Get back your gaze by looking at yourself with adoration.
How many times have you thought that your appearance was a barrier to your attractiveness and sexiness?
Have you ever thought, 'if I just had abs/blonde hair/less wrinkles/clear skin....then I'd be hot'?
Ever been in bed but not wanting to try a position or do a kinky thing because of how your body looks?
You are DEFINITELY not on your own with this.
I'm right here with you. Our gaze is so DISTORTED. We have internalized the conventional beauty standards that are rooted in eurocentric beauty, a gender binary and youth. This means that normal things on our bodies like body hair, wrinkles, scars, melanated skin, etc are seen as unattractive in this hierarchy of beauty. Does this mean that people who only look like this narrow definition of 'sexy' are the only ones that deserve attention, desire, adoration...and even love?!
It doesn't mean that we are unworthy, but it can certainly feel like that. There are rewards that are promised if we look the 'right' way - rewards that are powerful motivators for people to go on diets, participate in a wealthy beauty and fashion industry, have cosmetic surgery and more. Feeling unworthy because of the skin we are in is hard to change because we have learned it, it's created deep seeded unworthiness in our bodies AND it gets reinforced everyday we look around us at flawless, youthful images (all photoshopped). So what can you do?
Taking back your gaze.
Taking back your gaze takes time and self-compassion. It's about broadening the idea of what's attractive in your eyes and prioritizing feeling good or neutral in your body instead of prioritizing looking attractive.
"Better" bodies don't mean better sex.
Here are some affirmations that have helped me:
Sexy Selfie Photoshoot
1. Get set up
Good lighting (try to have a lighting source behind your camera like a lamp or a bright window), tripod/stand to hold your phone, figure out your phone timer settings or use a pod with a remote.
What's in your space that's distracting? (i.e. my unfolded fresh laundry)
What can be used as a prop? Think about pillows, chairs, blankets, yoga mats, plants.
2. Get in the mood
Does music make you feel sexy? Put on a sexy playlist. Dance around in the mirror. Put on sensual or soothing music and stretch. Roll around on the floor and play. For some people getting dressed up puts them in the mood.
3. Get your look
You can choose a selfie photoshoot outfit with what you have on right now. It doesn't have to be 'traditionally sexy'. You can play with:
- Your fav colour
- Textures like velvet, fishnet, satin
- Underwear styles like briefs, thongs, high-waisted undies
- Draping fabric on you like sheets or throws
- Sexcessories - necklaces, collars, bracelet/cuffs, nipple pasties
- Hosiery - socks
This can feel hard because when we've been taught to see ourselves as unsexy, it's easy to censor ourselves from certain clothing, colours, textures, looks. And it's even easier to self-objectify by looking at our body as a collection of acceptable and unacceptable parts. Remember, this photoshoot is about play - not performance or perfection.
If you look in the mirror after loving choosing your outfit, loving how it feels on you but then not liking how your tummy/arms/legs/butt/chest looks in the mirror - take a deep breath and only give yourself a few minutes to look at yourself in the mirror. Try to meet your own gaze and smile at yourself and ground your feet into the floor by clenching and releasing your toes. This response is LEARNED. It is not an objective response, it's filled with pain, rejection, not belonging - be gentle with yourself in this moment.
4. Find Play
Set up your phone on video or multi-image capture and just start to move in front of it. Here are some ideas to help get playful;
- From your sexy playlist - start striking poses, moving your hands slowly around your body (your arms, neck,legs, hair) and let your gaze follow your fingers while the camera captures you
- Make silly faces - stick your tongue out, cross your eyes, animate your face
- Smile and wink at yourself in the camera
- Use props - throw a ball up in the air and catch it, blow bubbles, eat something you have to lick or get messy with
It can help to avoid checking each image after you've done it - get into the groove of feeling FUN.
5. Get curious
When you're all posed out, take a moment and some breaths to thank your body for being here with you and being honest about you with the things that were hard.
Get some water and a snack and keep your music going. Flip through the video or images (if you're using video, screenshot the moments you loved) and don't make any snap decisions yet about what you're keeping and what you're deleting. Savour the experience, how much courage and authenticity you put into REALLY letting yourself been seen by YOU.
What if you love/hate the photos?
If you love lots of the photos - awesome, they are yours to remember what you're capable of doing and how your beauty isn't a moment or a look - it's a goddess damn experience!
If you don't love all the photos, if you're upset at some of the photos - be gentle with yourself. It took me about 8 videos before I stopped focusing in on every single 'flaw' I saw, and about 3 videos before I stopped crying looking at myself.
Consider sharing your pics with someone like a bestie vs a partner - someone who your attractiveness doesn't matter too. Think about what feelings are coming up - perhaps you just dusted off anger and frustration that's been contained for so many years. Treat yourself to a bath, your fav drink/meal or some time journalling or playing with a pet/caring for plants. Tender things to bring you back into the present moment. It takes time to learn to let ourselves be celebrated. Remember - you did a BIG THING by challenging society's idea of your worthiness!
This is a practice, we're shedding and reclaiming and it can be a very raw process of getting into feeling ourselves in this way. If you're hoping to build a better community of people who are shedding shame and reclaiming themselves, stay tuned in this space for a NEW online community I'm offering.