When I arrived for my modeling gig at Catalyst, my stomach twisted into knots. I was certain that the moment I removed my robe and revealed my naked body, that at least someone from the audience would gasp and announce, “If only your thighs were two inches smaller, then I’d be inspired!”
I’d had plenty of time to relax in the atmosphere, which was amazing in itself, and I played with different chairs and stools, adjusted myself in front of the heaters, and decided on my first pose. My heart pounded as time crept closer, making my fingers tremble when Larry finally announced it was time to begin.
Part of me wanted to run. Just shout, “Never mind! Can’t do it!” and flee the building. Until a friend pointed out I’d make it three blocks before the police were notified of the crazy woman running around in her robe, nothing on underneath. It made me laugh long enough to get up on the platform, and kept me from running away.
I focused on the bright lights around me, staring into them and blurring my vision, so when I let my robe fall, I couldn’t see anyone grimacing. Of course, that attempt failed. The semi-permanent blinding only lasted a minute, and then my vision restored. To my surprise, I only saw concentrating faces around the room, each squinting, reaching for pencils or charcoal, and then scratching away on the paper. It gave me a sense of relief.
I was inspiring them.
Sometimes the pose felt like it lasted forever. If I was too far from the heater, I’d shiver. If I was lying down, it was hard to stay awake. But I did it, despite the occasional movement, and I would happily do it again.
I got feedback on what positions were working, on needing to face different directions, suggestions on poses, and I was open to all of it. Especially since not all the poses I’d practiced worked in the space I had. What at first felt like a terrifying ordeal, turned into fun ways to show my body. Ways to keep me from getting too cold, or lessons in how to hold my feet and hands. Things that had merit, things to cause more inspiration, and nothing had to do with my size.
By the time we were finished, I felt good about myself. I’d already seen some of the drawings and knew that what they were drawing was closer to how I looked than what I saw in my mind. Most of them drew me as a soft, shapely woman, each focusing on different parts of me. Some a hip, another hair, and some the bizarre shadows that the lights had cast along my side. Each drawing was beautiful and unique, and each allowed me to see myself as beautiful and unique.
It was an incredible, life changing experience. I’ve come away from the modeling gig with a new sense of self and confidence, a feeling a freedom and adventure, and an idea of what beauty really is. Because it isn’t the same for everyone. No one drew me as thin, and yet, even with my mom belly and thicker midsection, they’d managed to capture such a beautiful woman, a full-figured, beautiful woman.
I know that my perceptions will never be the same. This is something that I will be able to say I’ve done for the rest of my life. Even my doctor was ecstatic and proud when I told her what I’d done, and that she’d helped in my decision making process. This is something I will do again, and maybe next time with a partner. Because I am beautiful and I do inspire. Just as I am.
Toward the end of my Q&A, Larry asked what I’d say to others considering being a figure model, and really all I can say is, “Try it!” Especially at a place like Catalyst, where promoting a healthy body image is a high priority. We come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and we all deserve to know and see how beautiful we are.
I learned many things during my session. Like how I used to confuse sexual attraction and beauty. How I thought I was terrified of one thing, only to learn it wasn’t that at all. Things I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. PTSD triggers I wouldn’t have gotten past. All made possible because I was brave and tried something I feared.
So thank you for all of you who drew me, to Larry for hiring me, and for all of you who helped me on this journey. Whether friend, reader, lover, you have all made me feel safe and supported in this time of enormous growth. ❤