THE BODY AS A VESSEL | MILWAUKEE BOUDOIR PHOTOGRAPHY
December 14th, 2016
I really can't explain the high I felt after shooting this session. It came at a time when I needed peace in my life, and for some reason, documenting others is when I feel most at ease. We added another beautiful boy to our family this year, and while he has been such a huge blessing in our lives, I completely underestimated what going from one child to two would really be like. It was not only a major adjustment for our oldest, but it was also a major adjustment for our marriage. There is marriage. And there is marriage with kids. On top of that, my parents sold our childhood home. So while our safe haven, a home we have known for 25 years, was now a place we were no longer welcome... Well, yeah, that stung a little. But the hardest part has been watching two people I love dearly go through struggles I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy - and not be able to do anything about it. While being empathetic is certainly a blessing, it's also a curse I have become all too familiar with. I've had an incredibly hard time separating my world from theirs. So then it becomes ironic that I am thanked by these incredible ladies for helping them find peace within themselves, because that's exactly what they are doing for me.
I'm honestly still discovering what this project means. I just know there is something there, and it's been therapeutic for me in ways I cannot explain. I've never been great at expressing how I feel verbally, so in some respect I feel like these beautiful souls are helping me to do so in another way perhaps. Either way, I'm excited to share with you portraits of women I admire. My hope is that I can use this platform as a way for you to meet people you never would have otherwise. Because there's beauty in every single one of us. Especially when we take the time to listen.
Be sure to read her interview at the end of this post. She has been a voice for us during a time when we need it most, and I love her for that!
Describe your personality in three words.:
Determined. Strategic. Confident.
Describe how YOU see your body in three words.:
Strong. Complex. Vessel.
Describe a time you felt like your gender put you at a disadvantage.:
Since I was a precocious little girl, I've been strong. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have family that praised me for non-physical attributes: my intelligence, my creativity, my bravery, etc. So I've been a little feminist since forever whether it was by their intentional design or simply my innate person; there was never a doubt in my mind that I was good enough or smart enough or worthy enough. As I aged, however, I realized that the rest world didn't really see it like that. The doubt and the fear crept in slowly – value statements about my physical appearance, internalizing societal biases about women – and it all began to add up. I was really insecure in high school and college. I remember thinking that some of those value statements were actually advantages at a point... until they weren't. Being valued differently because you're female is a terrible thing for the soul. It wasn't until maybe 6-8 years ago that I really began to get comfortable with who I was as a human first and a woman second. (I'm still working on it.)
What is something most people don't know about you.:
Despite being friendly, talkative, and outgoing, I'm definitely an introvert.
What is a struggle that you think women are faced with daily?:
I think sexism is so incredibly systemic in our society and is often glossed over as simply the norm. Girls and women have so much to offer the world and society, yet oftentimes we're marginalized, our contributions limited by design and our goals, hopes, and dreams compromised by us being painted by gender first and humanity second. It breaks my heart. Everyday challenges are everywhere and while they're constant, women have been conditioned to accept them as the status quo. I think it's important to look at these things critically... for example, do women ever ask men they don't know to smile while walking down the street? Additional examples include things like being interrupted in conversation, being objectified by strangers or even those we love, and the internalized pressure to be or look a certain way based on popular culture's "ideal."
(Fighting engrained sexism is easily the cause I'm most passionate about in life; I'm an ardent feminist and I'm very proud of it.)
What is your biggest fear as a female?:
... that we won't ever be taken as seriously as our male counterparts.
... that our collective worth will always be based on appearance and age, not our intelligence or our kindness or our strength or our empathy or any of that – given that we're the weaker sex physically, we'll never escape objectification and repression.
... that our ideas, our contributions, and our achievements will always be second-rate in the eyes of society at large.
There's a lot of work to do. While recent political events have me anxious, nervous, and downright depressed for the future of women's rights, I can only control my immediate actions and environment by being the best, most thoughtful feminist I can be. I plan to take action with calls, letters, donations to women's causes, and volunteer hours, and I can educate and help galvanize other women to advocate for themselves.
What is an attribute about yourself you are most proud of? :
Over the years, I've become quite confident... some might even say brave. I think it really helps things in terms of navigating the world as a female. I don't second guess myself as much as I used to. I don't worry too much about what people think. I wasn't always confident, however... it used to be quite the opposite. It took a lot of work to fight against those deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that all of those social norms invited in. (They're still there, of course, but they don't run the show like they used to.)
What enticed you to do this shoot?:
I, like many other women, have struggled with my body image for a long time. I'm still not comfortable with my body – I oftentimes have to really fight those ingrained feelings of inadequacy or shame for not being tall enough, or thin enough, beautiful enough, or "whatever" enough. I thought that working with Megan on an unBOUDOIR session might push me a bit... and though I didn't really know how it would make me feel, I thought it might be something worth doing to try and continue along my own path to self-acceptance and self-love.
What was the hardest part about being photographed?:
Working with Megan was easily the least self-conscious I've felt being photographed, which really says something, because 1.) I am normally a weird robotic hot mess when being photographed (i.e., "WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY HANDS?" and "WHAT KIND OF FACE SHOULD I MAKE?") and 2.) it was a more physically baring shoot than I'd ever done before. I think that was maybe the hardest part at first, but I got over that quick, because Megan is so natural and easy to work with. Her personality really put me at ease; the energy and excitement she radiates while creating her art is so genuine, too.
How did you feel after the shoot was done?:
So so good. Seriously, some sort of high. Even though I'm not the artist, I really felt a part of the process, which felt great and was also really fulfilling. It was like my personality and my ideas helped shape the shoot, even though Megan's talent with the camera is how the real magic happens. I felt beautiful, and sort of liberated. Definitely wroth experiencing.
What do you think of when you hear the word "boudoir"?:
I think of fishnets and garter belts and unnatural "sexy" poses and women trying to be something they think they should be when they should really be themselves.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about doing an unBOUDOIR session, but hasn't yet decided?:
Do it, do it, do it. You may be nervous, but you'll be so glad you took the leap of faith. This is absolutely feminist portraiture at its best. It's about being yourself – sexy doesn't necessarily mean naked. Wear what you want to wear. Be where you want to be. Work with Megan to showcase who you are... she'll definitely capture it. unBOUDOIR is portraiture that captures women without societal equivocation, without all that construct. It's genuine, it's honest, and it's sexy because it's real.