Halfway through modeling nude for a figure drawing class, Maddie Richards decided she wanted a tattoo in a place private to her, somewhere usually only she would see – her butt. She got the tattoo, remembered she had to model the following Thursday and braced for the reaction of the artists.
As she got on the stage, the professor told her the first pose would be with her back facing the artists and, incidentally, so would her freshly tattooed skin.
Richards said she always tried to maintain a professional attitude toward her job modeling, but in a lighthearted moment when she heard snickers from behind her, she turned around and said, "I'm sorry everyone, please ignore my butt tattoo. I apologize."
As a theater major, Richards decided modeling for a figure drawing class would be beneficial for her stage presence – learning to remain still and composed on a stage in front of an audience. Models posing for drawings are required to stay in the same position anywhere from 20-second intervals to 40-minute intervals.
"At first, I went into it like, 'Oh, this will be easy money,' but it actually ended up helping me in my classes," Richards said. "I took a lot of hardcore theater classes this past semester, and in one of the classes, one of the things we were graded on was to have control and to stand as still as possible, so in my mind I was like, 'I'll just pretend I'm back on the platform in the classroom having to be as still as possible.'"
Although the experience modeling for an art class ended up helping her in her chosen field of study, it affected her in more ways than just career and financial areas.
As with most jobs, the position came with positive and negative moments.
The experience helped Richards become more comfortable with her body. Seeing her body from the different perspectives that the artists depicted in their charcoal drawings and getting desensitized to being naked in front of a group of observers instilled a sense of comfort with her bare body.
One instance, though, stands out as a potential pitfall of the gig. One day in class, Richards was talking with one of the guys in the class about his art. Later that day, she decided to go follow him on Instagram to see his art he had posted there and ended up finding a drawing of herself.
Among other comments complimenting his work, was one from another student about her body. According to Richards, the comment said something about the model needing to work on her squats.
"I was floored," she said. "I was like, 'You don't even know me.' And then I had to sit and tell myself that I bet she never even thought that the model would have read this."
Regardless, Richards said watching the dozens of drawings that could come from her simply sitting on a stage nude was eye opening. She said being the inspiration for someone's art was an amazing feeling.
Richards reiterated that the experience was in no way a sexual one; it was professional. She joked that the class was at 8 a.m., and that nothing can really be too sexual that early in the morning.
Richards also stressed how comfortable and welcoming the professor of the class, Jeffrey Lewis, made the three hours every Thursday.
"The first day was definitely a little nerve racking to have to stand in front of a class naked," Richards said. "It was different, but, overall, I know it's a little cliche, but it was liberating."