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Boudoir Photography, a Safe Sexual Expression for Women of Color

Boudoir Photography, a Safe Sexual Expression for Women of Color

Have you ever thought about doing a boudoir photoshoot? If you’re not sure what a boudoir photoshoot is, it usually involves, lingerie or sexy outfits, and photos taken in an intimate setting.

Boudoir is a French word that refers to a women’s private sitting room or bedroom. This type of photography requires its subjects to share a more vulnerable side of themselves. A simple Google search will show photos of many gorgeous women of a similar size, shape, and skin tone. This can leave women of color or women with more curves wondering if this type of experience is suited for them.

Yet the leading photographer in this genre Albert Arthur Allen started photographing larger women in the 1920s. He’s quoted as saying “To see womankind entirely nude would place all women on equality,” Allen had said.

Boudoir photography is intimate, sensual, and empowering, and can be super impactful for women of color. It fosters positive body image, changes the narrative of women’s sexuality, and practices self-love.

Learn to feel safe and confident in your body

Women have endured centuries of shame around their bodies. Layra Marte, a Boudoir Photographer based in NYC, speaks about this matter.

“For centuries, there’s been a perception/belief that it’s shameful to embrace our sexuality. Being taught that our bodies are a means for procreation. What will people think? That’s the narrative that keeps on repeating,” shares Marte.

Piled onto the shame of sexuality, female bodies have become a catcher’s net to the daily stresses including racism and trauma. When a traumatic experience occurs, the nervous system becomes overloaded. This can prevent the body from processing the event. So whatever sensations were felt in that traumatic or stressful movement either get released or stored in the body.

Releasing what may feel like a mountain of shame can take time, movement, self-compassion, and even therapy. But some of that healing can happen behind the camera lens.

When you pose in front of the camera, put on a sexy outfit you’re reminding yourself that your body is a safe space. Whether it’s the lace from a lingerie set or the softness of the sheets you pose on, you’re telling your body that it’s allowed to feel good.

Posing can also be intentional movement. According to Mind-Body Therapist Kelly Vincent, PsyD, this type of movement helps the body recognize the difference between tension and relaxation. Allowing the body to release stored energy.

“POCs experiencing boudoir is a way to shift that conversation and normalize that it’s okay to wear that sexy tank top. It’s the reason I chose this genre, to shift my shame, my narrative about my body in every stage of my life,” shares Marte.

Foster positive body image

The great thing about boudoir shoots is that it fosters a positive body image by putting you in control. You can choose a location such as your bedroom or a photo studio. You choose what to wear. Yes, it’s common to wear lingerie but you don’t have to. You can wear anything that you feel sexy in.

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This could be an oversized t-shirt, some short shorts, a summer dress, or anything else that exudes the beautiful curves and lines of your body. The best part is that the photographer will shoot you at all the right angles. So, when you look at your finished photos, you’ll be able to see how beautiful your hips are. You’ll notice the symmetry of your shoulders, the subtle arch in your back. Your body is shown in a new light. It’s a reminder to appreciate the parts of your body that society has taught you to hate.

Photo by Thiago Rebouças on Unsplash

Practice self-love

Go ahead and add a boudoir photoshoot to your self-love practice.

As Marte describes, it’s “pushing the boundaries that the world imposed on you, a way to give yourself a couple of hours to make it all about you.”

Like a mani/pedi and your monthly hair appointment, the boudoir is another opportunity to have some me-time. As Marte elegantly stated about her clients, “Taking time for themselves not only serves them but it serves the world too.”

At the core of self-love is self-acceptance. Modeling or posing in an intimate setting allows you to accept your body and accept who you are.

Take control of the hyper-sexualized narrative
The perpetuation of women of color in the media has played a role in hyper-sexualization.

There are countless scenes where women of color play submissive or provocative roles. Turning them into sex objects.

Boudoir photoshoots allow you to be in control of your sex appeal and your sexuality. Choosing to display your beauty in a way that is elegant and sacred. It allows you to be sexy in a safe place. A place where you are not harassed or looked down upon

Black women have always been these vixens, these animalistic erotic women. Why can’t we just be the sexy American girl next door?” – Tyra Banks

The magical part of this experience is that the self-confidence doesn’t stop after the photoshoot. Marte shares that when her clients finally let loose and tap into the person they’ve never allowed themselves to be, they own the room. Then they continue to own the week. “I had a client call me a week after their shoot to tell me that they wore heels all week because they felt so sexy after the shoot,” shares Marte.

More and more women are breaking out of the molds that misogyny has put them in. Hopefully, you’re convinced to buy some new stilettos and throw on your favorite shade of lipstick. Yet what is most important is that as a woman of color, you know that your body is your own. It is a temple of beauty, wisdom, and love.

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