My Boyfriend Takes Pictures of Naked Women—A Practice in Self-Acceptance. {Adult}

Via Jessica Durivage
on May 22, 2011
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“Hey man, whenever you need someone to hold your lights – I’m your guy!”

There was a time when I would cringe from head to toe whenever the above offer was (repeatedly) given to my partner of five years.  Every guy in the room wished they were my boyfriend, when they found out what he did for a living.  The look in their eyes, the spark of machismo understanding” that passed through them when it was apparent (to me, at least) that they were thinking about one thing and one thing only:  Boobies.

Title: Hold it Right There

“Want to come see my nudes in the men’s bathroom?”

After several years of extremely casual friendship,  the ending of a marriage and an engagement, Carl and I ran into one another at an art show where he was proudly showing off his very first nude series.  Where did we have to venture together to see these amazing works?  Into the same room where guys can actually hold their dicks in their hand and see a naked chick, the men’s bathroom, of course.  Carl proudly led me into the small 6×6 room (where I learned later that I wasn’t the only girl who had a private viewing of the artists photographs in the guys john), and there they were…. Boobies.  Lots of them.  A couple of legs, a silhouetted ass and of course, more boobies.  I was enthralled.  I was excited and slightly turned on.  I wanted to know “who this person was” standing in front of me – with the most amazing laughing blue eyes, ex-patting from England, finally single and standing there in the men’s bathroom at Collectors Café with me, showing me his…. well, his boobies.

Title: Moondance
Title: On The Lighter Side

“My boyfriend is an artist.  That is soooooo cool.  Now that we are together, he will probably never want to take pictures of naked women again.”

After several months of dating, I was beginning to have a love/hate relationship with the provocative and sensual pictures that adorned the walls of Carl’s home.  On some days, I was critical of the female shapes in the frames and on other days, I relentlessly judged and compared my own curves (ahem… 32 AA if we are being honest) to the C-Cup that hung in his bedroom.   I was being confronted with this amazingly scary fear of facing my own issues of self love, self acceptance, trust and faith in a partner and the reality that the “voices in my head” were not going to go away anytime soon.  Carl was starting to plan his second art series.  Line up ladies!

I was dying.  Literally, dying.  “Who are you taking pictures of today?” “What time does the shoot start?” “When will you be home?” “What do you have planned”  “I thought you already took a picture of her?” “Why did you take 485 pictures of her?”  “Do you think she is pretty?”

 

I think I was in sort of a “panic” mode 24-7.  It is amazing what we can internally put ourselves through while moving through the world with a smile on our face.  Deep down, I desperately wanted to understand and support him, but my own insecurities rose up and declared war with my ego leading the cavalry. It was super intense and one ride that my “free-spirited and artist” boyfriend was not willing to take with me.  This wedge in our relationship just gave rise to more anxiety as he left the house frustrated with me and headed to the studio to shoot the local “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist (she was and still is smokin’ hot).  I remember that morning.  As I sat, looking for stillness, trying to find my breath through a web of self mutilating thoughts, I recalled a moment of space between the “boobie orgy” that was playing out in my head and seeing my partner as an amazing keeper of beauty and light and whose visions manifested into frames of form.  I saw it from his perspective, not the constant battle to get him to understand “how I must feel.”  Give me a fucking break.  Lets step into the “conscious  and evolved” relationship you have always wanted, Jessica.  Let’s get naked.

“So, the first nude he ever took of me, he threw a sheet over my head.”

 

Ok, I know…  It is an amazing shot.  Self depreciation suits me when it is balanced with a dose of comic relief.  I was the WORST model for this shoot.  I complained, I was self conscious, I was bored.   To be honest, I was a little disappointed that in the middle of the shoot my sad fantasy of Carl turning in Austin Powers (Yeah Baby!) and wanting to get his “shag” on with the model so everyone could get in the mood to deliver a sexy “boob-tastic” picture wasn’t actually a reality.  This was pretty hard work – even with a sheet over my head.

Oh Behave… (please!)

