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by Abigail Van Buren

No Shame In Modeling For An Art Class

DEAR ABBY: I'm 19 and in college on a scholarship. I have decided to declare an art major. I have found a part-time job that will give me a little extra income -- figure modeling for some of the art classes. This would include both clothed and nude modeling.

It isn't the only job I plan on taking, but it will help me out for the time being. Studying the human figure is essential for any art student, and it is something that has been done for centuries. When I told my parents, it was not well-received.

My mother strongly disagreed with my choice and handed the phone to my sister, who told me if I want to take my clothes off I should be a stripper. Abby, this hurt me deeply. My dad is worried that it will ruin my reputation. I find it hypocritical because my mom was an art major and her portfolio contains nude figures she drew.

My school is diligent about the safety and respect of its models, and I trust them. I'd like to take this job for the experience, and it will allow me to make more connections within the department I'll be studying in for the next two years.

I'm not looking for my parents' approval, but I wish they would attempt to understand. What would you suggest? -- SERIOUS STUDENT IN VIRGINIA

DEAR SERIOUS STUDENT: Having studied figure drawing myself years ago, I can attest to the fact that models of all ages were used -- both nude and clothed. There was nothing lurid or sexual about it, and the models were not posed in a suggestive manner or being ogled.

If you wish to display your body in the context of an art class, you shouldn't have to justify it to your parents or your sister. Your mother appears to have a short memory, and your sister's comment was out of line.

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