It happens to me often. I talk with a young woman about boudoir photography and I get the question “What is that?” When I show her some photos, depending on her proclivities, I either hear “That’s cool” or “I would never do that!” Is Boudoir Photography sinful?
As Americans, we have a deeply ingrained Puritan ethic. The Puritans engaged in “moral purity pursued down to the smallest detail.” Obviously that moral purity comes from a Christian Biblical theology. So is this style of photography sinful based on this conservative Christian morality?
Boudoir Vs Pornography
Boudoir photography is not porn. Pornography has been described in many different ways over time. What was once called porn 50 years ago, may now be socially acceptable. Pornography is created to illicit a sexual response, boudoir is not. This style of bedroom photography is made to show the sexuality of a woman, not make her a sexual object.
Boudoir photography is closer to art. Most of us would not go to an art museum and call Michelangelo’s David pornographic. David is fully nude! The same would be said of Titian’s Venus and the Lute.
Prior to the Renaissance, the nude had been hidden away from depictions after the fall of the Roman Empire. The Renaissance revived the study of the nude figure in art. Pope Julius the II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, and it is adorned with nude figures from the Creation of Adam to the Flood.
So why did nudity become taboo?
We again turn our attention to the Puritans who believed in moral purity in all things. Well, technically it began way before that at the fall when Adam and Eve realized their nakedness and were ashamed.1 Before that, nudity was okay, it was how we were formed, just as the beasts are nude, so were we. Then nudity became bad and at several points during history, it was revived. The Puritans believed in women and men dressing modestly. That is great for North East New England which isn’t exactly bikini weather. Since this was one of the major religious groups here during the founding our country, their beliefs greatly influenced our laws, ethics, and morality.
The Victorian Era didn’t help matters much. As society moved further from agrarian and home industry structures to the Industrial Revolution model, women became more objects than people. We lost sight of women also being in the image of God.2 Women are not gods (although most husbands may fear them as much), but capture part of the beauty and essence of God.
Boudoir aims to show that women aren’t objects to be sexualized, but instead are sexual creatures who are beautiful in their womanhood. Just as a nursing mother is not wrong, being a sexy woman isn’t either. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. Neither the extreme women’s liberation movement nor the fundamentalist right has helped women properly express their sexuality. One saying that women should walk around completely topless and the other almost advocating for burkas.
So if nudity isn’t inherently bad, why are we ashamed to be naked. One simple answer, lust. Lust is one of the seven deadly sins. Gluttony is an unhealthy desire of food. Envy is an unhealthy desire of another person’s belongings. Greed is an unhealthy desire of money. Lust is an unhealthy desire of sexuality.
Pornography feeds the unhealthy sexual desires, particularly of men. While women don’t consume as much visual pornography as men do, it could be argued that romance novels are a type of pornography for women. The objectification of the opposite sex and not seeing them as human beings is the part where we go astray.
Nudity isn’t the problem, what we do with it is the problem. This doesn’t mean that I am advocating a society where we have no modesty. If all men and women walked around naked, then nudity wouldn’t be scandalous. Similarly, if both sexes are covered from head to toe regularly, then showing ankle is taboo.
Lust is the problem, not nudity. Don’t mistake the messenger for the message. The amount of skin doesn’t matter; the state of the heart does. Adultery and lust have been around even in more prudish times.
Women should feel sexy and confidence is the best sexy there is. If a woman wishes to wear a short skirt, that is her choice. It is also her choice to wear a burlap sack. We must never loose sight of the fact that our choices impact other people too. Offering alcohol to a recovering alcoholic is cruel and problematic. Similarly, knowingly showing extra cleavage to someone with a porn addiction is cruel and spiteful.
Women are told to be porn stars in bed and nuns in the world. To be strong and confident and then to shut up because they are too bitchy. Its because men can’t make up their minds. I am not surprised women get cranky with these types of demands on them.
Women need to be allowed to express their sexuality without being oppressed and told it is too sexy. Boudoir is a way to do that. To celebrate the sexuality without being a sex object. To release the passion and tension bottled down inside. To combat all of the negative comments about being too fat, too skinny, too small chested, too large bottomed. Boudoir destroys the fears of not looking “good enough.”
Is it sinful?
I think that is really a question you need to ask yourself and discuss with your maker. I don’t believe it is, but obviously, I shoot it. The only person who can decide if boudoir is wrong is you. If it is a “sin,” it is you and not others who will be judged for your actions. Let them judge, they already do anyway. And for those that say it causes men to fall, there is far worse content on the internet for men to view. No, boudoir is art, not porn.
If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment down below.