My First Time Naked in Front of a Lot of People For 3 Hours

 

By KATHRYN RAUTH

 

I originally approached the coordinator for nude models at my alma mater the summer following my graduation while I was milking the university for the last of the work study money it had left for me. We were old pals after four years of shooting the shit about art department drama and unbelievable stories about past models gone wrong. I thought it’d be easy to land a gig that had a flexible schedule and paid $15/hour for laying around and basking in the limelight, two things at which I am exceptionally accomplished. I was right. A few weeks later, I packed up my robe and slippers and headed towards my imminent demise.

As I pulled up, I reminded myself to breath. Katie, this is no big deal. Think how cool you will sound when you tell people you have a naked job, I thought to myself. I’m not kidding; this actually went through my head. I wanted to get the reaction out of people that my roommate got when she told people she was a stripper. “Wow!” our friends would say. “You’re so confident, I could never do that!” I love when people think I’m a badass, and I fancied myself especially cool because I’m not exactly a Greek statue. I was determined to stand up and shed my robe in the name of all the fat girls out there!

For some reason, I expected to be posing for a bunch of Drawing I classes (i.e. a bunch of freshmen that can’t draw for shit). The moment I swung open the door to the painting studio, my heart dropped right into my vagina, the same vagina that I suddenly realized would kind of be exposed in a few short minutes. I just walked into an advanced Figure Drawing class that was almost solely made up of friends and acquaintances, including tons of past classmates and two awkward, LARPing sophomores that had been my students in a Peer Mentor program the year before. I was officially fucked.

I said my hellos, chatted about the shittiness of post grad life, and reminded everyone to savor their college experience. Inside though, my brain was screaming at me to flee. But alas, the time had come and I was determined to prove myself. I dropped my robe, climbed up onto the box in the center of the room and struck a pose.

In that moment, I was more aware of every inch of my body than I had ever been before. I realized that I was surrounded and that people were staring at every single inch of my body, scrutinizing it. The weird LARP-ing sophomore kid with the long blond ponytail knew was my pierced nipples looked like. I swear I was shaking like a leaf and everyone could tell.

See, from the other side, the students’ side, it’s easy to think of the model as an object to draw when it’s a stranger. I was not a stranger- I was a person who they knew, who they’d had conversations with, and who’s weird sexual art they were very familiar with.

To be honest, I can’t tell you what switch flipped in my head and made me not give a shit what they were thinking. Maybe it sprouted from the reality that I have a great body to draw. It’s not a conventionally beautiful figure by any standard, but art people go wild when I take my clothes off. And the rest of the evening is history. “Nude model/that naked girl” can now be added to the laundry list of characteristics people use when they try to describe me to their friends, and I honestly think it’s really great.