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The Boudoir Party
By Kristen Rebelo
Photographer: Christa Dickson
Models: Jeanna Witt, Stephanie Cobb, Chey Moore
Hair & Makeup: Karis A Stylist
You may recognize Christa's name, as she is one of our regular photography contributors. While her images typically feature women in surreal or fantastic surroundings, she has recently become interested in photographing a different setting—boudoir. We caught up with Christa to get her perspective on boudoir photography created by and for women.
Tell us a little about this series. How did the idea arise and what was the process of photographing these women?
This series has been sitting in the back of my head for so long, and for a long time I didn't realize it was going to be a boudoir shoot. I just started the idea of boudoir for fun, but then I kept getting a lot of responses from the girls saying how they were scared to do the shoot because of their bodies. They didn't want anyone to see them for who they are. It was so sad to me, that in the world today many women are afraid. There are such high standards for women and this is something we need to seriously work on in order to cause change. This shoot was so much fun. We got a high spirited hair and makeup stylist by the name of "Karis A stylist" to do the hair and makeup. She showed up, and was just the life of the party. The girls were each done in hour sequences at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Eastgate, Ohio. We had to show the girls they are worth the best there is to offer; so we got the king's suite! The first girl was Jeanette, then Stephanie, and we finished up with Chey. Two of the girls came in visibly "shaken." They weren't sure what to do next, and they weren't sure how they felt in their bodies. We laughed, we listened to music, we sang, we ate cookies, fruit, vegetables and we shot the sexiest shoot we could have accomplished. We did it for us. Not one of those girls left the "Boudoir Party" feeling less than a princess!
It’s pretty common knowledge that many forms of media are dominated by men. Meaning the images we see—from television to high fashion to the pages of Playboy-—are usually conceived, directed, and shot by men, even if they are not the intended audience. How does your perspective change this narrative?
I think the way this was done completely changed the narrative. I think more shoots like these could be a huge step in the entire media movement. Woman need to feel empowered in their bodies. Your body is a beautiful thing, it's not something anybody should be ashamed of, and I love the way that you can accomplish that with boudoir. It's scary, it's challenging but it's completely 100 percent worth it to just push through. The reason is because we need to feel desirable, we need to feel confident. If we feel confident we can walk away and accomplish everything we want in this world; and that's what the media changes about us. The media raises standards to an unreachable level! It is okay to not be stick thin, it's okay to not be perfect because perfection is BORING. These girls have flaws but they are all so intensely beautiful. We need to remember that, the beauty is within ourselves and we need to make a movement for woman power. Our bodies are beautiful and they are our own!
Do you think the intended audience for boudoir photography changes the process? What difference does it make if women are having these portraits taken for themselves rather than a partner?
When you are doing a shoot for your partner and not for yourself, you tend to let yourself fall into, "What does my partner want out of this shoot?" I think it's okay to do boudoir photography for your partner, but I think it should mainly about you. Do you feel sexy and comfortable in your skin? The number one thing I asked each of the girls was to choose two of their favorite features about themselves. Not what their boyfriend loves, not what they are constantly complimented on but what they loved. Those are the things I focused on most during the shoot. Choosing the assets that make them proud of themselves.
How can women (or gender nonconforming individuals) use their bodies as an empowering form of expression?
The number one way I think that it is empowering is that if a woman finds herself "appealing" or "sexy" generally it comes with a large sense of feeling accomplished and confidence. A boudoir shoot can be REALLY nerve wrecking especially if you're not comfortable with who you are, so i think it's completely empowering at the end of the shoot to say, "I did this!" When you finally see the pictures, you are completely struck at how you look. When people look back at things like that they feel accomplished because they did it and beautiful because of the results. As soon as woman feel accomplished they can take on the world.
How do you think perceptions of beauty are changing or have the potential to change with a female perspective in the industry?
I think it's slowly changing for the better. We've recently been seeing more plus sized models, the Dove's campaign for woman, etc. I think woman are finally starting to understand that they're not meant to look like the woman in magazines (who don't even really look like that). It's okay to have flaws, and it's best to embrace them. Our flaws are what make us unique, they make us who we are and we are all so beautiful. Nobody can ever take that away from you.
See more of Christa's work here.
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