So, who is the boudoir photography really for? I’m sure that, in some cases, it is a boost to self-esteem for the women who partake of the services of the photographers. But if there is a need to boost self-esteem, the photography might fix the symptom, but doesn’t address the issue of why the boost to self-esteem is needed.
For many years, women have fought long and hard to be considered equals, to demand equal pay for equal work, to be recognized in the workforce for the contributions they make and the work they do. To this day, this is not true. Men still dominate the workforce and women still don’t get the recognition, monetary or prestige/privilege they deserve. Women are still seen as either a threat, therefore relegated to subservient social roles, or have their value in society and business undersold. Unfortunate as it is, and generally untrue, women of success are often accused of having "slept their way to the top," using sex as a bargaining tool. How is boudoir photography any different, at the end of the day? Not only do the photos project sexuality as they are designed to do, they project a version of sexuality as defined for men, by men and for the pleasure of men.
What bothers me is that the women in question don’t seem to realize that they are perpetuating all the media hype. They have been "under the influence of media" since they first watched television, went to movies or looked at magazines. Our children are not immune to the onslaught of media-defined expression of sexuality and self-worth. Check out the advertising on your local kids’ channels and cartoon channels. Barbie was the worst thing that could happen to girls’ self esteem. Girls in particular grow up with the idea that if they don’t look like "that," they are worthless and no one will love them. Needless to say that carries on into adulthood. Incessant dieting, bulimia and anorexia, having to have the latest in fashion (designed to produce sexual response in men, of course), needing more and different and "better" as decided by the media, and, now, boutique photography, are just symptomatic of a crisis in our society.
The myth is unhealthy, for many reasons. And the myth is dangerous, because it imprints someone else’s values on people’s minds, in no less a fashion than the techniques of brainwashing used in some military and fundamentalist religion practices. It works insidiously to remove choice, to remove the idea that there might be a different way of looking at who and how we are. It stops independent thought. It affects how we look at the world from different angles, not just fashion and sex. It conditions us to believe what we are told without question, whether in the field of fashion, sex, politics or war. We stop thinking, because we believe what we see in the media.
“I saw it in a magazine, I saw it on Facebook, I saw it on CNN, so it has to be the truth, right? Right?”
Fraezor Martell, St. Albert