“Lift your chin a little, please.”
“You know, I’m starting to feel a bit objectified.”
“Well yeah, Alex, that’s the point.”
Violet took a step back to survey the scene in front of her easel. Wearing a loose, paint-stained slip dress with her brunette hair pushed back by a floral hair-tie, Violet looked like the amalgamation of every art student in her class.
Propped up by plush white pillows in an emerald-green robe, her stepcousin Alex lounged before her on the couch, looking unconvinced.
“So… painting guys naked… that’s what passes for high art these days?"
With a snort, Violet rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. Have you seen the Sistine Chapel? Michelangelo made his whole career painting a bunch of dudes with their dicks out. I’m just making a point, is all.”
“The point being?”
“That how women are painted as the subject of a painting is submissive.” Her eyes lit up as she spoke, a testimony to her vision. "Today you’re going to be my reimagined Venus of Urbino. By painting guys the way women have been painted, it’ll highlight the issues with the male gaze."
Alex frowned, “Male gaze?”
“In a nutshell, the male gaze refers to the way men portray women as objects, as conquests - mainly, sexual conquests. It’s reductive.”
“Right…” Alex didn’t sound convinced.
“You know, my other models weren’t this talkative,” Violet muttered, returning to tuck the sheet into the couch to match her reference image.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Alex fired back, “which one of us was asking for a favor?”
Violet was about to fire off a snappy comeback when she paused. How many guys had she asked to pose for her before Alex had reluctantly offered up his services? Maybe it was the free dinner she had promised him or the assurance that she would paint him very generously, but despite all that it was true. This was a favor. She needed him.
Biting her tongue, Violet did her final checks before turning back to Alex. His swimmer’s shoulders and lithe muscular legs barely fit on the couch, causing him to shift and slip every half a second. His usually handsome, well-defined jaw was clenched shut, a small flush of pink coloring the sliver of his visible chest.
“Are you ready to de-robe?” Violet inquired.