JULIA STEPHENSON on why it’s posh to pose naked

Why it’s POSH to pose naked! They’ve got the genes, confidence and sense of fun. As Country Life features its raciest ‘Girl In Pearls’ ever, one society writer who’s dared to bare explains why they do it

Posh girls don’t have too many qualms at the thought of getting their kit off. It’s just not such a big deal for a confident upper-class person to disrobe — at home, with friends, for a stylishly-lit Instagram selfie and certainly not for a glossy magazine shoot — so long as it’s arty, cheeky and, crucially, for a good cause.

Country Life has the latest example, this time with just some carefully strewn leaves preserving the subject’s modesty. Twenty years after it pictured socialite Sophia Burrell as Botticelli’s Venus, the top-drawer magazine has published a photo in its Girls In Pearls section of Atlantic rower Kiko Matthews, 37, who lives with Cushing’s disease after a nearly fatal pituitary tumour back in 2009.

Miss Matthews said that she found the shoot ‘empowering’: ‘Country Life said wear whatever you like and my wardrobe did not have any “Girls In Pearls” appropriate clothes.

‘Then they mentioned they had girls who do it naked, and I thought I am never going to have the opportunity to do a naked photoshoot again. So I thought let’s go for it.’

Stopping traffic: High society model Cara Delevingne’s Instagram shot of herself in Bali nude with two torches and a road sign

A bubbly personality: ‘It-girl’ Lady Mary Charteris put this racy shot onto Instagram

Miss Matthews added: ‘I actually prefer myself with no clothes on. I like the human form and I think we should embrace our bodies whatever they are like.’

But of course she’s only the latest in a long line of gals to pose this way. As a writer, dog rescuer and former ‘It Girl’, who once posed naked, I have some insight as to why.

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One reason toffs don’t mind being photographed in the altogether is that they are often secretly proud of their bodies. Generations of good breeding and hours spent riding, swimming and stalking through their acreage mean they are long of limb, fit and carry themselves well.

They can afford to eat better and have enough land and help to grow their own food.

I spent my youth going to the same parties as Lady Victoria Hervey and the late Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, both of whom, like me, took their clothes off for classy magazines. As did Petrina Khashoggi and her half-sister Ali Aitken — the daughters of Jonathan Aitken.

Room with a view: Model Suki Waterhouse, who is a member of one of the UK’s poshest families

My big reveal took place back in the Nineties, in Tatler magazine — I doubt I would have stripped for the Sun or Playboy, but they never asked anyway, besides, I wasn’t nearly voluptuous enough!

I appeared completely starkers — except for a body-painted apron — holding some vegetables very carefully over my crucial bits.

I was 32 and in my prime. I was doing it to illustrate an article I’d written about the evils of factory farming and it is a beautiful photo.

I must confess I also enjoyed the attention because, like many posh girls, I had been bought up to be seen and not heard, taught not to take myself too seriously or to assume people would want to look at me.

Even the famous beauty Diana Mitford was put in her place when she was getting dressed for her wedding by her nanny, who famously told her: ‘Don’t worry dear. No one will be looking at you anyway.’ Naturally, I had been sent off to boarding school where we were all thrown in the showers together and slept in dormitories. We lived a life where there was no privacy at all, so we never bothered hiding behind towels and fishing bras out from under T-shirts. We just didn’t care.

Jilly Cooper once wrote that posh people never lock the door when they’re in the loo. I don’t. I don’t always even completely shut it. Who cares anyway? It’s just not important.

And while I’m not the sort to streak through Waitrose, when I’m on my own, or in front of people I know very well, I’m happy to wander round naked. I don’t even think about it.

Kiko Matthews in Country Life. She is following in the footsteps of Dorothy Scott — who famously posed naked, cuddling a pig called Ginger in 2015

Birthday suit: Blueblood models Edie and Olympia Campbell (left) at a society party for Edie’s 27th. While tycoon’s granddaughter Alice Dellal (right) on the catwalk

It’s not because I want people to look at me, it just doesn’t cross my mind that anyone would pay much attention — I adore wild swimming, and I wouldn’t wear anything if there was no one around. It’s not exhibitionism. Besides, now I’m middle-aged I’m invisible anyway.

I think it’s odd when people wear their swimsuit in a same-sex sauna as well as being terribly unhygienic.

And there’s this terrible prudish British thing when you go for a massage or a facial and they tell you to take your clothes off and get under a towel then leave the room for ten minutes while you undress. It’s not like they haven’t seen it all before!

But I will never understand these people who visit nudist colonies. I think it’s absolutely disgusting. I suspect the young beautiful people stay away and nudist colonies are a refuge for those who can’t find anyone to look at them in private.

Naturists make such a song and dance about something as natural as taking your clothes off, but generally after a certain age we all look better with our kit on than off. As a naked Country Life ‘Girl In Pearls’, Kiko Matthews is following in the footsteps of Dorothy Scott — who famously posed naked, cuddling a pig called Ginger in 2015.

And then there were beauties featured in Tatler in 2014, fantastic figures draped over urns at Alnwick Castle and leaning against Gothic arches and languishing on waterfalls at Castle Howard. They weren’t even body painted. They were literally in the altogether and looked wonderful. Good for them.

I certainly would never regret stripping off for Tatler. The pictures were beautiful — though I’m not sure I would have dared do a full frontal without the protection of the body paint (but I seem to remember a discreet pair of knickers that were painted over).

And how nice to have a lovely picture you can stick up on your wall and remind yourself in your middle-aged dotage, ‘Gosh, I looked really good then!’ It’s a lovely photographic record. Particularly now when I prefer my body with my clothes on.

Lady Mary Charteris is pictured at the Burberry ‘Her’ fragrances launch in London. She has previously posted racy shots on Instagram 

Pink and perky: Pig farmer Dorothy Scott (left) posed for the magazine in 2015 with a porker called Ginge. COUNTRY Life’s last issue of 2018 is available now (right). Visit countrylife.co.uk

And of course we were doing it for a good cause. Fortunately my family were quite laissez-faire about the episode, but then it was for Tatler — I’m not sure they would have been as sanguine if I’d been on Page Three of the Sun.

These days, however, there’s so much nudity everywhere that a few discreetly placed leaves or strawberries or poppies — for a good cause, mind — are not going to shock anyone any more. Today, most parents I know would happily hang an artfully-lit posed photograph on their wall — they are far more worried about their children taking drugs than posing nude and aren’t remotely hung up about sex, either. (All the time we spend with our dogs and horses — we become a bit more relaxed and natural about it all.)

Of course, people will always be drawn to look at a naked body.

That’s why the Naked Strewth column in The Field magazine featuring a different charity calendar each month is so popular. Naked fly fishing anyone? A spot of nude llama grooming, perhaps?

It’s fun and naughty and about not taking yourself too seriously, because posh people have always been less prudish and enjoyed dirty jokes and ribaldry more than the middle class, who worry about what the neighbours are thinking.

Country Life’s Girls In Pearls section used to feature girls who had recently got engaged, but now it seems to welcome anyone.

The photos of Kiko are neither sexually titivating nor smutty. They’re artistic and rather lovely. After all, we’ve all got a body. We’ve all got two arms and two legs, or the lucky ones have. So what’s wrong in celebrating it?

  • CHALET Tiara by Julia Stephenson is out now in paperback (Headline, £7.99).

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