“The journey to acceptance”

 

Acceptance came more from the desire to find an appreciation for my partner’s gift as an artist, rather than spending hours analyzing the imaginary dialogue he had with his model to let her know that this shot required her nipples to be hard.   Digging in and taking a real look at my own abandonment and insecurity issues left me only appreciating the Divine Humor in who the universe sent me as a partner.   Here is a guy whose profession conjured up every major fear I never knew I had and challenged me to face them. What more can we really ask for? I was and still am up for the long and winding road back to my Self – and I think to truly embrace that path, you must see every experience as an opportunity to chisel away at the parts of you that aren’t serving you any longer.  I can’t say that I have perfected the art of loving the fact that he gets phone calls to do things like take a group of models to Costa Rica and shoot them in the buff beneath waterfalls.  I am working on it. Ladies, you can do me a favor and stop making comments like this:

“God, I could never let my boyfriend/husband/partner do that!”

We are all here with a clearly outlined list of lessons to learn, fears to overcome and conditioning to release.  I would have never known that opening up to my partner’s world of curves, lines, light and shadow would actually be a path to my own freedom had I not made the conscious choice to sit with my fear, day in and day out – gently holding it with love instead of judgment.  It is a tough job being a muse, but ya know… someones got to do it.  I don’t think we can underestimate what it means to our partners when we can fully support and embrace their individual journey in this life.  It is a precious lesson and gift to be able to share.

Me as Gaia

At least I can be certain now, that my partner does indeed “picture” every woman that walks by naked.

Carl and I in Denver

Carl Kerridge, the amazing man who took all of the fine art images above will be showing for the first time in Denver on June 2nd with the art group RAW at the Jet Hotel in downtown Denver.  Come meet the man behind the lens.  He will be showing work from his Body of Light series and his most recent collection titled Goddesses.  For more info on Carl, visit his website at www.carlkerridge.com).


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About Jessica Durivage

Whether in a business suit, on a yoga mat or a meditation cushion, Jessica will follow her Dharma to the ends of the earth and work to bridge the gap with the world and the light that dwells within each being.  Grateful for the wealth of experiences, teachers and mentors who have guided her along her path as a yogi, a business woman, a non-profiteer and an improv comedian; she cultivates mindful, savvy and innovative approaches to make the world a better place each day and lead with compassion, from the heart (and trying not to take herself too seriously). / Jessica is the founder and owner of Where is My Guru - an ever evolving work of life that encompasses writing, art, community, leadership, consulting and a weekly radio show where you can find her contemplating Purusha, Prakriti, the Yoga Sutras and why all Yogis are crazy mo fo's. Check in with the Where is My Guru Blog and the radio show on Fridays at 11am EST - www.whereismygurunow.com

Comments

76 Responses to “My Boyfriend Takes Pictures of Naked Women—A Practice in Self-Acceptance. {Adult}”

  1. Genevieve says:

    Beautiful article and journey you are taking!

  2. Amy Landry says:

    Beautiful… thank you for sharing!!!

  3. Lele says:

    I love the journey you've taken in accepting his job and your comfortability with it! Good on you! Beautiful writing and amazing photos. Best to you both!

  4. steve says:

    on a different note… that first picture has to be the most beautiful ass I've ever seen…

  5. Beyond Purposeful were these words. Keep up the Grate work Jess and Carl. I am in search of the same passion you both share. Kudos my brother and sister.

    Elken

  6. hayley says:

    aw jessica this is absolutely beautiful. thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Jessica says:

    Thank you, Genevieve for your thoughts about the story. It is a day to day practice, this life. 🙂 I will have to remember this when I am 50 and he is still taking pictures of 25 year-olds. lol

  8. Jessica says:

    The big E! Miss you SO and you inspire us and everyone you meet. Much LOVE to you. The Grate One.

  9. Jessica says:

    Thanks so much for your insight, Will. It is a journey – but then again, if we did not have this set of lessons and experiences – we would have another one. Kudos to you and your girl for sharing time in the studio/on location. It really helps you to understand the "work", and the passion behind it. Get in touch with us if you are ever in Denver!

  10. Tracey says:

    Girl, you da bomb. Miss You!!

  11. After reading these words I can really appreciate the true growth that Jessica has found in her life, and boy am I thankful for it!!!!!, She has smashed old boundaries and set new ones that are flexible and open to change, she has found acceptance for a path many would dare not tread and rewarded herself with an honest and thoughtful outlook on life. Well done my love, keep sharing your wisdom. Peace, Love and Happiness.

