Picture the scene: a lighting grip on a ladder setting up huge studio lights on five-foot tall stands; makeup artists painting models’ faces; assistants running around with designer wardrobe in hand; art director conferring with photographer and editor in chief; and a bunch of “regular” women standing around nervously in their bathrobes. This was the shoot day for the February issue of 303 Magazine. 303 needed nude models to reinvent a famous artistic photograph from the mid-twentieth century. And I, along with three other brave souls, waited uncertainly to bare it all for the camera.

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I didn’t volunteer for the job because I harbor tendencies toward exhibitionism. Actually, I have a healthy (and unfortunately expensive) proclivity toward rock star-styled clothing and accessories. I signed up because I liked the artistic concept behind the photograph and wanted, once and for all, to shed the awkwardness around my physical body. And instead of taking baby steps into the metaphorical cold water, I cannonballed it. What better way to get over body image hang-ups than to stand naked before a studio full of strangers? Ladies, I think we all view ourselves, to some degree, through that distorted cultural lens of what a woman “should” look like–especially when we’re naked. So, as you may imagine, I was simultaneously terrified and empowered when my robe came off.

Although it was a closed set, my girlfriend Kailey was present in the next room for moral support. There aren’t too many women who’d be comfortable with their mate posing naked for a magazine. But, what I love most about having a partner is that she’s my partner in crime. No, we aren’t reenacting Grand Theft Auto or Thelma & Louise out in the real world. She simply participates when I do edgy things that I’ve never done before. And best of all, I don’t have to explain why I want to do these things. She gets it.

She even “got it” enough to order me two rounds of mimosas at our post-shoot brunch–before the reality of what I had just done sunk in. But when the new edition of 303 Magazine comes out on February 5th, I’ll have a page in the magazine to prove I shed my self-conscious skin for a glossy nudie shot. Best of all, I feel less inhibited by body image and slightly more comfortable wearing my birthday suit around strangers–which I realize, depending on the amount of alcohol and dollar bills present, could be a raucously bad idea. Maybe I’ll just practice my new-found comfort level at home, where an audience of one is all I really want.

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