A Black Butterfly on a Lotus Flower

This weekend I did something I thought I would never do; I participated in a boudoir session.  Having so many insecurities concerning my body as a black woman prompted me to love the skin that I am in.  Don’t get me wrong, I have done things to modify my natural beauty, but I have learned to accept things I cannot change.  I incorporate massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures into my monthly regimen.  I used to pamper myself just to save money and spend on my children and home.  Now, I take the extra time and money to cater myself.  I also get my hair done from time-to-time to accentuate my personality and character.  I will still rock my afro baby!!!

I realized that I am a beautiful black woman that has accomplished many things in life; therefore I should treat myself accordingly. I embraced these eyes by accenting them with natural looking lashes.  I caress this body with sundresses and prints that illustrate what I was born with.  I do not feel ashamed of the permanent scars, stitch marks, or saggy breasts that are beginning to form because of age.  I no longer worry about the fine lines that I can no longer hide with facials because it tells a story of how much I smile on a daily basis.  Why would I want to hide that?  The cellulite that is forming on these thighs is sexy to me. I used to hate them when it would arrive during the summer months, but now I will rock the fatty tissue as if it came with honey and hot sauce baby haha!!!

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Connie & Co. photography by Connie McGowan

The boudoir experience did just that.  It reminded me of who I am as a woman.  It showed me that there is nothing wrong with my body.  I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore.  I didn’t mind being free from criticism and the negative talk that most black women deal with on a daily basis, especially from my own black men and women.  I never gave a damn about what another race thought about me but cared tremendously what my own people thought.  Never again will that happen.  I don’t care about what is acceptable and unacceptable within our culture because we as a culture created many trends and fads that was once forbidden in the white community; that is now accepted with open arms.  We as a culture have forbidden each other from embracing our natural hair because it isn’t accepted in the “mainstream” unless it is either for entertainment purposes or someone other than “us” is wearing it. We have for too long allowed someone else to tell us we aren’t beautiful creatures.

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Look at how the “mainstream” glorify big lips, thighs, breast, and asses now?  What was forbidden and talked about concerning our natural state is now a hot commodity that everyone wants.  It doesn’t matter your ethnicity.  Hell, getting a tan is a must for the same one who hates us. We have been labeled as “fast“, “unlady-like“, “whores“, “sluts“, and many other derogatory names. But why can’t we be appreciated for the beautiful shades and shapes we have as a black woman?  Why is it still a taboo for us to love our bodies gracefully and shamelessly? Why can’t we be considered a work of art? Why is it that our elderly counterparts were ashamed of their natural God-giving beauty? Is it that we were taught that we were only viewed as a sexual being and nothing more? Why can’t we just embrace what we were taught to hate? What we were taught to hide? What we were trained to turn our noses up to?

I understand the issue of pose and class.  I don’t dispute that.  I do, however, dispute the fact that as a black woman we were and always are admired by all the modest things we go against. From our shades of browns to the various textures of our hair.  We continuously fight to rise above all the negativity that is against our bodies from all aspects of society. We continuously fight against one another simply because we have been brainwashed into believing what exactly is considered beautiful in the eyes of society. We will change our hair just to get a job or be accepted by our counterparts because it is considered “ghetto“, “dirty”, “nappy” and “unmanageable”.  Even some of our own race is disgusted with afros, braids, and locs because we were taught to not love our natural body.  Did they forget they too wore these same styles once upon a time? Did you forget that history repeats itself?

The boudoir experience taught me to never be afraid to love myself wholeheartedly.  It taught me that I should not be ashamed of my body and how I illustrate this beautiful black art.  I shouldn’t worry about what others may say about me or the label that may be associated with expressing myself as a sexy black woman. It taught me that I can be tasteful and sexy at the same damn time.  It taught me that there will always be someone that will not agree with me participating in a boudoir experience because of the taboo associated with it.  However, I would encourage all women, young and old, to take your clothes off and view your body in the mirror daily. You should embrace every curve and imperfection located on your body.  If there are things YOU want to improve or achieve on your canvas; do it for YOU only!!! Don’t do it for attention.  Don’t do it for the opposite sex.  Do it for the woman in the mirror.  Remember we as a black woman have been rooted from so many obstacles and bondages, that we don’t appreciate the strength and beauty associated with us. We don’t see how pure our beauty really is.  We only see the worse in us because we are afraid to become enlightened by our individual worth.  Love the beautiful butterfly you have become.  Realize how powerful you are as a black woman.  Rise from all the destruction and pain you have had to bare all these years as a black woman.  Know that when you finally love yourself; a beautiful peace will enlighten your body and heart.

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