I was warned about posing nude on my very first shoot. The photographer I was working with told me in serious tones that she would never ask me to pose nude—and to be wary of any photographer that did. According to her, anyone who wanted me to disrobe was a predator and a pervert.

The warnings didn’t stop there. As I did more research into modelling, I read countless articles that cautioned against posing nude, especially for new models. The pictures would be on the Internet forever, the authors warned and could ruin future job opportunities. Besides, what would your mother think if she found out?

To an extent, these warnings hold water. (Although for the record, none of my art nude photographers has ever been predatory, and my mother loves my work). It’s true that the images will be around forever. If you want to go into a career like teaching or politics in the future, nude posing might not be for you.

But I went ahead and posed nude anyway because I felt that images were beautiful and that the art was worthwhile. And I’m so glad that I did. Besides creating beautiful images and giving me a full-time career, posing nude has helped me grow both as a model and as a person.

Now when I meet new models, seven years after that first shoot, I encourage them to pose nude. There are some practical reasons why. Art nude modelling is one of the few genres that does not have any physical requirements to participate. Models don’t have to be a specific height, weight, or age. Instead, art nude posing is about celebrating the human form in all its diversity. Anyone can pose nude, and I think everyone should.

Nude modelling also taught me to run a successful business. When I first started modelling, I never expected it to become a full-time career. But over my first year of modelling, it grew into my profession. With that transition, I’ve learned everything from email etiquette to freelance tax forms. I’ve learned the responsibility necessary to work for yourself as a freelance artist, and the joys of travelling for work and connecting with other creatives.

Most importantly, nude posing taught me to be brave. Remember that first photo shoot, with the photographer warning me in dire tones? Well, there’s a stigma in our society against nudity. People assume that it is inherently sexual when it’s often nothing of the sort. We automatically think porn instead of classical art. We censor images as if there’s something wrong with seeing a female nipple. And we warn new models about nude posing

It takes bravery to stand up to these social norms and say, “I’ll try it anyway.” Over the years, I’ve had the joy of coaching several brand new models through their first nude shoot. They’re always nervous when they come into the studio. But once they start posing, they start to glow. They tell me that it’s liberating, and it’s fun.

That lesson I learned about bravery—to try it anyway—is the most important thing nude posing has taught me. Without it, all the things I learned about accepting my body and running my business would have never happened. I would have never looked past the fact that I’m not built like a fashion model. I would have assumed that people like me couldn’t be professionals in this industry. And I certainly wouldn’t have had the guts to try and make it my job.

So if you’re interested in nude modelling, I encourage you to try it out. Yes, do your homework: check references, and take the future into account. But if you pose nude, you may discover how brave you are—and how fun it can be.

Written for ©model mayhem by Katje Gee