Nude model Sonia Parecadan will teach you to love your body
This Devi doesn’t believe in idol worship
For some, posing for photos is like accidentally rubbing your eyes after touching chilli powder… physically painful. So can you imagine the sheer buckets of confidence you would need to be a nude model? Whatever that extra zing is, Sonia Parecadan has a fountain of it. Based in California, she can be described in many ways—artist, model, photographer and caseworker for a non-profit that addresses homelessness and severe mental illness in the local community.
She goes by Devi, you may also know her by her online moniker Googlymonstor. Thousands flock to her Instagram every day. Given the kind of work she does, there are plenty of impersonators too. In a YouTube video, she clarifies (probably not the first time) that she’s “NOT a horny housewife in Mumbai or a MILF in Romania with twins, unfortunately. Just an awkward ABCD art model with a lot of impersonators and fake profiles” that sexualise and misuse her photographs.
21 questions with nude model, Devi
Five words you’d use to describe yourself?
Not a huge fan of this sort of thing (don’t box me in!) but I’m probably the eccentric, goofy, dreamy, intellectual, introspective type.
Where did ‘Googlymonstor’ come from? Is this an alter ego?
Unfortunately, it’s really not that deep. When I was little, I was really into arts and crafts; I’d stick googly eyes on everything, including my own little homemade monster toys I’d make with pom poms and pipe cleaners. I’ve also been told I have very expressive, emotive eyes, and they move around a lot, which you know, has something to do with me being a model. So boom, “Googlymonstor” became my Instagram ID because “devi_themodel” was already taken by an adorable male model.
How did friends react to your modelling?
Nothing dramatic, and it’s not like I went around telling the entire world. Close friends were mostly like “cool dude, I’m proud of you.” Maybe I have an unorthodox group of friends.
What was the first time like?
It wasn’t that big of a deal. At that point, enough people had seen me naked that I guess I didn’t feel particularly vulnerable or exposed; perhaps I had already cultivated a somewhat casual attitude in my mind about nudity. Mainly, I was just worried in the back of my mind, that allowing myself to be photographed nude was actually a terrible idea.
Does your family know you’re a nude art model?
For the most part, yeah. Reactions have been somewhat varied, but the bottom line is, I make stunning imagery that has artistic value, and I enjoy sharing it. It’s probably too complicated to get into without writing a damn novel, so I think I’m just gonna be lazy and leave it at this: at the end of the day, I’m a grown woman, and they love me and respect my right as an individual to make my own choices in the world.
Is your physique something you worry about?
As someone who posts images of my body on social media, I really loathe the type of fitness culture that conflates looking hot, young, and slim with wellbeing, health, and happiness. It’s a delusion, a waste of time, and f*ck that aspirational, capitalist BS. I really don’t need a 6-pack.
Nonetheless, wellness—mind, body and spirit—is something I’m constantly striving for as someone with chronic health issues (fibromyalgia). I’m not immune to the pressures of the marketplace, and getting older as a model in a world obsessed with crude ideals of female “sexiness” and aesthetic “flawlessness” isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
Challenging our false, deep-seated perceptions that a woman’s body is supposed to conform to some banal archetype in order to be beautiful, interesting, or even erotically appealing, is part of my goal as an artist. The more my body changes, the easier it becomes to do that.
What’s dating like as a nude model?
I haven’t really been single much, since I’ve been doing this stuff, so I don’t know. But I certainly wouldn’t be interested in someone who had an issue.
Have you been recognised in the street?
Yes, as a matter of fact. It was some years ago, and I was out with my siblings and cousins at a nightclub in San Francisco. A guy, who sounded like he had probably migrated recently from India, approached me with a shit-eating grin as I was coming out of the bathroom. He asked me if I was the model “Dakini” (my old alias) so I responded yes. He had “seen my images all over the place” on the internet, which apparently made him feel like he was entitled to my phone number, and so he started demanding it, over and over.
This is like, literally, 10 seconds after meeting me. After I told him several times that I wasn’t interested and that I had a boyfriend, he responded with “you must have 30 boyfriends” He seemed to think that because I was a nude model, obviously, I was just publicly available for sex, in some kind of general way. He continued to harass me for the rest of the night until some of my male family members intervened. So that was fun.
How do you deal with explicit Instagram DMs?
I mean, I don’t really have a way to “filter,” per se, I have to kind of just sort through the hundreds and hundreds of garbage DMs, to find the ones actually about business. I don’t open and read them all of course; I can usually tell by the first line if it’s worth my time. For the rest, I just hit “delete all.”
What do you think about while you are posing?
I think it’s kind of like improvisational dance, music, or acting – it involves channelling. Could be similar to a moving meditation, or a state of flow, where I’m deeply focused on performing movements or facial expressions that I intuit might translate well visually in a given scene.
Do you ever feel self-conscious when you look back at some of the old shoots you did when you first became a nude model?
