Saturday, May 31, 2008

Socially Crippled by Modesty

There's a part of my personality that I've been working on overcoming. As issue I've dealt with for many years. It stems from ideas that were implanted in my brain as a kid and I've had a hard time shaking in my teen years and adulthood.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist home. I am the only girl, right smack in the middle of 2 brothers. My mother taught me extreme modesty, as if nudity was something to be ashamed of. Having a brother see me in my underwear would have been devestating. This all because of the way I was raised. I didn't have a wealth of girl friends as a kid, thus didn't have the experience many girls had which was you changed with your friends and didn't care if they saw you naked.
As I grew into a teen, this became a problem. I made more girlfriends and they always loved to change around each other. We'd hang out in one particular friend's room and try on all her clothes, her closet becoming all of our closet. But this was hard for me. I felt the need to avert my eyes from the other girls' bodies and tried to hide my own by turning my back to them or stepping into the closet. Changing into a bathing suit required a locked bathroom door.
The odd thing was I was sexually active at this time and didn't have a problem being nude during sex. But that was the only time. I realized I had some sort of attraction to females when I was around 13 and while I was "bi-curious", I never acted on anything until I was 16 or so. Even then, it was innocent enough exploration with drunken girlfriends. Never to be repeated once sobriety hit. I wondered if thats why I was so shy changing around other people, because deep down I was attracted to them and felt it wrong to see them nude. In retrospect, I don't think that had so much to do with it as my strictly modest upbringing did.
Now that I am grown, I still struggle with this. The thought of being naked in front of a group of people makes me feel sick and angry. I like to do extra work in movies...well not so much like as do it for the money...and have had offers to do nude or semi-nude scenes and am always completely offended at such offers. I always think "how dare you? what do I look like to you? a stripper??". It wasn't until recent years that I was even completely comfortable in my own skin; that is to say I've only just become happy with my shape and breast size. I used to think I wanted a boob job but I would never do such a thing now. I love what I was born with and think the fake girls walking amongst us are ridiculous.
But I still have problems and I feel stupid over it. Other girls can pose nude for photographs or for body paintings, but I never could. The only lens I feel comfortable being in front of is my own and that is because I have complete control over the photos and their distribution. I got ballsy enough to post an artistic nude self portrait in April and only because it was rather dark with slight highlights. It truly was a beautiful image and I released it to flickr in hopes that it would help me overcome my fear of nudity. It made me slightly more comfortable but it didn't help as much as I'd hoped. I even had a hard time releasing a photo that only showed part of my rear, which is a part of my body I am completely comfortable with.
Yesterday I went to a wardrobe fitting for a featured extra gig I landed. I felt like a moron when the woman asked me to take my pants off and we were just standing in an office with no sort of private changing area. I kind of made a big deal about it, mostly because I was completely embarassed to have to ask her to leave. She said she was desensitized but kind of looked at me like I was an idiot. Here I am, nearly 22 years old, and I won't get into my underwear in front of a stranger. Is that wrong? Should I have gotten over it? Then again, other people kept walking into the room while I was there and if I hadn't said anything, they would have done it while I was changing. There were men in the room directly outside of the one I was in and I could only imagine being spotted by one of them as I changed. I felt completly uncomfortable and as if I had regresssed ten years. The funny thing is, only a few weeks ago I ran onstage during a favorite band's show in my underwear and t-shirt with 2 other guys in their underwear. I was wearing spankies, which are more like shorts than panties, and I felt ok in that. But the catch is...I was rather intoxicated. I never would have done it sober and it took a little prodding to get me to do it in the first place. I got such a rush off of it. So why cant I handle disrobing infront of another female?
I'm thinking maybe it was because she just expected me to strip in front of her while she watched that made me uncomfortable. She didn't even offer to step out until I informed her I'm not one of those girls who just changes in front of other girls or goes to the bathroom in groups. Maybe it was because it brought up those icky feelings I get when I read casting posts that say nudity is required and that you'll have to show some creepy casting guy your goods, have your nude photo taken and hung on a wall, and then maybe not even cast. When I was in the casting office, I saw a board made up for one of the actresses with snapshots of her different outfits. Each one had a label next to it saying what scene it was for (i.e. Maxim party, at Hotel, etc). One photo said next to it "Show Breasts" and something about that got under my skin. I couldnt explain it.
I've been working for a body painter lately who paints girls fully nude. I'd never be able to pose for him. Firstly, because he does a photo session with interested girls first. They aren't artistic photos, just poor quality point and shoot images of the girls in various poses. While this step is necessary, him showing any old friend who walks in his gallery these images is not. Once painted, a girl doesnt feel as nude as she really is. But in that first session, she's completely vulnerable and may have no idea that he'll show these images to other people or that he isn't as objective and professional of an artist as he comes off as. He can be completely pervy, which I can handle, but I know better than to disrobe for him. Why does this sit so terribly with me? He refers to one girl he painted as "the big girl" and I've asked him to stop. It seems highly disrespectful of the model, who was rather big. But can't he say "the stained glass piece" or "Jena" which is her name. He got offended that I even asked him to change the way he referred to her. I've heard him say it to many people that walk in the gallery when he refers to that particular photo.
All these things add up to make one very confused, very uncomfortable girl. I'd like to do nude photo shoots of other people, females in particular, because the female form is a very beautiful thing. But I have a hard time asking girls to pose for me which is why I havent yet. I've had friends offer to pose nude or semi-nude for me and I just can't take them up on it. I wouldnt be comfortable trying to direct their naked bodies for hours when I have to hang out with them. Then again, maybe it will be easier than I think. Maybe its just the anxiety that I have associated with nudity that make me think it will be hard. I'm doing my first personally orchestrated body painting shoot next week. The model is someone who has posed nude before and I dont know very well so I dont feel uncomfortable about it. Plus, she will be fully painted, is going to be posed to hide her lady bits, and the painting is a great one that is making a statement. A cause-worthy piece that everyone involved is super excited about.
Maybe more shoots like this will loosen me up about my own body. Maybe I will never change. Maybe I'll always be this weirded-out freak of a little girl trapped in a woman's body whenever someone mentions my own nudity. Maybe it was being teased for having small breasts when I was younger (too young to should have been having to worry about it) that has gotten me uptight about it. Maybe my mother was too strict about walking to the bedroom in a towel after a shower or telling me to not shower at friend's houses. Maybe it's my knowledge that the general male (and some of the female) population can't seperate nudity from sex and will always view my nude body this way. Maybe its because so many pervy photographers only become photographers to get chicks naked in front of their camera that I wont pose for other men. Hell, I probably wouldnt even pose for a female because that stuff might end up in front of a male audience. Maybe I could ramble on about this all day and never have it make more sense to me.
What do you think?

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