Haha! So what the heck is boudoir (or BooDwah as my friend L likes to call it)? A boudoir derives from a French verb, and means “a lady’s private bedroom”. It’s sexy, flirty, glamourous, beautiful… This type of photography has come a loooooong way the past few years, and is actually becoming quite popular! Just think of all the great stuff out there to help women get in touch with their feminine/ sexual side: Victoria’s Secret, Sex and the City, the show “How To Look Good Naked”… it’s everywhere!
There are TONS of articles out there about boudoir, and my friend S recently sent me this one from REDBOOK, of all places!:
“I Posed for (Very) Sexy Photos”
By getting naked for the camera, no-nonsense mom Kimberly Ford rediscovered a part of herself she thought she’d lost forever.
By: Kimberly Ford
“Kimber!” my sister’s voice on the phone was urgent and whispery, as if she were in a room full of nosy people but needed to tell me a secret right away. “I just did something so excellent. You have to do it too.”
Coming from my sister, this could be anything. Ellis is a nurse practitioner 10 years my junior who worked at the Berkeley Free Clinic and now loves her job on a locked psych ward. She scored an 800 on her SAT verbal but devoured theTwilight series. She’s a certified massage therapist who loves her Diet Coke. Because I chose to marry young and have three kids, earn a Ph.D. in literature, and hole up in the suburbs, I often look to Ellis to inject the unusual into my life. Like the time we cooked up our own ketchup (it was gross, but she loved it) or shimmied our way through the series of erotic dance classes that Ellis talked me into hosting in my living room for mom friends when my kids were in preschool and diapers. So I was curious to know what she had in mind that afternoon.
I mimicked her whispery voice into the phone — “What is it?” — immediately capturing the attention of my 9-year-old, who was sandwiched between her brothers on the couch watching TV.
Ellis paused, to heighten the drama. “Boudoir photos!”
“What does that even mean?” I asked. I pictured a nude Edith Piaf reclining on tasseled cushions in an opium den across from a black-caped daguerreotypist.
My sister began at the beginning: “T” — the professional photographer she’d just spent the day with — had instructed Ellis to corral her best lingerie and highest heels. She’d recommended a preparatory mani-pedi and spray tan. With a couple new lipsticks, plucked brows, and shaved armpits, my sister had trucked herself an hour south of San Francisco to the hilly estate where Teresa Nora spent six hours taking photographs of Ellis’s barely clad bod. “I figured,” Ellis explained when I called her back for more details after the kids were asleep, “I needed to get in there before I get pregnant and my body’s ruined forever.”
Photo: Teresa Nora Trobbe
Which made me wonder how I — 40 and the mother of three — fit into the picture. Unlike Ellis’s pert C cups, my boobs are now small and saggy, victims of too many years of bralessness in my 20s and too many years of lactation in my 30s. At five-foot-four, I have pregnancy-expanded feet and a thrice-incised C-section scar that adds jagged redness to my once-flat-but-now-rounded tummy. I am also startlingly unphotogenic. Come at me with a camera and I’ll slip out of the frame or offer to take the shot myself, all to avoid yet another double chin or half-closed eye or wan smile. The largest obstacle of all, though, was that the mother of a 7-, a 9-, and an 11-year-old doesn’t have time most days to get to the market; I had zero energy to go rifling through the costume box for the high heels the kids had long ago commandeered. There were no slots in my schedule for nail treatments or spray tans.
But my magical, wise sister pressed on. Just before hanging up, she said, “You know, you owe it to yourself.” And the part of me that wasn’t mired in smog checks and grocery lists decided she was right.
Which is how I ended up tearing down to Los Gatos the following Wednesday morning. A child’s forgotten permission slip meant I was late and more than a little hassled when I stepped out of my sneaker-strewn car.
But Teresa’s living room was high-ceilinged and uncluttered. And the aesthetician who answered the door perched me in a red director’s chair that instantly made me feel like Hollywood royalty. She put my favorite Cat Power album on Teresa’s surround sound and started applying my makeup after offering the glass of red wine that “T” had warned I might want (of which I drank only a festive sip or two — it was 10 in the morning). In the bag at my feet were teddies and bustiers that hadn’t been unearthed since my honeymoon; my children were squirreled away at school and playdates for a decadent six hours; in a liberating move, I had switched my cell phone off, knowing that Daddy could handle whatever came up with the kids.
After an hour, the makeup artist handed me a mirror. My eyes were enormous and smoky above softly defined cheekbones. My lips were full and mulberry-shaded. I was gorgeous!
But it was when “T” breezed in that the real fun began: lacy bra-and-panty shots of me sprawled across a couch, sweaty pics of me lounging by the pool. My old photophobia was banished when “T” instructed me to look to the side to show the flattering whites of my eyes and told me exactly how to angle an arm or hip or leg for maximum benefit (and to discreetly cover my crotch). “I never do this,” Teresa said at one point, angling her camera to show me an image, “but you’ve got to see yourself.” There, a leggy woman in high heels and black lingerie sat on the edge of a bed, her head fallen back, looking far less like the person who picks up her kids in the carpool line than the one who picked up her husband at a college barbecue 20 years before.
Of course, my ease had much to do with being a mother. I’d gotten very comfortable with my body after three harrowing, naked deliveries, years of nursing babies in public, and countless conversations with fellow moms about the indignities we suffer. But Teresa and I didn’t discuss vaccinations or summer camps. Instead, she spent six hours telling me I looked amazing — and about five hours into it, I started to believe her. She promised that all the images would be as good as the one she’d shown me. She said we could retouch the C-section scar and the three-inch scrape from hoisting my kindergartner over the playground fence. She guaranteed that my husband would love what she was capturing.
In the end, I didn’t want anything retouched. And the 30-page book of photos Teresa created feels like a gift more for me than for my husband. Today, it sits discreetly on an office shelf high above the Kevin Henkes and Judy Blume and Roald Dahl. My husband thinks the collection is good “for posterity.” I think it’s good because never, not even when I was 20 and fit and tan, have I felt that comfortable and knowing and sexy in my body. A glance at the book’s narrow spine is all I need in the middle of a long afternoon of helping with homework and managing squabbles to remember that there’s more to me than what my beloved kids, spread all around me, see.