I step between the easels, watching their carefully casual gazes glide past my body. They had pointed me to a changing room, as if they weren’t going to see me nude, anyway. Beneath the clothes I change in and out of from day to day, I remain, for the most part, unchanged. No need for such a room.
I step onto the platform and suddenly I am Art, beyond vulgarity and eroticism, just lines and contours, shadows and highlights.
They can trick themselves, but I know the truth.
One girl draws me waif thin with sharp animal eyes, while a male student does for my manhood what quack medicine has promised for centuries. I almost point out the disparity in size, and then I remember that models aren’t supposed to comment. Besides, what guy wants an artist to draw him with a smaller dick for accuracy’s sake? I don’t know, and I can’t think of anyone besides myself.
Some admire, some desire, and some despise my nude body. But even nude, I’m covered in layers. Every day, I wear my “Asian” eyes, my “gymnast” physique. I wear black, black hair, the pride of my Chinese heritage. I wear flat feet and delicate hands.
Nude, I wear what others proffer. They drape me with coarse fabrics – “Asian” and “male” and “athlete” – with or without my consent. When I am nude before photographers or pencil artists, I wonder what it is they’ve clothed me in. But I will not apologize for my nudity, because what I wear when I am wearing nothing isn’t up to me.
Clothed or not, we are always nude. But I don’t know if we are ever truly naked.
I wonder what naked feels like – to be exactly what you are, with no concealing layers. I imagine that it’s a lot like being invisible. I imagine that it’s a lot like walking in a crowd on a busy day, mutually oblivious of the people around you.
I imagine that it’s a lot like wearing clothes.