Kim Kardashian tried to break the Internet recently by hefting her haunches in front of a camera. What she broke instead was my heart.
Because the comments that followed – like or hate the Kardashians – were hateful. And most of them seemed to be from women. Kim, they said, needed to keep her buns to herself. And why? The most absurd reason was because she is a mother now, and mothers shouldn’t be sexual creatures.
You won’t catch me in sexy online photos — not because I think it’s wrong, but because I hesitate to flaunt my flab. If all I wear is my lacy panties, I have to spurn my Spanx. That’s a little unnerving.
So I was curious about what would make real-life women pose in their panties for naughty photos.
Valerie Schooling Durant, who offers boudoir photos outside of Charleston, SC, says most women who come to her do so because they want to prove to their husbands – or to themselves – that they are still hot.
And, surprise, surprise. Most are self-conscious about their stomachs. The good news, Schooling Durant says, is that you don’t have to show your stomach if you don’t like it. There are ways to photograph around it. Artful draping. The lifted leg.
Many women get boudoir photos as gifts for husbands or boyfriends. What they don’t predict is that they are getting themselves a gift too.
“I don’t Photoshop my images,” Schooling Durant says. “Professional models are beautiful because they have professional hairstyling, professional makeup, professional photography, a beautiful location, and a knowledge of posing.”
Her studio provides the hair and makeup. You provide the lingerie.
“I tell people when in doubt, bring it all. They roll into here with a suitcase of all kinds of naughty goodness.”
And once women are in their tiny bits of lace and satin, Schooling Durant directs their posing.
“I boss them around,” she says. “I tell them what to do and they can just lie back. I tell them what to think about because when you are thinking about something fun, you have a more fun look on your face.”
And somehow, during the process, she says, her clients become what they pretend to be. They become beautiful.
“They expect that this is going to be an awkward thing,” Schooling Durant says. “If I ask an average woman to show me your sexy face, most women don’t know how to do that. Just like actors playing a lawyer would tell you they aren’t just acting as a lawyer, they are being a lawyer, this is your chance to be sexy. I am giving you permission. Most of my clients are exhausted because it’s a mental workout. Since when does any woman spend an hour and a half thinking they are beautiful?”
I know I have felt beautiful in spurts, moments when I am blissfully happy and full of love. But sustaining that for more than an hour? Never.
We don’t display our beauty. Because if Kim Kardashian, or you, or I, want to let it all hang out and invite the world to appreciate the wild woman we are? I’m betting the most vicious critics are going to be other women.