In this week’s interview, we’re speaking with Genevieve Reeves, one of 50 lucky models to have been chosen to walk down the catwalk at Sophie Tea’s ‘Women’ event back in August! During our discussion, we talk about why Genevieve decided to apply, how she felt in the lead-up to the day, the impact participation has had on her mental health and body confidence, and more!
Britain Uncovered: Hi Genevieve! We can’t wait to hear all about your experience taking part in Sophie Tea’s Women show back in the summer, but to start with, can we ask how you initially discovered Sophie’s work, along with your initial impressions of it? What was it about her art that particularly appealed to you, and how does it make you feel about yourself?
Genevieve: I found Sophie through Instagram. Other people I was following were sharing her work to their Instagram stories, so I started following her in lockdown one. I found her work to be inspiring and colourful – it was like a piece of happiness in an otherwise difficult lockdown. I really started to curate my social media into a positive place during the first lockdown and Sophie really reflected that!
Her art just shows us that we are all art, and we are bold, colourful, beautiful souls, no matter our shape or size.
Britain Uncovered: All in all, over 2,000 women applied to be one of Sophie’s catwalk models for this final nudie event, and you were one of just 50 lucky participants to have been selected to take part! At what point did you realise that this was something you wanted to apply for, and what do you think compelled you to want to be involved?
Genevieve: When I started following Sophie, I noticed her other nudie events and I thought the women were so brave and powerful; I could tell it would be such an empowering experience and I knew instantly I wanted to do it. When she said she was doing a show in London, I set reminders and signed up to the newsletter to make sure I wouldn’t miss the applications going live.
I could imagine the freedom I would feel being part of the event, I could imagine the confidence, I could feel it. And I just knew it was something I wanted to experience. I wanted to feel FREE.
Britain Uncovered: Each individual who applies is asked to submit a personal testimonial describing their relationship with their body over the years, along with any potential challenges, and it was really great seeing these synopses pinned up throughout the event space on the day for attendees to read through. What has your own relationship with your body been like over the years, and are you able to share with us some of the details you included along with your submission?
Genevieve: For me, my primary reason for doing the show wasn’t for my body image – the prospect of being naked offered a freedom that for me reflected a freedom I wanted for my mind.
This was part of my submission:
“The main reason this is so important to me is my mind. I have struggled with mental health and anxiety for many years, and until recently I never felt good enough to seek help, that I wasn't that bad and there was always somebody who needed help more than me. Instead, I just put it down to being a worrier and carried on. I felt trapped by my own brain for a long time, the constant overthinking and second guessing. To become a nudie would be the biggest signifier of freedom from my own mind. To be brave enough to be free and nude, with other inspiring women, would just be the greatest joy. We are only on this planet once and I want to look back and know I had an amazing time, where anxiety didn't stop me having fun and being brave.”
The nudie show for me was to prove I could overcome fear, I could overcome worry and I instead could be free and confident. I felt my truest and most authentic self whilst painted and dancing my way down that stage. Nothing else mattered – I was exactly where I was supposed to be and was being exactly who I am.
My body had changed quite a lot in the lead up to the event. As a result of lockdown, coupled with anxiety medication, I gained stretch marks, a belly and bigger boobs. These things were starting to bother me. It was a battle between knowing my mind was so much calmer with medication and wanting to lose weight. But on the day, once painted, those fears went away. I was just me and I was proud.
Britain Uncovered: What was your reaction upon discovering you were one of the lucky few to have been chosen to take part, and what were you most looking forward to about the weekend? Additionally, was there anything you were a little hesitant or apprehensive about at all, or were you confident and raring to go?
Genevieve: Once I applied, I put it out of my mind. I didn’t want to dwell on it too much because I knew it was going to be a really popular event. I remember Sophie posted on her story one day that she was reading the applications. They were all laid out on the floor of her workshop, and I just remember thinking, “Mine is in there somewhere.”
When the email came, I just couldn't believe it, I was in shock. The subject line said, “YOU’RE A NUDIE” and I still didn't believe it! I had to read it about three times before I went running to my Mum and sister, who I then had to explain to what a nudie was because I hadn’t really told many people that I had applied. I couldn’t really fathom it to be honest.