  12. Alia says:

    I so confused by both the article and the comments. This is about a man who objectifies women and calls it art (white women with high breasts and firm asses..hmm…). This is about a woman who supports the objectification of women in the most intimate way. Really? We all think this is awesome?

  13. Dalai says:

    I have seen similar point of views from porn stars trying to juggle private and public life. Now that's a fact. Let us now examine our mental response objectively to what I just stated. That would be interesting and enlightening.

  14. Meindabindi says:

    I perceive a value judgement inherent in most of these images, based on how well they satisfy the average white Western male's fantasy of ideal female beauty. Voluptuous model with perfect breasts and ass=beautiful, therefore, valuable (to men). Though the photographer obviously has technical skill, I personally I find the status quo beauty aesthetic of the images to be uninteresting. For me, these are equivalent to a postcard image of a sunset at the beach, or a rainbow over a green pasture. Beautiful, yes, and in a forgettable way.

  15. Jolie says:

    Your photos are beautiful!!

  16. elephantjournal says:

    Ann Brizendine
    as a figurative artist, i can say honestly, we look at the models differently when we work. sure, we can appreciate them and know attraction, but not like sexual, omg i'm so turned on attraction. that's really, really rare. i know i tend… to see them in shapes of light and dark. i look at the curve of the line, the proportions, the weight and balance, how i will capture that texture, the ease of movement, or tension in stilled motion… its art, not lust.

  17. carla says:

    What a lovely article. I have often posed for artists be it photography, paintings or even statues… it is hard work and how often did I get the look… "you do what? "
    Thank you for sharing

  18. Another exceptionally written piece! I applaud your bravery… talk about putting yourself out there! Cheers 🙂

  19. Beth says:

    Thanks for sharing! As an artist, and one who has taken many nude photos (back in my college days), it was interesting to note my own reaction to the article and the comments posted. Though some of my models were guys, by far, I found (and find) the female form to be much more beautiful. And it has nothing to do with sexual attraction. My favorite models were those that were comfortable being naked in front of a camera. And going through art school, there is a certain amount of programming that goes on – to see beyond the sexuality to the beauty of the form. Particularly in drawing classes, when you're too busy trying to dissect and recreate the right proportions on paper. I still imagine people naked all the time – I think a lot of artist do, and honestly it doesn't seem like that big of a deal until you find out most people don't… At the same time, being a female w/ my own insecurities, I can see myself having days of wondering what is going on with needing to shoot almost 500 shots of one gal! But what a great gift to be given to be able to work on those feelings 🙂

  20. Absolutely amazing courage — inside and out! (in both the living it, and the writing about it.) Jessica, You are on a path of love. Like all good growth, Love will prune you before it blooms you. In my opinion/ vision, you are a true Warrior Woman walking through fear and illusion to the open truth of being whole. I can fully imagine the arduous self tuning in this situation. And the irony is, the stronger and clearer you are (unlike the women who actually make comments like, I would never allow my man to do that — love is an opening, not a control issue) the more authentic your relationship will become. With Carl, yes, but most paramountedly, with your exquisitely beautiful self! LOVE to you my darlin'. I am empowered on my own ardent path by this genuine piece of writing and open inquiry.

  21. Amanda says:

    Growth is beautiful on you, Jess! Removing the veil of fear and chimera can be difficult if we are stuck in our heads. Finding the stillness to walk through your web of self-mutilating thoughts and destroy them is empowerment at is best. Your practice in self-acceptance is flourishing. You just have so much joy to share. Namaste

  22. jsmith1012 says:

    This is a beautiful article about self-acceptance and trust, and you're gorgeous! I can understand the struggle to get there because I think we all run into that crazy insecure moment at some point in a relationship, and it's an awesome thing to realize it and grow from it. Thanks for this.

  23. Thanks so much for these words. I write from my heart – and share only what is authentic and real to me. I appreciate and am super grateful that we can all find connection in these words. Peace!

  24. Sending you so much gratitude, beautiful Amanda! Love having you as a part of a near and far community of yoginis, lovers and business women! Keep rockin' it and thank you for being a light on my path. Peace, love and Namaste.

