Self-Portraits / 2019/ Session Nº3

Last night I went to a live recording of Turn Me On and felt that wonderful spark I remember from my own podcast Impractical Women’s Studies – a spark that signifies liberation, curiosity, and empowerment.

When people say they’re going to be talking about sex its simultaneously exciting and stressful. What will you learn? What are you hiding? What conversations are you still uncomfortable having? What are you scared about other people knowing?

They started the evening off with some audience games, that included having to stand if you answered yes to a question and stay standing until your next no. There were moments that I felt relieved (like when they asked if you like butt stuff, and I gladly sat) and others that made me blush, like when they asked if you spit or swallow. I was sitting next to my boyfriend and our friends, so while we say we are working towards a sex-positive culture I had to question what that really meant for me, including the question “Does sex positive mean I want everyone to know what I like in bed?”.

I’ve realized my biggest insecurity is how I make other people feel. I didn’t want to embarrass my boyfriend, but I wanted to participate in the game. I didn’t want our friends to feel uncomfortable knowing that I prefer to swallow (which you all do now, too… sorry). Sure, I have my own embarrassments. I think for the most part any shame I have comes from how I think it will be perceived more than shame around those “kinks”.

I started thinking about what it is that I find sexy. What do I like doing? When do I feel my best? What fucking turns me on?!

I wore red fishnets under my outfit last night. Partly because I wanted the little peep of them at my ankle for my outfit. But also because it was fun to be secretly dressed up under my sporty-black-kind-of-generic outfit. I like the way I look in them, the way they make me feel, my boyfriends reaction. It is personal empowerment – empowerment that doesn’t ask other people to validate me to feel sexy. In fact, I realized the less people that knew the better I felt. I like being able to choose when I’m seen and how.

To contrast the spice of lingerie, I also love being cozy. I feel most in my element at home in a big sweater and panties. I am the typical girl-next-door and I think thats how I’ve always idealized myself sexually as well. Perceived innocence. The knowing things you’re not supposed to know. The beauty of the mundanities of life.

These themes inspired a fun self-portrait session. I threw on some Blink-182 and danced in my clothes from yesterday as soon as I got home. No showering, no changing my underwear, no props. Just dancing and having fun and remembering that at the end of the day I want to embrace my sexuality for me. I get to choose who I share it with and why. I get to feel powerful in my own skin, clothes, and relationship.

There have been times when my sexuality was something I wasn’t empowered by. I felt crushed under its weight and like it was something I could use to gain power. It was a tool in manipulation and being manipulated. I believed for a long time that my body was the most profitable thing I had to offer and totally disconnected myself emotionally from my sexuality and sexual experiences. Now I thrive on the emotional link, on feeling sexy for myself and knowing that I don’t need anyone else to validate that or put a price on it.

While this only skims the surface of sexuality and my experiences and learning with it, it is still these moments and instances that make me feel powerful and in control. That remind me that I am able to own myself and my body and that power only belongs to those I choose to give it to. My commitment to myself is to choose empowerment.

On Gratitude + Appreciation

I feel like in the past couple of years there has been an influx in our conversations about gratitude and appreciation. We’re told to always be grateful for what we have and appreciate where we’re at and yadda yadda yadda like it is always a conscious choice where we put our feelings or even how we feel.

I was talking to one of my friends the other day and she was telling me she was proud of me for all that I’ve done this month. Moved out of an unhealthy living situation, officially started a relationship, published a book, started a new job… I hadn’t taken stock of my life in that way in a long time. I was humbled by what I had done and also shocked that I hadn’t recognized fully all that I had accomplished. The thing that got me the most though was that I still didn’t feel that proud feeling I expected. I wasn’t overcome by relief or emotion. I didn’t have an epiphic moment where I came into some other-worldly outside of myself realization of my worth and how far I’ve come.

Instead I realized that my lack of recognition for where I’d gotten myself was because it felt like it was necessary to not give too much weight to these instances so I could keep growing and moving forward.

My friend pointed out to me that it is sometimes necessary to not take stock. To close our eyes and keep plowing through – to not compare or judge, but simply just do. To realize later that you had gotten ahead and were okay and strong. But that to do this forever is it’s own kind of depression.

I feel like the past year has been about realizing and recognizing my true power and potential in my life. There was a lot less fear this year than there ever has been, which means all that energy I was able to put into faith. The challenges I took with a grain of salt and took on the mindset of knowing everything is temporary – but this survival mechanism also stole some joy from me. I was less able to be grateful for what I do have and who I am because I know it’s temporary too – or more, I make it temporary by living like this constantly. I wasn’t aware of the learning curve I was dipping into and how often the changes we make can sometimes bring us into even more of the same.


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