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Seeing my photos (Wicked Wednesday 282)

It’s ironic that this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt is Mirrors. Monday I posted a snippet of For Love of Snow White, which included a mirror scene. Today I’m going to talk about photos, both sexy and not.

I hate having my photo taken. I never like what I see. I hide behind the camera more often than not, preferring to take photos of others. So it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life to decide to do a boudoir photo shoot—it wouldn’t be just photos of me, but increasingly nude photos of me. Would I like some of them, or would my self esteem be shattered by photos that reflect the negatives and imperfections I see in the mirror after nearly 40 years of being subjected to a media barrage that my value lies in how fuckable I am (and at times in my late teens/early twenties I based my self-worth on whether people found me fuckable).

About a month ago, I posted about doing a boudoir photo shoot. I purposefully wrote that before I’d seen my photos because I was worried that my own insecurities in looking at photos of myself might taint my memory of the shoot.

Well, I’ve seen the photos and we selected 16 to keep. Here are two examples of photos I’m really happy with…

I can honestly say that the experience is very high on my list of things I was terrified of, but am so glad I tried. I have been very self conscious about my body for decades and to see photos where I actually feel like I look sexy is new and a little scary. It calls what I see in the mirror most days, and gives me a hint of what my husband sees that I can’t.

 

wicked wednesday

 

I’d definitely do this again, and not just because it gives me a glimpse of what’s on the other side of the looking glass.

I did a boudoir photo shoot

*This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked to write this post. I received zero discounts or perks.*

I’ve wanted to do a boudoir photo shoot for a long time now. As an amateur photographer I’m fascinated by sexual photography–naked or nearly so bodies, fetish photography, the whole nine yards. I longed to be a model in one of those photos, but the voices in my head that said I’m not pretty enough or thin enough drowned that desire in a bog of self doubt. I generally hate how I look in photos, with the exception of my wedding photos (which the voices remind me was twenty-five pounds ago). But beneath all of that was a sense of inevitability.

Several months ago I was introduced to Groupon (remember, I just moved back to the US–I’d heard of it but it wasn’t as big a deal as it is now when we left in 2010). One day I was idly scrolling through offers in my area and stumbled across a discount for a boudoir photography shoot with two photos for a steep discount.

My partner turned forty last year and I turn forty next year. No matter what the voices in my head said, he has always found me beautiful.  decided to push my boundaries and do this shoot for him. Or at least I told myself it was for him.

I booked my date and because of childcare and travel issues had several months to dread and second/third/hundredth guess my decision. Initially I made up a bogus appointment to explain why he needed to take the kids one day while I went into San Francisco. I’m a terrible liar and my excuse fell apart, so I told him what was up. He was incredibly supportive and together we crafted the four looks I would shoot with.

The price of the shoot was just the beginning. I hadn’t thought about all the details.

In the months before the shoot…

I’ve had back surgery, and was told heels were off limits for me. But I wasn’t about to wear flats in a sexy shoot. I bought three pairs of heels and a pair of dominatrix boots.

I bought a new piece of lingerie.

I bought new lacy panties.

I bought a man’s white shirt as mine didn’t look so fresh, and I wanted a better fit.

Celebrate Your Sexy sent me an email to ask me questions, including how do I feel about photos of myself and what are my concerns. (Top concern–I’d hate the photos and it would wreck my fragile self esteem).

The week of the shoot….

I got my eyebrows, lower arms, under arms, and full legs waxed.

I got a pedicure and acrylic nails.

On the day of the photo shoot…

I couldn’t find one of my outfits and had to rethink an entire look. This totally freaked me out. (It was on top of my bureau so I wouldn’t lose it–which I discovered that night.)

I had my hair and makeup done.

When my stylist asked what I wanted done with my hair I said “make it look like I just had really good sex.” My straight hair was curled and teased. Since I was (mostly) going to keep my glasses on, we added fake lashes and just did some liner on my eyes. I did a blood red lip (fiery liquid lipstick from Stila–it is my go-to and the only red I’ve ever tried that didn’t look pink-y or orange-y).

All of this added up to way more than the photo shoot cost. A more secure/more cost conscious person could probably do without these extras, but this is my journey.

The experience…

I was ready about an hour before my shoot, and I sat in my car so as not to sweat my make-up off in the insane heat wave that gripped the Bay Area a few weeks ago. This gave me plenty of time to contemplate if I wanted to take anxiety medication.

