Kate O'Leary is 22, lives in Hertfordshire and works as a civil servant. She is still recovering from a car accident three years ago and walks with crutches. Her boyfriend took nude photographs of her in a wood and they decided to send one to Fiesta 'for a laugh'. Kate has since come second in the magazine's annual competition and posed naked twice for it and a sister publication.

I suppose you would call my background middle class. Both my parents were professionals and were comfortably off. I am one of five children and we were all brought up in a strict, but fair, environment.

After leaving grammar school at 17, I worked in a succession of jobs, from trainee legal executive to kitchen designer. I even spent a season as a point-to-point jockey.

In July 1990, I was travelling to Liverpool on the M62 when a car pulled out in front of me in the fast lane. My car rolled several times and I was thrown through the windscreen. I broke my back and spent six months in hospital. I was told I was paralysed and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. However, I am very bloody minded and was determined to prove the doctors wrong. My recovery has taken a long time but I hope to be walking without crutches next year.

I had been very vain and extremely extrovert before the accident. Men found this very appealing. I never went out specifically to get a man but I always wanted the flattery that male attention brought. Suddenly I was covered with scars and walking with crutches. I thought I had lost the ability to be attractive. I hated myself.

Then earlier this year, I met Chris. He has such integrity - I felt I could put my trust in him. Gradually I began to think, 'He is such a good person and he is with me, I can't be that bad'. My self- loathing was dissolving and my confidence began to return.

I am sure most couples do something kinky at one time or another to spice things up a bit. We went to a bluebell wood and Chris shot three rolls of film of me naked. It is quite a secluded wood but it is also only 100 yards from my parents' house.

When we got the pictures back we pored over them for quite a while. Chris has done a course in photography and I was very pleased with the results. The pictures were put away in a drawer.

It wasn't until Chris brought home an issue of Fiesta that the subject came up again. He jokingly suggested that we send the pictures to the magazine's annual Readers' Wives competition. He was surprised when I agreed but I said, 'Why not?' - the prize money was good. So we sent the pictures in but soon forgot about them again.

A few months later, the editor of the magazine called to say I had won second prize - I couldn't believe it. It was such an ego trip for me. The prize was like a reassurance from Fiesta that I was not some hideous being, that I was attractive.

Before agreeing to the photo shoot I told the editor that I was crippled and had scars, but he just shrugged it off, asking 'What does that have to do with anything?'I considered the matter carefully. Chris was not pressurising me at all and he insisted that if at any point I had any reservations, I should just pull out. I decided to go ahead with the shoot - it was simply a laugh.

I admit that I was nervous on the day. I suppose I expected something seedy and tacky but what we found was the opposite. Everyone there was very relaxed about my disability. They were so wrapped up in whether the lighting was right or if the end of the carpet was flicking up that somehow it didn't matter that I was sitting there nude in a studio full of people.

I have since gone back to do another shoot - what an ego boost to be asked back] It doesn't bother me at all to think of men looking at my picture because that is all they are looking at - my picture. If they want to masturbate over it, fine.

I still feel quite modest about being naked with Chris but I am now a lot more confident about the way I look. I am no longer so embarrassed about having to use crutches and I have become almost proud of my scars.

I cannot attribute all this to Fiesta - Chris helped me to get back my confidence. Winning the competition was simply the icing on the cake.

I have no fear of being found out. If anyone sees me as a slut, then that is their problem. I am certainly not going to make it mine. When I told my mother, I broached the subject by telling her I had something awful to confess. She asked if I was pregnant, if I was HIV positive. When I told her what I had done, she had to sit down - she was laughing so much. She asked how they had reacted when I walked in on crutches. When I explained, she said 'Well done'. Both she and my father feel it is really one in the eye for the system.

I don't want to sound patronising but disabled people are simply people with disabilities. Every person has their own beauty - it has just taken me a long time to realise that.


Lorraine Ward is 30, works as a nanny and lives in Norwich. Some of the first nude pictures she had taken were by a 60-year-old ex-army officer who taught at the school near her home.

Words that pop up again and again on my old school reports are 'shy' and 'serious'. My mother was a devout Catholic and I used to go to Sunday school in the morning and afternoon every week. But as I grew up, trained as a nanny and started to live with a guy I began to feel like a shadow of everyone else's expectations. I was not being true to myself.

I had this overwhelming need to express myself. I joined an art class and became interested in life drawing. I was fascinated by the nude form. Then I was approached by a gentleman who teaches at a boys' school near my home. He used to be in the Army and is a very respected man in the community. He wanted me to pose for some pictures he was taking for the Norwich Camera Club. I agreed.

They were arty shots. In one of them I was nude, in silhouette against the root of a tree. Later I posed for other members of the club. The photos were exhibited at Norwich Castle and then the cathedral. One of the clergy told a member of the camera club that his favourite was the one of me in the nude.

I left home to work in London as a live-in nanny when I was 19. While walking home from my boyfriend's late one night I was dragged into an alleyway. I screamed but it was soon stifled as my attacker put his arm round my neck. The fear is something I cannot describe to this day. I was sure nobody had heard me. As he dragged me further along the alley I had the absolute conviction that I was about to be murdered. Then four soldiers from a local barracks appeared and pulled the man off me. Shortly afterwards two policemen arrived on the scene.

I turned to look at the man and he stared back with absolute hatred. I was scared that the memory of his expression might haunt me but in retrospect I am glad I chose to face him. It was a gesture of strength.

He was later let off with a small fine. He had accused me of soliciting but there were witnesses who corroborated my story. I returned to Norwich to recover and decided I would not let this man destroy me. I went back and walked past the same alleyway alone. I was determined he would not win. Until then my experience of men had been negative. I felt they crushed my personality. It was then that I began to model for money in London. It gave me an inner strength. Suddenly I felt I was the one in control. They were paying me for something - they needed me. I chose to do it and walked away with confidence and a sense of independence.

The attack was definitely a turning point. It highlighted where I was going wrong in my life and modelling gave me the opportunity to change that.

I felt a great sense of freedom when I was posing. Suddenly I had no restrictions. I began to get this urge to be seen by more people. It was by chance that I saw the Fiesta competition advertised. Through that I achieved my goal.

At the shoot I felt I was in fantasy land. There was the music and lights - it sounds ridiculous but you feel like Madonna or something. It gives you strength to go back to the rubber gloves and the washing-up.

My mum is crushed. She asks how I would feel if a child I had brought into the world 'ended up like this'. If I had children of my own I would still have done it. I have had enough of suppressing my individuality. I don't feel there is anything wrong in posing nude for a magazine. We are all sexual beings, I see no harm in expressing that. Raunchy does not necessarily mean revolting. But I have moved back to Norwich now and I have had people shout abuse across the street at me. And I am sure that some of my strait-laced employers would not approve if they found out the girl they see in a nanny's uniform every day had appeared in Fiesta. Sometimes I wish I had never posed nude. It is horrible when people lose respect for you.

(Photographs omitted)