Nude Modeling Helped Me Take My Body Back

Nude Modeling Helped Me Take My Body Back

I saw myself through someone else's eyes.

For two years, I worked for my university’s art department as a nude model for drawing and painting classes. It truly wasn't glamorous — my hair would be in a messy bun, or greasy from sleeping, I never wore make up and maybe I shaved my legs. It was part-time work, usually early in the morning. For college students, 7:30 a.m. is really early.

I had recently transferred and a friend I knew from high school told me the art department was hiring models. Broke and with time, I had nothing to lose if I applied. I remember the mint green form that I filled out to apply for the position, with two check boxes at the top that read, “Interested in:__ nude modeling __clothed modeling.” I could see the receptionist smirking because she knew exactly what I was looking at. Almost as if to gauge whether or not each applicant knew what they were getting themselves into. Did my friend mention nude modeling? How many vodka sodas did I have that night?

One part of me was absolutely terrified. Another part of me wanted to take a chance. Being in a new place, at a new school, I was feeling freer than usual. I walked around campus with my head held higher. No one knew me. Up until that point, I was losing sight of what I thought I knew about me. This was my moment to reintroduce me to myself.

Nude modeling, sign me up.

I gripped that mint green form tighter in my hand as I walked it over to the receptionist. Maybe if I squeezed the paper hard enough, the “X” would jump from one box to the other. One foot in front of the other, I got really nervous approaching the desk and blurted, “I’ll be a naked one!” Oh jeez. I handed her the form with my eyes on the floor; she fought back laughter with her toothy grin. I would have laughed at me, too. She thanked me for filling it out and she told me that I would be contacted to set up my work schedule.

I walked out of the art department immediately asking myself, “What did you just do?”

Two months before was the first time that I vocalized that I needed help with my eating disorder. I was at the forefront of a battle over my body and my mind. Half of me desperate to get out of the trap that was my skin, flesh and bones – needing something, anything, to make me love myself again. The other half of me telling me that my sacrifice, my strict diet and dedicated workout routines would eventually make me love me again.

The first time I stepped up onto that podium, completely vulnerable, I actually felt comfort from the eyes watching me. I stood under three large lights, brushing warmth onto my shoulders. 12 students set up in a circle around me, with easels seasoned with paint spots and canvas stretched around wood frames. 24 eyes traced the lines my skin created. No instructions outlined quite yet, and the room patiently waited for the professor.

I was introduced and each person in the room shared a nod or small gesture of politeness with me. The professor thanked me for my time and then explained to the students what he expected of them.

What he expected from them.

Not me. For once.

Painting by unknown student from Western Washington University

Halfway through the three-hour session, we took a 15-minute break. The artist had the opportunity to clean out their brushes and I had a moment to shake out my limbs. In a robe I brought with me, I walked the perimeter of the studio circle. I spent a few minutes at each canvas, examining the shape of each body on the canvas. At first I was afraid of what I would see. I was afraid I was going to see my worst self, my ugliest – but I wasn’t looking in a mirror.

Instead, I saw collections of colors that danced together to paint the picture of a woman reborn. This was the first time I saw myself through someone else's eyes. I saw myself portrayed with grace and not hate. I moved from canvas to canvas like the hour hand from a clock moves from number to number: slower than the other hands. I stood behind each canvas, taking in the new me. I peered over each canvas to place myself back up on the podium and I saw a woman sitting taller and stronger. This was more powerful than any mirror.

After I left my first shift, I cried in the bathroom on the basement level of the library. I was overwhelmed by the kindness I felt from absolute strangers. I was seeing my body in its reality for the first time in years, and it was nothing to be ashamed of. I was completely floored from finally being free from my fantasy of everyone else's expectations of my body. I felt love and acceptance from people whose names I didn’t know.

I want to reach out to my readers and ask for your help. It's been a couple of years since I've posed on that podium; the artists that I worked with have most likely graduated and moved forward with their lives. I am desperate to give credit to the artist that helped me through a dark period in my life. I would like to thank them for the freedom that I gained through their work. I never spent much time talking to the artist due to social anxieties associated with my struggles. I only ever asked for their permission to take these photos and never made honest connections or friendships. If you or anyone you know was ever a part of the Western Washington University Art Department, please help me find the artist in any way you can so I can credit them for their empowering work.

Cover Image Credit: Ashley-Nichole Holland

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10 Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Pets

Benefits of CBD Oil!

