“Art can never exists without naked beauty displayed.”-William Blake
Growing up I was pretty vocal about my desire to be in entertainment. I wanted to be an actor and a singer…I wanted to do it all. I would frequently get asked the question, “Would you ever do nudity?” With a self righteous indignation, my answer was always be a resounding “NO!” As a child I thought it was the worst possible thing an actor could do. I had a lot of hang ups human expression back then but as I got older I found myself becoming increasingly comfortable with who I was both internally and externally. I still couldn’t see myself being naked on film.
About 2 weeks ago I was given the opportunity to appear completely naked on an episode of a new HBO series. Without hesitation I accepted the job. Now I would like to say it had nothing to do with the money but, in truth, the money was really good. However, the biggest reason I said yes was because I realized in that moment that I strongly desired to present my naked self for the sake of art. I have gone streaking and skinny dipping back in high school and college but it was usually under the guise of camaraderie or drunken fun. In recent months I have begun to see myself as ART, not perfectly sculpted or flawless but ART nonetheless and I wanted the opportunity to express this perspective.
I spent most of the night before the shoot unable to sleep. Apprehension and excitement riddled my body. I had a very early call time and when I arrived on set I was quickly given a robe and all my clothing removed. I was whisked away to the makeup trailer where 4 other naked bodies were being oiled and airbrushed. My makeup artist was a middle aged Hispanic woman who proceeded to disrobe me like she had done it a million times. Awkward conversation ensued. “You do a lot of nude modeling? Because you should.” As she vigorously rubbed some kind of makeup on my ass and thighs. She moved things around to give my entire body an even skin tone. The whole time I was thinking “what have I gotten myself into.” After the initial discomfort I realized I wasn’t all that uncomfortable. In fact I was invigorated. By shooting time all of my apprehension had dissipated.
I sat in a chair and in front of me were the camera crew, director and AD, and the lighting guys. The Director yells “DISROBE and ACTION!” The camera pans to me as I sat there in all my naked glory. I have never felt that kind of liberation in my life. It took all of me not to laugh because I just felt so free. Before I knew it the first take was done. After that I spent the next 6 hours doing different scenes with different angles and lenses. I was having the time of my life.
Now I am not saying we should run around butt naked in the streets. I do, however, believe our bodies should be celebrated and our nakedness expressed as the art it is. After all we are the Creator’s workmanship. At the end of the day, this life is about loving yourself and being comfortable enough to express yourself, flaws and all. I look forward to the next time I get to be naked on film.
“To see you naked is to recall the Earth.” -Frederico Garcia Lorca
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”-Karl Lagerfeld
If sweatpants are a sign of defeat then style, true style, is a sign that there is some fight left in you. When I say style I don’t mean fashion trends or our boring attempts to blend into the masses. No, when I say style I echo Orson Welles definition of the word “Style is knowing who you are, what you want, and not giving a damn.”
As far back as I can remember I have been fascinated by a wardrobe’s ability to express who we are without saying a word. In elementary school we wore uniforms and I spent more time than I am willing to admit tucking my shirt in my pants, making sure my tie lined up with my belt buckle, and shining the nickles in my loafers (maybe I was a bit OCD). But I knew in a world that aggressively attempts to force conformity, my clothes could say what perhaps I was to afraid to say. Now that I am older I have grown undeniably comfortable in my own skin which has allowed me to explore my personal style. On my journey I have been misunderstood, ridiculed, excluded, and mistreated in an attempt to put me in a manageable box. Peers, friends, and family have all sought to define and control my thoughts, actions, and dress at one time or another. But when I put on an ensemble that is inextricably Mykell, I feel like I can take on the world.
My point is this; When you feel bullied by the world or beat down by your circumstance. When your self esteem is low and you feel silenced by the people around you, brush your hair (if you have any) and put on your most favorite ensemble…the clothes that say exactly what you wish you could, and go out. Go to the grocery store. Go to the bank. Go wherever the world is and stand tall. Let your style say what you cannot. It may not fix your problems but you will look good on this ride we call life. It’s definitely a confidence builder.
If you are extra daring once you find your style, get a photographer and do a kickass photo shoot. Any photographer worth their weight will make you feel like the most important, most uniquely beautiful person on the planet. At the end of the day have fun being YOU.