It started to feel real once I was part of the nudie group chat, and it got more and more real as the day came closer. I remember sending a video to the group chat about a week before, talking about my disbelief that I was a nudie, that the day was actually coming, and that it was all real! I still look back and can’t believe it is something I did; it feels like a dream.
Britain Uncovered: Had you ever had any previous modelling experience – either on a catwalk or elsewhere – and how comfortable were you with the nudity element of the day? Had you ever dabbled in clothes-free experiences in the past, whether visiting a nude beach or anything else that could have potentially prepared you for something like this?
Genevieve: Before I got the news that I was a nudie, the only experience I had was skinny-dipping – which I don’t think counts when you take your bikini off in the water and then put it back on five minutes later in the water!
After I got the news, I went for a walk in the Peaks and I was desperate to strip bare to the mountains, so there I was facing Mam Tor topless. It felt so liberating. It's not often as a woman you get to feel the breeze against your bare chest, and it was wonderful.
I think a lot of the nudies will agree with me on this; at the beginning of the day, having to disrobe to get painted was the most nerve-wracking part. I dealt with it by asking to go first for the painting. I just knew deep down that as soon as I was painted, I would come alive, and I did! Being painted and naked with 49 other empowering women just felt wonderful and also normal. Looking around, you could feel the energy, you could tell the excitement and bravery of everyone; it was palpable.
Britain Uncovered: How did everything unfold on the day, and how were you feeling when you first stepped foot inside the Waldorf Hilton at the start of the weekend? We’d love to hear how the day went, along with details of what it was like being painted by Sophie and her team before the event!
Genevieve: So, a few of us stayed in the same hotel so we travelled in together, and it still didn’t feel real. I knew the day was here, but at that moment I was just walking through London with ladies I had been chatting to for a few months.
It was once we got to the Waldorf that it really started to sink in. I found Brie and Bex, two wonderful women who I could tell before meeting (even if they didn’t) we were going to get on! So, we stood together in what Bex called the ‘anxious corner’ just waiting to be called into the main room.
Once we were invited in by Sophie, we all sat looking down onto the catwalk, which was still being built. The room was gorgeous. I had Googled it beforehand, but being inside you could just feel how special it was. We went around and introduced ourselves, and I actually found this the most nerve-wracking moment of the day. I turned to Bex and said, “If I can’t introduce myself, how am I supposed to walk naked?!” I think I was nervous because this is where everything became real. I was in the room, sat with the nudies (rather than talking to them through WhatsApp), and Sophie was standing in front of us. She then gifted us all original ‘Waldorf Nudie’ paintings, which was just so special. Mine lives on my desk now, so I can look at it every day.
For the body painting, we were divided into groups, and we were then painted by a previous nudie. For me, this was one of the most special parts. My painter was Nicky, an incredible hooman, who just lives life to the fullest and just has such an aura of positivity and happiness which instantly calmed me. As I said, I really wanted to be painted first to stop the amount of time I was thinking about it, and Nicky encouraged me to take my robe off and we got stuck into painting. She was so happy; I couldn’t help feeling happy and confident.
And then came the part of not being able to touch anything or sit down – it was quite funny to look around and see us all standing with arms stretched out trying to dry off!
There were many special moments: getting splattered by Sophie, talking to, and laughing with the other nudies, queuing to go out on stage, and doing the Mexican wave before we all went out. But for me the most special moment was during the first catwalk. I turned to the audience, and I could see my friends and family sat in the second row, and with them there I turned and spread my arms wide, and I was just trying to show them, “This is me; I am here and thank you for being here with me.” When we went out as a group at the end, I could see my Mum and sisters crying, so I started too! I don’t think any of us expected it to be so emotional.
The power and the bravery of the girls, the support and positivity from Sophie and her team and most importantly the complete love and acceptance from my friends and family is what made the day for me. I’m starting to cry now even just thinking about it.
Britain Uncovered: How did it feel being up on the catwalk – not once, but twice on the same day! – and do you feel as though participation has helped with your body confidence and/or changed the way you feel about yourself? You mentioned on Insta following the event that “Even on the days where I really can’t see it or feel it, the nudie spirit is fighting through, it’s always there and I will always be changed by that day.” Why specifically do you feel participation made such a big impact, and in what ways do you think it’s changed you as a person?
