In this episode, I am going to get a little vulnerable with you and talk about my experience with boudoir photography. I, like you, had the wrong idea about what it was and who it was actually for. Through my experience, and the experience of some of my clients, I have found that boudoir photography is less about your husband, and more about you! Once you listen to this episode, maybe your perceptions will change as well.
This episode is a little bit vulnerable for me. I never thought I would actually talk about this on my podcast. And so openly. I don’t usually share much of my own experience here on the podcast, I share more about clients, but I felt this was an important topic to talk on. So I decided to open up and share with you a little bit more about that.
A little backstory: when I was 10 years old, my younger brother, who was three at the time, drowned on a family vacation to Lake Powell in Southern Utah. This was pretty traumatic for me and for my family. And back in those days, therapy had way bigger stigma than it does now. So while I wholeheartedly believe that my family should have been in therapy, none of us were.
I experienced a lot of trauma around my brother’s death and my body basically started to shut down.
Before then, I had been pretty active. I played soccer and danced and because of what had happened with my brother, my body just really didn’t do well. I started getting migraines and insomnia. I caught every cold and flu that went around. I had strep throat and tonsillitis for about two and a half years straight.
I’d go on antibiotics and I’d finish them. And then the next day I’d wake up with a sore throat again. So when I was about 13, my doctor and my parents were trying to get me healthy enough to take my tonsils out. And we figured out that I had mononucleosis. Now that was the summer before eighth grade. And I continued to struggle with my health all through high school and into college.
And in my freshman year of college, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. So because of all of the illness, I had had to stop playing soccer. I had to stop dancing. I wasn’t even allowed to do a PE class. And so I really, really struggled with my relationship to my body because of all of these years of illness.
And then on top of that when I got married, I struggled with my body because of sex. So I had no pleasure and no orgasm for more than 10 years into my first marriage. All of this just made my relationship with my body even worse. I felt like my body had betrayed me and was broken and I was just a tool for someone else’s gratification.
In my first marriage, I experienced many, many years of emotional abuse that all surrounded my body. I was constantly criticized for my weight, my size, how much I ate, how much I exercised. So for years, my weight yo-yoed, and each time I would use it as evidence of my value. My worth. And this continued to damage my relationship with myself and my body.
When I began working on developing my sexuality, healing my relationship to my body didn’t even seem possible. How could I ever see myself and my body differently?
After my divorce, I met my husband, Kevin, and I told him about my health, the emotional abuse that I’d gone through in my marriage, and how much I struggled with my body image.
And he was so kind, he assured me of how beautiful I was and that I didn’t need to be a certain weight or size for him to be attracted. And you know, funny enough, I was probably the heaviest I had ever been when we met, but he assured me that he found me beautiful and sexy, but I did not see myself that way.
While we were engaged I became friends with a photographer that did boudoir photography. She talked to me about how empowering it was for women. That it really wasn’t about sex, but about seeing yourself in a new way. And that every woman, no matter the weight or the size was beautiful and sexy. And so I decided to be really brave and give it a try a few months before Kevin and I got it.
I was really nervous. I struggled with the feeling that maybe I was doing something wrong because who takes photos of themselves in lingerie? I really had this belief that only nasty women did that kind of thing. But I kept reminding myself that this wasn’t about sex or showing myself off to the world. It was about me and healing my relationship to myself and my body. To see myself as beautiful and sexy and worth loving.
The experience was amazing. I chose to get my hair and my makeup done as part of the shoot. The photographer was awesome and kept me comfortable the entire time. And I felt so beautiful and sexy as it was happening, even though I was really nervous.
But when I got the photos back, I was amazed. Of course I was nitpicky and saw all of my flaws, but I really worked to overcome those and see the actual beauty that was there. I was beautiful. I was sexy and my body was too. Even if it didn’t look like what the media told me was sexy.
I gave these photos as a wedding present to my new husband. Of course he loved them, but they weren’t really, for him. They were for me.
Just like we have relationships with other people, we also have a relationship to ourselves and to our body. How we talk to ourselves, how we think about ourselves, how we feel about ourselves is that relationship. So many women that I work with do not have a good relationship with themselves or their bodies because of the way that they think about themselves and the way that they talk to themselves.
Now, maybe it’s from weight issues, like much of mine were. Maybe it’s from infertility. Maybe it’s from years of lack of pleasure or orgasm. So many women feel like they’re broken. Feel like they are too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too something. And that they’re not sexy instead of just loving and accepting their bodies as they are.
They put conditions on loving themselves. If I was this way, then I could love myself and my body. Now I heard this analogy one time and I thought it was really applicable. As women, we think that we are supposed to be a certain way, look a certain way to be sexy, right? Or to be normal or to be loved or to be beautiful or to be accepted.
And the analogy was about dogs. Dogs come in all sizes, all shapes, different things. And we love dogs for who they are. We don’t expect them to be different. We don’t look at an English bulldog and go, oh, you should look like a Chihuahua. No, we don’t do that. We just accept them as how they were created to be in all different shapes and sizes.
But we don’t do that with ourselves. Not all of us were meant to be a size two. Not all of us were meant to be a size 12 or 16 or 20 or whatever it is. We were all made to be different and beautiful and sexy just as we are.
Loving yourself and your body is a choice, you can choose how you want to think about yourself and your body. This is one of the most amazing transformations I watch women have in my program.
Watching how their relationship with themselves changes as they become aware of how they are currently thinking about themselves and talking to themselves and what those thoughts create in their lives and then actively working to change it.
It’s also one of my favorite parts of my retreats. As part of my retreat, I bring in female photographers, hair and makeup professionals and offer the option of boudoir photography. Now at my first retreat, this past February, it was so interesting to watch the different personalities and approaches each woman took about their photo shoots.
Some weren’t comfortable and just wanted to do a fun and flirty shoot fully clothed.
Others didn’t think they wanted boudoir, but when they saw other women doing it, they decided to be brave.
Some women wanted complete privacy between them and the photographer.
Others wanted support and had whole groups go in or one other person as they ventured into this new territory.
But the difference between the woman who walked into the photoshoot and the woman who came out was noticeable to all that were there.Each one, no matter how timid they had been when they went in, came out smiling, happy and confident.
When they saw the proof that no matter how they thought about themselves before they were beautiful and sexy. It was amazing!
Seeing themselves from a different perspective, the way maybe their husband sees them or others see them, they could see it with the image. I love watching that transformation.
Boudoir photography can totally be sexual, but it’s more about you and your relationship with yourself, your body, and your sexuality.
It can be for your husband, but it’s mostly for you. I have never met a woman who has done one that it hasn’t changed their life and changed their experience and who hasn’t absolutely loved it.
I’d love for you to come to one of my upcoming retreats. I have one coming up in Bear Lake, Utah, October 7th through 10th, so that you can experience a boudoir shoot as part of the retreat.
And of course, if you find that you are struggling with not feeling sexy, feeling broken, struggling with body image or confidence, I would invite you to come into my Embrace Your! Group Coaching program, where I can work with you so that you can become the confident, sexy, amazing woman you were created to be.