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Self Objectification and Boudoir | Sacramento Portrait Photographer

“The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.”
~~Ashley Judd in the Daily Beast

While I don’t necessarily label myself a “feminist” in the same exact way she does, and I have a hard time convincing myself there is basically a type of conspiracy against us as women, I DO agree with her main point. We are, too often, controlled by what we THINK others THINK about us. About how they judge us. About how we measure up to whatever the current standard is.  The true sin, though, is how much we INTERNALIZE this abuse and do it to ourselves.

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by a photography business coach for his website clients. Nigel was referring to my work at first as “boudoir”….I explained that, yes, while I use the term *very* loosely for marketing purposes, I involuntarily bristle at the label.  I am definitely NOT a  boudoir photographer in the general use of the term…

Now, before you say to yourself WTF?  I DID shoot “regular boudoir”.  For a reason I couldn’t put my finger on at first, I was very uncomfortable when I looked back on a session or was editing for my client.  I saw that I was shooting parts. Lips…bustlines…bums. Very little of a woman’s soul is sheltered there…. Not what I intended to do at all.

I realized what made me uncomfortable: I was giving a space for women to participate in SELF-OBJECTIFICATION.  Why was I perpetuating the notion that a woman needs to look SEXY, to feel good about herself?  Why can’t she evoke every aspect of female energy in her session?  What was I really shooting?  What did I really want to shoot?  BEAUTY. BEAUTY. BEAUTY. was the answer I received….the Universe conspired to open a new path.

I am, at my core, a healer. When I was an esthetician full time, I LOVED working on acne. Healing it. Healing self-image of the client who was riddled with doubt because of it. Living small because of her skin. Not pushing for promotions, worrying about how her boss “saw” her.  Limiting her social life based on a breakout…

My goal in healing the acne was to see her spine straighten when she walked out, the weight of her world left behind….a smile on her face.  Her eyes turned toward the future, toward dreams and aspirations, not inward to “oh, crap, I have another zit”.  I healed.  I just happened to use tools and ingredients and nutrition to do it.

I am, at my core, a healer.  My intention in every session is to heal the same internal blocks: self image, self doubt, criticism, living small. My goal is the same: her eyes turned toward her future, to her power, to her dreams….I just happen to use a camera now.

So today I ask you: Without the block of “am I _______________(pretty, smart, thin, perfect, white, dark, busty, slim, athletic) enough?” what can you do with your life to change your world?  How would you live a larger life?  What new, exciting things would you try?

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  • Blissconnection April 10, 2012  

    Great read. I loved Ashley’s points, too, but also did not 100% identify with her entire rebuttal. But, I do love the notion that women STOP comparing and competing with other women. Huge waste of energy there.

    I am SMART enough and STRONG enough to do ANYTHING I ever want to do and that is all that matters to me.

  • Tracey April 10, 2012  

    J–your words are perfectly articulated. To see your heart behind your passion makes me smile and shout a resounding “YES!”. 

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