For many, standing naked in front of a group of strangers would be a nightmare. But for some students, bearing it all can be liberating.
Every year, Mount Allison’s fine arts department hires students as nude models for its drawing and painting classes. Although pay surpasses minimum wage – at $20/hour with sessions ranging from one to three hours – the models described incentives beyond financial compensation.
Mt. A student Teressa Carriere has been nude modelling for a few years for fine arts classes and independent projects. “I have always been comfortable being nude. It was a bonus I was getting paid,” Carriere said, whose first experience was being photographed in the middle of the day by the train tracks.
Completely comfortable with her decision to pose nude, Carriere posted a photo of herself from the train tracks on Facebook. The photo received a slew of reactions, ranging from encouragement to horror, until it was taken down by Facebook – an outcome she had expected.
Fourth-year student Connor Wheaton said, “I heard people say [posing nude] builds self-confidence…I wanted to see if they were lying.” Mainly interested in the monetary gain, Wheaton found the job’s application process challenging due to the limited amount of advertisement. Luckily, he had friends in the fine arts department, so he was able to get the correct forms and contacts to begin nude modelling. “It needs to be publicized better,” he said.
Fourth-year fine arts student Izzy Francolini said they were curious about what it would be like to be on the other side of the artist’s easel. “I was at a point in my life where I really wanted to be comfortable with putting myself out there. I am very much a person who thinks nudity isn’t that big of a deal, so it was time to walk the talk.”
Francolini admitted to feeling nervous before disrobing, but as an artist who had previously worked with nude models, they understood the art studio as a place of mutual respect. “The artists are the sweetest people. Is me being nude in front of people in my class going to make things weird? No. [I] may as well just be a chair.”
When modelling, Francolini forgets their physical appearance. “I am not even thinking about my body. [I] think about [my] body [in terms of] lines and angles.”
Sackville is a small university town, and with that comes a lack of anonymity on campus. “It’s hard to stay under the radar,” said Wheaton. “It doesn’t give you a chance to be anonymous. I see people who have been in the class and I don’t know them, but I know they have seen me naked.”
Posing nude has empowered some of the models. “Everyone has their own body issues, and mine relate to self-harm,” Carriere said. “I found that modelling in its own way was a…deterrent [from self-harming]. I can’t cut [when] I am modelling in two weeks. In that way it has helped me. That is a positive thing.”
“I think that there is still that fear of being judged for your experience. No one is judging you for your physical appearance, [but] there were still those nerves because I assumed people would be judging me, even though I knew that wasn’t what I was there for.”
Wheaton was more skeptical about modelling as a way to build self-esteem. “I don’t want to generalize. I don’t want to say that this is a way to get in contact with body image. I don’t know if that is true,” he said.
“Life modelling improves your own conception of body image. You are up there for two to three hours bearing yourself [to become] immortalized on canvas. Once you get past the fact [that] you are naked…you are left with your own thoughts.”
All models stressed that people should give nude modelling a try, regardless of Sackville’s size.