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Sophie Tea "Send Nudes Live" Interview

Three Women From Sophie Tea's "Send Nudes Live" On Loudly Embracing Their Bodies

Image Source: Sophie Tea Live/ London Palladium

It's the afternoon of Sophie Tea's "Send Nudes Live" at the London Palladium. When I arrive, the theatre is bustling with backstage crew and women being painted from head-to-toe. "Send Nudes Live" is a powerful exploration of the female body with a live painting session of the female 'nudies' featuring a choir, powerful stories shared, and tears being shed. It finishes with a catwalk like no other.

Tea explains in the opening monologue that creating the show was a form of dialogue with her own body, healing wounds by connecting and immortalising the beauty of strangers. The one-night-only affair is a celebration of womanhood, sisterhood, motherhood, and love. Before the show, we caught up with the artist, Sophie Tea, and three 'nudies' who will soon be baring all on the catwalk in front of an audience of over 2,000 people.

"This show is scariest thing I have ever tried to execute," Tea admits. "I feel like I don't even have time to get nervous because I'm just so busy. I only moved back from Australia a few weeks before so it's been a super intense lead up and I always have thousands of ideas to narrow down." However, once Sophie chose her "nudies," her nerves began to settle. "I felt a wave of calm and a bigger sense of purpose because those women ground me and remind me why I do this. They are the backbone of "Send Nudes" and their excitement in the lead up overshadowed any nerves I had."

Image Source: Sophie Tea Live/ London Palladium

There are about 50 'nudies' taking part in the show, but the artist reveals there were just over 9,000 applications from women across the country who wanted to be a part of this live exhibition. So, how did Tea narrow the list down? "This is the hardest part of my job," she reveals. "Every single woman that applies, deserves to be a part of our show so it's really hard to pick. I always try to choose a balance between women who really need this to celebrate and fall back in love with themselves, and women who already radiate body positivity and self confidence."

The women who go on to feature in the show range in age from mid-20s to 72-years-old. "72-year-old Brenda really stood out because she had so much life experience and by 72, she has a lot of wisdom about her body," Tea says. "I also interviewed a lady called Ami who'd suffered with breast cancer and she was literally joy embodied in a person. It's such an honour to share these women with the world."

I always try to choose a balance between women who really need this to celebrate and fall back in love with themselves, and women who already radiate body positivity and self confidence.

Paris, 25, is currently pregnant with a baby girl. The 'nudie' tells POPSUGAR "I'm doing this because I want my baby girl to know that she should be empowered by our body, unafraid of it and not be sexualised. I just thought this was an amazing opportunity whilst I was still pregnant."

Sarah, 64, emotionally reveals she is taking part in the show alongside her 26-year-old daughter to raise awareness for a domestic abuse organisation, Refuge, in memory of her friend. "My friend was murdered by her estranged husband. I've also got two daughters and I think growing up in the world the way it is now, women have to really fight to be heard. I think it's a really powerful message we are sending out to people that there is no perfect size, perfect shape, or perfect look." Asked if she compares her body today to that of her 25-year-old self, she adds: "No, I look at my body and it's not what it looked like when I was 25, but by God I'm proud of it! Because I grew and fed two kids and I'm still here for them."

Paris #2, 34, from Orpington gave birth just eight weeks ago, but is more than ready to take to the stage. She tells POPSUGAR "I had an unplanned C-section so I've got the C-section pouch, scars, and stretch marks. For me, this is about acceptance of the female body and showing that not everyone snaps back after pregnancy instantly. This is just to show off the female body because women are awesome and we're so powerful!"

Image Source: Sophie Tea Live/ London Palladium

What these women are about to embark on takes a whole heap of courage, so what advice do they have for women who want to embrace their bodies? "Try not to be led by the media," says Paris. "The most important opinion on your body is yours. If you think you're hot, then you're hot! Even if you don't think everyday, just allow that positive mindset to be the driving force."

The 'nudies' had nothing but praise for Sophie Tea, many of them have been following her abstract work for years - but creating "Sophie Tea Live" was a journey. Tea explains "I had a variety of eras before I settled on nudes but I really began to find a purpose in the female form. I found that a lot of the content online was a very stereotypically ideal body type but I wanted a wider representation of women in my art."

"I think throughout history there has been an 'ideal' body type dictated by the media," Tea says. "For example, I grew up with magazines dragging women for the 'worst beach bodies this year' and even I used to stuff my bra with football socks throughout school to try and emulate that 'perfect' body type. As I grew up I realised that a lot of the most important women around me didn't have this body type but I hadn't seen it represented anywhere and it clicked that someone needed to try and start showcasing these beautiful bodies in all their glory!"

In fact, the desire to see increased representation for women's bodies is what inspired Tea's movement in the very beginning. "One evening in 2020, I posted an Instagram story stating 'In the name of art… please can you send me a nude?' I didn't expect much, but then I woke up to thousands of pictures of women from all over the world. There were women of all shapes and sizes, and women who'd been through hell with their bodies. A lady who'd had a double mastectomy and recently lost her mother to breast cancer really stood out to me. At that moment, I knew the purpose of my work was to show that every body is beautiful and we should all be celebrated," she tells PS.

"I look at my body and it's not what it looked like when I was 25, but by God I'm proud of it!"

Throughout the show, the key detail that stands out is body diversity. Women of all shapes and sizes are allowed to be free. The joy they feel in the moment just radiates off the stage. Tea's end goal is to ultimately help women feel confident. "When I do a call out for nudies, people are so raw and honest with me about the relationship they've had with themselves. The ones that stand out the most are those that have never seen themselves portrayed beautifully and all of a sudden a painting of someone like them, allows this self love to fall into place. If that's all I ever do, it's enough."

Aaliyah Harry (she/her) is the associate editor at POPSUGAR UK. She writes extensively across lifestyle, culture and beauty. Aaliyah also has a deep passion for telling stories and giving voice to the voiceless. Previously, she has contributed to Refinery29, Grazia UK and The Voice Newspaper.

Image Source: Sophie Tea Live
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