Boudoir Photo Shoot

 

 

I have struggled with self-love and self-esteem issues ever since a boy I had a crush on asked me, “why aren’t you pretty like all your friends?”. I was seven years old.

Ever since that day, I have tried to discover ways to make myself feel beautiful. Whether it was as extreme as starving myself or something as simple as buying myself a new outfit. I’ve tried it all.

My journey of self-love has been a long and rough one but I still seem to trek on.

So me being the super self-conscious and critical woman I am, I decided the best thing for me to do was partake in a boudoir photo shoot for my two year anniversary present to my boyfriend. Makes perfect sense, right?

A photographer I had been following for a while on Instagram posted that she was doing a boudoir photo shoot package including hair and makeup as a Valentine’s Day gift idea and I signed up right away.

I was obviously very hesitant to partake in the photo shoot due to my body image issues, but little did I know that this photo shoot would be one of the most empowering and impactful things I have ever done for myself. I honestly thought that me posing provocatively in sexy lingerie was just a great gift for my boyfriend, which it was, but it was also a gift in disguise to myself.

On my way to the photo shoot, I was stressing out about the outfits I had picked out for myself. My two main insecurities had always been both my stomach and my arms. So naturally, I got two outfits that covered both with just enough skin showing that I felt comfortable but also sexy.

As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by the photographer, Jessica (@lagophoto), the makeup artists and hairstylists, Jess, Hailey and Loe, as well as the other women that were there for their own shoot.

These women were immediately so friendly and made me instantly feel comfortable. I was surrounded by women who were constantly speaking words of encouragement and love to each other from the second I stepped out of my car.

Once my makeup and hair were complete I went into the house to watch the ending of one of the other woman’s shoot. And let me tell you, this woman was PERFECT. She was nailing each pose and didn’t have to be directed as to what to do once. This scared me a little since I knew I was going to need A LOT of coaching on my poses and facial expressions since I knew I’d be somewhat stiff once the camera was on me. Oh, and I felt that my physical appearance was nowhere near as flawless as she was.

When it was my turn to shoot, I went and changed into my first outfit and I’m not going to lie, I gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror before stepping out.

But the second that I walked out of the bathroom all of the women began to boost my confidence with their “damn”, “oohs” and “ahhs”. And honestly their words of encouragement and constantly assisting me with my poses.

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This boudoir photo shoot was honestly such an amazingly positive experience for me. I was surrounded by women who genuinely support other women and aren’t threatened by another woman’s beauty or confidence.

For the first time in a long time, I felt so beautiful and sexy in my own skin and it was all thanks to these women.

While I was shooting, I wasn’t once worried about how the poses made my stomach look or whether my arms were pushed against my sides making them look fat. I was able to feel free and confident. I was living in the moment, which hasn’t happened to me in years!

There was even a time during the shoot that the photographer asked me to take off my lace kimono, which I was wearing to cover up my arms. It had been my security blanket throughout the whole shoot and I told her that I hated my arms and she told me to stop being silly and to take it off.

Taking off that security blanket, while it may seem so simple and easy, was a big deal for me. I haven’t worn anything that shows off my arms in about two or three years. So at first, I was nervous but honestly removing it felt so freeing!

Doing something so out of my comfort zone like 1. wearing lingerie and 2. wearing it in front of strangers and 3. having photo evidence of both of those things was honestly one of the best ideas I have ever had. It forced me to face my fears and confidence issues and left me feeling empowered, loved and self-assured.

DSC_3074When I received my photos I cried. I had never once in my life seen myself in that light before. I was so beautiful. The photos were breathtaking. I looked and felt so confident in my own skin.

But at the same time, I was overcome with sadness. Why had I not seen this side of myself before? Why was I now, at 25 years old, seeing the natural and raw beauty in myself?

That thought was extremely saddening. But it made me realize that I need to step out of my comfort zone more often and put myself in situations that will not only help me learn to love myself but also situations that allow me to build other women up. Women encouraging other women is so important and impactful.

The women that were on “set” that day with me probably don’t even realize how much of an impact they made on me and my confidence that day. They made me feel invincible and forced me to see my own beauty. It has always been extremely easy for me to see and express the beauty in others, but I have never been able to do that for myself. So these women really made a lasting effect on me with their kind and honest words.

Since gifting the photos to my boyfriend, I have been trying to better myself for myself. I have been working on my self-confidence and self-love. My goal is to see myself the way my boyfriend sees me; effortlessly beautiful.

