When I first started modeling, I decided I would never do a boudoir shoot. I thought that doing this type of shoot was “inappropriate.” That it was a plea for attention. That I shouldn’t expose my body on the internet. That it would degrade my worth. That it mean I didn’t respect myself. All things that I didn’t want people to associate with me. Yet every time I was asked to do a boudoir shoot, I felt drawn to say yes because deep down, I really wanted to do it.
I wanted to do it because I spent years feeling uncomfortable in my body and as a result, I kept it hidden and covered. The fact that I suddenly had this intense desire to walk into a shoot completely exposed, 40 lbs heavier, was empowering and liberating.
So, eventually, I said, "fuck it. Why not?"
I was immediately shamed when I did my first boudoir shoot.
I received a text that said something along the lines of, “Devon, what you’re doing does not go unnoticed and I am extremely proud of the work you’re putting out into the world. However, I do worry about the type of shoots you’re doing. They are not the best way to represent your brand. You don’t want people to google you and find pictures of you in lingerie. It indicates a need for attention and sexualizes your brand.”
As I continued to do more boudoir shoots, I continued to hear similar comments.
I never reacted to the feedback—but it started to bother me immensely. I was being accused of things that weren’t true.
You see, I wasn’t doing these shoots for attention. I was doing it to celebrate my body because I finally felt confident in it. I was doing it to help paint a clear image that confidence isn’t tied to a look, it’s a feeling from within. I was doing it to prove that you can feel sexy, just as you are.
In this exact scenario, nudity represented a message I strongly stand for: body positivity.
So, I decided that these opinions deserved some unpacking, because quite frankly, I think it’s infuriating that a women can’t capture her body in it’s most natural state without it having a negative connotation.
Through the unpacking, I discovered that the narrative behind why people believe this is actually pretty obvious:
You are conditioned to think of sex the minute you see nudity; it is taught by society that a woman’s body is for sexual gratification and an object for pleasure. It’s why you link the amount of clothing a woman wears to how much respect she has for herself or how much respect she deserves to receive.
And while it’s perfectly okay to value modesty, it’s important to realize that what empowers you might be completely different to what empowers someone else. Modesty doesn’t place you on a pedestal or mean that you are more deserving of respect.
These notions are harmful and fucked up in a myriad of ways. It’s part of the reason rape exists and at it’s core, is a form of misogyny.
It’s time to stop enabling a system that doesn’t serve women and let go of the inherited beliefs that prevents us from showing up powerfully and authentically.
A woman should feel empowered and safe to express herself in whatever way feels right to her. She shouldn’t be shamed or feel an ounce of danger because of the way she chooses to exist in the world — end of story.