A co-worker recently came up to me and pointed out a woman sitting alone waiting for her date to arrive at her table. Her makeup was immaculate, her hair was slicked back into a classic up-do, and she happened to be the nicest person I had encountered that evening. The reason he pointed her out, however, had nothing to do with any of those things, but everything to do with the fact that her dress was kind of low cut and exposed her cleavage. Mind you, her breasts weren’t Ripley’s-believe-it-or-not large, nor was the fabric straining to contain her lady lumps in any way. She merely had breasts, and her dress simply acknowledged that fact. He went on to chastise her for being so desperate as to expose her body in order to lure her poor unsuspecting male counterpart into a physical attraction to her, which he would certainly fall victim to (much to his dismay, I’m sure). “Gosh”, I thought, “It must be really hard to create this strange social standard in which I expect someone to adhere to in order to turn me on, while simultaneously not respecting them for embodying it because that would, in effect, make them a ‘slut’, and no one wants to fall in love with a slut.” I’m sure you get what I’m getting at, but just incase you don’t, what I’m getting at is; OUR BODIES ARE NOT YOURS FOR THE JUDGING. If I feel like my legs look especially fit this evening and I want to show them off with a short skirt, then so be it. If my stomach is uncharacteristically flat and I want to wear a form fitting dress, then so be it. If I’m bloated and my boobs, for once, look totally luscious and I want to wear a v-neck shirt, THEN. SO. BE. IT. I have spent too much of my life feeling like I wasn’t allowed to be accepting of the way my body looked and that I had to hide it because it wasn’t thin enough or, even if I was thin enough, it wouldn’t be respectable or “lady like” of me to show off my body. I decided I wanted to do a boudoir shoot with Jaime because I was sick of hiding my body in order to remain “decent”. I don’t use my femininity to attract men, get free drinks, or get ahead in life in any way whatsoever. I use it to show the world who I am, what I stand for, and how strong we, as women, can truly be. I consider myself a pretty modest dresser/woman in general. I don’t like mini skirts, I don’t bare my midriff, and I can’t remember the last time I wore something with a plunging neck line, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to feel sexy. It also doesn’t mean that I think other women should have the exact same standards of sexy as I do. I understand that a woman’s body is a special treasure meant to be shared with the person/people that she loves. I also understand that pride and courage are two terribly different things. I love anyone that supports SWIA with my whole heart, and you are the ones that give me the courage to take ownership of my physical form and allow me to show you/myself that a woman can be comfortable in her own skin no matter how bloated she may be. So we decided to do the boudoir shoot in my crazy messy room in the dead of the night. We had so much fun and I felt so liberated and carefree, and most importantly…sexy. I still have certain concerns with sharing the pictures, wondering what a few people will think of me or of the photos. Those concerns are exactly why I feel like it’s important to share. The images aren’t pornographic, they’re art, and they make me feel strong and hot and powerful, and I have every right to enjoy that feeling. This photo shoot marked the point in my life where I allowed myself to be happy with the way my body looks and not feel guilty for feeling sexy every once in a while. Not for you, not in spite of my ex, not to attract someone else, but for my fucking self.
This post could be really long and intense and I could do the whole “man hating, feminist diatribe” or I could just put it for you really simply: In order to be taken seriously, women have to sign over their right to feel sexy. It’s either our brains or our butts. We have to make a choice. I, for one, abso-fucking-lutely refuse to choose.
BRING AT LEAST 3 ITEMS and a BOTTLE OF WINE.
Tuesday February 24th at 6:00 PM
We are so excited to be hosting our fourth official She Wore It Anyways clothing swap! Feel free to bring more than 3 items if you want. You can bring clothing and/or accessories. Think shoes, purses, hats, jewelry!
All items that are not swapped will be donated!
For more information be sure to check our EVENT PAGE and invite your friends.
Just over a year ago I was facing a decision that was going to change my life. I was told after five surgeries in three years that the only way to stop the madness was going to be a permanent solution. For over ten years I had battle cysts and leaps and chronic endometriosis. And now at 29 I was facing having a full hysterectomy and medical induce menopause.
My husband was all for it and I had one beautiful child but I was scared and not ready in the least. We thought long and hard and bit the bullet. Within thirty days of my last surgery I was there being put under. I knew my life was going to change but I never knew how hard it was going to be.
I woke up instantly feeling like my life was over. I was a freak of nature. I was scared and bruised and different not better. I was being told by the doctors and everyone around me that it was the right choice I did the right thing. Two weeks later when my test results came back in I was floored again. I had not only bit a bullet I had dodge one. The cells had begun to mutate and not the super cool X-men type mutation where I could fly and create a storm kind. I had saved my life. So now you think I would be glad and renewed and on board with it. I wasn’t. I felt nothing.
I went for a physical about a month later and the family doctor was updating my files and noticed the surgery and proceeded to call me an “it” the rest of the appointment. I got a new doctor but this was my low point. I was over weight by at least thirty pounds and I was growing hair where it shouldn’t and on hormone replacement therapy. I would pick up my prescriptions and the nurses would say “how nice of you to get your mothers medicine for her”. I was completely depressed by Christmas. My amazing husband was trying his best to help. We joined a yoga studio and he would tell me I was amazing every day. I just did not believe him. I could not look in the mirrors and see it. I all I could see was the scars.
In March, my yoga studio did a forty day challenge. It was a whole mind and body challenge. I met once week for a meeting and we talked and practiced yoga together. I came out of the challenge with a new goal of loving the body I had. I meditated and changed my eating habits. Cleared my life of the things that was not helpful. I made every moment count. I set the goal to lose thirty pounds by thirty years old. My friends at studio were there every step. These amazing women of all shapes and sizes and saw me just me saved me.
