Naked truth of modelling

The Oldie Magazine|The Oldie magazine - July issue (389)

Naked truth of modelling
Deni Bown became a life model as a broke single mother – and ended up loving it

What on earth made me become a nude model?

It all began with a bank statement. I had exceeded my overdraft limit. This was serious – I was a single parent and, in the early 1980s, absent fathers weren’t obliged to pay maintenance. I already had one part-time job. Now I needed another. I reached for the local paper and turned to Situations Vacant. Among the usual ads for bar staff, shop assistants and so on was ‘Model required for Life Class’.

How embarrassing – but how else could I earn so much for doing what sounded like so little?

My call went through to the art department of our local college of further education. At my interview, I didn’t have to strip. The interviewer was a charming art teacher who, although male, didn’t so much as look me up and down. After a friendly and reassuring chat, the job was mine.

On that first nerve-racking day, I posed for a class of A-level students. Since then, I’ve tackled a wide variety of poses for men and women of all ages with a great range of artistic skills – even once in front of my nine-year-old son who was brought along because he had an unscheduled day off school for teacher training. It was awkward, but no one seemed to mind and I needn’t have worried. He spent the entire session drawing dinosaurs, singularly unmoved by the spectacle of his mum starkers in a room full of strangers.

Overcoming an instinctive shyness about being naked is the first challenge in becoming a life model. To be completely naked in front of people who stare at you unremittingly is a challenge. We may flatter ourselves while looking in the mirror. But when you’re holding a pose for 20 minutes at a time, there is no way you can pull in your tummy and stick out your chest, let alone maintain a seductive smile. It’s just you as you really are.

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The Oldie magazine - July issue (389)