Grace

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Tiny hands and a long torso.

That’s what I would normally say if someone asked what I thought my main features were.

My best friend, Maya, and this shoot have shown me otherwise.

Not that I was raised to be self-conscious, but I was not raised to be particularly confident of how I look or who I am. In my family we didn’t talk about sex. We didn’t talk about being body positive. We didn’t talk about experimenting with how you look outside of “normal.”  

Growing up I was a chubby kid with long greasy hair who always wore hand me down clothing from their brothers. I was always told I looked like a tomboy and I was proud of it. I didn’t like wearing dresses, or skirts, or doing my hair, or wearing make up. I didn’t even get my ears pierced till I was 19 because I always thought it was too girly. All growing up I saw being feminine as being weak. Lesser. Prissy. Being feminine or sexy was something I looked down on.   

As I got older I developed from chubby lump into a human with fairly aesthetically pleasing curves. It took me about 2 years to realize this change was happening and when I first noticed I tried to hide it. I still wore oversized baggy cargo shorts, and t-shirts two sizes too big. Tried anything to not be seen as attractive by any means.  

Then I did a thing.   

I cut off all my hair.   

Seeing me now it doesn’t look like I have much to cut, but when I was about 17/18 I cut off over 2 feet of hair.   

That changed everything.   

After I cut off my hair I felt like no change beyond that would require explanation. After I cut off my hair I started to dress more like how I wanted to. It wasn’t overnight by any means, but it didn’t take long for me to finally start feeling confident in myself. I figured if someone was going to judge me for short hair they would judge me about anything so I might as well give them more to judge me for.   

Looking back that was dumb and wonderful. Finally getting to feel like I have control of my body I got to actually look at myself and start to love what I saw. I got to see my curves and actually appreciate them. I got to fall in love with my squishy tummy and jiggly thighs.   

It took a long time to see myself as sexy though. Being sexy still felt like I was being viewed as an object, because I had a thought that to be sexy I had to be sexy to someone else. My best friends and my partner have shown me that I only need to be sexy for me, and if someone else agrees then I guess that’s just a perk.   

I’m a 21 year old tattooed and pierced pansexual who is in a wonderful healthy sexy committed relationship and I fucking love it.

Maya

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I wanted to be able to say that I'm like the hit N'sync song.. I'm “bi, bi, bi” but I couldn't think of a third way that I am bi. Anyway, I'm biracial and bisexual (though closer to the hetero side of the spectrum) and would like to one day be fluent in sign-language, which would make me bilingual. I am 26, identify as female and use she/her pronouns. 

Here is my story: 

Growing up, I was taught that “being sexy” was a social construct created (namely by men) to make women more appealing for their satisfaction.

Women who wear form-fitting dresses are sexy. 

Chocolate covered strawberries on painted red lips is sexy. 

Scantily clad people covered in sweat with a wildness in their eyes is sexy.
I was not.  

I liked wearing my dad's old flannels and large cargo shorts because I had lumps and bumps that didn't allow form-fitting clothing to lay the same way it did on the women in the magazines. I liked being goofy, weird and getting people to laugh. Also, I was very shy and socially awkward. Did I know how to be seductive? Could I learn? Was it even a possibility for me? 

The latter half of my teen years were dedicated to finding out. My virginity was taken from me around the age of 16. My mind was racing, but one thing kept circling around “Did I cause this? Did I seduce him so much that he literally needs this release? Would it be cruel of me to stop him now?” I was scared, but I was also excited because I was finally “sexy” enough for someone to desire my body... and it was kind of a rush. And soon after, this feeling of being desired became my drug. I signed onto dating apps and sent pictures to strangers to get my fix. I slept with men that I knew didn't have an emotional interest in me. I knew in the back of my mind that it wasn't what I really wanted. I'm inherently monogamous and want to find one person to give my affections and receive them in return.  

But it wasn't until a year ago that I decided that it was time for me to start my journey to find what I wanted. No more FWBs or denying how much I cared for someone. It was even more recently that I realized being sexy not strictly being sexual.  

I met Ben 4 months ago (as of the writing of this post) and he has already altered everything that I thought about myself and how relationships were going to work for me. He frequently reminds me that my goofiness is sexy. We can look into each others eyes, without a word spoken and I can feel my heart begin to race. Early in the morning, he'll wrap his arms around me and pull my body close to his (even though we'll both get overheated and sweaty in about 5 minutes). I find these things to be much sexier than any naked body. 

To be perfectly honest, I hoped that this shoot would help me find a sexiness in my appearance. Instead, I think it helped solidify that I never based my definition of what is sexy solely on appearances. 

People who are passionate (about anything) are sexy.
Finding a special connection with someone is sexy.
Being or working toward making yourself more comfortable with who you are is really fucking sexy. 

Now I can say, “I am sexy” and believe it. 

Moxie

Hi! I’m Moxie! I’m a straight serial monogamist in a beautiful relationship with a loving, open-minded, magical human. I’m with someone who encourages me to be my biggest and boldest self, and I’ve been reaping the benefits of exploring my body, my mind, and whatever truly turns me on. Sexually I am submissive, to the extent that I love for someone else to curate an experience for me and take me on an emotional, psychological, and physical ride. I shine in passivity and unfurling, and feeling my partner be honored with the gift of my submission. I’m not interested in intercourse with anyone that is not my partner, but I love the art of attraction and the electricity of holding someone’s attention. Everyone’s attention. I love to be admired and treasured. My biggest turn on is someone saying “I’ve never met a woman like you,” or, “No one has ever made me feel this way.” Yes, basically I’m made of bad movie writing.

And I’m a professional foot goddess! As a sexual submissive, I feel deeply touched by my foot slaves and really understand the complexity of the experience they are seeking. I am astonished at how much I love to Domme when the tables are turned. What a thrill to provide a task, a scenario of restriction or pain, and then praise and soothe in such a way that I can see my sub become profoundly happy and peaceful. It is fun, it is tender, it is beyond rewarding. In these photos, I think you can see the push and pull of how I like to be seen -- feminine, submissive, precious -- versus what I can offer to clients -- confidence, command, dominance. I do also have “vanilla” clients who I adore, and I love their connection to my feet, and their appreciation of me. I only perform legal services, no “foot jobs,” so my clients are true foot connoisseurs. I am grateful that these little size 5 feet with sky high arches, which have been a source of pain and frustration in my athletic life, have become a gift to share with the world. It helps me love my body and be kind to myself. It keeps me in a place of appreciation, for myself and for the wonderful people I spend time with. I hope you enjoy the photos, and feel the love! xoxo

Alex

See the rest of Alex's set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I've struggled with writing this statement and at this point it's over a week late so I'm going to experiment with starting by spitting out some vulnerability: My ideal body is 100% male and 100% female. Is that a thing? What if day to day, moment to moment, feeling to feeling one could be who they actually felt like they were. The idea of being a different person on a physical level in response to different thoughts, feelings, conversations, and ideas is fascinatingly appealing. Who I am, how I feel, and who I want to be is ultimately not fully encompassed by my male-presenting body. I suppose the best label to encompass this line of thought is genderfluidity.