My husband starting going to classes with me and holding my hand at the end. He continued to tell me I was beautiful. I wanted to show him something special. I was looking on Facebook one day and saw the tangled boudoir page. I have always wanted to be able to do something like that. I looked into it and kept chickening out. I just kept seeing the scars. That’s the problem with mirrors people see who they think they are not who they are. I was just scars.
I finally emailed and set up the time. I was doing this for my husband. I could do it for him. The day came way to quick and I was so nervous. All the other ladies there were so pretty and self confident. I just kept thinking scars scars scars. Once my makeup was done and I was putting on the first outfit, I looked up into one of those damn mirrors. I finally just told myself to get out of my head and my scars don’t make me. I went in and did the best I could with what I have.
I did better then that. I left with a “hell yay” I am here this is me “take it or leave it”.
When I got my pictures, I sat in looked at all of them over and over again. I did it and I looked good doing it. I was rocking the poses. I was me finally me. I was not the “it”. I was not the freak. I was me. I found me. Scars and all. Thank you Jamie from the bottom of my heart. You helped me so much more then you know.
I think we all have security blankets. We all have something that gives us comfort and makes us feel safe. A constant that we can always count on even when life dumps a load of unwanted muck all over our brand new white dress. As children it tends to be a blue fuzzy blanket that your parents brought you home from the hospital in, a pacifier, or a giant stuffed bunny with an eyeball missing and a paw sewn back on after an unfortunate encounter with the next door neighbors dog. But as we grow up it becomes less and less acceptable to tote that smelly rabbit around with us, so we find other objects to confide in. For some people that winds up being a comfy sweater that always seems to soothe a terrible cold, or the perfect fitting skirt that good luck follows while you’re wearing it. For me that thing that always made me feel strong, allowed me to hide, and, in a lot of ways, defined my identity as a woman was my hair. As a girl raised by a single father it took me a little bit longer to get involved in getting gussied up and other such “girlish” activities than your average bird. Jaime likes to make fun of me because, at 24, I still haven’t mastered the art of the curling iron or really any sort of task involved in the presentation of a hair-do. The overprotective feelings I had towards my hair came from a different place than styling it and making it look cute. As a kid up until I was about 10 or 11 every day when I got out of the shower I would sit on the floor of my dads bedroom in front of his mirror and wait for him to come over and brush my hair. Every day he would brush and blow dry it for me. It was like our little moment to spend together in silence, conversation, or temper tantrums before we had to walk out into the world and start our days. He often worked nights or went to night class so when I got out of school I would go over to my grandparents house and I would sometimes convince Meme to spend what felt like hours sectioning my hair in tiny little strands and give me a head full of braids so that when I woke up the next morning it would have a little curl to it. I even have a few memories of my mom french braiding my hair while we watched movies, and sometimes she would even put a giant bow in it for me. Two of my greatest friends, Emily Moore and Jaime, both constantly played with my hair and cut it, colored it, teased it, baby powdered it, put it into perfect top buns. For me when people fix my hair it feels incredibly affectionate, and when they do it regularly (even though I beg them to) it feels like a really true expression of their love for me.
Of course when I started dating I realized, after a horrific run in with the super cuts in the mall and a VERY harsh bob, that boys tend to like when our hair is long and flowing and voluminous and shiny and tangle free. So I kept it long. I dabbled here and there with shoulder length cuts but always kept it long enough to put into a pony tail. In 10th grade Emily was the first person to dye my bangs blonde. My father disapproved, but let it slide. With the exception of maybe one or two summers I kept it relatively the same for about 8 years. I always wanted to do something crazy to it but was dissuaded by friends or fellas not to mess with a good thing, because WHO KNOWS what could happen. I even once had a boyfriend that started a gigantic fight with me when I wanted to get my bangs trimmed, because he said that I wouldn’t look as cute if I cut them (I did anyway, and he didn’t even notice). Then I started dating a boy that I was sure was “the one”, so naturally I did everything I could to keep up a certain appearance that I knew he preferred. I tried to stay thin and fashionable and long haired because in my mind if I looked the part then I would get to play the part. Turns out that was exactly what it was. A part. A character.
Our relationship ended and so did my complacency. I was so fed up living in this “comfortable” little house that I had built for myself that I didn’t even feel I belonged in. I was done asking for other peoples input. I was done tip toeing through my own life apologizing the whole way through. I was done hiding. Emily came to visit from Canada and one night she wet my hair, put it into a braid, and cut the umbilical cord. My hair went from touching my elbows to full on pixie cut. I can’t tell you how refreshing that feeling was. A couple months later I moved to Chicago and took the last little leap and asked the barber to shave it all off except the top.
Turns out that you can shave your head, gain 20 pounds, wear clothes that are 5 sizes too big for you, have facial piercings and tattoos, and still be a lady. Not just a lady, but a lady that has shit to say, feelings to feel, friends that love her, and even a boy or two that wouldn’t mind taking her out on the town. No matter if you have the weirdest hair cut of all time you’re still you, and THAT is what’s sexy. Not the lipstick you wear or the heels that kill your feet or the hair that takes you an hour to fix every morning. It’s YOU! It’s the life you’ve lived, the stories you have, the glimmer you have in your eye for that person that lights you on fire, the way YOU feel about YOURSELF. If I have to say that every day until I go to my grave, then so be it. Because it seems like there’s still some people out there that haven’t quite let it sink in.
So, to all those people out there that look at me with unsure disapproving eyes and say “I mean, it’s cool and all….but how long do you think you’re going to keep it like that?” my answer is;
Until you quit fucking asking me how long i’m going to keep it like this. Because as long as you’re asking, you still don’t get that taking ownership of my appearance and straying away from my comfort zone are not phases but valid and non-negotiable decisions i’ve made for the body in which I reside. Not you.