Body Image: Not Always Sexy…


I’m not sure if I have fully expressed to you, my wonderful readers, what this photo shoot process is about for me on a personal level…As most of you know, I experienced sexual abuse from a very young age…it lasted for quite some time, until I found my voice and the courage to stand up for myself…I am actually grateful for the woman I became and the challenges I faced…because of those experiences…I am able to draw boundaries, stand up for myself and have deep compassion for and connection with women and men who are or have had similar experiences.

The upside is that I am an empowered woman who has managed to transform herself from a victim to a “sex goddess”. The down side is that, possibly as a result of those experiences combined with the images society shoves down our throats….I have often in my life, especially in my teen years, struggled with body images issues…I even had an eating disorder for a few years…while attending highschool, where the pressure and judgments were so thick I felt like I could hardly breathe…

As I grew and matured, I overcame many of my related challenges…I feel sexy in my own way most days, I have an extremely active and healthy sex life, I love my body and appreciate my unique beauty….just as I feel every woman should…I truly feel perfect despite and in fact because of…my imperfections…

The interesting thing is that, my adopted dad….the same one who abused me throughout my childhood…was a professional photographer…He took literally thousands and thousands of pictures of me. In fact, photos from my childhood were featured in numerous galleries and large sets of prints were sold to unknown people…what was sad for me is that, being photographed by my dad such an honour and was so much fun…after everyone found out what he was doing to me…somehow it turned the whole photo thing into something it was not…it became somehow shameful and his motivation was questioned due to his unacceptable behaviour.

However, regardless of the negativity placed onto an aspect of my childhood I actually quite enjoyed…having my picture taken…when I was 16, I entered a modelling contest…upon arriving, I was greeted by a group of trained models…young women who could walk in heels, were comfortable wearing little black dresses and knew how to strut their stuff like their lives counted on it….I on the other hand, had never worn a little black dress, couldn’t walk in heels and didn’t know the first thing about walking on a runway…

Regardless of my amateur approach to the challenging and cut throat world of modelling, I managed to tie for first place (even after nearly falling off the catwalk!!!)…I was so surprised, that I thought there must have been some sort of mistake, but when I asked the director why on earth they would choose me…to walk alongside this young woman who I saw as not only a highly trained and experienced model, but a goddess above all goddesses (remember I was just 16 at the time)…he told me it was because beneath the shaky girl who didn’t know high heels from a hole in the ground…he and the judges saw the spunk of a brave young woman who had more to offer than she realized.

All I could think was great….SPUNK! For real? I did not see the beauty in what he said at the time….After a year or so in the modelling industry…I knew it simply was not for me. Not only was it a cut throat world where your ‘sister’ would turn coat so fast it’d make your head spin…it was just a world not suited to my sassy attitude and bold self-expression.

Somehow I managed to stumble back into the world f photographers, sets and creative self expression… I joined a site called Model Mayhem so that I could put out a casting call to find models for my Tantric massage media projects…Before I knew it..I was flooded with messages from various photographers asking me to model for them…I was intrigued…intrigued enough to try it out…My first shoot with Kurt from Stolen Moments started off on the wrong foot, but after we chatted for a while, I found that we got into a groove and managed to capture some decent pics.

My second shoot with Bob from A Moment in Time didn’t go as well…our flow was completely off and our approach to a photo shoot was quite different. I think both of us walked away happy that we managed to catch a few nice shots, but with an overall feeling that we had an unsuccessful shoot. I then took a different approach and paid a local photographer to take photos in his studio for my Tantric massage project.

When I first arrived, I happened to see that the photographer had my blog open on his desk top…Not sure why that bothered me, I guess I felt a little ‘exposed’. However, what was cool is that he was doing his research…he asked me what I felt did not work as well for me during my recent shoot…after contemplating it, I said that, when a photographer attempts to make a personal connection with me…it simply doesn’t work for me….because some women need help coming out of their shell, but I just need to be given the space to allow my own process to unfold…

I also expressed that, overall, I like to keep things very professional. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have fun during shoots, or that it can’t be a relaxed environment, quite the contrary, but I think some people read my blog and think that I will be this adventerous sex kitten…Although that is one mask I wear in my relationship with my lover, that is not how I am in everyday life, especially not in a professional setting! My blog is a place to let go of my thoughts and feelings…I share a lot about myself, but during a shoot, I like to focus more on the creative aspect of the images we are attempting to achieve….rather than working on getting to know the photographer…

During this most recent shoot…I feel like I really found my groove.. I learned that I love posing nude in front of the camera! It really is just like Nature Girl said it would be…it’s extremely liberating and deeply empowering! I freakin’ love it! Jack, from Digital Dreams started off by reassuring me about his committment to his wife and told me stories about his children, including his youngest girl…a darling 6-year-old. His ability to express and clarify his own committment to being a dedicated family man immediately made me feel at ease.

