09 November 2012

Long Term Effects of Posing Nude: About Body Image

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley

 "The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people." 
~ Jamie Lee Curtis

An interesting young lady, photography student in the UK, contacted me earlier this week and asked about some comments I made on Alex B's blog post "Therapeutic or Artistic". Alex was discussing the reasons why we pose nude and I made offered my sentiments. She runs a fabulous blog, by the way. Genea Bailey found my comment interesting and asked me about my experience and opinion where models site a confident boost from modeling with me. She wanted to know the long term effects of whether or not these feeling are a lasting and positive change of self-image or if the moment is only temporary.

It does raise an interesting question and I hadn't really contemplated this issue from the perspective of her query. "Long Term Effects"...

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
I don't know anyone who has done any in-depth study and analysis on this matter and I'd challenge anybody to show me empirical evidence to back up their findings if they had. Not because I'd have an automatic dispute, but because I REALLY would like to know and would certainly want to research their findings that substantiate their claims. I'll be following Miss Bailey's work very closely and would love to even collaborate even further on the matter. You can check out her post which includes my responses from our email correspondence. >> "My Chat with T. L. Neasley" <<

I almost wish I had given more thought to her questions. I think I answered too quickly. I gave her my "off the top of my head" response. The more I think about it, the more I contemplate the different women I've shot and wonder how they may feel now after having worked with me. I used to ask some models to fill out a quick survey which recorded how they felt immediately after working with me, but I don't think I've asked this of many models after several years. I'm still in contact with many of them and not all had self-esteem issues to begin with. Not everybody who worked with me as did it for a confidence booster. It would still be interesting to know how some of these women feel who did a one time project with me. Several posed nude only once and never did it again. Not because anything bad happened, but because they got it out of their systems. It was never more than a one-time thing.

“One day I had to sit down with myself and decide that I loved myself no matter what my body looked like and what other people thought about my body. I got tired of hating myself."
Gabourey Sidibe, (from the movie, "Precious")

Anonymous Model, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
I've often pondered getting with some of the models whom were my firsts. I'd SOOO love to shoot with some of them again just to see how I might do them differently. I've learned so much since I shot my first nude model November of 2005. I was using a cheap film camera and kit lens that may have cost me about $400. I have flash guns that cost more than that. Interestingly enough, a few of those projects remain the best work I've done to date. Some, you will never see because they do not exist in digital form as per the agreement I made with two models. I have never made an agreement like that since, but the work I did with them was also incredible. These works only exist in print form which I developed and mounted myself. Actually, let me correct that statement. One of them did eventually allow me to post images as long as they remained anonymous. I miss those days of film. I drove to Colorado last year to work with one of my original models again, but things did not pan out and we were not able to meet after I arrived. I've come close a few times to working again with a few other former models of my days before Vegas and have only repeated projects with one former model. In the meantime, I will contact some of these girls and see how things have been since then.

I do know that I've worked with models since coming to Vegas who have had body image and self-esteem issues. I've done incredible work with them and the affects have been varying. As I eluded to in Miss Bailey's post, I think much of the sustainability of any improved confidence is heavily weighted on the cause of the lack of confidence. For instance, one model compared herself to others was encouraged when she saw my pics of her that showed her she was just as beautiful. On the other hand, that same confidence of another model, while much improved initially, was not reinforced at home because of her choice in men. So its my opinion that any measure of confidence will be dependent on the environment in which the model finds herself in.

But now, I have to find out on my own more details on this question. Thanks so much Genea Bailey!


trixie said...

I have to agree with your comment, "...much of the sustainability of any confidence is heavily weighted on the cause of the lack of confidence."

Photo Anthems.com said...

I am definitely going to join Genea on this research by contacting some of my original models. It should be an intriguing quest.

Joanie said...

As one of your models, I can honestly say that over the past couple years, I've come to love the images even more. And I've become far more comfortable with who I am, how I look, and how I present myself.

Of course, I'm sure many would say I didn't have confidence issues before modeling for you (or since), but they'd be dead wrong. I had moments of major confidence and moments of terrifying insecurity. However, the simple act of modeling nude really does something to shift your perception of yourself over time.

When I was a teen, I had horrible self-esteem issues. I thought I was fat (growing up chubby/overweight/whatever you want to call it, you don't appreciate weight loss as much as you do as an adult). I lost a bunch of weight in 7th grade and managed to keep it off for many years. But I didn't FEEL thinner on the inside. I look back at those pics now and realize I was skinny and think "wouldn't it be nice to be that thin again?"

So to go from that background to being a larger woman, it's odd to suddenly say, "I'd like to be your model". Especially with the knowledge that people I knew would be seeing those images on your blog. Yet, I did it. And I had a huge surge of comfort simply by doing it.

I would never hesitate to model again. (Obviously, since we had three published sessions and that one session at the arroyo that yielded nothing.) All this blathering to say I personally see a boost in my sense of self-esteem every time I look at the images. They remind me that I have nothing to hide (or that if I try to hide anything, I'm only hiding from myself) and should be proud of the work we did together.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Wow. Great story, Joanie and thanks for the input. I'm definitely glad you think so highly of the images and I'm even more elated that they've grown on you over the years. And in case you readers don't remember, one of Joanie's shots took the 2nd place in the International Black and White Spider Award for the Abstract Category for Professional: http://photoanthems.blogspot.com/2012/06/black-and-white-spider-awards.html

Thanks again, Joanie!

Joanie said...

Yes, yes, we mustn't forget my award-winning bosoms!

Terrell, you bring out the best in your models. You bring out smiles and a sense of freedom that is precious to someone who spends all day in clothing hiding themself from the world.

You also still have my fave purple shirt and black sheer robe. I think you should bring it to San Diego so we can shoot here. :)

Really and truly, I would gladly model for you as often as possible given your unending ability to see people in new ways all the time.

You're kind of a big deal, you know.

Photo Anthems.com said...

Its hard to make a Black man blush. Close, though...

Genea Bailey said...

Hi guys! Super cool that everyone likes my research project idea. You're comments are great, especially Jeanie's! I'd definitely be interested in hearing all of your thoughts on the subject, whether you're a model or a photographer or just interested in the topic. Send me an email at geneabailey@hotmail.co.uk

Photo Anthems.com said...

I'll definitely keep you posted, Genea. This is interesting and worthwhile stuff!

Alex said...

I have just posted on this! Thanks for sharing your thoughts