  25. Dear Beth,
    Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. Over the last few years, when I found my own "story" to be to strong to get away from on my own, I would seek out the company of other female artists who shared perspectives, such as yours. It is so enlightening to really appreciate the "artists vision" of a painting, drawing, photograph, sculpture… It is not my world, you see. My world is words – which can also be extremely intimate and revealing. What a journey we are all on together and how much we can learn from one another!
    Peace,
    Jessica

  26. You rock, Lynn! Thanks for posting and sharing. Looking forward to many, many great things to come! Peace,
    Jessica

  27. Ahhh, the true beauty of art is that we all get to like what we like, no? I too, see Carl as a young artist who is ready to stretch his wings and dig deeper into the crevices of his own mind and soul – and perhaps his art will shift and change to reflect that. I will continue to support is, either way.

    Many thanks for sharing your light and perspective on this piece and it's "supporting material" 🙂
    Peace,
    Jessica

  28. I guess my question to you, Dalai, would be…. Are you trying to compare my point of view with with a porn star? I mean, I am ready to examine this all the way.. just want to be clear what you are putting out there. Thanks.

  29. YES! We all do think this is awesome. Well, I can't really speak for "all" but quite possibly the majority. Art is a beautiful thing – you can love it or you can hate it. Our only request is for you to not judge it. Or, at least be honest with yourself and everyone else when you are being judgemental (SEE STORY ABOVE).

    Peace,
    Jessica

  30. YES! We all do think this is awesome. Well, I can't really speak for "all" but quite possibly the majority. Art is a beautiful thing – you can love it or you can hate it. Our only request is for you to not judge it. Or, at least be honest with yourself and everyone else when you are being judgemental (SEE STORY ABOVE).

  31. Alia says:

    Your partner's art contributes deeply to the already impossible physical female stereotypes being propagated by the media. What comes with this… eating disorders and self loathing among a phenomenally high percentage of western girls/women. You think that is awesome?

    I would not have this view at all if there was a varied look among his models (25, young and firm. Again..hmm….).

    Also: how is your reply not judgmental?

  32. CC_ says:

    I love, love, love this!! One of my biggest pet peeves is how, in a relationship, people try to change each other; unfortunately, it's usually the woman trying to do the changing of the man (in my opinion). I think it stems from her own insecurities. Your line, "I don’t think we can underestimate what it means to our partners when we can fully support and embrace their individual journey in this life" is very poignant, and I completely agree. I know it's not easy… but that support is love, supporting their individual journey recognizes that they are an individual, that shouldn't be lost because of a relationship. I believe individuality and relationship can co-exist. Anyway, I also love your own journey here… thank you for sharing! Sitting with your own fear… that's strength! And you are beautiful!!

  33. Anne says:

    ***Yeah……. nice cop-out Jessica. I totally understand that you are trying to validate what he does as art, and some of them are indeed nice pictures. But if it was truly about "Art" and "Form", then wouldn't he be shooting nude men as well?? I mean after all it is about the "Art" right? Not sexual desire? It's cute that you love him so much and want to hold on to him but what makes you think he acts the same way shooting his girlfriend as he does when he shoots other women? You are beautiful indeed, but don't lie to yourself only to be hurt later in life.

  34. Anne says:

    **And btw, Art/form shouldn't have anything to do with sexy lingerie or pics that look like they come from FHM or other trashy men's magazines. Don't slander the name of Art to make yourself feel better about being with a pervert. No offense, but you're offending artists who actually appreciate form, which has nothing to do with "hard nipples". Wish you well on your quest.

  35. Anne says:

    ***Thank You! You must have that special intuition called "COMMON SENSE". She'll find out in her own time and that will be her true learning experience, aside from learning to appreciate her own body.

  36. Meindabindi says:

    Oh, I agree, Jessica, there is enough art in the world to please everyone, an inexhaustible realm of creativity. And what is so interesting is how well we can get to know the artist just by experiencing his/her artistic manifestations and begin to understand what moves, inspires, speaks to and has meaning for him/her. Some works of art are mysterious, paradoxical, emotional, etc., while others might have a flat, superficial quality that is all about surfaces. There's definitely something for everyone.

    But back to you, a high five to you for bringing this subject to light.

  37. Anne says:

    And it's because of "females" like you, that men see us as nothing more than "eye candy". And objects. NOTHING MORE than "skin, curves, and a body". Let me guess…………. you're a housewife? Or a house girlfriend? If he shot men as well……. this probably would not be an issue or a TOPIC for that matter. Which means he doesn't shoot men because he doesn't find them "appealing". Just like he apparently doesn't find heavier women appealing either.

