“Neen, that’s such an awesome gift for your husband!”
“Oh my God, he is going to love it!”
“Does your husband know that you’re doing this for him?”
It wasn’t a gift for my husband. It was a gift for me…from me.
The pictures above are four of 187 that were taken for a boudoir shoot back in 2017. I had lost a few pounds, and was barely a year into being self-employed as a writer. I felt like a new woman!
In terms of my career, I felt free for the first time in my life. I never really enjoyed being an employee. Truth be told, I was notorious for getting lost in my work. I never turned down a request from a boss, was terrified to ask for a raise, and always worked late. I was an overworked, underpaid, ball of stress – and it was crushing my soul and everything around me. I would quit a job every two to three years, thinking the grass was greener on the other side. Then, I realized it wasn’t. The grass was green where I chose to water it, and I was done watering other people’s lawns (said with sass).
Ok…back to the boudoir story.
I decided to hire my friend (a photographer), to do the shoot. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. She told me to start adding photos to a Pinterest board, to help give her a feel of what I was going for. Honestly, I had no clue. My internal “sexy meter” had been on zero for the better part of a decade, and this new found feeling was very, well…new. The photos I added to the Pinterest board were generic and not “me” at all. I didn’t even know this version of “me” yet…but I was about to.
We scheduled a date, and she instructed me to look for some outfits that would make me feel sexy. Again…what is this “sexy” feeling she’s talking about? I was a Mom with two kids (still am), who just left a steady (albeit awful) job with a decent paycheck. I was feeling horribly guilty for putting my family in that position, and was embarrassed whenever stressful money conversations came up with my husband.
Needless to say, I followed the instructions that were given to me, and spent some time on Amazon. I even ventured to the mall (pre Pandemic), but found myself in tears as I tried squeezing my thighs into thigh highs. Note to self: My thick thighs prefer to be free.
The day before the photo shoot came faster than I do with my magic wand (thanks Hitachi!). I had scheduled a hair appointment at a real salon. I say “real” for a reason. It’s important that I distinguish that from my usual choice of hair salons; the $15 places that don’t even wash your hair. What can I say? I’m as basic as they come.
After about two and a half hours at the salon, I left with balayage (Google it), and a Brazilian blow out (Google that, too). I went to bed that night with knots in my stomach. What on Earth was I thinking? I have loose stomach skin, cellulite, and I had only recently tapped back into my sexuality after quite the hiatus (sorry, babe).
The next morning, it was business as usual. Everyone left the house for school and work, and I was alone. I hopped in the shower, did my make up, and actually blow dried my hair. The doorbell rang. I threw on my husband’s robe and dashed to the front door. My friend, Emily, was standing there with a camera around her neck and a bouquet of roses.
“You can keep these, but I bought them for the shoot.” She smiled, and handed them to me.
I laid them down on the dining room table, and helped bring all of her equipment into the house. I still wonder if my neighbors saw me walking back and forth from Emily’s car in a robe…with my hair done…and make up on.
After some finagling of equipment, and nervous laughter on my part, we were ready to start.
“Ok, tell me what to wear.” I showed Em my options.
“Let’s start with that black sheer teddy! I think it will be perfect for the dining room table scene I have in mind.”
The what? There’s a scene she had in mind? A scene? What the fuck am I doing?
I rolled with it. I was a new woman, right?
She instructed me to get up on the dining room table. I kept imagining the table collapsing underneath me, my ego being crushed, and crying as I ran up to my room. Alas, that didn’t happen.
She started giving directions like, “Lay on your back. Yup…now arch it. Now put your legs in the air and cross them. Now hold these roses to your lips!”
This woman was no joke! She really did have this all planned out. Scene after scene, she would call out directions, and I would somehow (eventually) follow them correctly. Each outfit change completely shifted my energy. I felt like a new character in each scene. Who were these women? Come to find out, they were all me.
She somehow managed to tap into every side of my sexuality, which is a bit strange since I wasn’t even aware that they existed. I vividly remember one of the scenes. It was the setting you see above with the white shag carpet.
“Ok, go lay down on your stomach. I want to make sure we get your butt in these shots.” She was so confident, and such a non-alarmist; both of which I needed in that moment.
I started to fumble around a bit, and she could tell I was stiffening up (and not in a good way).
“Wait! I got something for this exact situation!” She turned around and dug into her big bag of goodies and pulled out a portable bluetooth speaker. “I have a play list for you. Let’s see if this helps.”
One of the first songs was from Nine Inch Nails. Although, I definitely don’t listen to NIN on the regular, this time they just hit different. Out of what felt like nowhere, I began to just give in to the process. I didn’t even feel like I was in my own skin. I was rolling around on that rug like a toddler throwing a tantrum (except, not really).
“Now, pretend you’re having the best sex of your life! Pretend you’re having multiple orgasms!” The camera kept clicking as the words left her mouth.
For a split second, I was certain I was going to vomit. But, I didn’t. Instead, the imagery that she had so clearly created for me, took over on that white shag rug. I look back at the shots from that scene, and I have no doubt that the Nina in those photos was somewhere else in her head; a skill that helps to quiet my brain in the bedroom to this day.
The entire shoot went on for over four hours. We were both sweating, and I pulled a few muscles while trying to “get into character”. I also may or may not have had a glass of Riesling to calm my nerves.
When Emily left, I only had about a half hour or so before my kids got home from school. I remember just staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, barely recognizing the woman staring back at me. I liked her, though. I liked her a shitload better than the woman I saw four and a half hours prior.
I realized I had shut down a MASSIVE part of who I was (am). A part that I know many women have ignored most of their life. The consequences of embracing our sexuality were just too great, am I right? So, many of us went along for the stifled ride, and played it “safe”.
Many aspects of my life have changed since that day in June of 2017; none of which I regret (no, not even the 10-15 lbs I’ve gained since then). This blog isn’t necessarily a push for women to do boudoir shoots (although, I HIGHLY recommend it). What it is a push for, is for women to start making noise when it comes to their sexuality – pun intended. If you feel stifled and bored, it might be because you’re not being honest with yourself about what you require to feel sexually alive. I know speaking up is something we’ve been taught NOT to do, but I’m here to call BULLSHIT.
As a Sex Coach, this is one of the most common challenges I see for female clients. The shame and guilt that we have been trained to feel about our sexuality, is problematic to say the least.
Speak up. Watch porn if you want to. Read erotica if it turns you on. Share your fantasies with your partner – yes, even that one. Masturbate. A lot. Buy sexy clothes because you fucking can. And remember who the hell you are, and who you deserve to continue being.