** Warning - There is nudity and mad truth in this post **
Do you know who Dana Falsetti is? Familiarize yourself with her. She has a lot to say about body image, self love, fat phobia, sexuality, nudity - the list goes on and on.
I first met Dana when she booked a boudoir session with me almost 2 years ago. She came to my studio in Philly and we hit it off. We had a blast together. I loved photographing her soul and her rolls and her jiggle - so of course we quickly became friends. Since her first shoot, we've worked together countless times and have most recently shot a beautifully intimate session holding absolutely nothing back. It was liberating for both of us, I think - and it's so important to me that these images are shared. It's important that these images of this strong, empowered, beautiful fat woman OWNING her OWN sexuality be shared.
Because she has the ability to so eloquently put into words everything I feel, I asked Dana to write the content for this blog post and asked her to choose the images she wouldn't mind sharing, and leave the rest for her to enjoy and cherish privately.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned through years of shame and recent years of being very visible online, it’s that I will never please everybody. Not only is it not possible, it’s not my job. No matter what my body looks like, no matter what I’m wearing, no matter what I say, somebody wants to bring the shame. At this point I know it has to do with them and not me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience the outcome of ingrained thought patterns that cause society to dehumanize and control women, especially as one living in a large body.
In addition to scrutiny over women’s bodies, society *also* doesn’t quite know what to do with fat bodies. Many people are disgusted by them, many people quietly fear the possibility of fatness for themselves, many people project insecurities under the guise of health policing. I can’t really blame them; I grew up without any representation and the only time I saw a body like mine it was for a diet pill, a “before” photo, a new weight loss plan. So we learn that fat=bad and the rest spirals from there. You can see how we’re already working with multiple layers of shame here.
Fact: women’s bodies are sexualized beyond the space I have to write in this blog. It’s been my experience that because I have more body to show, my body is often sexualized in an extreme way even when there is nothing innately sexual about the photo, my body, the context, etc. Me sitting in my underwear (and showing the world) basically feels like a political statement because not only am I presenting my body without the shame society thinks I should feel, but I also have cleavage, curves, a giant butt, wide hips, and all of these things that society sees and says, “too sexy” or “bad role model.” This response is hilarious to me because so many accept women’s bodies and sex as a way to sell crap, women’s bodies being scrutinized on the cover of smut magazines you walk past at grocery check out, but as soon as a woman chooses to reclaim her body or even show it out of her own power, her own control, her own choice, people lose their shit. That’s because the shame, sexualization, and dehumanization of women is a control tactic. It has nothing to do with bodies, it has nothing to do with sex, it has to do with patriarchal power.
As a result, it’s pretty taboo and uncomfortable for many to see a woman embrace her sexual power. We are taught sex is shameful, women’s bodies are shameful, women enjoying sex is shameful, women feeing or expressing sexuality is shameful, I could keep going. I say that’s bullshit. It took me years to undue the damaging narrative surrounding women, fat bodies, and sex. Separately and together. It took me years to realize there is nothing wrong with my belly rolls, cellulite, stretch marks, arm wings, back boobs, saggy breasts, jiggly thighs, and everything I have grown to love. It took me years to realize I deserve to enjoy my body through all it’s transitions, prioritize my pleasure, and express myself however I want, whenever I want. As I’ve grown to work through these insecurities, I’ve grown to appreciate all parts of my power. My body, my mind, my sensuality, my sexuality, my vulnerability, my compassion… ultimately my confidence in being who I am. All of these things are my strength and are a beautiful part of what makes me, me.
I reject the notion that women can’t revel in their sensual power whenever they want. I reject the notion that fat bodies, not to mention any bodies, ever deserve to be sexualized by others. I reject the notion that it is at all taboo for women, especially fat women, to embody “sexy” or display the beauty of an intimate connection with themselves. I reject the notion that women aren’t allowed to feel sexy, beautiful, confident, powerful, whatever we damn well please.
These photos are for me and for every woman needing a reminder that she can be whoever she wants to be, and she can even feel good about it, too.
Your body, your life, your rules. That’s it.