A week before participating in this photoshoot, my partner- in the process of cleaning out her wardrobe- picked out and gave me some of her clothes and I challenged myself to wear them in this shoot. This challenge manifested in a ten minute break in-between the first half of the shoot in my normal-person clothing (yes, I demand that galaxy leggings and He-Man memes be accepted as normal) and the second half of the shoot while I silently talked myself into putting on her (my!) shirt and sipped at coffee that I didn't need. I was nervous, Braden was reassuring, and in the end, I love it. I don't know why I chose to do this shoot other than that it “seemed like time” but I suppose for that feeling, it was worth it. So with that: “Hi. This is... me?”

I feel a little weird leaning into myself as a sexual being. More than sexiness, I feel like I tend find my space in- as I described it during the shoot- “cute dumb shit.” “That's not you” said my friend when I shared one of the more sexy pictures. Meanwhile, the picture of me (which you definitely will not be seeing) with my tongue stuck out and my eyes almost rolled back got widespread approval from pretty much everyone. Picking out pictures, I definitely gave a lot of space to the cute dumb shit, but I hope I also made space for a few pictures that are prettier, more pensive, or flat out more attractive and sexy.

If I could do it again (and I might) I think I'd push myself harder. Even though I went outside my comfort zone, I'm left with a feeling that my shoot wasn't subversive enough. Wasn't sexy enough. I don't know how to make my body do the things that would make the shoot feel 100% satisfying for me yet. But until then, I'll work on it.

Mac

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I’m a 27 year old, black male whose pronouns are him, he, and mmm. That last pronoun might have you thinking “wait...what!?”, but trust me after you see these photos you’ll be referring to me as such soon enough. I would like to say my relationship style is basically monogamous. For the longest time I’ve been afraid to be myself outside the walls of my home. I have always felt that once I left the comfort of my home, I would feel compelled to have to fit a certain role. Whether that role was put there by my friends, strangers, and society in general. Just to be clear it's not like they said anything explicit to me like “we need you to behave this way.” However, it was more like if I ever stepped out of the bounds of their schema they would make sure to let me know: “Oh, stop acting white, you know black people don't get good grades”, “Why are you watching that show, that's only for girls”,”why haven't you had sex yet” followed by “You need to sleep with x amount of girls to be Cool”. Those were a few examples of “don't be the nail that sticks out, before you get hammered” and that's what it felt like: a hammer constantly reminding me of my role. Because of that I’ve never really felt that people liked me for who I was, but because I never strayed away from their image of who I should be. This resulted in me being constantly under the impression that nobody would like me or wanted to be with me if they found out who I really was. Just some Black kid who was still a virgin, didn't drink nor smoke, didn't know how to dance, and liked anime and manga. In my heart, I thought that keeping these secrets would help me stay afloat, but instead they were weighing me down.

I didn’t start opening up until I entered college. That's when it hit me that it’s kinda hard to hide who you are when you live with 3 other human beings in a shared space. High school, college, and even now you would be hard pressed to see me as anything other than as an extrovert. My alone time was the only chance for me to catch my breath, before i had to put the mask back on and interact with the world. Honestly the entire time spent in college was a process of seeing how long can I stay beneath the surface before running out of air. Unfortunately, it's a losing battle. Simply because as a human being: You. Are. Meant. To. Breath. Above. The. Current.

For a very long time and even now, I’ve had doubts about whether or not I’m actually being myself. It’s been a daily struggle to gain this sense of freedom, both in body and mind, learning to be comfortable with who I am. Laughter has helped me a lot in surviving and I try my best to bring that laughter wherever I go. For these photos I wanted to show you what truly makes me feel sexy and what I find sexy in other people. Your ability to laugh and be you in the face of the supposed schemas other may have put you into. I personally believe this is why Braden and his project resonate with me and so many others. However, i can safely say that I now spend a majority of my time above the current. Taking in deep breaths and laughing one day at a time.

Now that you know what's underneath the hood; let's talk a little about my outer sexiness. I really love food and if you feed me I’ll be your friend for life. They say you are what you eat and boy do I eat a lot of chocolate. Haha, but I only look like chocolate. So, please don’t try it...well, maybe a little and we’ll see where that leads us. I enjoy being Black. Many may not see it as such, but I've been blessed as you'll soon see. I like to workout -> eat ->dance -> eat. Many of the above can be switched out with more eating. Haha sorry, I don't really know what I find sexy about myself, because this is all new to me. My friends say I have a nice body and a great butt. I suppose, I know what I find sexy in a woman, but what do women find sexy in a man. Hell, what do other men find sexy in other men? I know I think dudes with muscular traps are nice to look at, but I also can't resist the urge to rub the belly of a guy with a beer gut? Hmm, sexiness is very fluid I think.

I’m very open to new things. I really like sex... a lot. And the people who’ve had sex with would agree as well. All 2 of those individuals. 2/2 ain’t bad, right? Remember I’m a Big, Black, Cheiranthus(wallflower) that bloomed at 24. It’s been interesting seeing the different avenues of sexuality that are available out there. Got to meet many “different” people and learned a lot about the world, especially when one of those people is a sex therapist. I may not try all of them myself, but I think having information about other communities is important for open dialogue and gaining useful information about everyone's favorite activity.

Still haven't found myself, yet but I'm enjoying the journey so far. Very happy that I did the shoot and looked forward to the next one. Special thanks to Ivory for convincing me I was sexy enough to join you guys.

Aerial

You can see the rest of Aerial's set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

When I was around eight and first beginning to have sexual fantasies, I took a long hard look in the mirror and made a conscious decision that I’d better get used to spending my time with books, because an imaginary world was the only place I would ever be able to enjoy the kind of sex I wanted to have.

