with no extra fat. Though I've stopped working out and startedovereating, I still have my ideal body frozen in time. I see the eternally18-year-old girl mysteriously glancing to the side every day, and think,Damn.

Shortly before coming to college, I was hurt by a guy, and modelinghelped rebuild my self-esteem. There's something inexplicably empowering abouthaving 30 people studying you naked. This semester it's done something else forme. I gained an immense amount of weight this year. In fact, I never would havestarted modeling if my body had been in the state it is now. Yet I haven't quit.Okay, so I'm fat. I'm confident that I will achieve the body I once had, but it'snot critical. If I can bare everything, flab included, in front of men, women,friends and strangers alike, and still smile in awe at the art that is created, Iknow I'm never going to puke my guts out in the name of a better body.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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