I identify my "sexy" time at 20 years old. I attended a college that didn't offer summer courses, but found a way to live on campus in one of the fraternity houses. I pledged as a Phi Kappa Tau little sister so I could stay there; even though I wasn't a fan of the campus greek culture. I had a few odd jobs. I pulled weeds and mowed steep hills on campus from 7am-3pm. Most afternoons, I took a 20 mile bike route to the local state park to take a dip in the lake there. I would then ride back in time for the night shift at Pat's Tap, or late night practicing in the college music conservatory a block away. I was at a my fighting weight; athletic, and toned. I smoked, drank, ate a steady diet of Ramen Noodles, and was not particularly gentle with a few young men's hearts. On my bike rides, I wore a low back swimming suit under ripped short shorts and no bike helmet - the route was on state highways. I'm lucky I survived the 80s.
That following fall, at the beginning of my third year of college, I found the courage to model for the campus art classes. A number of my art major friends were complaining they had no live models. I was nervous. There was a super cute percussionist in the class. It wasn't long before I got over myself and realized I was just an object of study; human bowl of fruit. Then I came to realize how much I was a part of an age old tradition of nude study. Ever try to draw your own hand? Rendering a 3-D image on a flat surface is really hard. Now, try cramming the exercise into a two hour session. If you don't have enough "notes" at the end of two hours, you must imagine the model's form - she's long gone to work out the cramps in her legs from holding the same position for two hours with one 10-minute break.
I was happy to support my fellow artists-in-training. I loved to challenge my body by holding difficult poses. It was cool to walk around the circle of easels at break to see all the different perspectives. Even better to see so many interpretations of, well... me at senior art exhibits. But honestly, the best reward was the paycheck. The hourly rate was really, really good; six times better than working in food service.
My boyfriend at the time didn't really agree with my choices. How would I feel if my son or daughter chose to be an artist model? If they are of legal age, no problem. I might even be a little proud. I would tell them to make sure that no one takes a quick photo because they "need a reference point after the model is excused" and to know the rules of being an artist's model:
1. Be willing and able to hold the same position for 55 minutes straight. After a 10 minute break, you'll have to get back into the same position for another 55 minutes. Choose your positions wisely. The best positions are lying down. I actually got paid a lot of money to take a nap a few times.
2. Keep the space heater close, but not too close to your toes. If you feel any part of your body starting to burn, speak up, but don't move.
3. Make sure all the classroom curtains are drawn before you get into position.
3. Under no circumstances are you to be touched. The artist will need to tell you if they want you to move something.
Wonder what I looked like back in my glory days? Why yes, I'll be happy to post a photo of one of the artworks created by a classmate more than 25 years ago.
If you're trying to figure out what's wrong with the image, I censored it out of respect for the artist who created it. If anyone wants to see the original, you'll have to make a pilgrimage to my home where the artwork hangs in it's proper gallery. I also have (just now) officially requested this image be placed next to my casket or urn at my wake.
That was more than half my life ago. I've lived a lot - and hope to live a lot longer. For now, "sexy" just isn't a priority anymore.
This body carried twins to 8 months. They were a total of 10.3 pounds plus all the extra goo for each, all brought out of my belly by C-section. The surgery laterally cut my abdominal muscles in half. The surgery scar; 8.5 inches long and 1 inch wide, sits at the "bikini" line. I will never wear a bikini. (The mental picture makes me throw up a little in my mouth)
I now have a permanent marsupial pouch in that points north when there is an overcast sky. My ankles swell thicker than my knees in humid conditions, and the rest of my body shows evidence of an increasingly sedentary life. But you know what? That's how it goes for folks who don't have a plastic surgeon on retainer. There's a reason why women of a certain age (and body shape) shouldn't wear short skirts after 30... ew!
I will never get my 20 year old body back. But I can make my 47 year old body healthier. I'd love my husband to think he has a trophy wife. I'd love for his chest to puff out like a proud peacock when I'm all dolled up. Shucks, I want to not be disgusted when I look in a full length mirror... or down.
Truthfully, all I really want is to live long enough to see my kids in their middle age. I want to be here if they need to ask me a question.
What spurs this baring of the soul? I'm about to head to my 25th college reunion next week. These thoughts and memories, once tucked away for many years, have come flooding back. There will be more, I'm sure.