No one would ever want me, I thought. Not the girl with grandma glasses, frizzy hair, and a lisp, the girl who was picked last for every sports team. I came of age in the era of heroin chic, and I believed in my heart that my fleshy thighs placed me irrevocably in the category of people who would only be able to realize their desires inside their own heads. There was a period of disordered eating, but even after that, a deep sense of dissatisfaction, a sense that I would never be good enough.

Then, in college, when I started attending swing dances, I had a revelation: the dancers I couldn’t tear my eyes away from didn’t have hollowed cheekbones or flat bellies; they were irresistible because of the way that they moved. They were entrancing because they were good at something. Through dance, I first began to connect with my body as something capable of bringing me – and others – pleasure.

My newfound sense of joy in my own presentation blossomed into full-blown high femme: smoky eyes, contouring, vampy lips, highlights, blowouts, nail polish, perfume, body wax, body lotion, body glitter. I love it all. For me, being femme isn’t about needing to meet anybody else’s expectations of beauty; it’s about that delicious sense of control, about having absolute power over what I get to see when I look in the mirror. I like putting on new faces. I like having a vision of how I want to look and making it come true. My vanity is my place to experiment with glitter and shimmer, neon and duochrome. When I go out, sometimes my favorite part of the night is getting ready. For me, being a feminist femme means making makeup itself into a type of drag.

And I have language now for the kind of sex I like to have, which matters: I’m kinky, a sub who sometimes tops women, bi, in an open relationship with a man and a lady lover and lots of wonderful sexy friends. I am incredibly lucky to live a life that includes dungeons and orgies, impact play and role play, strap-ons and shibari, leather and latex, cuffs and collars, chains and canes.

The core of my sexuality is about being on display. I like being looked at. And that’s why the photos from this shoot of me looking at my reflection in the mirror seem so perfect. It’s like I’m putting on a show just for myself to enjoy.

But it was the photos of me on the roman cross that hit me the hardest – because the truth is, I still do have body image issues. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I don’t think about the shape of my stomach. And those photos, the roman cross photos, made me tear up because for once, I look exactly how I want to look. I look strong.

These days, the thing that makes me feel sexiest in my own body is waking up in the morning, running my hands under the sheets down to my hipbones, flexing into a bridge, and feeling the little vein running along my lower abs. Weightlifting has made me feel more comfortable with my dykier side. I wear less makeup these days, and more sports bras. That’s the irony: now that I’ve altered my body with breast implants, botox, keratin treatments, dermatology, epilation, and muscle building, I feel good presenting just the way I am. Because being fit can be femme as fuck.

 

1 Mostly about the Greek pantheon, especially the story about Hephastus catching Aphrodite and Ares in flagrante delicto by throwing a net of ropes over them and leaving them bound together for all of Olympus to come see. I didn’t have language at the time for things like bondage or exhibitionism, but I knew that I liked the idea of desire so overpowering it could hold even gods ensnared.

A Dragon!

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Hi friends! I'm an overly-enthusiastic, extroverted, demisexual/gray-sexual, hetero-romantic cis-lady in House Slytherin, hella ENFP. I love hugs, dancing, and conversations over a pint of stout or a dram of whiskey in a candlelit room in the dead of winter. I'm obsessed with all things music and spend most weekends either at a concert or in a jam session with friends. I'm also an unapologetic nerd, and I really really love food (cooking is SO FUN!).

I wanted to do this photoshoot to show that aces can enjoy showing off what they've got, too. I love being active - cycling, yoga, dancing - and I like showing off how that's made my body more toned in the last few years. I like feeling powerful (like a fucking DRAGON). I also wanted to be unconventionally sexy and not just wear lingerie... so like, a SEXY DRAGON. I love any excuse to wear a costume. If I'm going to put in the effort to look sexy, it's going to be damn memorable for people, but I never think of myself as "sexy." I don't know if I actually want people to think of me as sexy, even though I'm calling this the sexy dragon photoshoot. I just enjoy not wearing lots of clothes sometimes. I'm more flattered when someone comments on my music or cooking, or when someone is genuinely interested in hearing what I have to say.

I haven't dated much, but I would say I'm fairly monogamous. I get crushes pretty easily, but it takes that deep, emotional connection before I'd even consider wanting to be sexual with them. And even if that happens and I actually end up in a relationship with that person, I prefer to take it slow, because the sexual feelings are infrequent. Despite having lots of friends who are polyamorous/kinky/etc, I'm pretty vanilla and basically still a virgin (a juxtaposition I find pretty hilarious - also my friends are super chill and supportive, and I'm really grateful for that). I don't understand why sex has to be the goal in relationships. Some people love it, and that's great, but honestly, no man can possibly please me as much as the 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla Rye, so like... I'm in no rush.

I grew up in a conservative, religious culture that puts a lot of pressure on people to date and get married. The obsession with dating and appearance used to make me feel like I was ugly, because throughout high school I had all these romantic interests and none really reciprocated - just general bad luck. At one point I was sat down and asked why I wasn't dating anyone, and if I'm secretly a lesbian (which, in a conservative family, would have been a Bad Thing). I'm still not out as demi to my family - I don't know if they'd get it, and I don't really think they need to know. I spent my college years not only earning a music degree, but also unlearning the idea that if you're single then you must be a failure. Every once in a while I still go into toxic thought world, especially since my last relationship was years ago. At least these days, the toxic thoughts have nothing to do with my appearance (I took a photoshoot as a dragon in a fucking bralette and pleather shorts - I'm feeling pretty good about my body now). I'm content with where my life is now, and I look forward to whatever experiences may be in my future, whether that includes relationships or not.

Ivory

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You can call me Ivory. I am a 26 year old, cis, mostly heterosexual woman (she/her pronouns). My relationship styles have been fully monogamous and also monogamish and I definitely have an interest in further exploring the world of polyamory and open relationships. I enjoy sex a lot, some kinky stuff, and recently dipped my toes into the world of BDSM (something I'd also like to explore further).

My body likes to move, whether it be dancing, swinging around a pole, flopping around the floor in 7 inch heels, or any type of physical exercise really- I just hate sitting still. A few years ago, I picked up pole dancing and enjoy challenging cultural and social norms by expressing and exploring my sexuality through this art form. Not to mention being able to do gravity defying moves makes me feel pretty fucking badass.

I feel sexiest when I've been taking good care of my body; when I'm strong and flexible from attending regular pole classes, getting sufficient sleep, eating a balanced diet, and taking time to de-stress by foam and ball rolling my body.

