The Sexual Health Network of Quebec (SHNQ) has come up with a very novel way to raise some funds to promote sex education in high schools and get everyone’s attention. On Thursday evening, June 26 (7 p.m.) at Galerie 203 (227 Notre-Dame Ouest) in Old Montreal they will present Stripped, a Naked Fashion Show aimed at showing the true beauty of real men and women who have bravely volunteered to appear nude as for the cause.
“We need to start a real conversation about the importance of sex ed, which should incorporate critical topics like consent, readiness, body image, self-esteem and other pressing issues beyond the basic fear-based tactics of STI’s and unwanted pregnancy,” says SHNQ President and the host of CJAD’s Passion, Dr. Laurie Betito.
The evening will include hors-d’oeuvres, an open bar, gifts from the sponsors, an art exhibit and show clearly unlike something anyone has ever seen. For tickets, which are $125 a person, log on to http://shnq.ca. The SHNQ is a registered charity that is affiliated with the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health. The SHNQ strives to advance sexual health through public education and awareness campaigns, the development of programs and services in Quebec, and the promotion of sexual education, with liaisons to local, regional, national and international organizations.
I spoke with Valerie Claveau, who by day is the operations manager at a Montreal shipping company. She has agreed to be one of the nude models at the request of her friend Frank Mondeose. “My first reaction was to ask myself ‘Am I really going to do this?’ But Frank explained to me the cause, that there will be no cameras and how it is all about the beauty of the human body,” she said. “I asked my boyfriend. He was okay with it, so I agreed. I even convinced one of my friends to do it to.”
Claveau said there are no rehearsals and clearly no costume fittings needed. “We will show up two hours in advance,” she explained. “We are to wear no makeup , no jewelry and no nail polish. Just our smiles. I believe we need to provide more sex education to our teens. So I think this cause is a good one. I have two young children of my own and I am thinking of them as well.”
Mondeose says that when the SHNQ came up with the idea they needed to first find out if there was anyone daring enough to stand up and walk the catwalk for the cause. “At first it's usually met with hesitancy,” he explained. “The fear of being naked and vulnerable in front of a room of strangers really strikes everyone. Then i ask them to recognize that fear and ask them if it is really acceptable to feel this way and why. Its only a naked body. We all have one and we all think we are imperfect Then i ask them to imagine what kind of message we send if 20 or so models all walk the catwalk together. At what point does the naked body just become another naked body? I address their desire to be leaders, paradigm shifters, and trend starters. With so much commercialism and materialism being promoted all around us, how cool would it be if together we can create a new trend: that of self acceptance and it all starts with breaking down the taboo of the naked body needing to be covered, adorned, or botoxed for that matter.”
Putting his money where his mouth is, Mondeose will be modelling nude himself. “I tell them that I would love to have them walk with me,” he says. “That usually gets them in. No one wants to be used as a tool, but if the organizer is bold enough to come up with the idea and walk, well then it somehow makes it more appealing to them. They see the importance and that they don't have to be afraid to walk on their own This is definitely a team accomplishment and its only as a unit that we can accomplish passing the message.”
Mondeose says he hopes that the number of models continue to grow every year “until we have 50 or more models walking one day. Then the idea of watching another person model naked will just become another naked body. At that point our message will not only be made, but integrated in the psyche of the attendees. And that’s what we are trying to do. Show people that we are all the same when we are stripped naked!"