Adapted from a recent online discussion:
My girlfriend is considering doing nude modeling in an art school. I understand it is only for art, but I am still very hesitant. She doesn’t want to discuss it, and even though it’s not happening yet, she said she will not tell me when she starts it. I’ve told her it’s bothering me and she understands, but she might still go ahead with it.
Am I overreacting? I am really stressing about this. We are talking about getting engaged soon (and she’s promised she wouldn’t do it after that), but it is really stressing me out.
I’m going with (a) Overreacting — but only to the modeling itself.
I won’t end my answer there, though, because:
• It’s her body. Understanding and respecting that means you either accept it or, after thoughtful discussion of your discomfort, leave.
• This is legitimate work, and, sheesh, this is art school; it’s not about sex or peeping or whatever else makes you uncomfortable about it, it’s about honing the students’ abilities. Yes, there’s a history of artists taking up with their models, but (a) art-school modeling is likely before a class, not one-on-one, and (b) if she’s unfaithful, then modeling didn’t make her do it.
• Even if she stops modeling after you get engaged — or even if she agrees not to do it — there’s still the fact that your girlfriend is comfortable enough with nudity to see it as a legitimate revenue stream. You, I get the impression, see nudity as a private thing, and possibly see access to her nudity as something that’s exclusively yours.
If I’m right about this, then the difference in your attitudes and values and hers is substantial — and that difference deserves your attention, not the details of how you express it. Look at this now, before you commit to each other.
• You are “really stressing,” as in, acutely emotional about it, and she’s dodging you! You and she have to be able to talk this out. You can’t “solve” it by her backing down. You both need to articulate your misgivings, and you both need to trust yourselves and each other to be completely honest about your feelings and opinions, and then see whether it’s possible for your two worldviews — “Woo-hoo, I can get paid for this?” versus “You are for my eyes only!” — to coexist.
Oh, dear Lord. I modeled at art school throughout my four years. My fiance thought it was the best thing ever! It was the highest-paid job on campus! Give the woman a break, boy.
If only that were all it took.
I went to art school and had to draw or paint the nude models. After looking at them for three hours straight trying to get the drawing or painting to look right, you only see color or shapes. But then, I’m female, so …
But every so often, we had male models — and, still, the same applies.
— Anonymous 2
Maybe they both should model. Win-win.
Email Carolyn Hax at [email protected].