I know that the journey of self-love is going to be a lifelong journey but it’s something that needs to happen in order for me to feel fulfilled and truly happy.

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I never thought that something as simple as partaking in a boudoir photo shoot would have such an impact on me. But it did. And I cannot express how much this experience meant to me and how I feel like every single woman should do one for herself.

I thought this photo shoot was for my boyfriend as an anniversary gift, but it truly was for me and my own personal empowerment. It made me understand that us women need to stick together and support each other no matter what.

The years of women being pitted against each other to make themselves feel better is behind us. We need to stand together, support and empower each other. We are stronger together!

 

 

Swingers

This blog post is going to be a little bit different from my previous ones. I talked to two different people about swingers, since I am no expert on the subject, to gain some insight about the wonderful world of swingers.

I talked to Laurie Bennett-Cook a licensed sex therapist and sexologist and Jason Major who is a writer and comedian, host of a live show/podcast called Jason Majors Sex Party, and swinger since 2000. (Check out his podcast at MajorSexParty.com)

This post is going to be in the form of a Q&A because I feel like it will be a lot more informative and come across better that way. Enioy.


Question: What is a swinger?

Laurie: Traditionally it’s a member of a couple (usually a married couple) who exchanges sexual partners for extracurricular excitement. Most couples who swing date and exchange partners with other couples. Exchanges take place at organized swinger parties and via online through sites such as Swinglifestyle.com

Many people tend to believe that anyone who identifies as being in a non-monogamous relationship is a swinger. This is not the case. There are several forms of non-monogamy and swinging is just one of many.

Jason: Swinging can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. To me, swinging means a certain level of openness in my romantic relationship which allows myself and my female partner(s) to explore outside sexual relationships. To most people in the swinging lifestyle, there tends to be some aspect of partner swapping or group sex with other people. A lot of swingers tend to only have sex or “play” with others at parties, clubs, events or on specific dates. Myself and my current partners are also open/polyamorous meaning that we not only have play time with other people at parties, but maintain other romantic relationships, as well. I personally prefer to have some kind of relationship with the women I play with, but a lot of swingers prefer the party scene specifically because there can be some anonymity.

Question: What are the benefits/drawbacks of being a swinger?

Laurie:Benefits:
-Become an expert in communication with your partner
-Variety
-Excitement
-Personal growth
-Relationship growth
-Infidelity less likely
-Sexual openness
-Greater levels of trust
-Greater levels of honesty
-Safely explore fantasies
Drawbacks:
-Wake up emotional vulnerabilities/insecurities that neither partner was previously aware of.
-Face any jealousy issues head on

Every couple is its own unique design and dynamic. Only the couple themselves can determine whether or not Swinging will enhance or deteriorate their relationship.

Jason: Let me start with the drawbacks. First is the obvious. Jealousy. I think that every swinger/poly/open person still feels jealousy, but they experience this feeling differently. Rather than experiencing only the negatives, they are able to translate those feelings into a positive experience, much in the way that someone who enjoys impact play or BDSM experiences the pain as pleasure. Obviously, this is not for everyone, but I think that a lot of people would find the experience of watching their partner with someone else kinda hot, if they didn’t feel like it would be a destructive force in their relationship.

Second drawback that I can think of is the increased risk of sexually transmitted infections or any of the other health issues that can occur with sex. Obviously, the more sexual partners you have, the more likely you may be exposed to something. Condoms are very big in the swing world. So, is STD testing. I get a full battery of testing twice a year. Of course, those tests would only tell me anything after I was already infected, but it allows me to be responsible should I catch anything. For the record, I have not had a sexually transmitted infection in the almost 15 years I’ve been doing this. I have known some people in the lifestyle who have come down with things like chlamydia or gonorrhea, but there were only a couple of incidents like this and all parties involved were honest with their play partners, careful in their treatment and they did not knowingly pass the infection on. I’d go so far as to say that I have seen consistently far worse behavior among my single non-swinger friends. In the swing world, the overwhelming majority of us work hard to stay healthy and do everything we can to play responsibly.

Benefits are many. I have found that it has made my romantic relationships stronger. I’ve seen this in other swinger couples, as well. I believe that the ability to feel freedom and be sexually adventurous can make partners less likely to get bored with their sex lives. Also, having multiple romantic partners can mean that both the physical and emotional stuff gets spread out. Some people might be unhappy with this, but I feel like it takes the pressure off of my romantic relationships. I don’t have to be all things to my girlfriend, nor she to me. Plus, I don’t need to end one relationship to start another. If there is a crush or attraction, there is freedom to explore those feelings rather than bury them down deep. This includes openly talking about those feelings with my girlfriend. And often, when you actually get a chance to scratch that particular itch it kinda goes away.