Clothing (and lack of too) brings all the sexy feels. I feel really good lounging around the house on a lazy Sunday in my silky bathrobe, exposing a lacy bralette under a low cut tank, or wearing anything booty hugging. I also really enjoy walking around the house naked or in my underwear.

My big booty is one of my favourite body parts and I'm also pretty proud of the muscles I've earned through my physical activities. I work hard and I'm proud of how I look because of it. I also love the contoured elegance of my clavicle, my big brown eyes and bright smile.

I've followed Braden's Hella Positive work for a few years and have wanted to be a photo shoot subject for so long. These photos turned out magical and absolutely stunning, thanks Braden!

Olivia

You can see the rest of Olivia's set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

This photoshoot was an experience made up of dialectics for me. I am a gray-asexual, autistic, cis, monogamous, hetero woman, who has survived 5+ years of anorexia, major depressive disorder, self harm, and general anxiety disorder. To say that I have a complicated relationship with sexuality and my body is a major understatement. However I am also feminist, an intersectional social justice advocate, body positive, and sex positive. It feels right and good to be vulnerable and open with my body. Seeing the photos has been a process of both disgust and joy, because taking them was so much fun, but the dysphoria I feel when looking at my body is overwhelming.

More often than not I feel utterly disconnected from my body. A major part of my eating disorder was the conviction that my mind was my true self, and my body was simply a random vessel that I was stuck with, one that got in the way and behaved inexplicably. Every moment that I feel actually and truly embodied is radical for me. Unfortunately the first method that I found of feeling embodied was self harm.I’ve always liked the imagery of writing myself on my skin, marking this body as my own. Self harm was a way to brand myself, to claim the skin as my own, and to show others what it was like living inside the body.

Since I’ve become healthier, my tattoos have taken on that role. Each one is like a rope that ties my mind to my flesh and keeps me here. Each tattoo is a choice to make my body my own. I love them, and they are unquestionably my favorite thing about myself because they are a choice while the rest of my body is simply what I ended up with. It feels incredibly powerful to be intentional about what goes on my body. Life will always leave its marks on my body, and if I can choose the marks I leave, that is choosing who I am.

While I am cis, I have experienced an intense amount of body dysphoria and looking at these photos was an exercise in it. In my mind, my body is small, skinny, and strong. I still miss the weight that I was at when I was sick, even if I know that I am healthier now and know that I can be ok with where I am now. Every time I look at my body I hold both of those truths together: I feel disgusted by my current body and my current body is better than starving myself.

One of the only ways that I have found to fight against this negative self image is to harness my autistic sensory sensitivities. When my body is moving I feel joyful and powerful. My body becomes more than a chunk of flesh sitting at my computer (which is most days) and becomes a way to feel the water rushing over me, or to climb to the top of the tree, or to hear the rush of a waterfall. I actually fell off one of the trees into the creek, and the moment when the water touched my skin was the best moment of the shoot. It’s a beautiful, soft kind of pressure that cradles and buoys my body and makes me feel at home in myself. I want other people to see someone else struggling like this, having moments of comfort and acceptance coupled with moments of self hatred. It’s ok to struggle.

I also felt that it was important to represent my asexuality, which is why I spent a lot of the shoot as a narwhal. More often than not, I don’t feel comfortable being viewed as sexy. While I understand that for many people sex is great and I 100% support people’s right to have as much sex as they want, sex for me is a site of trauma and frustration. When I think of sex, more often than not I think of people who don’t listen when I say no, people who want more than I can give, disappointing people I love.

I am currently happily married, and my husband respects my asexuality, but sex is still difficult for us because I am so often dissociated from my body and find touch overwhelming. For me, sexiness comes most often in unexpected and hidden ways. It sneaks out when we’re laughing together, when I feel soft and unguarded, when my self consciousness has melted away (something that is rare). I am not ashamed of being on the asexual spectrum, but I don’t want to be frightened away from sexuality by fear. In our relationship right now, my partner has adjusted a lot to make me comfortable in my asexuality. I feel a push and pull to be more sexual because we have different needs, and I want it to be a mutual solution that works for both of us. I want to create more moments that create that ease in my body, so that I’m not struggling to feel embodied and safe and comfortable.

I want to be perfectly clear that while an allosexual/asexual relationship presents some challenges, our relationship is fucking fantastic. While sex is an area we struggle with, it’s one part of a relationship that is loving and supportive on both sides. It is still amazing to me that I am married to someone who gives me the space to sort out my own identity, communicates his needs and preferences to me, and works to find solutions. It is 100% possible to be in a happy allo/ace relationship.

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my scarring. I have scars all over my body, from a surgery scar on my pubis to self harm scarring down my legs, across my stomach, on my breasts, and on my arms. One of my earliest tattoos was the eating disorder recovery symbol over some of my scarring, which was an important reclamation, but these days my scars feel less like an enemy and more like a reminder. I am not ashamed of my mental illness, and I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done to myself. I have no desire to hide my scars, because I am not interested in hiding from my past. I will not forget how bad things can be when I am not vigilant in caring for myself. Of course as with the rest of my body there is a downside; they can feel so incredibly ugly because they are evidence of the worst moments in my life. They are moments of the times that I hated myself more than I have hated anything else. They are evidence of the times I wanted to give up. While I don’t want to pretend these things didn’t happen, it doesn’t always feel good to have the worst times of your life visible on your skin.

I struggle constantly to hold the past close without being held back by it, to recognize and embrace my neurodivergence without letting it limit me, and to accept my sexual identity without missing out on life.

Emily

See the rest of Emily's set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Emily and I am Ravenclaw, pansexual, cis-female and use she/her pronouns. I pride myself on my obscure Harry Potter facts, my butt, having a Dumbledore quote for almost any situation, my lips, my voice, my banjo playing skills, and arguably being the most incredibly awkward flirter in the world. My flirtation style is being as blunt as possible. It centres around things I like about people in hopes of making them feel good, giggle and blush... unfortunately that is also generally how I communicate and try to make friends. Even I'm not always sure if I'm flirting or not. I love mutual flirting. It makes me feel playful, intense, sexy, and up for a challenge. 

It has taken me some time to see myself in these photographs. I often disassociate my brain from my body and it takes me some time to look and see a reflection of who I am in pictures. Here, there are so many versions of me. I see my nerdy self. I see me who is regularly lost in thought. I see a softer side and a curious side of myself. I see a silly, sexy, and dare I say sticky side which somehow feels the most like me as I'm unable to contain my laughter. However, while these are all ways that I perceive myself on a regular basis, they're not how I perceive myself sexually. 

