This morning, I was sitting in a coffee shop and two college-age girls came in. They were both wearing those super tight high-waisted denim shorts whose waistband embraces your intestines like a boa constrictor and whose inseam sits firmly inside your vaginal canal. I could feel a yeast infection coming on just looking at them.
The moronic 19 year old version of me that still lives in the back of my brain immediately thought, “Damn, they look hot, I hope they die.”
Then within about twelve seconds of watching the girls strategically tugging at, adjusting, and shifting around uncomfortably in their non-stretch misery diapers, the feelings of bitter admiration quickly dissolved. Not only because I am painfully familiar with what those godforsaken shorts feel like and have no desire to revisit that sensation, but because even if I was feeling nostalgic for the days when I dressed like my life was an extended public mating ritual and decided I wanted to squeeze my ass into them for old time’s sake, I don’t think I would look as good as I thought I did in those years. Not because of any facts about what my body looked like then or looks like now, but because I did not understand when I was 19 that being uncomfortable is decidedly un-sexy. You look like what you feel like, and if you feel like you’re being maimed by your clothing, it will show.
The beauty, diet, and fashion industrial complex thrives on the fantasy that if we can control the way we present our bodies to the world, the world will see in us only what we want them to see. We can and should rearrange our internal organs with clothes that don’t fit us and suck our stomachs in when we sit down so that the waistband of the jeans whose size corresponds to some imaginary version of us that bears no relation to what our body actually looks like doesn’t permanently embed itself in our flesh. And if we do that skillfully enough, we will find a partner who is willing to mate with us. Because beauty is a lie, and being hot is about lying real good.
I don’t know if it’s my affinity for body image activism, my extraordinary propensity for UTI’s, or my rapidly dwindling days of being a twenty-something, but god in heaven I am done with the days of wearing pants that don’t fit. The day I stopped trying to squeeze my ass into jeans of a size that will not fit me in this or any nearby possible world was the day that I fundamentally reconceptualized what it means to be sexy. Once I realized that discomfort-based sex appeal was boring and probably wasn’t fooling anybody anyway, I found so much more room (in my waistband and spirit) for beauty and sensuality that works with, not against, my body.
Let me be clear here that I in no way endorse a rejection of the value of being sexy. Sex is AWESOME, fashion that makes you feel sexy is FUN, and spending time and energy on the aesthetic presentation of your sexual identity is a BLAST. I am all for it. But honestly fuck skintight non-stretch Levi’s. I think that the hottest, sexiest, most irresistible version of yourself will become visible once you loosen your rigor mortis grip on your collection of clothes that don’t fit, are uncomfortable, or are fundamentally restrictive. That version of you will radiate sexy in ways that you never dreamed possible, I am one hundred percent sure of it.
Why? Because there must be more interesting ways to be sexy than having your vagina lacerated by a denim torture apparatus.
I spend the first five minutes of every boudoir shoot having my subjects just sit or lie on the bed with their eyes closed, breathing and stretching and settling into their body in whatever way feels comfortable to them. I tell them to ignore me altogether for the length of an entire song and focus only on what their body feels like, not what it looks like. I use this time to adjust my camera settings, fidget with my lighting, and get my clients used to the feeling of hearing my shutter clicks while they’re half naked in front of my lens. But more than anything, the purpose of this exercise is to set the tone for the session in a way that fundamentally roots them in the sensation, not the appearance, of their body.
I do this not only because I want my clients to feel comfortable during the session, but also because I think it produces the sexiest photos! Rather than posing my clients in frozen, static, “flattering” poses, most of my direction involves things like “touch your skin”, “close your eyes and take a big deep breath”, “run your hands over your stomach and notice how soft it feels”. And GODDAMN if the photos that result aren’t some of the most FIRE shit I’ve ever seen. There is really absolutely nothing sexier than a photo where the subject is completely dissolved into the sensation of their body, radiating comfort and sensuality and power. Some of my favorite sessions have been with boudoir babes who I could tell were really committed to being present in their bodies and exploring all the fascinating, electric, sublime details of what their bodies felt like.
It’s quite counterintuitive to achieve sexy looking photos by ignoring altogether what you look like while you’re taking them. But take it from someone whose job it is to capture a good thirst trap — it works. When you feel uncomfortable, you look uncomfortable. When you feel comfortable, you look comfortable. And it is h o t.
Have you ever seen a dreamy babe out in the world who looks completely self-possessed, confident, free? Who just seems entirely unselfconscious, like they are exuding presence from the inside out? ISN’T THAT SUCH A GODDAMN TURN-ON??? Like way more so than the person behind them constantly fidgeting with their size-whatever-waistband and trying to strategically lean to one side and kick their hip out to make their booty look rounder? Of the two of them, I know whose number I’m tryna get.
So you know what I find way hotter than hot pants? Exhaling all the way. Can you do that in your current outfit?