Maybe the figure modeling experience of an 18 year old me is TMI. Given the other posts I’ve made, I can’t imagine it would be so.
So this has some explicit drawings in it of me as a younger person, 45 years ago. And some slightly… uh, I don’t know if “kinky” is the word, maybe “offbeat”… humor. Some quasi-sexual content. But it is as true as my memory and something I laugh about when I think of it.
You’ve been warned.
End of rant.
If you look up various recountings of people’s introduction to social nudity, one often finds hyperbolic and turgid language about being “one with nature”, the feeling of the wind on sunkissed skin, the smooth flow of water over the body, all the acceptance and love they are surrounded by, the spiritual and religious meanings of nudity etc. Fine for them, none of that applies to me. I just like being naked in a nonsexual way and want others to accept me that way. I’m a just nudie.
It can be pretty cool. The exuberant, flowery language? Not so much. Oversell to the point of sounding fake or maybe inapplicable to the reader. If you spend your swim-time 90% naked, pulling off that last 10% will be noticeable and happy but hardly revolutionary in a physical sense. It is the psychological sense that is important. Like the first time one sees the ocean, the experience doesn’t reflect how you’ll feel the tenth time. It then gets exaggerated as you try to impress everyone else.
Sometimes the first time is just plain embarrassing. If it’s at a beach or a resort or a private home, uprisings are easily dealt (as a matter of courtesy, not shame) with and depending on the environment may not even be a problem at all.
Be that as it may, it is the number one anxiety of every male the first few times he is socially nude.
I’d done my share of streaking and in the future, I’d do quite a bit of stripping. Those are two completely different mindsets. A streaker wants to produce a bit of shock with a lot of humor but there is also the fear of getting caught, a drug of choice for adrenaline junkies. Heart pounding and adrenaline flowing, under the right circumstances the “fight or flight” reflex can be arousing even if that wasn’t the intent. (YMMV)
Modeling is yet another mindset. Completely opposite. You are going to be on display. People will be staring at you intently. No shock, no awe, no eroticism, no arousal. You are expected to be a mannequin during your pose. It is a pretty unnatural situation. It takes strength, flexibility, and patience. A complete “Zen” state is ideal. And the ability to keep one’s mind occupied or you’ll be bored to death.
A couple years earlier I’d gone to Oakland U, in Michigan. I failed miserably in the classes I took. I was depressed and unable to focus. I’ve mentioned before that I’d had my very closest brush with suicide there and I’d met an older woman and we fell in love with each other – which may well have saved my life.
I had a lot of firsts that year. First Science Fiction convention. First time of being completely free of parental control. First (and only) time of being pursued by cops. (I got away.) First time drunk, first time used drugs stronger than pot. First (and only) time in trouble for streaking. (I got narced. It left me in despair. Someone hated me enough to do that?) The second semester was my first nude theater in a college production of Hair.
It was also my first experience with nude modeling. The very first time I did it, I’ll admit it was a mess. No shame in what happened. Now it is just a funny memory.
I maxed out on the Mohs scale. 😳
I was the last person to realize it had happened.
Heh…heh… Maybe I wasn’t so comfortable in my own skin as I had thought. The room was cramped. I was under a hot spotlight and I was shaking nervously and standing on a raised platform. Teach was somewhere else most of the time, only showing up between poses to critique the charcoal sketches. The rest of the room was comfortable only to someone in a winter coat.
I was surrounded on 270 degrees by a mixed goup of fellow students who were intently gazing at me from just feet away. Nowhere to hide. The easels were at an angle so as not to obstruct their view. No changing room or curtain and no robe. Just my clothes piled up on the floor. I felt trapped, nervous and very exposed. I closed my eyes, tried to calm myself, bit my lip for distraction, and thought about homework to try and bring things down. (Big fail.)
I could have quit right there except I had a motivation to push thru and overcome. I would not quit. Most people never feel such motivation for anything in their lives. Something inside me was forcing me. I needed to do this properly. Or admit I couldn’t be who I wanted to be.
Bite that lip harder. Do the impossible pose. Get some real pain going!
After class, the instructor grumbled. Can’t have that happening in the class! But he understood it was a combination of nervousness and novelty and not an intentional act of eroticism and let me continue if I promised not to let things get out of hand again. (He may also not have had another model.)
Next class session I asked around and none of the students said they’d been offended. (Obviously, someone could have been uncomfortable with it but unwilling to say so.) They mostly laughed. One said I was obviously hyper-nervous and he was glad as hell he wasn’t up there in the altogether. Another joked that I was so blushing so hard she’d wanted to use red conte instead of charcoal.
I wonder if it had happened today, how many would have called it sexual harassment? How many would have been “triggered”? Kids seemed so much less hung up about everything back then than now. The Woodstock ethos was still in full bloom.
The second time I modeled I was no longer nearly as nervous. I tried to take poses that minimized the view when needed. Wasn’t needed much.
Nobody had dropped the class and he hadn’t fired me, a minimal kind of affirmation. I didn’t need to hate myself! What I wanted to do was approved behavior, at least in this limited field.
The third time was a charm and my nervousness was gone. Eyes open, lips healing, a natural smile returning to my face, I was even able to walk among the students and talk about their drawing and ask suggestions for posing. And making $10/hr. which was not chicken scratch in 1974.
Just now thinking about it and I can trace it back to being a very young child and being ridiculed by other boys for not being circumcised. Only one they had ever seen. (Boys weren’t body shamed relative to other boys back then. You had to be there. Pissing contests, urinals without dividers, locker room nudity and skinny-dipping were normal.) When I was a bit older, locker room anxiety led to – you guessed it – an even more embarassing state. I had a demon to slay. Instead I made friends with it and it left me alone.
It was a glorious triumph that could have easily been a tragedy. All I could see at the time was dodging a very deadly bullet.
To be able to not care I was naked was lovely. Just wearing the uniform for the job. Wow! The nervousness never returned and now it was just fun. I did a lot more modeling after that (I got a good recommendation) and at least in figure modeling, I was where I wanted to be. Naked and accepted.
What I wanted was the freedom to be me as well as the confidence. When I moved to California I found more freedom and accidentally stumbled into self-acceptance. Today, with blogging and all, writing and posting became a kind of ongoing self-care that never ends. I’m a nudie forever. I’ll be dealing with ADD, Asperger’s, and depression as well for the rest of my life and blogging helps a lot.
I guess in some ways I am still searching for worldly acceptance of “me”, yet I know I’ll never completely find it.