I feel sexy when I'm being playful and snuggly. I feel sexy when I'm heavily connecting with another person on a romantic and deep emotional level. I feel sexy when I lose myself to a song. I feel sexy when someone is on their knees, begging me to let them touch me and all I have to do is let one word out to grant their wish, or make them work harder to earn it. I feel sexy when I allow myself to gain and lose control in turn. 

Vulnerability and passion to me are what makes someone attractive. I find myself attracted to people who are willing to let me see beneath the surface. I find myself attracted to people who get excited about something and are willing to share their joy. I find myself attracted to people who are open and willing to try new things, especially when it's discovering new things together. 

However, none of these things really lead to much without connection. Connection is my catalyst for love of all varieties. It is what starts to give me goosebumps and butterflies and all sorts of involuntary physical reactions. It could be connection for just a moment, it could be a connection that last years, but without connection, I am never truly satisfied. It can allow people to discover a new world, get lost in it together, or let the rest of the world melt away. Those are the moments in which I feel the most sexy;  those are the moments in which I feel the most vulnerable; and, those are the moments in which I feel the most passionate. 

Vox Redux

Check out the rest of Vox's set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Check out Vox's previous shoot here: https://www.hellapositivepinup.com/blog/2016/12/9/vox

There's something about a camera. It makes a person feel one of two ways; either they feel shy and insecure, or they feel powerful and the most sexy they're able. I prefer the latter. A camera gives you the ability to tell the exact story you desire it to. A camera gives you the control that being in person never can. 

My story is one of many paths and many endings. A story that is filled with great adventures and sad ends. New beginnings and rich history.

I want to give as much as my heart can bleed. I want to experience as much as my feet can get dirty, as much as my lungs can swell with breath, as much as my heart can pound with anxiety. I wish to feel the warmth of others and the cold of isolation. I want to flip those scripts, just as well.

Beauty, sexiness, power.... it can all be obtained by anyone that wants to reach for it.

Pain and strife can paint beautiful pictures, too. It is the madness with which some create their greatest works.

Own your story. Own your path. Own your history and your future. 

Go on an adventure. Go on one of any kind. Let it be mentally, let it be physically, let it be spiritually, but let it engulf you and take you under. 

You are mine, as I am yours. For this, I am happy, and forever grateful.   Thank you. For everything, dear spirit. 

Thank you for the ability to feel yours and share mine.

Shay

See Shay's full set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

See Shay's full set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Shay, but if you know me from the burlesque community, you would call me as Sherman. I am genderfluid, and somewhere in the middle on every gender/sex/personality/relationship style spectrum. I use “they” pronouns when I am performing, because I am so many different people in all of my acts. Plus, I don’t want you to know if the big reveal is going to have boobs, a dick, or both. I toyed with the idea of using “they” pronouns in my daily life, but I feel more comfortable responding to she, they, and he, depending on the event, the conversation, the person. I don’t want to decide on a pronoun, because I want to be playful and flexible with my presentation. This is a subject matter close to my heart, and how people wish to be called is important to me. My lack of deciding on only one way to be or be called is equally important, as it is where I am most comfortable. I want the space to not take my own personal gender seriously. I want to be a drag king, a drag queen, a butch, a femme, a daddy, a slut, and all the things in between. Just please don’t mistake me for a straight woman, I am neither of those things.

I gravitate towards men of all kinds (I’m a sucker for beards), trans people and GNC people for sexual partners. I like the people I spend time with to be very comfortable with themselves, and their gender/sex identity. I don’t care what genitals you were born with, I don’t care what your body type is. As an artist, the thing that turns me on the most in a partner is their creativity. It can be anything: poetry, woodworking, dance, sound editing, knitting, underwater basket weaving - the people that are deserving of my time are the ones that live and breathe art, and have that burning desire to be and create beauty around them. I want to spend the whole day with someone, talking over each other about ideas we have for projects, then helping each other with our projects when it makes sense, working side by side separately when it makes sense, and taking a break every 90 minutes or so for sex, or at least, making out.

I’m poly, and have been before I knew poly was a thing. I have a lot of energy, and a lot of empathy, and for one person to receive all my love and romantic attention would be too much. There are a lot of different kinds of relationships I enjoy: I like having a traditional primary partner; someone to get stoned and cuddle with or without sex (but always with cartoons); someone to make art and have sex with; someone to explore pain limits and bdsm with, with or without sexual play; burlesque partners; tag team partners for wrestling; someone to pop back pimples with. All these friendships require trust, chemistry, and communication. Sex is nice, I’m a very sexual person, but I cannot do without love and I cannot do without art, and look for these things first and foremost when I am relating with people and planning out how to spend my extrovert time.

I also help run a queer pro-wrestling league. We do our wrestling antics at music shows, and as productions on their own. As an abuse survivor, finding a group of femme people and ladies to have predetermined violence with has been excellent exposure therapy. It has made touch okay, it is a way to have platonic touch with my friends. We all trust each other with our lives, and are getting out our aggression in a healthy and fun way. Pro wrestling is one of the only American-made performance art forms, and I hope to create a response to the typically misogynistic, racist, and generally problematic as fuck world of wrestling with my awesome friends, and whoever else wants to join. I’m mentioning this here to let you know there are ways to feel confident and strong with your body, without sexualizing it (sometimes, if you want). Here’s a link of us doing our thing for one of our good friends bands, Palehound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw3buU7goHo

As a former born again Christian, I spent a lot of time in my early years feeling guilty for wanting to date two people at once, wanting to give blowjobs before I got married, smoking weed, masturbating, liking queer people, being queer myself, thinking my body was beautiful, and wanting to be naked around my friends. The particular suburban brand of Christianity I followed also made me feel uncomfortable being a certain body type, weight, and personality. I tried being a girl like the ones in my school and the ones you saw in the magazines, but never could get it quite right and settled on a more goth/theater kid style in my early years. Now, some days I wear fit and flare dresses, and other days I wear overalls. I am almost done feeling guilty, but still have to actively work on making sure I am being true to myself, and not trying to stuff myself into a box out of habit.

