A nude model with lipedema

‘Could you turn a little? We’d also like to draw your bum.’ This is Kathrin’s story of how she got a confidence boost from being a nude model – despite her lipedema illness.

It was never my goal in life to become a nude model. I used to find it normal coming out of the shower naked at home while my mum was in the middle of brushing her teeth. When I was doing team sport back in school, it also felt completely normal to use the communal shower after the training. Still, it’s quite another matter to display your problem areas right in front of total strangers – especially since you’re not even concealing anything with a swimsuit or similar. While I always used to avoid public swimming pools, I’m incredibly proud of being at peace with my body nowadays (or at least with 90% of it).


Frau auf dem bauch liegend

How it all happened

I had my first encounter with figure drawing during an art tour. One evening, in a small town in Tuscany, one of my roommates invited us ‘young’ art students to join. ‘Tonight, we’ll draw nudes, do you want to join in? If you do, you’ll also have to pose – it’s only us and we all want to have a go at drawing’. That sounded pretty plausible to me. And suddenly, I was tempted. Drawing something so personal, completely exposing yourself to others, overcoming your fears. I would’ve never forgiven myself had I not gone through this experience. And so I joined in the drawing every now and then – and eventually, I also had to drop my clothes.

It was strange to begin with. You worry about what these people who are checking you out from top to bottom might be thinking. The search for light and shade on your body and suddenly fixate a specific spot with a critical eye. I kept telling myself: no, they’re not finding you ugly, they’re just having a hard time with their charcoal pencil or they might be despairing over the proportions. And that’s just what it was. There was the occasional ‘Now your breasts are in the right light’ or a ‘yes, just stay like that, it looks great’. And before I knew it, it was over.


Frau auf dem Rücken liegend

With curves and bumps

The results were astonishing. I recognised myself in every one of those sketches – but only because they identified and implemented all the ‘special’ parts of my body. Particularly my large bottom or my small bust – but these features turned this person in the drawings into me and that’s what counts.

And yes, I have lipedema. Yes, my legs are wobbly, bumpy and large while my knees are not even visible. My bum does have one special superpower – it provides excellent padding for a seated position. And suddenly I kept getting invited to do nude modelling. ‘Usually, only the thin girls have the courage to do it, but the artists would like to draw curvy people, too.’

I often tell people about these experiences so that they realise that being a nude model isn’t something reprehensible but a way to finally accept your own body and learn to love it.

‘That was me – and I was beautiful’

I posed a few more times for public courses that were organised by a friend. There were complete strangers that were inspecting every part of my body and reproducing every one of my fat rolls on their paper – but in an artistic manner. I never had the feeling that anyone was making fun of me. An older lady once asked me if I could turn a little during the next pose so that she could draw my bum, too. I know that I have a rather baroque figure (small bust, large lower body), but that was exactly what she found aesthetic and worth drawing. And with every wonderful result I saw, I got another amazing confidence boost. That was me – and I was beautiful.

I often tell people about these experiences so that they realise that being a nude model isn’t something reprehensible but a way to finally accept your own body and learn to love it. Despite the fat, this incredibly annoying, mean and immortal fat, I built up my self-esteem. Nude modelling might not be everyone’s cup of tea – but what’s important is to find something that gives you the feeling of not only accepting, but also of loving your body.

Frau auf der Seite liegend

This could also be of interest:

A burst of courage: become a #LipödemMutmacher!

This is where courageous women have their say about overcoming lipedema challenges day after day.