My exquisite pain

The endurance of pain ultimately leads to growth and self-awareness. This mindset extends beyond the studio. Anjie offers her valuable insights into coping with stress and anxiety in everyday life. Through embracing pain as a catalyst for personal development, the author finds strength both on the podium and in navigating life's trials.

677 words - 3 min read

As a life model, pain is a constant companion. Whether it's the sharp ache of a locking knee, pins and needles engulfing a limb or the elements biting at your skin.

Discomfort is simply part of the process. Yet, amidst the physical challenges, what I find most intriguing is the resilience it has instilled in me against mental anguish.

In day to day life most people seek to eliminate pain and I am no different. At the slightest hint of a headache or period pain I am quick to remedy it with painkillers because why suffer? Pain gets in the way, it derails your day and no positives can be seen from experiencing it.

Sometimes pain sneaks up

This attitude is no different when it comes to life modelling, the instructor of the session makes sure you are as comfy as possible, providing blankets, cushions, heaters or fans and giving you tea during break time. However these kind gestures don’t always play out as intended. This is through no one's fault. Sometimes pain sneaks up unexpectedly, a once comfy cushion shifts, a misplaced heater sizzles your skin, your muscles squirm under pressure leaving you feeling momentarily trapped.

Everything feels awful

In this moment, everything feels awful. You hyper focus on the body part, letting it steal a breath. Sometimes slipping out the slightest of groans so that you can fight the feeling of being completely overwhelmed. Your brain tries incredibly hard to escape the pain, you start shifting your limbs a minimal amount trying not to ruin the pose but hoping to successfully release the tension. You try closing your eyes to dissociate from your reality, sweat drips from places you were not sure even had sweat glands.

Now, there is nothing stopping me from stepping out of a pose. I could easily say "sorry! I need to move" but I struggle to do that. To me, this would signal a failure of stamina and self-awareness. I would never judge another model for making the choice to get up from a pose but it has never presented as a viable choice for me.

I sometimes think this might be a symptom of people pleasing but I have come to realise that it is fueled by the desire to push myself to my limits. As a model, you recognise that a particular pose will yield a remarkable artwork, you know that holding a pose an extra grueling 5 minutes can make all the difference, so enduring the discomfort becomes a willing sacrifice.

Pain is temporary, it will end

Most importantly I have the knowledge that in these moments of pain that it's all temporary, it will end. A few more minutes, and I'll hear the familiar voice of the instructor releasing me from the pose. With a few stretches and rolls of the head, the discomfort fades, and I emerge unscathed. The memory of the torment, both physical and mental, quickly dissipates and I get to see the beautiful artwork. It keeps me coming back for more.

This resilience cultivated in life modelling has quietly infiltrated my everyday life. In times of stress and anxiety I know that I may not necessarily be able to stop it like I would physical pain but I do know that it's transient and that the mental anguish won't last forever.

Experiencing pain in a safe space

Now, I am not suggesting we all torture ourselves in order to build mental fortitude but a lot can be gained by testing your physical pain boundaries. Just ask anyone who habitually goes to the gym or likes a good Shibari session. Experiencing pain in a safe space can deepen our understanding of ourselves and how we deal with the world around us.

Marcus Aurelius once said, "On pain: If it is unbearable, it carries us off; if it persists, it can be endured." These words resonate deeply, echoing the wisdom gained through the interplay of physical and mental challenges in life modelling.

In the dance between pain and perseverance, I find strength both on the canvas and in life itself.


Anjie is an artist model and a nude photographic model working mostly in London. She is curvey with a dramatic waist to hip ratio, making her ideal for classical or silhouette style projects.

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