I feel sexiest when I’m pinned down by another person and they are clearly extracting pleasure from my body. I like to be objectified, to have someone take pleasure from being with me, and I like them to pretend they have little regard for my own pleasure (but like actually give me orgasms tho). When someone takes the time to figure out what I like in bed, and then do the things I like without me having to explicitly ask for them every time, is a level of consideration that makes me feel cherished, and sexy. If I’m looking to feel sexy on my own, a nice pair of italian made stockings that require the use of a garter belt is probably my peak sexual experience.

I don’t exactly feel “sexy” when I am performing burlesque, but I do feel confident, which is a good tool for feeling sexy, later. It’s like, fake it till you make it. In wrestling and burlesque, I pretend to be over the top sexy and strong, and the audience’s response pushes me over the threshold, and I actually do wind up feeling those things. Burlesque is more about playing a character perfectly, and showing the audience how much you love your body. The story isn’t always sexual, and my body is beautiful outside of the context of sex and the male gaze. The big difference between classic and neo burlesque, I think, is that classic sexualizes the performer for the sake of the audience member, whereas in neo, the performer is naked for their own joy, and whether or not you are horny from it is irrelevant. I want to be naked and visible, because when I was younger, I didn’t see anyone that looked or acted like me being confident with their body or sexual identity. In these terrible Trump years, the best thing I can do is let people know it is okay love yourself when you are short or fat or queer or single or dating five people or bald or shy or a prude or a virgin. I want other people to see me, I want to be the role model I never had. No matter who you are, if you want to make art in the neo-burlesque scene, you absolutely can. I would have never had the confidence to not wear a bra, shave my head, to be a girl one day and a boy the next, or to explain the complications of my non binary queer self, if I didn’t get to process those things through gender play on a stage.

Molly

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I believe that proficiency in all things can be accomplished if you have two things: the courage to try and the discipline to practice.

My experience posing for these pictures was not what I'd HOPED for, but pretty much what I'd expected it to be. I had HOPED I would find that in the right space and the right light with a photographer I trusted to produce stunning photos, I would begin to recognize my own physical beauty and dare to try some "sexy" poses. I'm not particularly modest in terms of people seeing my naked body - I was a studio model for a number of years and performed nude in a dance piece in college - but I don't personally find bodies to be inherently sexy, least of all mine. Sometimes I wonder if I speak really openly and casually about sex in order to conceal the fact that I'm actually pretty self-loathing about my sexual expressiveness.

Sexiness, as I experience it, lives somewhere in the spaces between postures, behaviors, and attitudes, but depends heavily on comfort and confidence. I find that the moments when I find people to be the most sexy are when they are nonchalantly discussing something they have created or are particularly skilled at, not to boast but because it is an area of comfort or a passion for them. It's what they occupy their minds with, and they light up sharing it with anyone. They can be wearing anything, standing, sitting, or lounging anywhichway, with food on their face and their hair a wreck, but they are not thinking about anything in that moment except that exchange. They are sexy precisely because they don't know any other way to be.

But sexiness in its more commonly used sense, associated with physical attributes and the more "come-hither" behavior that people seem generally to react (positively) to, I find almost always discomforting. I think this is primarily because I both admire and are jealous of people who can act sexy. I want their skill so badly but lack the courage and desire to try, let alone practice. To be fair, this is a relatively new and growing resistance; I used to "practice" being sexy with the aid of a little (a lot) of liquid courage, but it only brought me immediate physical gratification and unhealthy relationships. That feedback loop has convinced me that if I have to act sexy in order for someone to find me desirable, that person doesn't love the me I'm comfortable with.

But.

I WANT to be more comfortable embracing my own brand of sexuality rather than begrudging those who already do. I empathized with a previous blogger who feels like her photos aren't as sexy and don't belong among the other sets on this site. However, being photographed and choosing photos for this helped me understand more about why I find what I find sexy and how I could enter back into that mindset so that as I practice, and with every future photo, I can feel sexy, as me. I expect that it will include more dancing and more props :)

Lucy and Miro

See the full extra large set (over 60 images!) by pledging at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

We are Lucy and Miro, and we are a kinky, non-monogamous couple. We currently have a Master/pet dynamic that is mostly 24/7, but we are both switches. Lucy is polyamorous, and Miro, as part of our dynamic of him being owned, is mostly monogamish. We are both major exhibitionists, and sometimes perform in porn together.

We met around 6 months ago, when a mutual friend dragged a slightly drunk Miro to a pre-party that Lucy was having for a burlesque and fetish night at a Berlin club. 

Lucy: When Miro walked in the door wearing his latex catsuit, my first thought was “damn, he looks good,” and my second thought when he turned around was “damn, he has a nice ass!” I really liked him, and tried to spend some time with him once we got to the club. It’s worth noting that I had been looking for a submissive guy to play with for a really long time at this point! Later in the night, Miro accidentally spilled his drink on my leg. Our mutual friend suggested that Miro lick it clean – I agreed that was a good idea so I told Miro to get down on his knees and clean up the mess. As he was licking my leg I knew that I had found my sub - it just felt right. The rest of the night was pretty tame, but I remember texting my best friends the next day saying “Hey you know how I’ve been looking for a sub for so long? I found him, it’s that guy who was wearing the latex catsuit last night!”

Miro: I can be a little oblivious sometimes. I remember thinking Lucy was really cool, and licking the drink off of her leg was a great moment. Maybe a little light went off in my head that it felt right but the whole party was so overwhelming that I didn’t notice I was totally being flirted with. 

Our first date was to a local latex store – it still took a while after that to get things going, as Miro is not neurotypical and sometimes has a hard time picking up on social cues. Once we both knew that we were into each other, things took off pretty quickly!

BDSM has been a very central part of our relationship since the beginning. It’s a really important way for us to express love and trust to each other, while also enriching each other’s lives. Our current dynamic is a 24/7 power exchange, with the exception of one or two days a week that we spend out of dynamic or switching. We use the titles “kitten” for Miro and “Master” for Lucy, which are good descriptors for our roles.  Pet play is a big part of our dynamic, and Miro is almost always wearing his collar and ears. Service is another important facet; Miro always makes breakfast and coffee for Lucy, cleans her apartment, and runs errands for her. These dynamics continue strongly in our sex life, which also includes a lot of pain play (Lucy is a major sadist and Miro is a major masochist) as well as teasing and denial for Miro. None of these dynamics were strictly laid out beforehand, and there is no contract between us. Everything grew more or less organically, and is always open to discussion and evolution as our relationship develops. One example of that is the recent addition of switching to our relationship – occasionally, Lucy will ask Miro to top her for the night, and our roles will completely reverse. We both enjoy this immensely, not only as a way for us to experience our switch sides, but also as a different and powerful way for us to connect.

