Now that I have your attention…let’s have a little chat about … MALE BOUDOIR!
And just so we’re clear from the get-go … when I talk about male boudoir… NO … I am not referring to those “let’s see a man in his underwear, making ridiculous feminine poses like it’s funny” kinda shoots because they are just … NOT! Period!
So glad I could clear that up!
It’s no surprise that as an all-inclusive boudoir photographer, I shoot ALL kinds of humans.
Why? Because it’s always been my philosophy that everyBODY deserves to feel sexy…no matter what race, size, shape, age (as a consenting adult of course), sexuality, or gender identity a person may be. It takes all kinds of humans to make this big ol’ crazy world go round….and in this world and the exciting world of Boudoir photography, I believe ALL humans deserve to be represented and male boudoir photography is no exception!! Can I get a HELL YEAH up in here!!
For me, shooting men (or folks who identify as male) and male boudoir, lands right in there along with everyone else! What most people don’t realise though, is that men (along with many other groups of humans and marginalized folk) are often not represented in this genre of photography.
Why?Because there is this ridiculous notion in “society” that it is not “acceptable” for men to want these types of boudoir experiences for themselves. Nor is it widely accepted that men should show their emotions, their insecurities, or vulnerabilities. Ahhh yes … there’s that nasty toxic masculinity hard at work again!
Well, I say SCREW THAT NOISE and screw “societal norms”! Why shouldn’t a man feel comfortable in expressing himself in whatever way he chooses as long as it’s not causing harm to others? Why can’t a man have a boudoir session and feel proud to be expressing himself? A man is not any less of a man if he chooses to show his emotions, his feelings, his pain, his vulnerability. Nor is he any less human, for wanting to document his own life journey. As the old saying goes….each to his own…AM I RIGHT??!!
The feeling of empowerment should not be limited to a particular sex or gender.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of photographing numerous male clients. Do you want to know the most common reason they give, for doing a shoot like this is?? WAIT FOR IT … it’s for the EXACT same reasons women come to do this type of experience for themselves!! I SHIT YOU NOT!! Just like their female counterparts, men want to feel good about themselves too…and why the hell shouldn’t they?
I’ve been fortunate to have engaged in some pretty deep conversations with my male clients about this and I am thankful to those fellows who have been kind enough to open up and be vulnerable with me and share their stories. One of the many things I have learned from these conversations is, men also have the same concerns surrounding body image and self-confidence as women do. Yes…they worry about what “they” (society, friends, family, and the internet trolls, etc) will say. The fear of judgment surrounding their outward appearance or being subjected to body shaming for having a “dad bod” and not the washboard, six-pack abs that is generally accepted as the “norm” and expected by most viewers these days, when looking at images of men in the media. The issues surrounding body acceptance is something that we, as women, encounter regularly throughout our lives, so why would we think this would be any different for men?
Some of my male clients have discussed with me their reasons for wanting to do a boudoir session. For some, it’s because they have experienced personal trauma from past relationships. For others, it’s because they lack self-confidence, have low self-esteem, or as one client put it, that niggling fear that they don’t “measure up”, that they want to let go of. After doing their sessions, I ask each of them what is one positive outcome they had from their experience and the most common answer is that they can now actually “see” their worthiness and that it’s ok to do something like this for themselves!! And again, these are the same answers I receive from the many women I photograph too. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Feeling empowered and realising your self-worth isn’t something reserved for a select few. It’s there for each and every one of us to reach out and grab, with two strong hands. We need to recognise that we can do that, whenever we feel the need and whenever the hell we please! We only get one opportunity to live our best possible life, so why not give it everything we’ve got, regardless of how “people” may or may not react to our choices or perceive them. I say…It’s YOUR life to live, so LIVE IT! Do what makes you happy and if that means stripping down to your skivvies and having a photoshoot done for yourself, then I’m all for it! I’ll be your #1 cheerleader right here!
THE TRUTH ABOUT MEN …….
They are human too!! They have just as many fears, hangups, and reservations as women do, the difference being, at least from what I have observed in my years of doing this work, is that they just aren’t able to be as open to talking about it as women are. They have been so heavily conditioned to believe that it’s NOT ok for them to express themselves that most folks don’t even know these concerns exist for them.
The sooner we can understand and accept that men also have a voice that needs to be heard when it comes to body image, self-worth and self-confidence, the sooner it can be recognized that these are valid topics worthy of further discussion and we can start to have a constructive and open dialogue around them. Sharing their stories will help us all become more aware, more compassionate, and more understanding. It will also help foster more acceptance and less judgement and who doesn’t want to leave in a world like that? I know I sure do!
Being a catalyst for positive change and helping to shift perceptions is what drives me to DO and BE a better boudoir photographer. It’s part of my journey as an artist and creative, to hold space for those who aren’t represented equally in our industry, in our communities, and in society as a whole. I believe the work I do is important and on some level, even if it’s in the smallest of ways if I can help to break down stereotypes, barriers, and antiquated ideas and mindsets that have been too loud for too long, then I’m doing it!!
I am full of respect and gratitude for the men in these photographs that have pushed past their fears to go “against the grain” in order to document their own personal journeys of healing, self-love, and self-discovery. I love that each of them embraced their boudoir experience whole-heartedly and granted themselves permission, to show up … for themselves! Having a male boudoir experience is one thing but having the realisation they are as worthy of self-love and acceptance as anybody else – well … that’s priceless!!