Finding Healing in Front of the Camera
This post is part of a weekly Her.meneutics series called The Sex We Don’t Talk About, designed to feature female perspectives on aspects of sex and sexuality that can go overlooked in the church.
Sarah, a professional photographer based in Atlanta, photographs women posing in unbuttoned Oxford shirts, lacy bras, strappy tank tops, and tied-up corsets. Her subjects are not models or professional pinups; they are moms, brides, students, and business owners.
Her studio specializes in boudoir, a style of intimate portraits with subjects in undergarments, lingerie, and various states of undress. Over the past several years, boudoir shoots have taken off with the rise of specialty photography and the body positive movement.
“It’s helping women be able to embrace themselves, be able to feel beautiful, and to acknowledge that they are stunning creatures,” Sarah told me when I met with her last year.
I was fascinated by her work and philosophy. Her shoots are for all types and sizes of women, not just married women who hope to give the photos as gifts to their husbands, or “traditionally beautiful” women who are comfortable in front of the camera.
But the idea of stripping down to take sexy photos poses real questions for me as a Christian. I wonder, am I allowed to feel sexy, for the sake of it? Do the Bible's teachings on modesty prevent us from actually desiring to feel beautiful? Stunning? Confident?
Given our current cultural context, in which many women feel pressure to attain an impossible beauty ideal, I love the idea of women pursuing boudoir shoots to embrace their bodies and overcome hangups with their own sexuality. But does the trend end up playing into our societal idolization of sex appeal and beauty? Is this a way for a woman to objectify… herself?
Finally, what about the images themselves? While most boudoir photography is done in a “tasteful” style (without the full nudity or sex acts found in erotica and pornography), the style is undeniably sexy and often revealing. How do we distinguish between these kinds of photos and porn? And should we be concerned about privacy, and the possibility of these NSFW photos somehow becoming public?
As Christians called to honor God with heart, mind, and body, what we do with our bodies has spiritual significance. In a marriage, there’s also the responsibility of considering bodies in service to one another (1 Cor. 7:4), as two become one flesh (Mark 10:8).
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