Another thing that clicked between us from the beginning was how exhibitionistic we both are. It’s natural, enjoyable, and just plain hot to show as much of our connection and sexuality as we can. It’s very normal for us for Miro to be wearing his cat ears and tail in normal public situations, and for Lucy to be leading him around on a leash at fetish-friendly events. We are both super comfortable being naked in front of people, and we both get really turned on by people watching us have sex. It’s not only about how hot it is though; consciously expressing ourselves is an important ideology we share. Neither of us have any desires to conform to social standards by dressing nor acting in any other way than precisely how we want to. It’s also important to both of us to show people our kink (when appropriate, of course) because a lot of people simply haven’t seen a femdom relationship like ours, or have questions about it. We’ve had some wonderful, meaningful experiences at vanilla (yet sex-positive) events, talking to people who have never seen a dynamic like ours – one where there is visibly a lot of care and love, but also a strong female-led power exchange, and sometimes a lot of pain. We love answering questions and spreading positivity about BDSM.

That’s why we wanted to shoot for Hella Positive – to show all sides of our relationship, and show that we are regular people, not just crazy kinksters that no one can relate to.

Miro

Check out the rest of Miro and Lucy's extra-large set (over 60 photos!) by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I’m Miro, a mostly straight hedonist living in Berlin. I’m an artist and I have started shooting a bit of porn, which has so far been an amazing and humbling experience. I say mostly straight based on the numbers more than anything else. So far things have happened to click more often with girls than guys. I might be more picky with guys, and I might also still be dealing with some good old American internalized homophobia. The term “mostly straight” also seems to attract less attention from people skeptical about the idea of bisexuality. 

But to me, sex has a lot more to do with more along the lines of kink than gender. What interests me most about people is what they’re into and the energy they give off. As a person on the autistic spectrum, communication has always been a big issue for me. I remember the word “behavior” getting thrown around in countless teacher-parent meetings after whatever latest social fuckup. 

Long story short, I am so grateful for all of the tools and structure BDSM gives to human interactions. Things like rules are extremely comforting and help point me in the right direction for how to act. Otherwise the rush of all my overwhelming emotions can be hard to translate into words and body language. For me, power exchange is also a crucial way to show what you’re willing to put on the line for the relationship. Words, kisses and soft touches can be beautiful and powerful, but putting my life in someone’s hands and letting them make me scream, cry, bleed, and drip with desire (maybe with an orgasm as the cherry on top) helps me feel connected to them on a deeper level. Something beyond what words can express. 

It’s also really important to me to be able to feel vulnerable. To let go of the standard level of competence, independence and confidence that you’re expected to have in your day to day persona. To look up at the person you love and feel small, a little afraid, but so painfully wide open to the whole world of sensations around you, to the comforting blanket of nurturing love and control that your top has over you. Letting go of years of pragmatism, cynicism and resignation. 

Reality bites, and I think it’s a critically neglected part of modern adult life to create our own safe, alternate reality within a scene or a power dynamic. For example- I’m not actually a kitten. I’m not small and I don’t have fur. But when I’m in that headspace, and I have my collar and ears and tail on, I can express myself in so many other ways than what you’re normally permitted as an adult in human society. I can be silly. I can be deadly sincere, holding my head tall and proud. And I’m happy to walk down the street in my pet gear to show people that something like this is totally fine. Not to mention how proud I am to have such an awesome Master. 

So uhh what makes me feel the most sexy at the moment is when I see this little tragic tender softening in my Master’s eyes when she sees how owned and desperately in love I am. Sometimes just from her holding my head or neck. I also love wearing latex and being objectified and used as a toy, especially in front of lots of people. 

All in all I guess I’m just incredibly grateful that I live in a city where I can express so much of who I am and I hope to spread the message that being a complete freak is totally fine. And it’s worth it to be as out as you possibly can. Life doesn’t wait. 

Lucy

Check out the rest of Lucy and Miro's extra-large set (over 60 photos!) by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Lucy, and I’m a polyamorous, hedonist, and vegan feminist and ally. I’m 21 years old and I’m a straight, cis woman. I work as a porn performer and occasional sex ed writer, and I’m passionate about BDSM, sex education, and art in all its forms.

Sex is a major part of my life, and I experience so many facets of it that it was difficult to decide what to write about for this piece. A typical week for me these days will include shooting a porn scene, modelling for nude photos, doing a few intense BDSM scenes in my personal life, and then staying up all weekend going to sex clubs or play parties. I try and remember that this lifestyle I’ve built probably seems pretty extreme and crazy to some people (it was unthinkable to me just two years ago!), as it’s accepted, celebrated, and normalized in my circles here in Berlin.  I am so thankful to live in Berlin, where I can express myself to the absolute fullest in these ways with no boundaries, even in public spaces. 

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I feel the same way about sexiness. My sexiness is always a part of me, but I feel it the most when someone is appreciating it in a positive way – whether it’s people staring at me as I walk through a party, a friend at a club touching me while we flirt, my partner looking up at me as I hurt him, or people watching me have sex on a screen. I’m a major exhibitionist, if you couldn’t already guess! I also really feel my sexiness during power exchange – I thrive on the sexual power of being a Domme, and I also love being sexually objectified as a sub.

I’m really thankful to be so appreciative and positive about my sexuality and body, and to be surrounded by people who are as well. A lot of it is circumstance – growing up in a household that wasn’t religious or sex negative, happening upon some great sex ed resources online when I was a teenager, and then moving to one of the most sex positive cities in the world for entirely unrelated reasons. But I also worked for a lot of it, by doing things like forcefully pushing through the discomfort that usually surrounds talking openly about sex and genitals, gradually pushing myself to be comfortable being naked and fully exposed in front of people, and dissecting and getting rid of any sex-negative thoughts. At the risk of tooting my own horn too much, I have to say that being this sex-positive and self-accepting is really fucking awesome. I want everyone to feel this way, which is why I am so passionate about spreading sex-positivity, body-confidence, and sex education.

Becca

You can see the rest of Becca's set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I’m Becca. I’m 26 and I identify as a pansexual cisfemme human. My relationship style? Not so sure. Monoromantic, polysexual seems to be the one that I default to the most. I often find myself embarrassed to admit to my community that I like a bit of the traditional relationship mishegas.

