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Valerie Sarron. Photo Courtesy of VS Photography

The Art Of Nakedness: Stripping Away Body-Image Issues With Boudoir Photography

Culture

After conducting my first ever boudoir photography shoot, I knew I had discovered a medium I was truly passionate about. Boudoir allows women to step outside of their comfort zones through self-expression and embrace their unique beauty.


When I picked up my camera a few years ago, I sought out to explore the art of emotive portraiture. I wanted to tell women's stories through photography while at the same time providing them with an unforgettable experience. I'll never forget my first client because our session was full of laughter, self-discovery, and a feeling of empowerment. Since then, I knew I wanted to spread the message of self-love and encourage women everywhere to feel confident and radiant in their own skin.

That initial experience with boudoir led me to develop my portfolio, set up a studio space, spread the message of self-love, and launch VS Photography. VS Photography is a beauty and boudoir studio based in Boston. Whether commemorating a wedding, an anniversary, or a special milestone in your life, an intimate portrait shoot is the perfect way to celebrate yourself and create a memory that will last forever.

Boudoir Photography For Women

Boudoir photography is a rising movement, as it enables women of all backgrounds and body types to embrace their unique figure and feel confident in their own skin, let their guard down, and capture a moment in their lives that they can remember forever.

Portrait photography is art through storytelling. Every image captures an individual at a specific place in time and is a testament to the subject's experience in that moment. A more intimate interpretation of traditional portrait photography, boudoir photography celebrates the art of being a woman through honoring the different stages of her life. More than a trend and more than just pictures of women in lingerie, boudoir is an uplifting, empowering experience.

An Empowering Experience

Why is boudoir empowering for women? It's a medium that confronts the issue of body image in relation to beauty head on.

Unsurprisingly, body image issues affect a large pool of women. The kind of imagery that surrounds women each day--whether it be through various media channels, social networks, or pop culture and its references--can make us question our own beauty and self-worth. Comparing ourselves to others or wishing to change our bodies in order to live up to impossible beauty standards does not lead to happiness. Rather, this kind of negative thinking discourages self-love.

A healthy relationship with our bodies comes from accepting and loving all of our imperfections. Imperfections, after all, are beautiful. As a photographer, and more importantly, as a woman, I aim to conquer insecurity and self-esteem issues through art. That's precisely why boudoir photography has the power to uplift. It's more than a photo-shoot, it's an experience.

The most rewarding part of being a boudoir photographer is the opportunity to reverse body issue rhetoric and encourage women to feel confident, sexy, and comfortable in their own skin. Whether the women who walk through my doors are shy, nervous, or believe they're not ready or in the ideal shape to pull off a boudoir photography shoot, I'm there to reassure them that the present moment is the perfect time to embrace their beauty in a bold way.

Therefore boudoir photography isn't empowering simply because it requires someone to step outside of their comfort zone and in front of the camera--in lingerie no less! It's an empowering experience because of the journey required to reach a place a self-love and body positivity.

Body Positive Media

Because boudoir photography is all about empowerment and self-confidence, it challenges the stigma of traditional media's portrayal of women, women in lingerie, and yes, female nudity.

Advertisements and popular media outlets contribute to the superficial standards of what women should or should not look like through imagery that objectifies the individual. Overly photoshopped imagery, a lack of body diversity, and highly sexualized advertising campaigns are all key factors here. Therefore, it's easy to feel discouraged or misrepresented by the media.

How do we challenge such objectification? We embrace body-positive media. And I see boudoir photography as an extension of the movement.

I aim to support body-positive media through boudoir photography in a number of ways. First, though I edit my photos for consistency and style, I don't alter my client's body shape. Flattering angles and lighting? Yes. But photoshopping my client into something they're not? That practice goes against what I preach, which is to embrace what makes you uniquely beautiful.

Second, I encourage my clients to give boudoir photography a try no matter what stage of life they currently find themselves in. Brides-to-be, mothers, those commemorating a milestone event, or those who simply want to celebrate themselves for no reason at all are welcome.

Third, I also similarly encourage my clients to give boudoir photography a try no matter what stage their body is in physically. So many clients tell me how much they would love to do a session, but that they have to wait until they lose weight, get in shape, gain more confidence, etc. I want my clients (and women everywhere) to see themselves as beautiful in the present moment.

Wishing we looked a certain way or striving to live up to some unattainable ideal won't lead to happiness. We should love and respect all the parts of ourselves at all times in order to truly be happy.

This is precisely why I'm pleased to see that body-positive media is starting to become more and more relevant. Laws against photoshopping models in advertising campaigns, a call for more diversity in the fashion world, influencers posting more authentic versions of themselves onto popular social network channels, body-positive communities, and yes boudoir photography, are all significant strides towards more authentic media. As women of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes see themselves more prevalently featured in the media, the more we inch closer towards a more all-inclusive media experience.

Self-Expression And The Individual

Women's empowerment in relation to the image projected of women in the media has always been a highly publicized and deeply discussed topic. Of course, self-empowerment is a very personal experience and everyone interprets its definition according to their own standards and beliefs. Some women feel empowered through keeping certain parts of themselves private, while others feel liberated through self-expression. There's no wrong choice! Moreover, women should support other women and their own choices--different as they may be--on this matter.

Therefore, a boudoir photography session isn't necessarily for everyone--we as women are of course empowered by different things. But, for a lot of women, boudoir photography is certainly one way to embrace body confidence, inner-beauty, sexuality, and uniquely defined femininity. Boudoir photography is a choice. It's an experience women decide to do completely by and for themselves. The resulting images are a token of that experience and can be shared with the world to spread the word of body-confidence, or kept as part of a private experience.

Boudoir Best Practices

For women interested in trying boudoir for the first time, there are some best practices to keep in mind. First, be confident. Of course, this is easier said than done. Confidence comes from within, and more important, it comes from a place of self-love. Embrace all of the unique qualities that make you, you. Second, let go of your insecurities. Ignore negative self-talk and accept the fact that you are perfectly beautiful as you are now. Third, have fun! Yes, I'm stating the obvious here, but boudoir is all about pampering yourself and indulging in an experience that celebrates who you are--enjoy it.

As a boudoir photographer, I'm not only there to capture your true beauty on camera, I'm there to take the journey of self-discovery, body confidence, and realizing inner-beauty with you.

4 min read
Health

Tropism, Mindfulness, and Responding to Your Environment

One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.

If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.

In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?

For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.

Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.

Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.

I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.

Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.

Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.