My last post was focused on the questions I receive from so-called “plus-sized” people regarding whether they could be portrayed as sexy, and it got such a wonderful and supportive response that I’ve decided to address another insecurity I see too often:
The hatred of the mom-bod.
During boudoir sessions, I’ve had women who want me to avoid photographing their tummies or breasts or thighs. I’ve had clients who ask that I not share their photos in any way, which I obviously respect, but it is always with a touch of sadness. These women love their photos, they tell me how shocked they are that they “actually” look sexy. So, asking that I not use the photos online is not out of hatred of the photos themselves, but out of a deeply rooted fear of being seen as they are.
Obviously there are clients who simply wish to keep their intimate photos private, and for only their eyes and perhaps the eyes of a significant other, and that is alright as well, but today I’m addressing the women who are afraid of being torn to shreds at the hands of the ruthless online world. It is an incredibly vulnerable thing, to bare yourself, body and soul, in front of a camera, and it is even scarier to think of your bare self being shared with anyone.
So, to those of you who are terrified that having a boudoir shoot means that your photos will be shared, rest assured, YOU have all the deciding power. YOU get to decide whether your photos are shared at all, and in the event that you decide to allow it, YOU get to decide exactly how they are shared. You choose whether they only go up on the galleries page of this website, or my professional social media accounts, or both.
Now, before I am jumped on for excluding the dad-bod, I need to clarify that by mom-bod, I don’t mean the result of a busy life where one simply becomes softer because they no longer have the time to dedicate to keeping themselves rock-solid with washboard abs. I mean the physical and psychological changes that come with carrying and birthing a child.
I saw this photo earlier today that I felt needed to be presented alongside this topic:
That quote screamed at me to show it to mothers who now hate their bodies because of the marks from past wildfires and the new growth resulting from them.
You have repeatedly heard the “tiger-stripes” analogy, about how your stretch marks are a badge of honor, and that you’ve earned your stripes.
I love that analogy, but as someone who has never had children, I can’t exactly relate. I can’t expect to spout lines that you’ve heard before and completely change the way you perceive yourself. It would be like asking someone with anxiety to just “try calming down.”
Here’s what I can offer you instead:
I love the human form. I love marks of all kinds, because they represent a story; they are the remnants of the person you were, and the experiences you’ve had. I, personally, think your body is beautiful.
I know that nothing I can say or do will change your self-image, and so I won’t waste my time or yours trying to do that. All I’m going to do is ask you one simple favor, your homework, per se.
I want you to give yourself the same care and gentle love that you give to the other people in your life.
If someone you love comes crying to you that they feel unattractive, what do you do? You tell them that they are beautiful. You shower them with love, and even though it may not change the way they see themselves, it lifts them up.
If one of your friends comes to you for comfort after being turned down by a love interest, what do you do? You remind them that their value is not reliant on whether someone else wants to be with them. You tell them that their value is inherent and cannot be taken away just because someone failed to see it.
All I am asking is that you perform these same acts of kindness and reassurance on yourself whenever you feel that the marks on your body define your beauty.
Beauty is internal. Your worth is internal.
The views of others, and even your own views, cannot take that away.
You may not feel able to flip your self-image 180 degrees, but again, I’m not asking you to.
I’m simply asking you to show yourself kindness.
Because, as Aesop said:
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”