I drove to the location of the photo shoot with a carry-on suitcase full of clothes/shoes/props and texted the photographer that I was downstairs.

The photographer immediately put me at ease. We talked through my outfits and shoes. She let me plug my phone in and put on a playlist (regret–should’ve had a better playlist as it wasn’t something I’d really thought about or planned for). We talked about my props and which outfit they went with, etc.

We set up my four outfits, and I changed into the first one–a sexy red dress with red heels with a matching black lace bra and panty under it. The photographer started me off on the bed, moving the lights and herself around me. She walked me through poses, and told me to tell her when something was just not okay for my back or any other reason. Some poses were indeed uncomfortable, and I gained a small appreciation for what it must take to create ads and layouts in magazines (apart from photoshop).

My second outfit was a turquoise bra and panty under a white men’s shirt and black heels. I posed with a copy of Capturing the Moment. I wished I’d brought my own laptop, but the photographer lent me hers. I’m hoping I like one of these photos so I can use it here on the site.

My third leaned hard into kink. A nightie with a vinyl/pleather breast bra top, black lacy panties, and dominatrix boots that on my five foot two/three inch frame went nearly into my vagina. I posed with a riding crop with a sparkly handle and one with a heart-shaped surface.

My fourth? Mesh with nothing under it and black heels. I should have felt self conscious or uncomfortable, but by that point I felt comfortable with the photographer, with my body, and most shockingly–with the camera.

The photos…

I’m seeing them on Friday. I wanted to write about the experience before I saw them, and then I’ll write another entry about that experience.

Final thoughts…

I had such a positive experience that I volunteered to model in a plus sized lingerie show next month. It was a safe space.

After the shoot they give you a pamphlet with next steps and it’s not until you reach that point that you learn the ridiculous per photo costs. However, this seems to be a standard thing in the world of boudoir photography. So the selection process will be brutal, or at least I hope I like enough of the photos for it to be a difficult decision.

I’d definitely recommend Celebrate Your Sexy if you go into it knowing the photos are really expensive. They shoot all over the US.

Here’s hoping that I’ll have an excellent Friday morning.

Fat Can Be Sexy

  • Originally written-July 26, 2007
  • Edited-October 20,2010

I decided to make this my first article to edit and republish from my former site because it was the most responded to post I’d ever written, and one of the pieces I felt most proud of.  I chose not to edit it such that it included experiences post 2007, as moving to Southeast Asia in April 2010 has brought about a wealth of experiences that warrant an entirely separate post.

My story begins with an incident of fat-shaming from an unlikely source…Weight Watchers.

I decided to attend a Weight Watchers meeting to get an idea of what their program was like in the summer of 2007.  I had been married for a year and was interested in starting a family.  Considering I’d had surgery on my back for a herniated disc in the fall of 2006, I was open to the idea that weight loss might make pregnancy easier on my plus-sized body and weak low back.  Certainly I’d had no success on my own, and had a strong aversion to fad diets like Atkins.  My Ob/Gyn at the time had suggested I look into Weight Watchers prior to attempting pregnancy (as it turns out, she was extremely fat phobic, although it took her saying she thought I’d never have a successful pregnancy until lost the weight…days after miscarrying my first pregnancy…for me to see that and to find a doctor who saw me as a person and not a FAT PERSON)

I walked into the Weight Watchers Center and was immediately engulfed  by negativity and self doubt–theirs and my fellow fat ladies.  Poster with various “motivational” sayings on them sent the message that “you’ll be worthwhile when you lose the pounds” and all the “victory” stories read “I was fat and no one loved me but since I lost 30 pounds everyone does.”  The weekly card you get where they weigh you and note how many pounds you’ve gained or lost felt mocking and rather like public humiliation (the kind of thing teachers occasionally do to a kid who never does their homework—“Again, Timmy?  Isn’t that the fifth assignment in a row you’ve missed?”).  I looked around at the room, and felt bile rise into my throat.  The unhappiness in that center was practicaly a palpable vortex of negativity.

Weight watchers fat-shames you into losing weight, I realized.

I turned around and walked out, not bothering to stay.  No thank you, I wouldn’t be drinking that particularly toxic flavor of kool-aid.

As I walked out the car, I felt tears well in my eyes, and I felt the old revulsion towards my body rise up like a parasite, eating away at my confidence.

