I feel pretty confused about a lot of things, but one of the things I feel most confused about right now is femininity.

Over the last few weeks, I have gone on a major feminism kick. I’ve been reading “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir and watching some interesting documentaries (most notably Miss Representation) and films about female suppression and empowerment. Heavy stuff. I’ve found learning about the history of the female gender fascinating, but it also makes me angry and confused. I don’t know how to treat my beauty.

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I’m definitely not interested in taking overtly sexual photos of myself, but I’m not sure where I stand on glamour shots or selfies.

I’m afraid to objectify myself with photography.

A large part of me really wants to put on a beautiful dress, hire a photographer and take some romantic looking photos on the beach, but then I’m also afraid of being seen that way. “That way.” You know, I’m not even entirely sure what I mean by that.

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I really pride myself on being an intellectual, and I guess a part of me is afraid that flaunting my appearance in any way would mean that others could take me less seriously. And yet, although I don’t necessarily portray myself as “beautiful,” I know I definitely put off the “cute” vibes, which feels even more counter productive to this sense of self that I’m trying to achieve. Am I being ridiculous and irrational?

Where do you draw the line between photographing your beauty, showing off your sexuality, and posing in a way that makes you look submissive?

I feel like I’m almost expected to take these sorts of photos as an actor, but I feel uncomfortable with the last one. I don’t want to be appear submissive or like some sort of sexual object, but maybe that’s not the result of the first two? Am I giving away my power if I post a picture that shows off a more sexual side to who I am? I’m realizing that this post mostly consists of question, but right now that’s just because I’m full of questions. I’m overflowing with uncertainty.

As much as I might be appearing self righteous, I’m also coming at this topic with a lot of insecurity. There’s not too much that makes me more uncomfortable than being called beautiful. It’s like I feel like a fraud. I don’t know how that makes any sense, but it’s how I feel.

I’ve been practicing yoga for almost two and half years now, and I’ve gotten to be really good. I’m very proud of my practice. It’s strong, focused and balanced. I feel most myself when transitioning through an asana. The thing about yoga is you can’t hide. You can’t play small, and because of this I’ve come to notice something very interesting about myself: I’m afraid to be big. I’m afraid to be good at something, and in many ways I’m afraid to stand out. As much as I yearn to be taken seriously as a person, a larger part of me wants to hide. I’ve been trying to both feed and dull my flame at the same time.

So, here’s my dilemma…

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This, right here, is probably the most sexual photo I have ever taken of myself. I’m not sure how I feel about it. It definitely makes me uncomfortable to share.

Beauty and confidence (the ability to stand in your power) definitely have a lot to do with each other. Because I have this aversion to being referred to as beautiful, I have a theory that doing a tasteful editorial photo shoot would empower me, rather than diminish me. I think I need to challenge myself. I need to find the courage to see myself in a different way.

I’ve been looking at some different photographers, and the one thing that I’ve noticed about the photographs of women, is that you can often detect the need of the woman to look beautiful. This need isn’t apparent in the men’s photos, and so the photographs usually turn out better. They’re capturing the person and not just their appearance.

I think you have the power to choose how the camera sees you. Just like you have the power to influence how other people see you. If I get rid of the need to be beautiful, and go into this photo shoot with the knowledge that I am beautiful, maybe I’ll come up with a result that will surprise me.

It’s a theory, and I think it’s a theory I need to act on. I’m looking forward to updating you on the result next month.


Christine: Am I giving away my power if I post a picture that shows off a more sexual side to who I am?
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Christine Bissonnette

I'm a spoken word artist and writer originally from Nova Scotia. In addition to my own private writing practice, I also works with adults and teens by facilitating the writing of their own spoken word poetry. Topics which fire me up are voice, perfectionism, and those parts of growth that don't follow a list. You can learn more about me at 9creativelives.com

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