Getting my kit off for the first time to model, was not actually the first time for me. As a teenager I worked as a stripper amongst other more dubious professions in the sex industry. It’s hard for me to relate to many women’s anxieties of weight or other physical issues; due to my background however, I’ve certainly had self esteem problems connected with my actions and society’s judgement. Loads of women dip into the sex industry to support themselves so it ought to be less taboo.
Trying life modelling was a revelation as it was like reclaiming my nudity in a more positive, less pressurized setting. Staying still is a challenge, but being left to your own thoughts is a far cry from performing sex acts in a dingy Soho backroom.
I came to relish the basically innocent and positive appreciation one gets from being a life model. It is not devoid of sexual undertones but these are muted and quite under control.
I was just in my 30s when I started life modelling so there had been a good decade since my earlier escapades. I hadn’t realised how I had become inhibited about my body, but after modelling a while I did feel more vibrant and attractive. When you are in long-term relationships or not in any at all, you can forget the thrill of being found exciting and gorgeous; so being admired in some sense by artists may restore that.
On a fundamental energetic level, simply having all those artists’ attention on you for several hours can give you a boost, like they are filling you with energy. As they get immersed in their painting it’s like they fall in love with natural beauty of the body and at this point it doesn’t matter what you look like. I know this apart from what they say, from having tried life drawing myself. When you see the model in a pose in which you discover beauty, the pleasure you elicit from finding a way to capture that on paper is enormous, and you feel such gratitude towards the model. Further, without knowing the model or anything about them, you can share quite an intimate moment.
The beauty of a pose may be derived from nothing conventional, but simply consist of body shapes and the way light falls and illuminates.