By Vanessa Copeland
Boudoir photography has been around for centuries, dating back as early as 1840. In recent years, it has gained popularity with the masses due to the onset of digital photography. Most people today have heard of it or have, or know someone who has, participated in a boudoir shoot. So, when my friend, Dori, added me to her closed Facebook group, Vera Imago Boudoir, I honestly didn’t think anything of it one way or the other. I myself had never considered participating in a boudoir shoot because, like many, I believed this to be something done for, or with, your significant other. As many of you know, I am the happily perpetually single girl.
I just never thought it was something for me. I have never been the girl who turns heads when I walk into a room, and honestly, that has never bothered me. I have always valued humor and intelligence more than physical beauty. Quite frankly, I don’t know if I could be the girl that turns heads. I have, only in recent years, finally taught myself to stop making self-deprecating remarks immediately after receiving a compliment. They used to make me uncomfortable, and like anything that makes me uncomfortable, I deflect with humor. I have spent most of my life making fun of myself, so finding my inner sex kitten was never something I was interested in.
That is until I started looking at the posts on the Vera Imago page. With each new photo added, I had a growing understanding of exactly who these shoots are for: the women in the photos. You can see the feeling of empowerment on their faces, how each of them felt beautiful and commanded your attention and respect. I was in awe and, damn it, I wanted some of that feeling, too.
Initially, I told myself, “As soon as I lose the weight I want to lose, I’m setting up a shoot.” I immediately chided myself for falling back into that mindset that so many women never seem to get out of. I am constantly telling women to love themselves at every size; even if they’re not where they want to be and are working toward a goal. Hating our bodies does nothing but destroy our self-esteem and steal our happiness. A long time ago, I decided to stop beating myself up for my perceived deficiencies and instead to put that energy into changing the things I wanted to be different. It has made all the difference in my life. So, I decided that I was going to feel sexy just as I am today.
However, if you’re like me, you have no idea where to start looking to find your sexy. Luckily for me, Dori’s shoots come with an entire array of optional services: hair, make-up, a posing coach, and even a personal shopping assistant. I am someone who likes to have things delivered to my front door (I’m 90% sure I keep Bite Squad in business), so I turned to the place I turn to for most things: Amazon. There are also a number of online sites that specialize in this very thing. I highly suggest getting the optional services, without them I’m not sure I would have had the same amazing experience, and it made the entire process that much better. Also, if you choose a corset, like I did, get a friend. Getting into that thing was definitely a two-woman job.
The shoot itself was so much fun. I was completely unsure how it would go since I just cannot take myself too seriously. Thankfully, there was no need. Dori has an amazing way of letting you be you and making you realize that THAT is what is sexy about you; and I did feel sexy. For the first time in my life, I felt like a head-turner. I felt powerful. Every woman should feel that way at least once in her life.
That brings up the other part of this entire experience that I want to talk about. When one of my close friends told her husband that I was planning to do a boudoir shoot and that she also wanted to do one, he was very surprised. He didn’t understand how we, two feminists and denouncers of the objectification of women, would be interested in something like that. I want to be very clear; women owning their sexuality is not objectifying themselves.
In a PubMed post regarding women’s sexuality it states:
“Women’s sexuality is not primarily a response to men’s sexuality but has its own characteristics. A woman’s sexuality is an expression of mutuality, involving not only physical gratification but also a sense of herself as a woman in the context of her life, her relationships, and emotions.”
I want you to re-read those words and really understand them. All of it struck home with me. “Women’s sexuality is not primarily a response to men’s sexuality.” That statement is very important. While having my hair and make-up done prior to the shoot, we were discussing my revelation that this experience was not for anyone but myself. I even joked, “I would never put in this much effort for a man.” But I think that is a lesson society is still learning. Not everything a woman does is for, in response to, in opposition of, etc. something a man does. The other important lesson is that women should not have to deny their sexual selves in order to be taken seriously or be treated with respect. Those things are not mutually exclusive. Women should be able to explore, experience and enjoy all facets of being a woman without having to sacrifice being treated decently. We must stop teaching girls, and boys for that matter, that women must choose one or the other.
For more information on scheduling your own shoot, you can contact Dori through her Facebook page: Vera Imago After Dark.