Working Part-Time as a Nude Model

I do it for the thrill.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

On Tuesday nights from 6:30–9:30 I am a nude model for a gentleman pushing 80 years of age. “George” owns his own small studio for figure drawing and landscape painting and on Tuesday nights he has invited one other person to come draw me, my current boss. Luckily, my boss is not only utterly professional and kind, but also happily gay-married to a man, so it’s cool.

I’ve modeled now for three different art guilds—plus privately for George— for over 60 hours, holding poses that all feel aggravating at best and excruciating at worst. I sit, stand, or occasionally climb onto your basic table and strike poses until one of them wins the prize to be held for three hours, with breaks every twenty minutes. I’m paid around $12-$16 an hour, depending on the group, but the real reasons I began modeling were for the thrill and for the narcissism.

So, the thrill. It’s the more complicated reason. I have been a moderate klepto periodically in my life, which stems from my recklessness, my inability to believe in consequences actually happening to me, and the love of the thrill when you take a lipstick without paying for it. It’s the “Ha! Pulled one off on the system!” feeling which gave me so much power, because I had money to buy that shit. I usually stole from mega-store monsters like Walmart which I despise and which allows me to feel that I’m not really hurting a human being with real feelings, so I’m not causing any damage. I never stole anything worth more than Crest Whitening Strips, anyway.

Then, of course, I got caught. I have an extremely gracious and kind cop on the Big Island of Hawaii to thank for keeping my sorry ass out of jail for a weekend (I’ve been meaning to write him a thank you card for the past two years). This happened during a time in my life where I was free-falling and fucking up my life in other ways. I cheated on the man I desperately loved, I deluded myself into justifications, and then I doubted my sanity and ability to know my own mind. I began a near obsessive exploration of self-awareness and being an all-together better person.

The roots of my cheating and stealing are entangled in places; both are reckless, selfish, thrilling, impulsive, and hurtful. I was unable to walk myself through the inevitable consequences of such actions. So I promised myself I would stop stealing and focus on replacing the feelings with something a little healthier: singing karaoke, doing open-mics, and nude modeling. (Once I also picked up a hitchhiker immediately after I was feeling tempted to pull over at a Meijer and steal something. I saw the hitchhiker as an opportunity to replace the thrill I was hungering for. It was a great experience! But don’t tell my mom.)

The most thrilling moment is taking your clothes off at the beginning. After doing it 20 times, I still feel a small rush of uncertainty: “Did I accidentally walk into the wrong room? Is this really my job right now?” My experience with disrobing at nude beaches in Hawaii helped me to take the initial plunge. Thanks to the artists who are so brilliantly talented and professional, the space has always felt very, very safe.

The narcissism part, well, duh. You’re exposed and you’re beautiful. It’s exciting and fun to feel admired and looked at. It’s hard to not admire the body of a naked woman. A few weeks before I modeled, I started as a fellow drawer (I would never call myself an artist) at an art guild I would be modeling for. Do you know how beautiful all naked women are, in all their shapes and sizes? Clothes hide the natural and unique folds and curves of our body fat; when woman are naked, you can appreciate the extraordinary softness of their voluptuousness. When I was drawing a naked woman, over and over in my head the same two thoughts play: “She is so beautiful!!! Oh my god!” and “This is so hard!!! Oh my god!”

Seeing other naked women has helped me accept the parts of my own body I have in the past considered imperfections or weaknesses, the version of my body I’ve seen in mirrors at poorly lit dressing rooms. Does everyone’s ass have these extra folds where it meets the thighs? Do my boobs sag more than other people’s? Are my shoulder blades too bony? Now that I’ve seen so many other real bodies, I can assure you (and myself) that we’re all gloriously and perfectly shaped, even when we do look bony or saggy, especially when the lighting is so dead-on!

The artists are generous with their compliments, and they make you feel like a million bucks, though they use some pretty bizarre terms through their artsy eyes: “You have such a swan neck! She’s emanating yellow and violet, don’t you think? What a Michelangelo nose! Look at that rib cage, the way the muscles stretch over it!”

I should warn you that the thrill wears off over time. Now I’m exhausted from the hard work — it’s an extremely difficult job! — and I’m really only in it for the money. I wanted to be a good model, which means attempting the most interesting poses, twisting, standing, arms raised over your head, fingers extended out, head tilted, which are also the most painful to hold. I’ve earned some extra cash for a trip around the world I’m taking in four weeks, which will take the place of my thrill-seeking from nude modeling and hopefully will blast me with more self-awareness I’m still craving.

Also I wrote most of this article in my head while modeling for George.

Molly Boersma may or may not be using a fictitious name so that her mother never does find out that she picked up a hitchhiker.

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