A friend of mine had boudoir pictures done. She’d had a difficult few years, including a double mastectomy because of breast cancer. It took every ounce of (emotional) strength to agree to the photo shoot, wanting it as a surprise to her several-decade-long partner. When the proofs came, she was shyly pleased at how she looked. Most were fairly modest, but others did show her precious scars that saved her life.
Timidly, she showed her husband.
His response was: Nice lighting.
Broken-hearted and filled with unnecessary shame, she came into our secret group and shared a couple of the more modest photos asking if they were that bad that he didn’t even comment on what she looked like.
My friend’s pictures are stunning. When I opened the first one, I had shivers from the beauty of seeing this woman, literally, laying bare the fears she’s harbored for so, so long. (As many of us in this society do.) Of course we all held her close and loved on her, and told her what a doofus he was for not “seeing” her, but all of our approval was a drop compared to what she’d needed from him.
I’ve thought of this for several days now, asking the couple of guys in my life why a husband would do that? Why he couldn’t even muster a “You’re beautiful,” even if was fake. My male friends said about the same thing: Men suck.
Ye Olde Body Image
We women struggle with our body images, many of us since childhood.
I remember when I first began having sex, I never wanted to get on top because my breasts drooped off my chest, not remaining in pretty round orbs like the girls in Playboy. Then after having one giant baby after another, I didn’t want to get on top because my entire mid-section sagged down with gravity. Suddenly, my breasts were the least of the flopping about.
Just sitting here writing this, I remember the shame acutely. I have tears dripping from the corner of my eyes because I find myself so repulsively ugly. I feign not being embarrassed at all these doctor appointments, but the reality is I cringe every time someone needs to touch my body.
When I go to Sex Parties, there is no shame from anyone. Bodies are bodies are bodies. Most of us there are old enough to know life before Internet porn, so, I believe, have a more realistic view of growing-older bodies and sex. Besides under the covers, the only place I am free to be naked is with my kinky and swinging friends. (Even still, I am always nervous about taking my clothes off at the beginning of the evening. NO ONE EVEN CARES! Yet, I still do.)
Our Bodies Turning On Us
Fat, folds, scars, sags, creases, hair where we don’t want it, no hair where we do want it, adult acne (what the fuck are we doing still getting acne in our 60’s?!), leaking when we sneeze, farting at inopportune times… belching, using your inhaler before having sex, having not one, but two pillboxes to fill every week… having to eat by the clock so your blood glucose doesn’t go too high, or goddess forbid, too low! (One of the not-so-funny funny things is you have to shoot insulin into a roll of fat. Every. Single. Time I have to give myself a shot, I roll my eyes at the luck of so many gooshie sites to choose from.)
And let’s not even begin in the genital area.
People with means might be thinking, “Not me!” and so many begin having plastic/reconstructive surgeries as early as 16. That girls under 20 are asking for labiaplasty because they think their vulvas are ugly makes my heart hurt. Can an entire generation of women feel even more body shame than I have about mine? It seems so.
It’s sad to me that so many girls and women… and men! think our bodies should be porn-perfect or fantasy-ready.
I have no easy answers.