I was always a rather modest person. I didn’t grow up in the kind of family that felt totally at ease parading around in their birthday suits. In Junior High, I was the girl who changed clothes in the shower stall before P.E. class. Even as an adult, I maintained strict eye contact whenever a naked woman spoke to me in the locker room at my gym.
After going through childbirth, with a cast of strangers inspecting and prodding my naked body, my sense of modesty completely vanished. I was an adult, a mother, and a woman who no longer feared nudity.
So when my drawing instructor announced we would be having a nude model, I was surprised to feel those old insecurities creep back into my psyche. Would it be weird? Would I feel awkward? Would I really be able to look at this naked woman, and then draw her?
The morning of “Figure Drawing,” our class was noticeably smaller. Several students apparently couldn’t face what they feared would be an incredibly uncomfortable situation. The confident young model strolled to the front of the room, dropped her robe, and struck a pose. No one gasped or turned away in embarrassment–we simply began to draw.
We did a series of one-minute gestures. It was fast and furious–paper flipping and charcoal flying. I was so engaged in perfecting proportion, perspective, and composition, that I forgot I was drawing a nude. She became a series of lines, shapes, and forms that I tried to connect in artistic ways. It wasn’t awkward, weird, or embarrassing. It was simply art.
If I could revisit my body-conscious twelve-year-old self, I would tell her that the human body is a marvelous, amazing creation–each unique in its gifts and imperfections. And I think Mother Nature would agree–Every body is beautiful.