Once I realized I was in a safe and completely non-threatening environment with a professional who was truly dedicated to the art of photography and painting…I was incredibly relaxed and unbelievably comfortable. I was moving from pose to pose, providing some creative feedback as we went. There were certain poses that were entirely guided by Jack and others that I naturally moved into (like the one I am attaching to this post)…the flow was incredible and I loved every moment of it!

At certain times I found myself worrying about the look of my a woman nearing forty, who has had 8 pregnancies (4 live births and four complete miscarriages, plus one disappearing twin miscarriage)…and breast in total 8 years…I don’t have the body of a twenty year old…however, I have also happen to have relatively flat stomach with no stretch marks and breasts that, although they are smaller than before I breast fed…are still quite perky….Ioften feel like I don’t fit into any mainstream ‘beauty categories’..

It is frowned upon to insult women who, by society’s standards, are ‘overweight’, but it is all in good fun to insult slender women…I have had numerous skinny jokes thrown my way, which just causes me to feel frustrated and sad…like there is not place for me within society’s view of a mother…what is my point in sharing all of this? To reaffirm your own beauty…to tell each of you…man or woman..slender or overflowing with curves…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! It is our imperfections that make us perfect…

While attending my most recent shoot…as I allowed myself the freedom to move my nude body from pose to pose…not spreading eagle, or posing in highly seductive poses….just moving around, pearls or feather in hand…or bedning forward while lookin ginto the mirror in a fringe dress I was about to zip up….finding my grove and enjoying being in my skin..I found something beautiful…the me with no one judging one telling me what is or is not beautiful…no one telling me what images do or do not support the feminist movement…the me who is truly free to express herself…I will not be told…you must take your clothes off to be beautiful or to attract the eye of the beholder, but I will also not be told…it is not ladylike or that it is anti-feminsit to be photographed with and implied, artistic or vintage nude pose.

While one person might enjoy posing nude, boudoir or implied nude style, another might find deeper enjoyment in posing for lifestyle shots, fully clothed and possibly even dressed conservatively…what I discovered is this: if you like it, it’s good! I, for one, enjoy diversity…I feel empowered and sexy during fully clothed shoots and have been able to let my hair down and deeply enjoy getting naked in a safe and comfortable environment with a style of photo that resonates with me….

What an incredible opportunity for self-development and growth this has been. How unexpected. As I began flipping through a few photos from each shoot…I realized that, even with all the work I have done, there is still more to be done…for, like so many North American women, I definitely have a mildly distorted body image…possibly more subtle than that of some women, but likely more profound and present than that of others…so I will continue to provide myself with opportunities for trasnformation…because life, at least in my experience, is about growth, healing and transformation… well…that’s all she wrote! Shungo…from my heart to yours, Joy

Sensual Meditation…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. naturegirl1 says:

    Your demons are obviously within and you have just cause for harbouring them, but believe me, there is nothing (and I mean nothing) for you to be at all cautious about when it comes to your body. There was a time (pre children!) when I had boobs like yours, my tummy was flat like yours (and that makes me so envious! How can you have an abdomen like that after having children?!), I would have jumped at the opportunity to pose for a good photographer. Yes, I posed for life classes and that gave me a real boost, I had always been something of an exhibitionist (still am!), but seeing how others saw me, their interpretation of my body, really helped me to feel comfortable in my skin.
    Here in the UK we have a television program called “how to look good naked” in which the gay stylist Gok Wan finds women of all ages and shapes who have body image issues and works on them both physically (make overs etc) as well as psychologically, and I have often been reduced to tears when I see the transformations he achieves.
    I believe that letting our inhibitions go and taking the plunge by allowing ourselves to be seen naked, warts and all, can be such a liberating experience!
    For now, well done, you have much to be proud of.

    1. Tantrachick says:

      Thanks so much for your encouragement, Nature Girl…It’s funny, I have been working with women around body image issues for years…and I had achieved a very stable and positive self perception…but the last few years have been a test…I had my first surgery (partial thyroidectomy)..which left a fairly insignificant scar, but still altered my body…and my hormones….

      I think a ‘how to look good naked’ show that assists women in letting go of their blocks around nudity is wonderful! This summer, while we were at the hot springs…I was feeling mildly self conscious walking around naked with a bucn of 20 something guys and gals and then an acquaintance who was a part of my group said something like ‘must be nice to have kids and still be skinny enough to walk around naked in front of others…

      It wasn’t only her tone, but the fact that she spoke about me in third person that really offended me…I think it caused me to take a step back and look not just at my own self perception, but at society as a whole…we are so quick to judge…to shame…to put down and insult someone else…just for having a different body type…weight, etc.

      I love my body…I truly do…and I think that this whole photo shoot process is about becoming more comfortable in my skin…not just in private, but letting go and feeling comfortable expressing myself in a way that feels good to ME! I love that I am getting so much support during this process…part of the reason I am writing so much about it is to capture the process and explore finding a way to make this opportunity available for others!

      From my heart to yours, Joy

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