Women's intimate portraiture

It’s not tough love. It’s abuse. | Orange County Boudoir Photographer

November 15, 2017

Abuse. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish tough love from abuse. Whether it is a relative telling us our photographs are disrespectful or a significant other putting us down for being sexy for ourselves, instead of for him/her, abuse is very real. The most important thing to me was figuring out how to get ahead of the abuse. How could I become so in love with myself that it would over power the negativity of others? For me, I had two options. Love myself or lose myself. I know I made the right choice. Losing yourself should never be an option.
Someone said something to me after doing my photoshoot that really rattled me a bit. She said, “How could you disrespect your father like that?” I was so shaken by this question for one reason, and one reason only. My father does NOT decide what I do with my body. He doesn’t own me. He just loves me and supports me. I would never call my dad and ask him if it’s okay for me to wear makeup or dye my hair. When I get all dressed up, my father tells me I look wonderful. He doesn’t ask me why I feel the need to wear makeup. He knows it’s for me. Of course I respect my fathers opinions but I don’t let them sway me from doing something I need to do for myself. I would never call my dad and ask him if it’s okay for me to have an intimate relationship with a man. So why would I ask him how he feels about me starting an intimate relationship with myself?
I’m an adult, and what I do with my body’s no ones business but my own. Quite frankly, when I was going through this experience, my father didn’t cross my mind at all. I was trying to heal and I thought that if my family and friends could see how much I’ve grown through this experience, they would be happy for me. Maybe even proud. I was absolutely right. Sure, I got some negative feedback but I also received an outpouring of love and support from people I never expected to see things the way I do.
Growing up, I was not taught to stand by and let someone be a bully, and yet I stood by and watched abuse take over my own life. I did nothing to stop it until I realized what was happening to me. I was self destructing under the pressure of my love life and I was letting people change my perception of myself.
My abusive romantic relationship was a part of what pushed me to bring boudoir into my life. I was abused in ways that made me believe that I was not strong enough to do this for myself. I was told that since I am not a model, I wouldn’t photograph well. I was told to put some meat on my bones before letting someone see me naked. I was made to think that I didn’t have the beauty or strength to be captured the way I wanted to be. My abusive relationships tried to make me believe that if I did this, if I allowed a stranger to see me in my underwear, I was a classless whore. Now, is this true? Absolutely not. However, when you lack a support system, this is sometimes the reality that women face.
To be called an unpleasant name because you did something sexy for yourself is incredibly wrong. You are not a whore for wearing what you want. You are not a whore for doing something that makes you feel beautiful. You are not a whore for doing what makes you happy. If boudoir is something you’re thinking about, stop thinking and do it. Jump right in like I did. Let boudoir change your life the way it changed mine.
At a time when I felt strong and powerful, there were people in my life who would have rather seen me uncomfortable in my own skin. I nearly allowed them to ruin my boudoir experience. I gave myself one rule when I began my experience. I was not to show my photographs to my significant other. Not because I was trying to hide them from him, but because I needed to feel this way about myself without needing someone else to see what I see. I needed it to not matter what anyone else felt about my photographs, because I felt so overcome with happiness over them.
I made this choice on my own because I needed to see my own beauty in a different way. My photographs are not meant to prove to anyone that I am sexy. They helped me prove to myself that I have the strength to do this. I had strength in me that I didn’t know was there. It was buried beneath my constant need for validation. I surprised myself by fiercely committing to self love. Boudoir is a healing experience. Boudoir shows you parts of yourself that you may not recognize anymore.

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