Cannabis herb has grabbed the attention of vets and researchers for offering a lot as far as the health and well-being of the animals is concerned. Just as the CBD has proved to be beneficial for the humans, many studies have proved that it can benefit the animals too with its health-enhancing and life-saving benefits. Let’s take you through ten benefits of this herb for animals which is usually misunderstood so far to clear the air.  

1. Increases Appetite and Resolves Nausea If an animal is having trouble eating or is suffering from nausea and vomits then CBD might be the solution for it as it increases the appetite and treats nausea caused by toxins.  

2. Reduces Anxiety If an animal is suffering from separation anxiety, then it might benefit from the anxiety-relieving property of the CBD oil. Since the herb has also proved beneficial in reducing anxiety related issues in humans including panic disorders and PTSD and hence can also be used for animals.  

3. Fights Cancer CBD and other chemicals found in cannabis have an antitumor effect which prevents the growth of cancerous cells and increases the tumor cell death. Therefore, it can be used in combination with the conventional treatment to enhance its effects and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.  

4. Treats Seizures  Animals with seizures are mostly treated with drugs that while helping to control seizures cause potential damage to other organs like the liver. While CBD helps to treat seizures without such side effects.  

5. Relieves Pain CBD oil is also beneficial in relieving the pain effectively as it has anti-inflammatory properties, so it has proved to reduce pain by decreasing the inflammation.  

6. Not Psychoactive CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are compounds found in cannabis and hemp, and THC is responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana. However, CBD oil is mostly without the THC which means the animal wouldn’t get high.  

7. Helps with Neurodegenerative Diseases CBD shows a lot of potential for animals with degenerative nerve issues. Studies have shown it to be beneficial in preventing cell death in the brain which is caused by toxins and free radicals in animals.  

8. Helps With Inflammatory Bowel Disease CBD has antibiotic properties which according to research have proved to be helpful in preventing colitis and treating the inflammatory bowel disease.  

9. Reduces Chronic Inflammation CBD has proven to be helpful in reducing the release and production of the inflammatory cytokines which may cause in allergies and hypersensitivities in animals. It can decrease chronic inflammation while acting as a powerful antioxidant.

10. Promotes Cardiovascular Health CBD is also linked to heart health as studies have shown that it helps with balancing heart rate by reducing the damage from damaged blood vessels and reducing blood pressure.

  These are some of the amazing health benefits that CBD oil can offer the animals. But it would be imperative to involve a vet before going ahead with treating the animals with the CBD.

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What A Girl's Year Of Self-Love Feels Like

I am different and I am loved. No one can take that away from you.

That one year anniversary comes up of that significant change you made in your life. How do you feel? You question yourself if you have grown enough.

You reflect back on the little victories like speaking your mind for the first time in a long time or the time you noticed you gaining that little sparkle of confidence in yourself again. But, then you remember why you did it in the first place. You made that change for you. You can still feel that sigh of relief finally having full clarity of the motivation behind that change.

You remember being scared. You know how easy it would be to stay the same. What will people think? Will they support me? Looking back, you know exactly who saved you while you were drowning in self-doubt. The gratitude that you continuously give to them will never be enough to truly thank them for everything they have done for you.

You realize that they are proud of you, and you are too. You know that they are the reason you know what self-love is. That was a virtue you had to build from the ground up. You are not scared anymore. You are brave.

You look back on what were your struggles and even still are. Sometimes you are sad and you do not understand why. Sometimes you fall back on bad habits. You can still over apologize just for being yourself.

You think you are being too much or too less. Am I draining the people around me? You panic at the thought of worrying the people that care about you, especially on days that are hard. Am I okay? Have I fully recovered from what damaged me a year ago? Breathe.

You are worthy. You are grateful. You are strong. You have battled enough and now find peace in your change. You now have a story to tell because those memories, those thoughts do not own you anymore.

You have begun to nourish yourself with what you love. You picked up an old hobby, you listen to music that makes you feel good, you reconnected with an old friend. You begin to realize sadness has become a distinct feeling that you can recognize, instead of a constant state. The little things have begun to regain its charm.

You are now, a year later, unshakeable. You see colors more vibrant and the sun is warm and inviting. You have prioritized yourself instead of seeing yourself as a burden. Socializing is not hard anymore. You are silly and goofy, and people often say, "It's good to see the old you". That truly makes you feel wonderful.

You have realized people need you as much as you needed them and you have regained strength to take care of them. It feels good to be a true friend again. A year later, You are different and you are loved. No one can take that away from you.

"Imagine in every possible way — physically, mentally, and emotionally — wearing yourself as a backpack at all times. And then imagine one day just taking it off and never having to carry yourself around again."

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Alex Ivashenko on Unsplash

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