This one can also be classified under “Adventures with Vouchers.” Last spring I bought a voucher for a “boudoir” photo shoot for the low low cost of GBP18.
But it played out in typical fashion. I waited until the last minute before the voucher expired and then found myself forced to go to an appointment the same day I called for it or else lose the opportunity to use the voucher.
I’ve been wanting to get pin-up shots for a long time (I believe it was on the 31×31 though I obviously didn’t get to it), but I wanted to curate it to perfection: sexy librarian, with a corset, thigh highs, the perfect cardigan, nerdy glasses and a book.
Oh, and I wanted to lose 10 pounds before the illustrious day. I wanted to look perfect. Duh.
Instead I found myself running around Oxford Street an hour before my appointment, scrounging to buy ANY sort of lingerie, thinking about the massive breakfast followed by pizza I’d eaten two days before, the endless shovel of chips into my mouth in this blessedly fry-happy country.
I tried on several bustiers and corsets and slip/nighties, and none of them fit the vision in my head. My love handles projected, my boobs strained unattractively against the fabric as I prayed I wouldn’t rip anything pulling garments back over my head. I settled for a kind of black sheer loose camisole with a built in bra and straps for thigh highs. I didn’t love it. It made my chest look weirdly pointy.
And I was worried about the thigh highs – my thighs are my horror zone. The last time I tried on thigh highs (ten years ago, and admittedly drug-store cheap) they dug into my flesh creating two matching oozy muffintops.
But I was out of time and had to settle for what I could get. I showed up at the studio in Covent Garden sweaty from running around central London and terrified out of my mind. I figured if the pictures came out badly – if I looked fat, lumpy, flabby, jiggly, and generally ugly, if my thighs overtook the rest of me as they do in my nightmares – I could always buy another voucher and try again later after losing that ten extra pounds that won’t let me go the same way I won’t let go of cheese and beer and carbohydrates.
I walked in and this young woman named Charlie immediately put me at ease, chattering away cheerfully, swapping travel stories, and artfully slapping some makeup on my face that made me feel enhanced and dramatic without spilling into “glamor shot,” if you know what I mean. (If anyone in London is considering doing this, I used For Your Eyes Only, and Charlie is a star, request her).
I showed Charlie what I had brought to wear, but mentioned I didn’t mind the underwear I was wearing, and maybe if we didn’t use the negligee I could return it (student budget, yo). So we started with what I had on, which meant I finally had to strip down in front of a complete stranger.
You know what? It was easier than I thought.
I am more comfortable in my body than I realized because I took off my jeans and top without blinking. When she asked me if I wanted to do any shots topless, I thought, why not? and shed my bra immediately.
Charlie pointed me to a large platform and started a litany of instructions – arch your back, point your toes, hands here, balance on the top of your head. She did it sweetly but there was a military precision involved. I didn’t mind. I like being bossed around. The poses were actually pretty painful, and I wondered if the strain from holding them would show through in my face.
When we had finished and I had put my clothes back on, Charlie showed me the best shots.
I was floored.
I thought, Oh my God. I’m pretty.
I have never looked at myself and felt so good – so sexy, so beautiful, so powerful. Even my thighs looked strong and sultry rather than like tree trunks. Me, with my ten pounds of extra love, in my cheap Target bra and Victoria Secret panties, no corset sucking me in, no gauzy fabric covering my least favorite bits.
Just me. And I am beautiful.
The most obscene part of the experience was the cost – the photos themselves were not included in the cheap voucher for the shoot. Buying even digital prints is excessively expensive, but I swallowed my fears and got out my credit card. How often will I have a chance to remind myself that I am attractive in such a literal way? When I am 80, I am gonna look at these pictures and say, Damn. Yes. That is ME.
I’m not dating anyone right now. These pictures were for me and me alone. That feels kind of nice. I’m glad I don’t need a boy to feel sexy. Maybe someone will be lucky enough one day to see them all. And I do think that guy will be very, very lucky.
But for now I’m content to peek at them whenever I’m feeling “less” or “not enough” or out-and-out ugly.
I can look at them right now and think, Damn. Yes. That is ME.
So as usual the experience didn’t fit the vision in my head. The shots are “boudoir” not pin-up. I never got my corset. I didn’t prep and preen the way I wanted.
I would not change anything about this experience, or these photos.