In our last blog post I briefly mentioned a topic that I said was so big it would need its own post. This is that post. It’s not really about boudoir photography. But it kind of is.
The other day I went shopping in downtown Boston with my 13 year old daughter and her friend. We were in a large clothing store and had split up to shop- the only reason my presence was needed was for my wallet anyway. I found a few things I wanted to try on and went to one of several large dressing room areas in the store.
While I was trying on the clothing I heard a group of about 4 or 5 girls in their late teens or early twenties arrive. They never arrive quietly. One of them was not trying anything on and offered herself as an experienced fashion advisor to her friends. Great so far, right? A group of girlfriends out shopping together for the day and offering support. It’s almost heartwarming.
It went downhill very quickly from there. Almost in turn each girl started piping up about her physical faults. One girl’s butt was apparently gargantuan. Another’s thighs were thunderous. They all commiserated about the amount of cellulite covering the lower half of their bodies. While I was there not one of those girls had a positive thing to say about themselves or how the clothing fit them.
They were supportive of each other and that’s a great thing. But why couldn’t they be supportive of themselves? And why does it have to start so early? Honestly, these girls could have been my daughter’s age (or younger) and it would have sounded much the same. I actually started to tear up a little listening to them. Partly for them, partly for the fact that I was hearing many of the same thoughts in my head, and partly at the thought of my daughter and her friend probably engaging in a similar conversation somewhere in the store.
When our daughter was about four we were shopping and she picked out a sparkly silver belt. When we got home and she wanted to wear it there was only one skirt with belt loops that was clean. It wasn’t what she wanted to wear but she put it on anyway. A little while later I found her weeping in a corner and asked what was wrong. She said,”I don’t like the way I look.” She was four and she was crying because she didn’t like the way the skirt fit her tiny, perfect, four year old body. It was like a shotgun blast to my heart. I hadn’t expected this. I knew it would come. It was inevitable. But at four?
As I left the dressing room, I got a look at several of the girls I had overheard talking. They were gorgeous, healthy young women. Probably even the coveted, popular girls in school. And yet there they were belittling themselves publicly, in front of their friends. Why?
Not only are women actually held to unrealistic standards of beauty, but even when we live up to those standards we aren’t allowed to admit it. Certainly not out loud. We can not say we love our thighs. Even if we do. We can’t say we are thankful for our flat stomachs. No matter how flat they are. We are not only expected to live up to the standards but we are expected to publicly own our failings. And even when we do live up to the standards we are not allowed to acknowledge this fact.
We must always proclaim our inadequacies. We have been trained to do this. If we don’t do it we are conceited. Full of ourselves. Bitches.
We need to get past this. We need to support each other, but more importantly we need to support ourselves.We keep being told that we should love our bodies but the message is still mixed. Be comfortable in your skin but acknowledge that you love it in spite of its catalog of flaws.
I say we need to love our bodies. Period. And part of that is accepting our perfection as much as accepting our flaws. If a boudoir photography session can help you do that, great! I think it can.