Spread Healing: The Nude-Positivity Movement
A Guest Blog by the talented, insightful Kat Love (to whom I am eternally grateful for her kindness, wisdom, and generosity).
There is something transformative about getting completely naked, moving your body to the tune of, “how do you feel right now?” and getting it recorded as a piece of art.
That’s exactly what I did for almost 7 years as a professional artists model.
From animators at Pixar to photographers shooting large format film to starving art students, I’ve posed for many types of artists. There might be a couple of life-sized bronze sculptures of me out there too.
And while I had no shame, embarrassment, or any confusion about what I was doing or why, other people did. People from outside of the art world can be very uncomfortable with the idea of nudity, even nudity for art’s sake.
So while I was having a fucking blast doing nude cartwheels on the Oceano sand dunes of SoCal, curling up into a rock formation in Germany, or screaming while getting attacked by biting flies in Ireland, I was being judged as someone engaging in suggestive and risqué behavior and even porn.
Alongside nude modeling, I’ve always had an interest in social justice. In 2006 I applied to be a live-in, volunteer case worker in a women’s shelter. During the interview process, the shelter director found out that I’m a nude model and I was rejected for the volunteer position on the basis that I would be an unfit role model for women and girls.
On one hand, I get it. Americans learn that nudity is sexual. Nearly every time we see nudity it is sexually suggestive. If a woman volunteers or enjoys being less clothed, they are “asking for it.” Perhaps for a battered woman or a girl from a broken home, it would be too challenging to trust someone that is actively engaging in a nude profession, the type of work you’ve been trained all of your life to believe is wrong.
But this nudity-equals-sex-thing has got to change. And not just for future art models that don’t want to be hassled about their choice in career, but for women and girls, some of whom end up in those shelters.
In the name of liberating humanity from the clutches of nudity shame and the controlling idea that all nudity is sexual, I am hereby initiating the nude-positivity movement.
In this movement nudity is accepted as a natural state of human existence and acknowledged as a potentially positive force in the world. Let us raise nudity-is-awesome awareness, and ever so conveniently, with the following 7 easy steps:
Actively make the decisions about your nudity. In the nude-positivity movement, you own your body. You get to decide what your body is for. No one has the right to tell you when, where, or how your body should be seen. Some people want to be nude, some people don’t. It’s all good. Wearing clothing is not a crime but neither should be being nude. Be as clothed or not clothed as you want!
End nude shaming of others. We all have the right to be clothing-free without being called sluts, whores, or any other derogatory insults. Stop shaming people for being nude or semi-nude. From shaming people that are wearing revealing clothing to people that have decided to be nude professionally, just let them be in whatever state of nude they’d like, in peace. Curvy girl wearing a small bikini, don’t shame them. Topless waitress, don’t shame them. Chippendales dancer, let them gyrate, and don’t shame them.
End nude shaming of yourself. While you’re not shaming other people for showing their bodies, don’t forget to do yourself the same courtesy! Wear that maxi skirt that just grazes the middle of your shin bone, I dare you. And when you gaze at yourself in a full body mirror, it’s ok to say, “wow, you’re lookin’ mighty fine today” and feel unashamed about your bare ankles.
Realize that nudity can help people accept their bodies. Being a nude model has helped me be more accepting of my body. I am a worthy subject of art. We all are and we’re all creating art simply by living. Seeing other people nude can also help people that are struggling with accepting their own body. Go to any nude beach and no one, and I mean no one, looks like the bodies in media. Even models have cellulite, sags, bags, and rolls. What a relief.
Discontinue equating nudity with vulnerability. One reason we have come to believe nudity is vulnerable is because women are so often degraded as objects for sex – while nude. That’s the link that we have. Women’s nude bodies are exposed, literally, to the possibility of being harmed. However, unless you are talking about a nude hike in Antarctica, grilling tofu dogs in the buff, or surviving a killer sandstorm there is nothing about nudity itself that makes someone vulnerable. This is an idea that has been learned. Nudity can be strong, it can be powerful, and we have the ability to re-learn it that way.
Be aware that nudity can help people feel more embodied. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who suffers from body dissociation, expressing my emotions through pose has helped me gain a better sense of living in my body. I have developed the ability to express my emotions through movement and have had the amazing experience of having these emotions witnessed and recorded. Being nude can help people experience less body dissociation and more body connection by increasing body awareness and a sense of being truly present in the body.
Celebrate non-sexualized female nudity as it is important to feminism and anti-capitalism. The times that we are exposed to non-sexualized female nudity are the times in which the idea that women’s bodies are for sex and selling shit gets totally destroyed. Positive occurrences of non-sexualized female nudity should be encouraged, supported, and yes, celebrated.
These are the 7 core ideas behind the nude-positivity movement. Can we start embracing our nude selves? Can we stop thinking that our bodies are always sexual triggers? Can being nude make us feel like superheroes instead of victims?
The personal is political so if you’re inspired to bring more nude positivity into your own life with further direct action, nudist and naturist resorts are great for healthy, safe, fun exploration of nudity. If you are feeling adventurous, art modeling welcomes a diversity of human bodies.
Kat Love is a former professional art nude model who recently started building websites, like the one you’re looking at right now. You can check out her work as a web developer at www.katlove.com
Kat no longer has a portfolio of her modeling work online but you can still glimpse a few images at her figuremodels.org profile.