There is a rash on women racing to get a session where they strip down to almost nothing. Often in a milk bath. They call them "Boudoir" sessions.
Three words come to mind.
Now, before you get all huffy, and want to cram women's rights and the word "empowerment" down my throat. Refrain. Let me 'splain.......I am a feminist. I believe in closing the gap, and freeing the nipple. #vaginapower
But....I am not sure where this weird trend originated from. My assumption is that it was the brilliant idea of someone, who had beautiful intention for beautiful (tasteful) images of a woman. Perhaps it was for self-esteem reasons? Or maybe I am delusional, and it was some dude trying to make a quick buck. Whatever it was, I think that it has morphed into something totally weird.
Double standard. If you see a lady sprawled across the hood of a car on the cover of a Tattoo mag, she is trash. But, oddly enough if you see a photographer offer this as a "Boudoir" session where she is doing the EXACT same thing, on a bed in a 5 Star Hotel....BAM! All of a sudden it's okay.
I keep seeing it all over my feed. A woman, sitting on a chair, it's backlit. Usually in black and white. Her legs spread wide open, or her back is arched all funky. She looks sad. A few things hit me.
1. Are those thigh highs?
2. Where do you buy thigh highs? *goes to Amazon, oh they are on Amazon*
3. The lighting is nice.
4. Oh shit, I suck. Maybe I need to be more open minded.
5. No. But, fuck, But what If I did this? Would my husband love me more?
6. I guess it's *sort of* cool?
7. QUICK CLOSE THIS MY KID IS COMING! I don't want her to see this image of a lady.
And there it is. #7
Ugh. The last time I felt beautiful was when my child told me. I was in cut offs and a t-shirt. I was holding my littlest daughter and my oldest said that I looked like a flower. I died.
Ladies, I feel you. I feel gross all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME. I don't look in mirrors. My job is amazing becuase I get to photograph beauties all day. I deflect that insecurity that I feel, onto making others feel better. I am great at it! I can make anyone feel what I see. Gorgeous. Strong. Happy. Bright.
So then I get to thinking....am I missing the entire point of the Boudoir craze? Do I just not get it? Maybe I need it? Am I being annoying and stubborn?
Nag. Nag. Nag.....I am a photographer. I SHOULD do this....you know. "For the money." The pictures would be pretty, becuase I take pretty pictures.
It's 2016. Women's rights have gone bonkers. Two steps forward one step back. IMO, if we want to move forward, we need to change the imagery that our daughters and THEIR daughters see. We need to show our boys that beauty doesn't mean, naked. Why can't it be "empowering" and sexy to be a mother? Or, a fisher-woman? Be a Service Woman in fatigues? Teach yoga? Work nights at a grocery store? Why, WHY do we have to put on lace square that covers a quarter of our breasts, and arch our backs in some hotel room with a pound of makeup on? It's not graceful. It's a damn trap. A lucrative one, but still a trap.
Welcome to the Flipside, with your Hostess, Blaire:
I can hear it now....what some are thinking. "She doesn't understand. This is EMPOWERING women to EMBRACE their bodies."
I HEAR YOU. But raise you a question. If a lady is sprawled out, on a bed. In basically nothing. Where does the mind go? Not to how wonderful she is. Not that perhaps she can train dogs like a wizard, hoist 30 bales of hay, or that she can speak 14 languages. Maybe she has just competed a thesis and is now a PhD.
No. You go to "man she is HOT, I'd like to..." And once again she is meat. #nothanks
I'd like to hear from a psychologist on this issue. An expert. Please, explain to me how that promotes healthy body image! And someone also explain to me how it's responsible for a photographer to promote this as anything other than what it is. Degrading. It clearly proves that media has won. And that women need to lay on a bed to be noticed. It's sad. It's gross and it's wrong.
There is NOTHING wrong with a lady (or man) wanting to have photographs taken for empowerment and celebratory reasons. Have you lost a ton of weight? YAY! Let's celebrate that. Have you just overcome an eating disorder, and put on healthy weight? YAY! Let's celebrate that. Have you just busted your tooshie for a fitness competition, and want to show how strong you are? BOOM GET IT. Are you fresh out of Medical School and want to celebrate that!? YAAAAAAS! I don't care what it is that empowers you, but please let it be for something that makes your soul shine.
But my question is (and always has been) why do we as women, (in order to feel sexy) been baited into stripping down for basically a complete stranger? You will PAY this person. WHAT? We keep falling for it!
Have you EVER seen a man do this kind of thing?
No you have not. And probably won't. Because men are not told by the mainstream media that they have to do that in order to be loved or valued. Empowerment for me is so much more than facing a fear. I 100% get that some fear is based around body image and how that puts a damper on our lives. The problem is, that we keep focusing on body issues and then we accept the "remedy" to that issue is to strip down, smile and say we are accepting of it. Are we? Now there you are. Basically naked on film forever. Now what? So then it circles back. The high of the photos wear off....and you feel deflated. You start to judge yourself. And feel awful. This is exactly WHY we have issues. If it wasn't made into a money making big deal, it wouldn't be.
For example: No one cares about eating a banana, becuase it's eating a banana and it's a nonissue.
But becuase everyone is talking about body issues, the "empowerment" train is at capacity. It's full of "boudoir photographers" claiming to care about you, want to empower you. Do they? To be fair, I bet some do. They have good intentions. But most don't care about the psychological after effect that this type of work could have on a girl. They take your check, and move onto the next.
This empowerment to judgement, is a vicious cycle. It's 9th circle of hell.
I have been told, that in order to make my work more noticed, I need to get provocative with my imagery. Meaning, I need to show more skin on my feed.
Can I get a big neon.......
I try to stay away from the hypocrite in me. We ALL are one at some point or another. This has nothing to do with morals or values. It has to do with it being super annoying that in 2016 women are still being objectified.
Back to #7..........
I do swear. A lot. But what I don't do is have anything on my blog/feed that I wouldn't show my daughters. And that is how I will keep it.
In my vocal, but humble opinion this type of imagery is a lie. It's just a money making scam "dipped in the empowerment cool aid" and it does more harm than good for not only grown women, but the girls we are raising. Nothing against those who choose this type of work, but I sure wish it would stop. I know, sex sells. But not at the expense of the beauty that is a woman. That has been exploited for millennia.
We as photographers and artists have the power to change the standard of media, through demanding something different with visual photography and cinematography. I would love my girls to someday see a strong woman, who is not basically naked selling work out gear. My kid sees an image of a naked woman, sprawled out on ice selling Vodka, and doesn't think twice about it. How is that empowering? My oldest daughter takes for granted that we have a woman running for the Presidency. But I know the significance of this. Things are changing. But we have to be responsible, and keep the momentum going. We have to speak up. Say no. This is unacceptable.
I want brains over boobs. I want smarts over sex. I want THAT to be what men and media to seek out as ultimately attractive. Not some weird photo-shopped version of the amazing and real woman they fall in love with. The women who carry their children in their bodies. Those harmful "empowering" boudoir images.... that (trust me) after a while, will make her feel terrible. Because, at some point she will look at them and judge herself harshly. And this shitty backwards thinking cycle, will continue.
You can disagree with me. Go head, unleash the mean comments. That is your choice, but I would task yourself with this one question.
"Do I want better, for my daughters?" For me, the answer is emphatically. YES.
I am still seeking one more person for my #FUCKITIMFIERCE project. A honest empowerment session to feed your soul. We shoot November 2016.
Please DM or email me #imagesbyblairecatherine firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you are into this sort of thing....you may want to catch this movie in your Area this fall.