Not as much anymore. When I first started, I was often bothered by my big nose, or my soft, protruding belly. After several years and having hundreds of thousands of images taken, I’m more accepting, and much wiser. I’m quite a bit older now so there are way more “imperfections” in my pictures—lots of double chins, under-eye hollows—that I could get all caught up in if I allowed it, but thankfully, I’ve matured and my ego isn’t as wrapped up in needing to look a certain way. It’s totally still hard to swallow sometimes, but I’m less afraid than I used to be about showcasing to the world that I’m indeed human, and my body is perfectly flawed and well-lived in.
What’s been your favourite shoot so far?
I really can’t say. Too many goodies, but if I were to pick something recently, Iceland. Shooting nude up against an iceberg on the beach was pretty surreal. Also, getting the chance to meet and work with the late, great George Pitts a few years ago in NYC was an honour.
What makes you feel sexy?
A sense of being light and free, like I can totally be myself and explore different sides of my personality; space to be playful and spontaneous and completely in the moment.
What do you love the most about your body?
That it’s super unique. “Conventionally beautiful” is not a phrase I’ve ever really related to. I’ve stood out my whole life, being a brown girl in a sea of white. While it was always easy when I was younger to hate the things that make me look different, like my prominent “ethnic” nose or my oversized boobs, they are now my claim to fame, so I embrace that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hate this one. I hope I get my shit together by then. Hopefully, I’ll have finished a masters in public policy, social work or counselling and have a well-established career. And hopefully I’ll be writing more, and still making art.
Who would you want to photograph nude?
Men. Lots of them, of different ages, sizes, and colours. The vast majority of the art nudes floating around currently are of young, white, slim, hourglass-shaped women and I’m so bored of it.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer. I’ve always been that annoying, analytical kid, itching for debate; that tries to turn everything into a philosophical or ethical question to be solved. When I graduated college, I worked at a law firm for a bit, which solidified in my mind that I didn’t want to pursue that.
What’s the strangest shoot request you’ve received as a nude model?
Hard to say because there have been so many weird ones over the years. I get solicited on Instagram almost daily to “spend a night in Dubai” with some dude for “whatever amount I charge,” but I’m not sure if that would strike you as odd, or just as something to be expected in today’s crazy-ass world.
Likewise, although I’m pretty explicit that I don’t shoot fetish themes or hardcore porn, I routinely get offers to do all kinds of random content, like say, tickling or foot fetish stuff. I do advertise the fact that I’m a Kung Fu black belt, which one time attracted the attention of a dude who claimed to be making “self-defence videos for women,” in which he, conveniently, was playing the guy getting kicked in the balls super hard. I figured out pretty quickly what that one was really about. Again, I’m not sure any of this is all that surprising, somehow, given that I’m a nude model in a world where that’s still kinda taboo. People seem to think that I might just be down for anything, or that at least, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you could go back in time, which era would you choose to live in and why?
I’m slightly Luddite but I also enjoy modern conveniences, like toilet paper. So maybe an era that was groovy and iPhone-less like the late 60’s or 70s. As a model, I’d fit right in with my low-hanging, vintage-style boobs. People still had face-to-face conversations, music was dope AF, and I could stick googly eyes on my pet rock.
Your advice for aspiring models?
Pursue it if you enjoy performing and are into the creative process. F*ck popularity, status, or conforming to anyone’s one-dimensional, manufactured standard of beauty. Vulnerability and dynamism are a billion times more interesting than “prettiness.” Sure, there’s a learning curve as far as posing, but the most compelling thing you can offer is authenticity, so don’t overthink it in front of the camera. You are art; just be you.
As a nude model, how would you explain body positivity?
Living in a largely shallow, cutthroat, consumerist world, many of us carry around a lot of trauma in relationship to our bodies. Because of this, it’s easy to fall prey to the mirage that one of the keys to life satisfaction, and to being loved, is making sure that the wrapping paper we’re covered in is as “perfect” as possible. As women, we are constantly sent messages that our basic worth hinges on this.
We may know, intellectually, that definitions of perfection change over time and space. We may tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be vain, or that we should just ignore the bullies who made us feel unworthy— but our primal fear still drives us to chase after this elusive “perfection” because we’ve been programmed to think that it’s some kind of holy grail.
I think body positivity is about transcending that pattern of trauma and fear as much as we can. It’s about unlearning and detaching ourselves from the limiting beauty standards we’ve been conditioned with and coming to accept that as long as we’re alive, our bodies are enough.
Over time, our habits change, as we prioritize our mental health and spiritual well-being. We do therapy, meditation, self-care and healing rituals—and as we witness diverse beauty celebrated around us—our fears start to slowly melt. We learn to embrace our sensuality and our right to enjoy the body we inhabit.
Eventually, we see how silly it is that we were once made to worry that our delicious, rich brown colour, was “too dark.” Finally, we start to believe that the people who bring real meaning and joy to our lives love us for our entirety, not because we have clear skin that day.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
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