Our “Heavenly Bodies” Photo Shoot: What’s It Like to Pose Nude?

Some of Philly's fittest share what it was like to bare all in our July issue

The Roller Girls; Photography by Pier Nicola D

In our beautifully shot July fitness feature, “Heavenly Bodies,” we asked 15 of Philly’s fittest citizens to strip down, show off their bodies, and share what they do to look so good naked. You’ll find everything from their workout regimens and diet tips to their secret indulgences (Ice cream! Pizza! Hot wings!).

Of course, even the fittest among us might have a second thought at the idea of baring all at a photo shoot. See how the Philly Roller Girls, Lauren Boggi of Lithe Method, and Gavin McKay of Fusion Cross-Training felt during and after their au naturel close-ups—and how it changed their own ideas about beauty.

The Roller Girls, per Ginger Vitis
“Putting the shoot together was both exciting and nerve-wracking! We spent a good deal of time coming to terms with the idea of being naked on camera. For a group of women who spend countless hours being pushed and pulled around, taking the plunge to go sans uniform was perhaps the biggest risk many of us have taken, outside of some hard-hitting bouts!

But getting into makeup that morning, we started to relax into the idea of the high-concept shoot. We nibbled on snacks and skated around Nick’s studio in robes and made jokes about family and friends seeing us in a whole new light. Once we disrobed, we felt completely comfortable … like we were just walking around naked at home! And the vibe we skated away with was overwhelmingly positive and excited.

After seeing the photos for the first time, our entire league was blown away by how strong and gorgeous their fellow athletes looked. Featuring women of all shapes and sizes sent exactly the kind of message roller derby thrives on: Being a successful athlete is not about size, it’s about attitude!”

Lauren Boggi

Lauren Boggi
“I’m super-comfortable in front of the camera, but I’ll admit that I was a little nervous. I knew ahead of time that my girlfriend, Dawn Tricolli-Episcopo (she also did my makeup for my wedding), was going to be the stylist on set that day, so that made me feel really comfortable. I know that Dawn would never let me look bad! I didn’t sleep to well the night before due to nervous energy.

The photo shoot was pretty liberating all in all. I originally thought we were shooting at the end of June, so, imagine my surprise when I found out that I had a week to “get ready” for it when they changed the shoot date! Instead of freaking out and saying, ‘Oh, I need to cut out all sugar and salt for my shoot next week,’ I just said that I was going to go for it and just shoot it the way that I am (I usually like to drop 3-lbs of bloat before a shoot so that I can look more defined). We shot right when I got back from the Lithe Escape, so I was feeling pretty good about myself.

My body is on display constantly due to my work and I’m very pro-body diversity and have a strong commitment to celebrating all kinds of beauty and body types at Lithe. For me, the shoot was about sending a message to women to embrace their curves and who they are. I feel proud when women look up to me and say, ‘You’re curvy, and fit, and you’ve inspired me to feel good about my body.’ Right now, I’m in a place in my life where I feel comfortable shooting nude. I’ve worked my butt off (or on, rather) and I’m proud of my body. I’ve received so much fantastic feedback since the issue hit the stands. Posing nude made me feel beautiful and brave. I’m fit, but I’m petite and curvy, and when J. Lo and Beyoncé came out and were making curves sexy, I started to accept myself a lot more. It’s funny, but just seeing them look and feel sexy really enabled me to do the same. There is a spectacular sexiness of owning who you are and I feel like I’m owning it. I want women in Philly and beyond to feel the same. It’s a great message to send.”

Gavin McKay

Gavin McKay
“There is no more vulnerable feeling in the world than being naked in front of people. Think about your most embarrassing dreams from childhood, and they are always dreams where you’re naked. Now, add in a stranger fixing your hair and someone else spraying oil on your thighs … awkward. Thankfully, after the prep work, I had my twig and berries blocked most of the time by props or legs, and photo shop seems to have lopped them off anyway in the final shot. I’ll say this though: posing naked gave me a respect for actors and porn stars. How someone could be comfortable enough to get aroused and convincingly intimate on camera in a room full of people is beyond me.

What I really enjoyed was having a part in the creativity of the shots. Coming up with poses, flexing, trying different looks, etc. That was a lot of fun and felt more like playing around than serious art or dirty porn which are people’s impressions of it. Plus the professional photo crew was so enthusiastic in giving me positive feedback when Nic got an amazing shot, that after a few minutes I was over being naked and just wanted to produce the best possible photos.”