I did something today that I never thought I could (or would) do. I got naked in front of a group of people.
A few weeks ago a friend asked if I would be interested in posing nude for a life drawing class. Without hesitation I responded, “Yes!” When I announced to my husband that I was going to be “dropping trou” for a class full of people he responded surprised, “really????”
His response made me question my enthusiasm. Why was I so willing to go the full monty for the sake of art? Well 1. I love new experiences and am always looking for a new story. And 2. I recently had a baby.
I have always been somewhat comfortable with my body. I’d say, “happy to go to the beach in a bikini” comfortable. Not “get naked in front of people” comfortable. But something changed when I became pregnant. I watched my belly grow with awe. My breasts became fuller, my body rounder. I loved myself.
When my belly reached 30 weeks, I arranged to have some maternity portraits done. Expecting to be terrified to go nude in front of a camera, I surprised myself with my bravery. I dropped my robe and held my head up high. I felt safe behind my baby bump. When I got the final images, I was thrilled. I loved seeing the dark line that had appeared on my belly. I was even happy that the camera had captured just how dark my nipples had become. (They got so dark and leathery- I would pay big money to have a purse made of them.)
10 Weeks later I gave birth. My body changed yet again. Things weren’t tight anymore. My skin had stretched and relocated freckles and moles. I still liked my body though. In fact, I loved it. The fact that it carried (and delivered) life made me respect it. That’s why I was so willing to pose nude for a life drawing class. I owed it to my body.
The night before the class I was nervous. My 3 month old, Daisy, decided that this would be the night she would sleep through the night. My boobs were throbbing and my sheets were soaked with breast milk. I even woke my husband up with a milky shower due to a sprung leak from the right one. In the morning I did my best to empty them into her stomach, but there was just so much. As I pulled out of my driveway, I had an uneasy tummy and very full breasts. I paused to lean out of my car door and squirt more milk onto the ground.
When I arrived at the venue where I’d be posing, I immediately ran into someone I knew. She had posed nude in college and gave me some advice. Take deep breaths, don’t fall asleep and try not to fart. Oh No! Now I was afraid of farting.
I walked in the classroom and was mortified. I knew all but 5 of the 30 people in there. I found myself wishing I still had my big pregnant belly. I felt vulnerable. However, as soon as I stripped down to my birthday suit and struck my first pose, I thought about my body and what it had done and how I truly wasn’t embarrassed or afraid to show it off. If anything, I felt empowered.
I think it’s similar to getting a Pap Smear. Before you have a baby, having someone poke around in there is so awkward and uncomfortable. But after you have a baby, you’re just so much more relaxed. Maybe it’s hormonal. I don’t know. I just know that there is something about motherhood that makes me feel okay to get naked in front of people now.
Some of the sketches: