002 | SEXUALIZING THE BODY: impacts of sexualizing the female body + why i think everyone is losing

Intro:

Hey humans, you're tuning into episode 002 of Souls Undressed. I'm Tori + I am sooo excited that you're here today to listen to this soul chat that I am so frickin' passionate about. You're going to be listening to me talk about my perspectives from being a boudoir photographer, but also from my perspective as a 26-year-old woman who has been a high school teacher, who has been a woman growing up in a society that tells me how + what my body is + how I should feel about it + somebody who is just an all-around lover of humans!


I feel that I have this really awesome perspective that I get to share with everyone else around me because of being a boudoir photographer and because of just seeing people at a soul-level for who they are. I am just really excited to get to share that with you here + hopefully get to shift your perspectives + pitch something new to you that maybe you haven't considered before.


So, today's episode is going to dive into what the cultural and societal influence does to women who are born with different features + characteristics that have been sexualized by society + by media + by people all around us.


What that means for women who are born with large breasts or a large booty.


What that means for women who were born with small breasts + no booty, right?


Like what these different expectations and kind of "sex icons" do to everyday women who don't have any options but to walk around with these features that we should feel so proud + so honored to be sporting, but that we have to question and feel doubtful or ashamed of or maybe even shy about.


We're going to talk about what our own perception does to our own bodies + to the people around us, what not showing ourselves everyday "real bodies" can do to us + what not talking about our bodies does to these younger generations of women who are growing into what I fear could be a really scary mentality to live in as they're growing up into their womanhood + not being spoken to about the things that make them a woman because of the way that society has sexualized it + has made it this taboo topic that our teens aren't supposed to or aren't allowed to talk about.


Today I am going to read you a quote by r.h. Sin + I think that it matches this episode perfectly.

“I want women to understand that they don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to smile if they don’t feel like it. They don’t have to pretend in order to make others feel comfortable. I think women should be reminded that it’s OK to be a bad ass. It’s OK not to give a fuck about things that aren’t worth your energy. You, the woman listening. You are brave, you are powerful. You are more than enough, but I want you to feel whatever you need to feel. Never be ashamed of your truth.” by r.h. Sin


So, while we're talking through this episode today, well while I'm talking + you're listening, I really want you to think about that. I want you to think about the parts of yourself that you felt like you needed to cover or hide or mute in order to make others feel comfortable. I want you to think about the ways that your life + your body-image are impacted by things that are just societally created, societal norms that are infringing on your rights to frickin' own your essence that is dripping in sensuality + love + SEXINESS. I want you to be able to embrace that. So, if you're ready, then let's dive in!



Sexualizing the Body:

Hey, hey, hey! Welcome back to Souls Undressed. Today, we are going to talk about being sexual versus celebrating something that has been sexualized by culture.


I want you to really sit with that for a second. What does this mean to you? What does this topic make you think of? What does it bring to the surface? Being sexual versus celebrating something that has been sexualized.


I think that this is a super important topic to me as someone who is a boudoir photographer + empowers women to celebrate their bodies + the art that is the woman's body. I mean, men's bodies are beautiful, as well, obviously, but the woman's body- there's just something about it, there's something about the contours of each different line + edge of her body + the way that the hourglass figure creates this sort of, um, it's almost just like this artistic wonderland for the eye, right? Like, every one of us has looked at a picture of a woman's body, clothed or not clothed, + had that appreciation for the ways that the different muscles are contoured, etc.


I know that that's a lot deeper + more blunt than a lot of people will talk about the woman's body on, "day-time podcasting television," that's funny, I was going to say day-time television, but you get me.


As someone who has been a teacher for a number of years before entering into the entrepreneurial world + diving into my photography businesses, which both serve the boudoir community, as well as families and couples + that kind of community as well. I think I really struggled entering into this headspace + this complete lifestyle of strictly a photographer because when you are growing up thinking about your teachers + when you're going through school to be a teacher, your "look" + the way that you are perceived is so intensely spoken about. I think that there is a place for that because obviously you need to be able to present yourself in a classroom in a way that allows students to be productive + focused on their learning, however, I think that is a very, very, very touchy line for the culture + headspace that we create for women. I navigated very carefully the line of school dress-code, the line of professionalism by the way that my face + hair looked, by the professionalism of my shoes, those were all different aspects of my appearance that I had to take into consideration + really be mindful of as a teacher, especially as a teacher of high school students. I think as well as being one of the youngest teachers in the school building, I had to also be very mindful of the way I presented myself by looks + the way that I celebrated different things on the internet. I think it's obvious that we all, my generation, all grew up in this very new age of the internet + it was always very, very, very intensely taught to us that we needed to be mindful of what we were putting on the internet + the ways that things could be found + you know, being a "good virtual citizen". I think that as a 26-year-old adult now, who has now entered into this career + this.... really..... this spotlight as a woman who empowers other women + really just empowers humans in general, whether it be, seniors, whether it be new moms, whether it be dads and their little ones, it is always my goal to empower in whatever way that I can + whatever it is that makes that person that I'm shooting with feel empowered. So, it's been very interesting to me to navigate this viewpoint from a teacher's perspective, as well as a 26-year-old woman who is a boudoir photographer + has really spent the last 5 years of my life looking + seeking out ways to empower people + really encourage them to own themselves + own every bit of themselves.


So, this kind of "perspective" or, "thought-provoking," topic was really brought into my life when a past student of mine, actually, who ended up becoming a client + then a pretty good friend, she's a really outstanding human-being: she took it upon herself to complete her speech in her college communications class on boudoir. It was a persuasive speech that she had to deliver, so she chose to do her topic on the persuasion of boudoir being viewed as this "sexual,""attention-seeking," style of photography, versus this empowering + self-loving version of photography. I thought it was absolutely amazing that she made the choice, as this young woman, to really take her stance on this + she not only did this project + presented it to her communications class, but she shared it publicly, online- she really wanted the people in her life to understand her viewpoint on the way that the United States, specifically, has sexualized the human body. I think that after growing up in an era of idealizing Sports Illustrated covergirls + the centerfold magazines that we have naturally learned through movies + through jokes by our parents or older siblings or friends or whoever, you know, that those magazines get hid under the bed for later when somebody needs them, + I mean, that's a very rated R, very PG-13 way to say a very rated R statement, but I think that each of these different "small actions," + influences, create this headspace + this mindset + this perception for not only young women, but men and women of all ages, everywhere, that the woman's body is there to look at + to be intrigued by + to be appealed to sexually because like I said at the beginning of the episode is this beautiful contoured piece of art, right? No matter the shape or size, no matter the tone of skin, no matter the look of the hair or the make-up on the body, the body itself is gorgeous and it is beautiful to look at.


So, I think that I am creating this episode to really pitch the question and the thought of, "What has this cultural influence done to the way that we as a society perceive a woman's body, but also, the way that the woman perceives herself?" because I think that is something that we don't think of. We don't think about the ways that the woman is looking at herself in the mirror or the way that the woman is concerned about walking down the street if she's born with large breasts or if she's born with a large booty. I think that we have created this culture because of the desirability to be sexual or to see something that looks sexual from the opposing viewpoint that it has created this, kind of awkward and unknown space for a lot of women as to, "How do I love myself?" "How do I portray myself?" "How do I carry myself down the street with my large breasts that aren't able to be covered by my shirt because they won't fit in a tank-top? Right? Or they won't stay, "hidden," in a tank-top?" In my opinion, that's a disgrace. That is a complete + utter failure by society to create an environment that allows any kind of person to walk down the sidewalk, feeling like something that they have been born with naturally, has to be covered in order to keep someone else comfortable, or in order to avoid being spoken to in a way that completely alienates your identity + completely unwillingly changes the chemistry of your brain + the belief system that you carry yourself with.


I am very passionate about the idea + the concept of empowering each woman + man regardless of the size of their body, or regardless of the way they look standing next to their next-door-neighbor, or to the person that they have always compared themselves to. I really want us to ask ourselves, "What has this culture done to these types of people + to both sides of the spectrum of this sexualized figure?"


I also want to think about what not showing off our natural bodies does to other women + to the younger generation. By sexualizing the woman's body, we have created a culture + a taboo around conversation that has to with the body. Young girls are not supposed to be sexual, well, if their breasts are sexualized, how are young girls supposed to create conversations about their breasts? If they think that their vagina is only created for sex + they're not supposed to know about that, or they're not supposed to have heard about that, how are young girls supposed to ask questions about their vaginas or about the things that are happening with their bodies? I think we have started ourselves down a very slippery rabbit hole + I don't think it is too late. I don't think we are incapable of creating a society, or creating conversation in our day-to-day lives that normalize a woman's body, that normalize in our own minds what we are seeing when we see other women.


When we see a woman on Instagram celebrating her body or celebrating herself, rather than looking at it + shunning it + feeling like she's being promiscuous, can we look at it + realize that she is celebrating something that she was born with? Because we don't know each person's story from person-to-person, right? We have no idea what their chemical make-up is like in their brain, we have no idea what their experience is, most of them, + most of them we have no idea what they look like under their clothes, so that also means we have no idea what battles they've been facing in the morning from the time they wake up to the evening until the time they go to sleep.


So, we are living in a society where we don't talk about, or celebrate, or see the female body in any other light than in a way that is sexualized. Aren't we hindering this next generation of women? Can we think about the ways that we are holding them back or the challenges that we're allowing them to be faced with down the road: these gaps in understanding, or these gaps of awareness or knowledge about themselves? I also want you to think about the influence that that has on the idea of promiscuity. If every single time a woman celebrates her body, she's viewed as promiscuous, isn't that creating confusion + haze around the word promiscuous?


I also want us to think about middle-aged women, like myself, who navigate through different avenues + different professional careers + different life phases + experiences with different people. If I am struggling with my mental health + I am struggling with body dysmorphia, what is my inability to celebrate myself, doing to me? What is that doing to my mental health? Think about it. If I am not able to see other women's bodies in any other way than sexual + I am never able to see any women's bodies in a way that is celebrating them for who they are, do I have anything reminding me to do that with myself?


+ don't get me wrong, this is not to say that it should be okay for teachers, or for social workers, or whoever, to be able to plaster their bodies all over the internet + create a distraction for the environments that they are doing their careers in, whether it is teaching, or taking care of children, but I do want us to think about whether or not this sexualization of the body is really doing us any good.


I also want us to think about- is this just U.S. culture? Because there are plenty of other countries + other continents, even, that almost as a whole, celebrate the female body. I'm not saying just for what it can do, or what it looks like, I mean for who the woman is + the tasks that she can complete + the things that her body was made to do naturally. Think about the ways that we could be celebrating. Think about the things that the female body can do + think about the things that you could love about yourself if you stopped viewing it through this lens that created this taboo, unknown, promiscuous perception of your body.


I'm obviously always going to be here for women. I am always going to be in your corner cheering you on. My boudoir business is always going to be taking women in with open arms + celebrating them for everything, every piece of skin, every extra pound, every contour + little crevasse of your body, I'm here to celebrate that with you, but this journey to celebrating + appreciating our bodies for the gift that they are has to start inside + it has to start at home. We have to choose to rewrite how we perceive our bodies + how we perceive those bodies of the women around us.


So, are you going to celebrate them, or are you going to judge them? Are you going to be intrigued by them, or are you going to feel scared by them? Are you going to allow society to rule the way that you can appreciate + learn about your own body + the bodies of women around you, or are you going to take the control into your own hands + have a little fun along the way?


Thanks so much for listening, guys. Meet up with me on The Souls Undressed Community Facebook page + let's talk more about this. Sending my love.


Outro:

So, let's dive right in. How can I help? How can you help with this topic about the ways that we sexualize the female body + what it does to us + how it keeps us from celebrating the parts of us that have been sexualized by the people outside of us.


I hope you are reeling as much after this episode as I am because, holy cow, I think that this is a topic that needs to be talked about, people. So, how can you help? I think that you can first help by changing your vocabulary. I think that this is something that we naturally + innocently do, but it's not innocent once we refuse to kind of reflect + look on ourselves + look back on what we've done + what we've said + how that impacts the people around us. Whether we comment on the size of the butts around us, or the size of what some people call, women's "racks," right? Or women's "humps". Now I'm not talking about women talking about their own curves in this way, but I'm talking about when other people talk about other women's curves in this way. You are objectifying that woman + the things that she was born with in a way that you are unsure of how that is impacting her. That is not your right to use that vocabulary that may make that woman feel "some type of way" about her own body + her own essence. So, I just want you to think about that, when you're using different vocabulary, that is maybe "slang" that has been passed down, that you feel is just so normal + just so great + so carefree, just awesome, funny slang, I want you to think about it- who is it funny to? + I'm not saying every bit of slang is terrible, I'm not saying every bit of slang is offensive, I'm not saying you need to talk with some "prude" vocabulary that doesn't allow for any humor or space for enjoyment outside of the conversation, but I want you to consider who's expense you are enjoying yourself at.


I also want you to think about your own natural biases + opinions. I think that when we have opinions that come from a place of comfort, or dare I say, a place of privilege of that comfort, we often forget that our opinions become our own biases. We often forget that not everyone else thinks of things or sees things in the ways that we do. So, because of that, I am going to challenge you to consider the ways that you have been brought up or the comforts that you have + the ways that that makes you think certain things about certain topics. If you are listening through and there are parts of this that you strongly disagree with because you couldn't fathom how that could apply to you- I want you to consider how that might apply to another woman or another body size, or another person that has been brought up in a different way.


I also want you to consider changing what your Instagram feed looks like. I am going to talk way more in depth about this in a "Changing Your Norm," episode in the future, but I want you think about how your Instagram feed creates your norm, which then continues to feed into your natural biases and opinions of what is + what should be. If your feed is not filled with real bodies that represent all types of women or all types of bodies, you are very likely not living with an open minded perspective or open-minded acceptance of the true value of a woman's body. It is likely that if you are looking at only one type of woman on the internet, whether it be in your Instagram feed, whether it be in porn, regardless of what it is, if you are looking at a certain type of woman that only represents sexuality to you, + sex + all of that goodness that you think comes from the woman's body, you are very likely not viewing women from a perspective that allows them to be as they are + to really appreciate themselves, their whole selves, for what they see themselves as, not for what makes YOU "turned-on."


I want you to consider being an ally. I want you to consider starting conversations that feel uncomfortable or that may make your friends look at you with a furrough brow, like, "dude did you really just say that?" I think it is very easy to fall into the comfort that comes with, like I said earlier, just being comfortable + having the privilege of being confident + being comfortable with what you have or not having to fear or stress or doubt what it is that you were born with. I really encourage you to take a step up to the plate + really consider what your beliefs support + where your values lie + what kind of stance you want to take on that conversation that involves women + involves their body types that they have no choice over because one thing I want to remind you of is that just as quickly as you will shame a woman for looking a certain type of way or acting a certain type of way or shutting down a certain type of behavior of yours, you will be just as quick to comment on her for changing her body and being promiscuous or doing whatever it is that she wants to do. So, I just encourage you to notice your own biases, notice your own opinions, change what your day-to-day norm is that you are feeding your mind + really become an ally for understanding that the woman's body is here to be appreciated + it is here to be a work of art + it is here to create + carry women through regardless of what it accomplishes or what it gets done or what it looks like.


Thank you so so much for being here, please be sure to find us on Facebook at The Souls Undressed Podcast Community page to carry on any conversations about this topic. Let me know your opinions. I want to start conversations. I want us to be talking about these topics. If you do not have me on Instagram, the podcast page is Souls Undressed Podcast, but I have a private, women's only, boudoir page that I think would be a great time to share here. It's just all about empowering each body-type, every sort of look, feel, essence, energy: just women, empowering women. That can be found at @t.e.boudoir and I will also list that here in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here, guys. Subscribe, follow, whatever it is that your podcast host allows you to do + let's connect! We'll talk soon.



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