Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 15, 2012

Students learn to love their bodies

Knox’s Love Your Body Photography shoot offers students a unique experience: to be photographed in the nude.

A part of Love Your Body Week, the event celebrates individual beauty and works to promote self-esteem and confidence using powerful photography to reaffirm everyone’s ability to be comfortable in their own skin.

Students are both models and photographers, with experience ranging from first-timers to multiple years running.

“Love Your Body is about … accepting what your body is, accepting what you were born in, accepting that humanity comes in all different shapes and sizes and colors and movement,” a model, junior Franzesca Mayer said. “It’s about trying to encourage people to get people to see that other people appreciate their bodies. It’s almost like being a role model.”

While some models chose to remain clothed, most models opted to be photographed nude. Freshman Jan Rondina, a first-time model, explains his position on choosing to pose nude.

“Nude can be beautiful without being provocative,” he said. “It can be just showing your vulnerabilities. That’s your rawest form, so it’s not to be pornographic; it’s more of this self-acceptance. It’s art.”

For most participants, the choice to pose nude was extremely personal and challenging. This was the case for senior Robin Mahung, who modeled with her boyfriend of three years. The decision was an attempt at regaining self-confidence and intimacy with themselves and each other after Mahung experienced hardships involving her body.

“[It] created a really intense hate experience with my body,” Mahung said. “I had such a hard time embracing myself and being intimate with my boyfriend. It took a really long time for us to come to a point where we could be open with each other and share with each other, and sharing out bodies was a big part of that.”

For Mahung, the final results of the photoshoot were something to be treasured.

“[The photographs] were sort of a celebration of getting my own body back and getting that part of our relationship back,” Mahung said.

Some models were ordinarily modest dressers.

“I was getting out of my comfort zone initially, but it was fun,” junior Lotte Vonk said.

“I’m still anxious about how people will perceive what I’ve done,” Rondina said. “Some people are not so happy about it, they’re not very warm about it. So I’m anxious as to what the final products will be and what the reaction will be.”

While some models were supported by family and friends, Mahung said her family was initially hesitant about her decision.

“I come from a really conservative background, so when my parents saw one of the photos, they flipped out on me,” she said. “But we agreed that it wasn’t about being naked, but just being vulnerable and being open.”

Vonk described the sense of community built between the models and herself, the photographer.

“I’m so proud of my models, and that’s such a wonderful feeling. [The photos] all look so good, and that’s not because of me,” she said.

Vonk was flooded with more models than she could handle but kept taking pictures. She even had two people request photographs past the deadline.

“They were like, ‘We already made the decision and it was an emotional process — so can you please do it?’” she said. “So I was like, ‘You know what, I’ll see you at 7 p.m.’”

The dedication of photographers paid off: models felt like they had made an honest accomplishment after being photographed naked.

“It pushed down some walls I had; being comfortable with someone I didn’t know seeing my body. That was exciting to me,” Mayer said about her modeling experience.

“I participated partly because I wanted to challenge my own personal boundaries. By being around someone you don’t know very well and being completely naked you’re putting a lot of trust in somebody,” she said. “I want to become a more trusting person, and I think that if you trust someone else, you become more honest yourself.”

The photographs will debut Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. in the Taylor Student Lounge.

Kayla Anderson

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