Being Black in Boudoir
Boudoir Photography is beautiful. I have always admired women that are vulnerable enough to share such an intimate side of themselves through photos. From a young age, I recall seeing images of women in the most luxurious lingerie, in stunning bedroom settings, telling their stories visually through boudoir photography. Every woman I would see regardless of size or age was breathtaking. I admired their strength and vulnerability in being able to pose in an incredibly raw and transparent setting. The simple act of posing for an image where you are wearing only the barest of clothing in some cases can be daunting, especially in a world where women’s bodies are constantly being policed and scrutinized. Taking control of that narrative and celebrating their bodies in the way they chose to me was such a demonstration of bravery.
What was missing for me was seeing women that looked like me in them. As a Black woman, seeing mainstream images of Black women in boudoir photography are rare. Black women’s bodies when shown in intimate and sensual settings and clothing are historically more hyper-sexualized by society than other women. Black women are not always afforded the same ability to demonstrate softness, gentleness, and femininity as our White counterparts, and I was disappointed that there was minimal representation of Black women in a field of photography that would capture all aspects of who we are.
I have always been passionate about the representation of Black women in photography, and boudoir photography has always been a passion of mine, and it was only fitting I begin there! So like any good detective (just kidding, I am no detective, just a woman on a mission), I began to search. I researched different boudoir companies, and meticulously reviewed their social media pages as well as the images they used to promote their companies. I came across several boudoir photography companies that emphasized a focus on diversity yet featured no Black women on their pages or in their photos. I wanted more than lip service. I wanted to see a company that embodied the beliefs I held, which were that all women, especially under-represented women, should be representatives and ambassadors of companies that promote inclusiveness.
I came across Black Lace Boudoir Photography on Instagram. I
was immediately aware of the numerous Black women featured. Women that looked like me! Black women with
natural hair, Black women of every complexion, Black women of different ages,
and Black women of all sizes were featured. Seeing these images was incredibly
emotional for me because I had not seen that in over 20 years. I was intrigued
about Black Lace Boudoir and sought out to learn more. I followed their page
for several weeks and joined the VIP Facebook Group.
Shortly after, there was an opportunity to become a 2021 Black Lace Beauty Ambassador for the company. Based on what I had seen on their social media platforms I was incredibly impressed by the diversity of the women not only featured on the IG page, but also in the VIP Facebook group. I knew I would apply for the role, but there was still hesitancy because I had not yet spoken with the owner of Black Lace Boudoir, Rami. I was nervous and had some anxiety about being disappointed in case what I had perceived about this company’s diversity initiatives were inaccurate.
Talk about a breath of fresh air! Speaking to Rami in my interview for the 2021 Black Lace Boudoir Beauty Ambassador role felt like speaking with an old friend. She was warm, welcoming, funny, and alleviated any doubts or concerns I might have had previously. She answered all my questions and was honest about wanting to do more work with under-represented women in boudoir photography. What I valued the most in that conversation was her willingness to answer questions I had about her work with Black women. She was so incredibly relatable that I did not want to end the conversation! It was safe to say I was HOPING I would be chosen! (Enter drumroll) AND I WAS SELECTED!
Since becoming a Beauty Ambassador, I have had an amazing experience. Rami is constantly open to listening to feedback and ideas on ways to expand Black Lace Boudoir’s reach to communities of women that might not have been approached for boudoir photography. There is such peace that comes from feeling heard, your ideas respected, and appreciated. Rami’s work speaks volumes for itself. She has worked with makeup artists on her shoots that have experience doing makeup on Black women, as well as a full closet of lingerie and pieces ranging all sizes, and a studio that looks like a dream fantasy.
When I had my first session, I was NERVOUS! Regardless of being a Beauty Ambassador, I had never had a boudoir photography session. I was nervous about everything, from posing to makeup to what I was wearing. I was nervous that wearing my hair in an afro would be met with criticism or judgmental eyes. BOY WAS I WRONG! One distinct memory from my session was speaking to Rami about my hair and expressing how I felt I might be perceived. She and I had such a heartfelt discussion, where Rami shared that she supports wearing whatever we feel most beautiful as, and her role is simply to highlight that beauty. Inside I was tearing up, but on the outside, I was smiling. It was such a simple yet beautiful sentiment that touched my heart, especially as a Black woman who has received criticism regarding wearing my natural hair for over a decade.
From the moment I walked in until the moment I left, all I remember is laughing, smiling, having a heart to heart, and feeling like I cannot wait to share how amazing this experience was with other women, and especially Black women.
While it is challenging for all women to navigate this world
and society, as a Black woman, I feel those challenges immensely, both being
Black and being a woman. We are often not celebrated or honored for our beauty
in mainstream outlets, which can lead to feelings of insecurity, comparison,
and feelings of invalidation. Working with Black Lace Boudoir provides me an
opportunity to show other Black women that this experience is empowering and an
opportunity to tell your own story through the art of boudoir photography with
an amazing photographer who has such a deep-rooted sense of empathy, respect,
and appreciation for women from all walks of life.
During Black History Month where individuals from the Black community are celebrated, and amazing milestones in Black History are highlighted, I wanted to share the value of this experience for providing Black women an outlet to celebrate and honor their bodies through taking control of their own narrative through beautiful boudoir imagery. As much as this experience with Black Lace Boudoir is amazing for all women, as a Black woman, it means something incredibly special, sacred, and life-changing for anyone who experiences it.
Written by Whitney