The Naked Photo Everyone's Talking About

We chat with the woman behind the steamy 'Love Your Body' pic

On October 20, the National Organization for Women will celebrate its annual Love Your Body Day. In the past, women have been encouraged to participate by hosting girl-power movie nights, design a poster showing love for their curves/lack thereof, or boycotting companies that use negative images of women in advertising.

This year, they’ve taken a different tack.

Hollywood NOW President Chenese Lewis and America's Next Top Model season 10 winner Whitney Thompson collaborated in an effort to generate awareness for Love Your Body Day 2010...by posing naked.

The sensuous, barely-SFW photo has spread like wildfire across the internet. Lewis took time to chat with us, squeezing us in after an interview with E! television.

Whose idea was it to strip?
Totally Whitney’s! Every year, we have a different celebrity host -- in the past we’ve had Mia Tyler, Kim Cole. I started doing a photo shoot with each host to promote the event. [But none] have been nude. This year’s picture got us the most attention because it was it was nude. In previous years, no one called me!  I was a little hesitant but it was a way to promote the event. The photographer, Inez Lewis, specializes in plus-sized models, and we had only females on set for the shoot, which made it easier.

We always hear actresses talk about how hard they worked out or dieted before a revealing photo shoot. Did you do anything special to prepare?
I knew Whitney takes pictures for a living, so I needed to be fabulous. But no, I didn’t have to go on a crash diet, which neither one of us would ever do anyway. I just had to remember to shave.

Was the photo airbrushed?
Yes, it is Photoshopped, but not our size. Color corrections, other fancy photo stuff. All photos have tweaking. But our waists weren’t taken in, our rolls weren’t taken out, my breasts weren’t reduced.

Some people would argue that nude photos -- even for a good cause -- exploit women.
That’s just society. Sex sells, scandal sells. The shock value got us a lot more press, and I think if we were smaller, it still would have gotten a lot of attention. It’s not exploitative -- we decided to do it on our own terms and no one is captitalizing off of it except us.

What were you thinking about while posing?
“Oh god, how am I going to tell my parents?!” I showed them the pictures before the world saw them and my mom and dad were kind of shocked, but they were ultimately OK because all the private parts were covered. They’re excited for all the attention and think the picture is really pretty.

What are your thoughts on Crystal Renn as the poster girl for Plus Size?
Industry standards are different from real life standards. Plus-size models start at 8 or 10, so the modeling industry doesn’t necessarily look for sizes that depict women in real life. They’re selling fantasy. I wouldn’t be able to get signed by top modeling agencies because I’m too big. I don’t know Crystal Renn personally, but I think she’s accomplished some major things for the plus-sized industry and I think she’s beautiful. When I see her modeling, do I think she represents me? Not necessarily. But she’s pushing the limits. She’d double the size of a straight size model.

Have you ever had an ED yourself?
No, but I am the spokesperson for the Binge Eating Disorder Association. I’m trying to be a positive role model. A lot of women with eating disorders are trying to be thin and lack confidence. I’m someone they can be inspired by: “Hey, look at me. I might not be a size 2, but I’m living my dreams, I’m confident and I love my body.”

What’s your advice for young girls?
I’m not promoting that you have to be naked to love your body. But young girls need role models in their community, who are not necessarily the women they see in magazines or on TV. Those are fantasies and don’t depict how real people look in real life. I encourage girls to stay in school and get an education, because you have much more to offer the world than your outer appearance.

Do you ever have bad body image days?
I credit my parents for the confidence and body image I have. They instilled it at a young age. My mom always told me I was beautiful, smart and intelligent, no matter what size I was. I’m from an African-American community in the South, I’ve never been small, but I was never belittled. In high school I was popular and now I’m in LA, living my dreams. I know I’m not the norm. I might have days where I say, “Shoot, this doesn’t fit right.” But do I ever doubt or belittle myself? Never. When I wake up in the morning, I’m think about my career, business, how to get on the next TV show. I don’t worry that because of my size, someone won’t like me or I can’t achieve my dreams.

Can I ask how old you are?
Do I have to tell you? Will you print it.? I’m…30. [laughs] I know, I know, I’m naked everywhere but worried about my age. Not everybody’s perfect -- I guess my age is my hang up!

For more information on Hollywood Love Your Body Day, visit www.loveyourbodyday.com

What do you think of the Love Your Body photo? Chime in below.

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