Between flat tummy teas, the workout corset, the slimming body cream, women are inundated with images and advertisements to look like some ideal that very few ever match to. I scroll through IG more than I should and I see images of women (of all nationality and ethnic backgrounds) that have a specific body type where in some case alternative work or assistance were required to achieve that “beauty.” I used to want to be match the physically beautiful ideal; mesmerized by the video vixens on BET and MTV. The hair and makeup I could do, but my figure and I have always had a difference of opinion. With being 5’1” and a short torso, the hour glass figure for me has never manifested itself in a physical form. Of course, I felt uncomfortable and at times ashamed of being considered the “Big girl” among my throng of friends. It took me hitting 30 and an now useful art history degree to realize that I have always had an ideal body type. I may not be slim thick, thick or whatever colorful colloquialism pop culture produces, I recognized that my body type is Goddess built.
I am not sure when and where the Goddess built body type dwindled to little presence o became an idol of shaming, but it was probably around the same time that goddesses, sacred femininity and womanhood presence in divinity and spirituality was conveniently annexed out of human history. Prior to the patriarchal anarchy of religious dogma and practice, the feminine was divine. Throughout history of all cultures, goddesses existed; they were revered, worshiped, praised, honor, loved, appreciated and valued. There were many: Ivanna, Nut, Hathor, Isis, Leto, Habat, Chantico, Ixchel, Shiva, Venus, Ashi, and so many more. Most assume that goddesses were worshiped for fertility; although somewhere, they represented prophecy, flames, earth, moon, wisdom, peace, war, water, harvest, etc. The beauty and body of the goddesses also echo our power: we conceive, carry, birth and sustain life with our bodies. So what do the bodies of these beautiful beings look like.
Disclaimer: Several of the titles of these figures will be referenced as Venus. This terminology started in the mid 19th century to reference the figures and sculptures and are not direct correlation or representation of the Roman Venus.
Venus of Hohlenfels
This is the earliest figure of a venus. She is the first work of art. She dates back to the paleolithic some 35,000 years ago and is made out of mammoth Ivory. Her body is full and robust. Her breast are high and lines along the abdomen region to indicate rolls. Between her full thigh, you see a large and exaggerated labia. She is one of many.
The buxom goddesses body type continue through history ever after the erasing of Goddess worship, divine feminine and spirituality, this curvy belle continued through western art history. From the walls of Pompeii to the ideal flesh figures in the Italian Renaissance, round bellies with folds of skin, full thighs, cellulite booties and round full breast were consistently represented as the ideal beauty. These women were often depicted as the Greco-Roman goddess and even some ancient Egyptian queens. And...it still did not stop there. Throughout art, throughout cultures and time, the Goddess built figure has never left. It has however been set to an ideal that, lets face it, is about as ideal as the measurements of a barbie.
The reality is that our bodies, in all their fullness and glory, were the original works of art. The first image documented of human being is a woman with a beautiful belly, large breast, thick thighs, wide hips and a labia/vulva worth surrendering to (and many did). As I continue to embrace and dive into love for self, I recognize that the world exist in manufacture idealism were, let's be real, many of us will not achieve and that is okay. I strive to be healthy and that includes not just a healthy (as best as I can be) body but a healthy mindset that has me questioning is I am ever enough.
Take the time to marvel at your body. Now, if there is something you desire to change, make the changes if you desire (especially if health related). Throughout this journey in life, please love and cherish your body. Wear that two piece swimsuit, by those high waist pants with that bomb ass lace bodysuit to pair with it or just stand in the mirror nude and no that this is a glorified work out art. Remember, you are curvy, voluptuous, thicka than a snicker, full. Sis, you goddess built.
After seeing a former lover again after a nearly three year hiatus, we were enjoying each other’s company and asked him one question: Would we have actually gotten serious had we been in a different space? He looks at me and states of course; it would have been a natural flow of where it was going. I wonder had we been serious would it have led to marriage or at least something more tangible than just filling in the gaps.
We all have been in situations that are not always ideal or favorable when the chemistry collides. Where raw energy creates the effervescent moments of ecstasy and the taste of skin is favored over common sense. And as I continued to listen to his words, I realized that the choice was his decision to make. He choose to move forward with a woman that he had history with and more importantly, she was the mother of his child. I get it. He feared of losing this family unit; this ideal picturesque vision for his child, even if it wasn’t picturesque for him. He mentioned all the joy and excitement I brought when we were together; the laughter and happiness, the debates about hip hop and beats. He said my presence and energy always pleased him. Yet, he was still hesitant to experience me in a full capacity. I guess, in that time, I was his possibility of pleasure when he never needed to ask permission.
Why do we fear passion, pleasure or gratification? What makes us not cross into new territories of possibilities?
These questions that I ask myself over and over again.
Why does ecstasy seem forbidden when we are the ones holding it hostage?
This is just not for romantic encounters or intimate moments, but a moment when awakening is on the cusp and remaining dormant seems to be the obvious and safe choice. Yet for the sake of this piece, will keep in regards to intimacy. The fear of pleasure often has me wonder about my fellow sisters. The ones who have yet to experience release, inhibition and enjoyment. I wonder why we are so hesitant to give ourselves permission to experience pleasure. I am no sure of it unspoken social constructs (culture or religion) or if it is more so a lack of education and understanding of her own body?
