I’ve been using sexy self-portraiture as a method of radical self-love and sexual acceptance for more than a year. And in that time, the way that I see and perceive myself as a sexual woman has changed me in some beautiful ways.
I think a lot of people look at the photos I post on Instagram and only see the sexiness of the photo. But there’s often an unseen element in my photos that I don’t really talk about in depth.
The truth is that I usually don’t take sexy selfies because in that particular moment I’m feeling confident and in love with my body. I take sexy selfies to work through some hard body and sexual stuff that I often struggle with, things that zap my confidence and make me question my existence.
Sexy self-portraiture for me is less about lust and being braggadocious and more about a tool that I use to counter the sometimes abusive and critical thoughts I have about myself, my body, and my sexuality.
So in the spirit of transparency (and inspired by this piece), I wanted to share a few of my sexy selfies and be really honest about where I was—emotionally, mentally, and physically—when I took them.
*Note: The following contains tastefully nude photos that may not be safe for work.
. . .
November 19th, 2016
Fresh from the bath in an AirBnB in Seattle, Washington. This was right after the presidential election, which had completed robbed me of my sexual radiance at the time. I was going through my first of many hard bouts of depression and it was really hard to access sexual feelings.
I felt disconnected from my body because it didn’t feel safe to fully inhabit my body. I felt angry at the unseen forces that were making me feel scared and unsafe. I felt frustrated that I was experiencing these feelings in the first place and admonished myself for having them—which created a vicious cycle of shame, self-judgment, and inactivity.
All of that was going on at the time I snapped this picture, so my mind wasn’t in a particularly sexy mood. But I desperately wanted to get my sexy back, and taking this selfie—the first one in a while—was an attempt to get me how worthy I was to take up space.
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April 27th, 2017
A few days into my period. I was cramping, my head ached, and I was feeling very tender. We had had a long, hard winter here in the Pacific Northwest and almost everything was late to bloom. It was still grey outside, still gloomy and cold and foreboding.
I was walking my dog when I saw this bloom on the ground, recently shed to make room for new leaves. I picked it up and took it home with me, thinking that the loud color would bring some life and color into my dreary home. I showered shortly after, came out with my towel, and saw the bloom on my bed. I opened the towel, let it fall to the floor, and covered my angry crotch with it, the soft petals tickling my skin a little.
It was an impromptu but quick photoshoot and for a moment it took my mind off of the incessant greyness outside my window and made me feel a connection to my body I hadn’t felt in a few days.
. . .
August 10th, 2016
In my living room, during a power cleaning session. I loved everything about myself on this day, particularly the way the light made my skin appear luminous and how my breasts looked in this skimpy top, so I snapped this quick photo.
I liked it a lot and I really wanted to send this to my lover, but I never did because I was feeling a little self-conscious about it. I thought it was too brazen, too much. I thought maybe it would’ve been too forward to send or post on the internet and I was afraid of what it would imply (essentially, I slut shamed myself).
I ended up keeping it on my phone, waiting for a time when I felt brave enough to share it with someone.
. . .
June 26th, 2016
In my bathroom, a few hours after the World Naked Bike Ride. It was a warm, breezy summer night and more than 10,000 of us has just ridden through the streets of the city in one large unyielding mass protesting fossil fuel and making a statement of body positivity and acceptance. I had painted my face with sparkly gold paint, with dots around my eyes and cheeks (an homage to my African ancestors) and let my then-blonde hair down. It got a little frizzy after the ride.
Mine was one amongst a small number of other black and brown bodies that participated in the ride. So not only did I feel incredibly visible because I was almost nude, I felt even more visible because of my chocolate skin, dark nipples, and my unruly natural hair.
When I snapped this photo, a few moments after coming home from the ride, it was around midnight. I remember feeling incredibly connected to my body. I remember feeling very alive. And I remember wishing that this feeling would last longer than just that night. I didn’t want to put my clothes back on, so I slept naked.
. . .
June 5th, 2017
I took this a couple days ago in my home office using my webcam. There was a massive white nationalist rally a few miles from my home yesterday with hordes of people threatening and damning my existence, so I woke up that morning with the same question that had been on my mind nearly every morning: Do I deserve to be here?
The result of having that question in my mind had me shrinking myself, talking myself out of taking up space, succumbing to fear that I am not safe (or respected) in this skin. And when I’m in this place, it continues to linger. These thoughts or feelings don’t go away on their own.
Apart from that, I’d been feeling a little frustrated with how little selfies I’d been taking—a product of busyness, depression, and a little dysphoria. So rather than continuing with the funk, rather than carrying on with this cycle of self-shrinking, I put on my favorite bodysuit and snapped a few selfies until I felt lightness return to my body, until I was in the vicinity of erotic joy.
I promptly sent a copy of my favorite one to my lover. I wanted him to see what I had just seen in my own self: A beautiful display of space-taking that said boldly, “I deserve to be here.”
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Want to finally see yourself as a sexual being?
Want to give yourself permission to take up space with your body?
My beloved digital workshop, Sexting Myself, is back next week! In this class, I will teach you how to use sexy self-portraiture as a method of radical self-love and sexual acceptance.