  38. Anne says:

    @Meg AGAIN, and I just saw some of his nude "art", and a body shot of a brod grabbing her breast implants IS NOT ART. Jeez. Nor is an "ass-shot" with heels, laying on a bed. Nor is an "ass-shot" in lingerie. Seems like this world grows more ignorant by the day. Maybe he should work for FHM or Victoria's Secret instead.

  39. Jessica says:

    Whew, Anne! I guess you did not wake up on the “open minded” side of the bed today, much less the positive side. While I am aware that by putting intimate details out in the world about my own journey, and my humble attempts at creating a little humor and thoughful reflection so as to entertain as a writer… I open myself up for attacks and judgements like the several comments you posted above. With most of my writing being personal until now ( I have only written a few articles for EJ) this would be my first experience in someone being downright judgmental and mean. Guess I better toughen up my skin for Elephants “mindful community.”
    My partner has indeed photographed nudes of men, in fact, they are some of my favorite pieces. They did not really fit into the context of this article, but we are happy to post an image or two at some point. With “mindfulness” in mind, I am choosing the high road in response to some of the downright hateful things you said. I’d rather leave you sitting in your own negativity, rather than explain a my point or reasoning. If you didn’t hear it in the story above… then I don’t really know what else to share.
    Btw: The model in Moondance is 38 years old. I was in my 30’s in each shot as well.

  40. Whew, Anne! I guess you did not wake up on the “open minded” side of the bed today, much less the positive side. While I am aware that by putting intimate details out in the world about my own journey, and my humble attempts at creating a little humor and thoughful reflection so as to entertain as a writer… I open myself up for attacks and judgements like the several comments you posted above. With most of my writing being personal until now ( I have only written a few articles for EJ) this would be my first experience in someone being downright judgmental and mean. Guess I better toughen up my skin for Elephants “mindful community.”
    My partner has indeed photographed nudes of men, in fact, they are some of my favorite pieces. They did not really fit into the context of this article, but we are happy to post an image or two at some point. With “mindfulness” in mind, I am choosing the high road in response to some of the downright hateful things you said. I’d rather leave you sitting in your own negativity, rather than explain a my point or reasoning. If you didn’t hear it in the story above… then I don’t really know what else to share.
    Btw: The model in Moondance is 38 years old. I was in my 30′s in each shot as well.

  41. Miker! says:

    Forget holding the lights for him, I wanna fuck his girlfriend for him!
    Love you guys!

    Great post about growth Jess. We all have hang-ups to overcome. It takes a lot of courage to face one's own insecurities and then tell others about it.

    And congrats to Carl on the show, I love your work.

    Peace out, yo

  42. Anne says:

    **This last comment is the perfect example of my point, Lol….. SEXUAL DESIRE

  43. Anne – Mike wanted to you-know-what with me and many other females. He doesn't have to see them naked. He is my improv comedian partner in crime (we performed together with a comedy troupe). Maybe you just might have to accept the reality that things are just not always what they seem…. as you have so eloquently shared that might be something I should be a bit more privy too. I happen to have a lot of funny friends who read my blogs.

    Your point – is not taken.

  44. EDG, you have the passion my man, its oozes from your every pore.

  45. I certainly think you should consider what the media have done more than artists. Artists work to find the beauty and emotion of life and these images that I created were exactly that. Sure these images are of younger women but I have worked with older women and men and all of them felt empowered to have stood naked and confident in their own skin. Maybe you should try it before passing judgement. Then perhaps you can use your intellect to help fight the problems with self loathing and eating disorders from a different perspective, one of openness and understanding. The Human figure is a true work of art, a natural phenomenam and I believe we should not hide from it but embrace it.

  46. Thank you Jolie, I love what I do and I hope it shows.

  47. Well said Ann, if only my guy friends would understand that working with nudes is more of a challenge then people can truly appreciate. All people want to think is "ooooooh you dirty perv, or ooooh you lucky Bastard" – depending on point of view. I look for the light, the lines and curves, the soft nuances and shadow and even though it might be hard to relate I really don't even see a naked body, I see a form, a reflection of light and I want to mold it…

    Cheers

  48. Yes yes yes, look beyond the sexual to a deeper understanding of the reflective nature of light and how beautiful the human body is..thx

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