When I published my horrifying story about Terry Richardson last year, a lot of people asked me why I still did nude modeling after having such a gross experience with it. The answer, basically, is this: because I like it. Contrary to popular belief, posing for nude photos is not an inherently fucked up thing to do. If I’d let one bad dude spoil this hobby for me, it would’ve been sort of like letting the terrorists win. And this is America, dammit.

Why do I like it? I’m so glad you asked. The simplest reason is this: naked time is the best time. When was the last time you hung out naked in the sunshine? I don’t want to sound like too much of a hippie here, but there’s nothing like feeling a warm spring breeze whoosh over your outer labia to make you feel alive. I like wearing clothes and all, but once in a while it’s fun to go natural.

It also forces me to fully inhabit my physical self. For quite some time, I had trouble reconciling what I felt like on the inside (nerdy, cerebral, socially awkward) with the weird, woman-shaped meat bag I was walking around in. What the heck was I supposed to do with all of that junk in my trunk? I imagined human beings as disembodied brains hovering over their avatars like players in a video game. Nude modeling helped me integrate my physical self into my whole identity, making me much more comfortable in my own skin. Taking the time to acknowledge and enjoy one’s own body, and sure, one’s vanity, is a source of pleasure I think everyone should experience, whether or not they decide to pose for pictures.

And then, there are all the friends I’ve met. I should probably mention that most of the naked modeling I’ve done has been for Suicidegirls, and I met one of my very best friends on there, without whom my life would be significantly suckier. I’ve also met strippers, sex workers, designers, fellow writers, scientists, and various other cool, tough women from all walks of life who I never would’ve gotten the chance to talk to otherwise. Wherever I travel, I know there will probably be a like-minded lady who wants to hang out with me and show me around, or even put me up at her apartment. It’s like a worldwide sorority for ugly ducklings!

Lastly, what I do on SG is part of my general philosophy of body acceptance. Like I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve worked pretty hard to like the body that I have, despite the fact that it’s not as thin as the fashion magazines tell me it should be. I know how to pose, but I’m also not afraid to let my belly and love handles show a bit in the photos, because that is what I really look like. If people see a non-emaciated girl looking confident and happy with her own naked body, there’s a chance they might feel slightly better about their own bodies. Non-skinny people can be sexy, too!

Basically, SG is my safe space to hang out in my birthday suit and be all sincere and positive and touchy-feely for a change. I realize this type of thing isn’t fun for everyone, but if you think you might like to try it, I’d urge you to do so in as safe and enjoyable a way as possible. Either on the Internet like a fucking exhibitionist, or solely for yourself and/or your special someone. Just make sure to stay away from creepy male fashion photographers, and you’ll do fine.