Genevieve: FREE – I was my authentic self on that catwalk, I was just being, and it was incredible. There is something about being naked; there is no pretence, there is just you. And when you combine that with the power and bravery of 49 other women, you are left with something pretty special.
The experience made me realise there is nothing more important than being authentically you. Doing something so out there and rare really puts things into perspective. I felt and still feel completely changed, and yet still so ME. I felt so empowered and free and supported both by the nudies and my loved ones. I was just doing something incredible, and I could feel that and I still can.
The nudie spirit is what I use to describe the feeling of being on the catwalk. It is the spirit that I will call upon when my anxiety starts to feel like it's becoming too much – I will stop and remind myself of who I am and what I can do! Having anxiety has made me determined to always find ways to push myself and prove to myself I can feel the fear and do it anyway – the nudie spirit is the pure embodiment of that!
Britain Uncovered: Each model was assigned a partner to stride down the catwalk alongside them, which must have helped and provided some reassurance! Who was your partner for the day, and what kind of friendship have you developed with her (and the other models) in the aftermath of the event? Also, what was your soundtrack while you were up on stage?
Genevieve: My partner was Sarah. She was incredible. Before each walk, we locked eyes, and she mouthed, “We’ve got this.” We had such a bond – we really supported each other in the queues and down the catwalk, we fed off each other's spirits and just had the best time. Our song was Man! I Feel Like A Woman! by Shania Twain and what a tune!! Every time I hear it now, I am taken back to the feeling of freedom I had on that catwalk. It just brings me such joy and confidence, and I'm so glad I have a soundtrack to go back and listen to. The catwalk feels like a blur now, but the song always brings back the feeling.
Britain Uncovered: Would you say that your overall perspective of yourself has changed as a result of taking part in Sophie Tea’s Women event? Did walking down the catwalk help you to overcome previous body hang-ups or insecurities, perhaps, and do you feel more confident in general having been involved?
Genevieve: I did the nudie catwalk for the past and future versions of myself. I did it for the little girl who was scared to go to school, the 17-year old who was just going through the motions, and for the university student who fell apart and couldn’t bring herself to eat. I did it for the future adult worried about her new job. Being a nudie has helped me overcome my brain, and it has helped me overcome myself.
So yes, my perception of myself has changed. I am proud of myself for getting through it all and for still wanting to find a love and passion in life and grabbing that desire with both hands! I treat myself with kindness and acceptance – and if this is how I treat others, why did I find it so hard to do that for myself?
Now, I acknowledge my wins, I acknowledge my failings, but I try not to be critical. Instead, I remind myself I am just doing my best. I am much less critical of myself now, both physically and mentally. If I can bare all in front of a crowd and a streamed audience, I can do anything.
Britain Uncovered: How important was the nudity element in all this, and do you think social nudity experiences such as these can play a big role in helping people to feel more comfortable in their own skin? Would you like to try out something along these lines again one day?
Genevieve: Yes, yes, and YES! The nudity element is so important – it is what pushes you out of your comfort zone and yet it is the most natural thing you can do. I think events like these are integral to promoting body acceptance and confidence. If you can show the world who you are in such a physical and obvious way, it makes it so much easier to be who you are day to day.
Britain Uncovered: What was something about the day that most surprised you, and what was the most important thing you learned about yourself by taking part?
Genevieve: I knew I would feel good when I was painted but I didn’t expect to feel so alive and so true, I was just so happy. It's like I completely morphed from being nervous and barely able to introduce myself, to dancing and singing and having so much fun. I think that was helped by being surrounded by so many amazing women. We were all doing the same thing and that connection really was powerful.
I have learnt I truly am capable; I am able to face anything that comes my way, and I can have fun whilst doing it!
Britain Uncovered: Finally, what advice might you offer to those who perhaps aren’t showing themselves enough self-love or aren’t feeling as good about themselves (or their bodies) as they could or should? Are there any particular techniques you use to keep yourself feeling positive in this regard?
Genevieve: Life is too short to be concerned about what other people think, and your biggest cheerleader is you. You are the only person you truly have to spend time within this life, so be kind to yourself. Being authentically you is all there is time for. So, find an activity or a moment each day where you can forget everything and just be. For me, it’s dancing on my own in my room. Sometimes it can be yoga or reading, but mostly I feel most free when I’m dancing for no one but myself.