Obviously, I’ve also had some pretty amazing sexual experiences. And I think that has made me a significantly better lover. Everyone is different, so each new sexual partner adds something new to my experience level.

Also, I feel like it has increased my confidence greatly. When I first got into the swinging lifestyle I was very insecure about my body and I thought that I was extremely unattractive. At my first swing party, I discovered that while not every woman might be into me, there were definitely women who did find me sexy. And they were interested in showing me. That was a game changer. And it also taught me that rejection wasn’t the end of the world. But also that I shouldn’t reject myself. I’ve hooked up with women far hotter than a schlub like me should be capable of. The key was asking and being confident in myself.

Question: Does being a swinger affect romantic relationships positively and.ore negatively?

Laurie: It depends on the relationship. For some it is absolutely detrimental. For some it has little effect. And for others it can allow for growth and closeness. Many times “swinging” isn’t what causes the problem but rather figuring out what form of non-monogamy (if any at all) works for all parties in the relationship. If a couple is struggling in their relationship I always advise they stay clear of any form of non-monogamy. It’s like Grad School relationship and requires a level of communication and understanding that most are not ready for; capable of; or willing to pursue.

Jason: I’ve really only had positive things to say about how swinging impacts my relationships. I’ve had a number of relationships since I started swinging, including monogamous relationships where my partner was not a swinger. In all cases, the swinging wasn’t the reason the relationships ended. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the swinging is not just a whim, but more of a deep part of my sexuality. Could I live without it? Sure. Would I be happier with partners who were not only tolerant of this lifestyle, but enthusiast participants? Of course!

Also, it’s pushed me to be more honest with my partners. I realize that this isn’t for everyone, so when I meet a lady who I am interested in I make damn sure to disclose as quickly as possible. Definitely before first kiss sort of thing. Not like it’s something horrible she needs to be aware of, but more like it’s a fun, sexy fact of who I am. Another empowering thing is that more often than not this does not appear to be a deal breaker. And if it is? So what. I don’t want a partner to put up with this if she hates it any more than I want to hide away this aspect of my sexuality.

Question: How and why did you become a swinger?

Jason: I sort of stumbled into it. Met a woman online that I was attracted to and she invited me to a party she was throwing. She became a good friend and I was introduced to the wide world of wonderful perversion. As to the why? That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m not a jealous person, by nature. I’m a bit of an exhibitionist. I’m a bit of a voyeur. There are any number of things that attracted me to the lifestyle, but I continue to do it because it brings me great joy. There are bad times and the occasional terrible people, but overall it’s a lot of fun. And the vast majority of the people I’ve met through the lifestyle have been great. There are people who stumble into the scene for the wrong reasons, but the ones who stick around tend to be very thoughtful people. Or giant horn dogs, of course.

Question: What are some misconceptions and stereotypes that swingers face?

Jason: That we’re all sex fiends who can’t control ourselves. That we’re sex addicts. That we’re lascivious monsters who will take advantage of anyone. The truth is that the swing community depends on making people, especially the ladies involved, as comfortable as possible. If everyone is all nervous and creeped out, then no one is having any fun. A good swing club or party will always do it’s best to ensure that everyone is comfortable and that no one is made to feel pressured from unwanted advances. In fact, there are often limits on drugs and alcohol with the understanding that consent can’t be given if you’re too fucked up.

Questions: How and where do you meet other swingers?

Jason: Most swingers hookup via the internet these days. There are dedicated sites for the swinger community. Some are better than others. I’ve also had more than a little success meeting women through an online dating website that allows people to identify as varying levels of monogamous or non-monogamous. I’ve also met other swingers a lot through swing parties. You got to the same party or club enough and you get to know the regulars… For better or for worse. 🙂 The swing population is pretty wide and varied… You’d be surprised who you meet. We’re everywhere!

Introducing sex toys into the bedroom

Adding a little spice into your bland sex life can not only do wonders for your sexual satisfaction but it can also enhance your relationship with your partner.

You do not need to be particularly kinky or sexually adventurous to introduce sex toys into the bedroom.

Before you run to Condom Revolution with your partner in tow there are some things you need to think about.

Brining up the topic of incorporating toys into the bedroom can be a tricky conversation to tackle, especially if your partner or you are hesitant to talk about sex.