  • You’d be so pretty if you just lost some weight
  • Sorry we don’t carry size 16 (18, 20, 22, 24) in this store
  • I don’t date fat chicks, but if you want to fuck….
  • You really have the hips to birth some babies
  • If you lost the weight you’d be the whole package
  • Sorry, I just don’t find you attractive…I like thin girls

After a few minutes, thankfully, the self hatred was replaced by a blazing rage.

I am sick to death of “plus-sized” women beating on themselves.  Sick of it to the point where I just want to grab the next fat girl who whines about not being able to get a date or how awful she looks and SLAP her.

In 2007, I weighed 235 pounds-a high for me.  I wore a size 22 (occasionally a 20 or a 24) pant and somewhere in the XL to 2X top.   I have been buying clothes in the “plus sized” stores since I was in middle/high school, and have spent my twenties in the 200-225 range.  I certainly have street cred as a fat chick.

I get the whole body image issue.

I understand what it’s like to be surrounded by images that reinforce that skinny is the ONLY way to achieve sexiness.  I too am horrified by the non-stop parade of faceless fat stomachs above the flashing words  “Obesity EPIDEMIC” and have a nightmare that one day it will be my shirt, my stomach, my jeans on television.  Occasionally the non-stop message that I will only be worthwhile once I lose weight does get to me, or I see a cute outfit that just isn’t available in my size (or attractive on my frame) and I have pangs of desire to lose weight.

My message to my readers (and the world)–When these messages destroy the confidence and self-worth of young women (and men) and they start to hate themselves, we’ve gone too far.

Yes, there are health issues associated with bad eating habits and extreme weight gain.  But you never hear that you can be 220 and healthy as a horse.  All that society wants us to see is the scary word EPIDEMIC (as though you can “catch”obesity ) flashing on the screen and people running in terror from the word FAT.

You can be fat and be sexy, attractive, and worthwhile.  But here’s the catch—YOU have to believe it first.  And creating that belief in the face of all that negative stereotyping is daunting.

Put down the kool-aid of self hatred and walk away from it.

The idealization of the stick figure is a new concept, and could only happen in a first world wealthy nation like the US.  The concept of anorexia and bulimia are unfathomable to your average third world citizen. (Person who doesn’t get enough to eat–“You’re telling me that they have food, but don’t eat it or throw it up?  What the fuck is that about?”)  Historically speaking-extra body mass was proof of your wealth-it mean you could eat.

When you have a bigger body, you have boobs and an ass.  Most men like that.

When I stopped hating myself and accepted the radical notion that I could be hot, the world changed for me.  When I stopped hiding my body or trying to dress like I was 100 pounds smaller (or 100 pounds larger) than I really was, I began to find looks that worked for me.  I gained confidence.  With the confidence came the effort to really maintain my hair, the ability to apply makeup, the style to accessorize, and the skill to walk in heels.  I had dates when I wanted them, lovers when I wanted them, and significant others.  I found my partner, and married.

Ironically, in many ways, my looks helped weed out the idiots of the world.  I saw my skinny friends date guys who picked them up because they were stereotypically hot, and then wasted weeks on these losers who never even noticed they had a brain or any substance beyond the hotness.  Because I never tried (or could even if I wanted to) to hide that I was “fluffy” (as one friend calls it), the more shallow guys self selected out of my potential dating pool, and I was left picking between one smart (usually) sexy (usually) guy and another.

As I began to explore the online sex world, I realized exactly how many BBW (big beautiful woman) call girls there are, and they’re making money hand over fist.  Once you see that, it’s hard to say that men don’t like big girls.  As for bigger guys-I have known very few women who would dump a guy for being fat–being clingy, being possessive, having a ridiculously small dick, being stupid, refusing to have a real job, not treating us well–all valid reasons to dump a guy.  Very few women (except those who are exceptionally shallow) will dump a guy over his weight.

In many ways, the lesson of my almost 30 years on this planet is this-you get what you expect.  Expect to get walked all over, and you will be.  Expect to be treated with dignity, and call people on it if you’re not, and you will be.  Don’t hide behind your weight.  If you don’t like it, do something about it.  If, like me, you like your chocolate and your steaks and your heavy foods and aren’t willing to go through life on rice cakes and tofu, accept and embrace yourself.  Be at peace with yourself-life’s too short to waste time on self hatred.

Learn to love yourself, just as you are.

There’s no reason you can’t be fat and sexy at the same time.