Unfortunately, for many women, the idea of pleasure has never taken precedence over our duty to bare children. Sex, like many other things, became more so of a duty than actual enjoyment. In a time and space where women are choosing to make the best life for themselves (for some that excludes (mate, matrimony and marriage), we have come to experience pleasure in many ways. Yet, when it comes to the bedroom, I still encounter women who feel is rather auspicious to satisfy their lover, than to experience pleasure themselves.
How do we liberate ourselves from this?
1. Give yourself permission to enjoy pleasure. We don’t listen nor adhere to societal rules or respectability politics. As women, we have the right to enjoy, explore and experience passion and pleasure like anyone else.
2. Fantasize for the future. How many of us still day dream or fantasize about someone touching us, loving us, appreciating us, valuing are complete selves? I am one that is an advocate of creative visualization.
Try this exercise : It should be completed wearing some lingerie of course.
Breath in for eight seconds through you nose, mouth close. Breathe out for eight seconds through your nose, mouth close. This breathing should be continue throughout the entire exercise.
Imagine the the warmth of your lover’s breath, licking from your ear lobe to your collarbone. Hands the firmly yet carefully hold your waist allowing you to fit comfortable in his or her presence. Lips are interlocked like the last puzzle piece longing to be completed. The chemistry of both your energies mix and mingle with the fragrance of the room. Each release is another invitation for your lover to explore and inquire.
3. Learn and engage in self-love play. Many women may not have the best experienced with lovers because the lovers failed to satisfy these women. Our partner’s are not psychic, telepathic or mind readers. But if you don’t know yourself...Find out what makes you sigh, quiver, and squeal with delight. Once you find out…
4. Educate your partner. Now don’t pull up a powerpoint presentation or a film before game day. However, treat your body like a treasure map and guide your partner to different treasures. Simultaneously, allow you lover to discover your hills, mounds, crevices and valleys.
5. Do not deny your yearning or desire. Simply Enjoy.
Remember, uncharted terrains may appear scary, but if you knew that is was filled with pleasure, what purpose does fear serve?
Your Conscious Courtesan
“Every woman should experience boudoir shoot…true freedom is being your authentic self….why not in a teddy” –The Sultry Buxomess (Ryan Nichole Leary)
I am not an individual that has to take pictures and for the longest time, I loathed taking full length pictures. I always would take the photo or be in the middle so you cannot see!!!.When I started doing online dating, I would do my best trying to find what I thought would be appeasing to a man. So in my twenties, I still was not completely loving my body because I had yet to fully love and appreciate myself.
In 2011, my friend and dope photographer Darryl Lambert did an artist exchange. I did an oil painting of him in exchange for a boudoir photo shoot. The day before we were set to shoot, calls to confirm we’re still on, hesitantly I said sure. He told me I cannot back out and we are doing it.
Needless to say, it was the most exciting, liberating and just fun experience I have had. After that shoot I was hook and every woman needs to do it and here is why:
1. It is Fucking Liberating
Sometimes your nerves and insecurities will get the best of you, but by the time that 9th frame, your ass wish you had some damn props to fully live out your fantasy. I realized that being this vulnerable allowed to be my completely self and experience all the facets of myself. In these still moments, I have been able to love for express my dance, being creative, and just experience and revere in my own joy. A dope photographer captures your joy in you being sensually you.
2.You fall in love with your fucking body (or if you already love it, even more.)
SO I have to give a specific example for this reason. Andrew Thomas Clifton was the catalyst that my spirit needed to fully help me appreciate body. I shot with him in 2015 for a boudoir shoot and I was in nirvana. I wanted to keep my body (i.e. stomach rolls and back fat), concealed as possible. Yeah, that did not happen. I will be very transparent, the photographs are amazing, but at the time I was still not personally satisfied the way my body look. However, when he brought me my flash drive, over 700 images, I found so many that capture my beauty and essence (rolls and all). It took me to look through his eyes to marvel at my own unique beauty. I no longer saw my body as not attractive, needed to a year subscription for flat tummy teas, hire a trainer, feeling guilty because she ordered three Sunday Morning rolls at 1:00 am after drinking some high caloric alcoholic beverage; I saw a beautiful body the echoes that statuesque of the Venus of Willendorf. I saw breast, thighs, belly and booty that resemble ancient feminine idols whose bodies were the ideal image of femininity.
3. For the Culture
Have ya’ll seem the revolution? Have you seen the change in the industry in fashion and beauty where women that are not seeing themselves and created spaces for themselves. Body positive, fuck your beauty standards are a few of the hash tags we see throughout social media that are changing the dialog and celebration of full figure women. My beauty and fashion IG account is nothing but images of makeup, black women and full figure women creating looks that has my bank account on E. Slowly, I am starting to see my voluptuous women post lingerie images as well as fashion brands show plus size models wearing the lingerie. We need more women to celebrate their bodies as they are; changing the narrative of the conversation around women’s bodies, our ownership of our bodies, our sexuality and expression of our sexuality.
4. Because you want to...