When I brought it up to my boyfriend he was completely down to try it out mainly because we are completely honest with each other about our sexual needs and desires. Although, we are extremely comfortable together he had some hesitation once the immediate excitement started to fade.

I remember he kept repeatedly saying, “Wait. You’re not going to leave me for your new vibrator now, right?”

This kind of reaction is completely normal and expected. Your partner, no matter how secure they are with themselves, can feel as if you wanting to introduce sex toys as you complaining about your current sex life. Of course this is not the case so you must reassure your partner and validate their feelings. Let your partner know that a toy cannot replace the real thing.

“Regardless of how fun a toy may be it doesn’t replace the feel and enjoyment of a live person,” said LaurieBennett-Cook, a clinical sexologist, se therapist, and sex educator.

Bennett-Cook said that being open and honest with your partner is a must. So allow them to openly express their excitement and hesitations around the idea without judgement.

If you are new to sex toys going into a sex shop can be intimidating but it should not be. Bennett Cook recommends asking them employers at the store any and all questions you have because they are extremely knowledgeable on the subject.

Ease yourself into toys. Start off easy with incorporating lube into your sex life. It can wake up all sorts of sensations.

Next, purchase an inexpensive vibrator. Get used to using it and discover what you like and do no like. There is not need for buying an expensive vibrator when you are just experimenting in the beginning.

The benefits of using toys with your partner are endless. One of the biggest perks is getting to know your body on a different level and building a stronger connection with your partner through communication.

“Toys can add variety, excitement, and new sensations. Taking the time to experiment and play can help one get to know their body better – what sensations, rhythms, pressures etc. do you find you’re enjoying. The more you know yourself, the better you can communicate your likes and dislikes with a partner,” said Bennett-Cook.

Sex toys can also increase the chances of a woman climaxing.

Only around one third of women experience orgasms through penetration alone according to The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologist of Canada. They also state that the other two thirds either reach an orgasm through intercourse with extra situation or by manual and oral stimulation. So integrating toys into your normal sex life increases the woman’s chance of an orgasm whether it be clitoral or vaginal.

Exploring your partners and your desires by using toys is a great way to connect with your partner on another, more sensual level. Becoming more intimate and adventurous is important and using sex toys can do just that.

“Toys are an excellent tool for exploring various fantasies,” said Bennett-Cook.

There are not too many drawbacks of toys. The main drawback is not knowing how to properly use the toys. Taking it slow and doing your research can do wonders.

Not only can sex toys make a relationship stronger by adding some good vibrations but it can also be exciting for both parties. Both people get to experience something new while sexually stimulating their partner to climax. What is better than that?

X-Rated Valentines Day Ideas

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and break your normal sexual routines.

When the day is winding down, after you’ve showered your significant other in mushy gushy gifts and kisses, make your way home for a night of real fun using these X-rated tips.

Before you do anything, be sure to set the scene and mood for the night; go overboard on the candles, make sure the sex toys are easily accessible, and cover the floor in rose pedals. “It’s all about sensuality – the stimulation of the five senses,” said Dr. Eve, a sexpert and sex therapist from Sea Point, “Get some aromatic oils, screw in a red light bulb to give the bedroom a different sort of feel or put on some sexy music.” A little romance makes a night of erotic fun even more pleasurable.

1. Watch porn together and do as they do
Make your way over to Porn Hub, the largest pornography website on the internet, and pick an interesting film to mimic. This is a great way to expand your sex life and try something new and adventurous.

2. Explore and fulfill your partners sexual fantasies
Talk to your partner and find out what they have always wanted to do. Whether it’s role-playing, using bondage in the bedroom, or even just a new sex position, try it out and make their dreams come true.

3. Bring food into the bedroom
“Create an erotic buffet and eat light finger foods off of your partner’s hot body,” said Jessica O’Reilly, a sexologist with a PhD in human sexuality. Grab some whip cream, chocolate covered strawberries, champagne, and even pop rocks to add a spark to your routine sex life.

4. Give and receive a sexy massage
Whip out the edible massage oil and give your partner a full-body rub down. If you know what I mean.

5. Grab a pair of sex dice and let the games begin
Roll the dice to see your future. Lick, kiss, suck, or rub your partner’s mouth, neck, ears, or unmentionables. Let the dice decide.

6. Grab the fuzzy handcuffs, bondage, blindfolds, whip, and anything else to take a stab at the wonderful world of BDSM (Bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism). Then turn your significant other 50 shades of red with your dirty talk.