I, like most women, have been taught from a very young age about how I should feel and view my body. From a young age we are taught to smile, look pretty, and be agreeable. We are told to watch our tone and how we dress. We are taught to pick ourselves apart and question whether we are good enough to live up to societies definition of beautiful. We are taught shame.
Tina Fey nailed it when she said “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”
Growing up, my body was always a source of shame. I spent my youth as a multiracial girl in the south. I was shamed for having a black father, or a white mother. Then came puberty and with it an entirely new set of expectations were placed on me. My tiny frame was replaced by full thighs and I shot up in height. I was larger than everybody else and the thick plastic glasses and frizzy hair were not helping my cause.
I spent my younger years being the object of bullying, only to become an adult and have my body be an object up for discussion. An entirely new set of rules of womanhood have been placed upon me. Society demands my hip to waist ratio be on point, complete with flawless skin and perfect hair. While we get older it seems as though the demands upon us are transformed, with one thing remaining consistent; a sense of shame and expectation underlies everything.
With all of the pressures placed on us, it’s so easy to give in to the demands. I know that I am not alone when I say that far too much time has been spent in front of a mirror picking myself apart. But as I continue to shoot boudoir and get in front of the camera myself, I notice that it happens less and less. I’m not saying that I don’t criticize my body, but I no longer feel shame for existing as I am. I no longer hate my body, because flawed as it may be, it has carried me through so much in life.
The decision to share my boudoir images was not an easy one. It scares the hell out of me. But I cannot begin to express how empowering it is to be who I am and be proud of feeling strong, sexy, and free.
The more I share, the more I feel those shackles of shame falling away. I can exist as I am without fear of how others view me, because the only opinion that truly matters is my own. I don’t share my images to fuel my ego. I share my images with hope that more and more people see that they deserve to feel beautiful even if they don’t fit every check mark that society requires of us. Being beautiful is a decision that YOU make. Don’t let society define that for you.