Sexuality has always been something that I have been fascinated with from a very young age. I was fortunate to grow up in a family that didn’t hide much for me when educating me about the ins and outs of human sexuality - it was normalized. I discovered sexuality with myself at quite a young age and, when I was at the point where I wanted to share that with others, I never shied away from acting upon my desires. I was relatively comfortable in my body. My sexuality was (and still is) a huge part of my identity.

Things took a bit of a turn for me when I was 22, in my second-to-last semester of college, and I was diagnosed with Leukemia. I spent two years of my life undergoing intensive chemotherapy. When treatment began, my body changed a lot. Many people assume that everyone loses weight while on chemo...unfortunately a big part of my treatment were courses of steroids, which have a side effect of causing significant weight gain (in addition to other, less-than-pleasant side effects). I was bald, bloated (it’s all water weight), and I had such bad stretch marks that my skin was splitting. Chemo left me with the inability to connect with my own sexuality - something that I always found to be a comfort in my times of stress. For two years, this was my norm. After stopping steroids, I very quickly lost much of the water weight - but my body was not the same as it was before. I had dark stretch marks all over my body, arms, under my breasts. I felt embarrassed to show my body to anyone.

When I finished treatment, I was fortunate enough to stumble into a warm, welcoming, sex-positive, body-positive community. It was there that I was able to reconnect with my sexuality. My sex drive came back and it wasn’t long before I started exploring with other people again. For quite some time I would warn everyone, before I took my clothes off, that I had significant scarring. However, after some time, I realized that not once were people bothered by my scars. Slowly they have started to feel like a unique part of me. I have finally reached a point where I am much more comfortable in my body and that’s a huge part due to the sex-positive, body-positive community that surrounds me.

My body is different but pretty damn sexy - I’m curvier, I have badass scars, and most importantly, I’m healthy.

Sofi

You can see all of Sofi's set by backing my Patreon at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I identify as a cis woman (she/her), bisexual but almost exclusivly heteroromantic. Non-monogamous, sapiosexual, kinky, advocate of sexpositivity. I used to have doubts over being too slutty, but I grew up to being honest and proud of who I am and what I do. Suprisingly, when I share that with supposedly conservative Poles most of the reactions are absolutely positive. It usually goes among lines of "I'd never like to go to swingers club, but if it is something you feel like doing - good for you! Also, your vagina picture on your wall is really cool".

I like being naked. Both alone and among other people. I never really thought that I am pretty, but always kinda liked my body. It's hourglass shape, with boobs to grab, ass to spank and slim waist in between. But recently I gained a lot of weight and started focusing on other things - how my belly rounded or how that area around armpits looks bad in a sleevless dresses. On the one hand, I'd love to change my mindset to 'all bodies are beautiful' and making those pictures was the step in that direction. On the other, I really don't approve my lifestyle. I eat mostly junk food, almost don't excerscise, and I am afraid that if i don't get angry on my looks, i won't change a thing. Anger gets stuff done, unconditional acceptance will only make me eat more cake.

For me feeling sexy is not much about the appearance, clothing or any accesories. I am more of the girl next door than the femme fatale, rarely do make-up or wear high heels. I feel sexy when I dance. I feel sexy when I think about sex. I feel sexy when I am being watched, kissed, touched or when I touch myself. I feel sexy when I flirt. I feel sexy when I feel desired. I love to meet someone new and recognize in their eyes THAT spark, saying "You are cute, I want to do things with you". Those moments when you aren't yet sure how far it will all go, but you know something is definitely there. I'm sexy when I'm ready for whatever the night might bring.

Miss Rita Regrets

You can see the rest of Miss Rita Regret's set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I am a ciswoman and an ally. I have often thought about what it means to be a women, but it occurs to me that I have never really tried to define my sexuality. For a long time I was sure that everybody was like me to some extent, that they would get sexually attracted to or fall in love with people regardless of gender or sex. I could label myself as pansexual, but more that that I feel like an ally. Because I have never lived through the struggles that my lgbt+ friends have.

My body has been sexualised for most of my life. I have what some people might call a “commercially perfect body”. A body that fits well into a stereotypical and normative view of female beauty. I have lean legs, a small waist and big boobs.

I entered puberty quite early, with a heavy flow and exponentially growing breasts. But it was not the changes to my body that confused me, it was the realisation of how my body affected other people. That some people would gaze at me and comment about my physical attributes that I had never before even thought about.

In high school, friends started to introduce me as “Rita with the big boobs”, and I could not make out whether or not that was a good thing. They stuffed their bras with extra pads and pulled down their spaghetti tops so that they would show the just the brim of their laced edged lingerie. While I did my best to show off my shape without being too “slutty” or “vulgar”. It made be proud to have something people was jealous of, but I also knew that compliments about my body would inevitably be a bad thing.

Female role models and family members talked about this type of affection as something bad and unwanted, something that you should avoid at all costs. Compliments about one’s physical attributes were sexualising and objectifying. Which stood in stark contrast to becoming a strong and independent woman.

I ended up in a limbo between being the “good girl” with high ambitions and being a teenager in search of my own identity. I wanted to be sexy, I loved the attention and I had fun experimenting with styles and makeup. But the attention always made me feel conflicted, delighted but always with a hint of shame. The shame expressed itself in different ways. I wore fitted clothes, but did not show my cleavage. I washed my thongs by hand a hung them to dry in my closet because I was sure that my mother would not approve of my choice of underwear. I even found myself turned off by some sexual positions because i thought of them as demeaning.

One specific moment that made me reflect about these thoughts was when my boyfriend at the time proclaimed that it was sexy when girls did not themself know that they were sexy. I was upset because I realized that I could be sexy in the eye of the male viewer, but not on my own account. Because that would be perceived as slutty and provocative.

As I reached my twenties I was naturally drawn into the world of burlesque. It was a place where I was allowed to create my own beauty. Where I was free to say “I know I'm sexy” Where I suddenly did not “ask for it”.

Burlesque and nude photography is not only something I love doing, but it is a way for me to keep in charge. It is a way for me to be sexy when I want to be sexy, instead of being sexualised without my consent.

I love that body positivity is a core value in the scene. But I'm worried that it sometimes gets confused with the ideal of natural beauty. I feel sexy without makeup and other products. But what's even more tantalizing to me is to enhance my look with eyeliner, lipstick and a well fitted dress. Because when I create my look I create me. And I don't think it should be viewed differently if you have tattoos, cosmetic surgery or in any other way enhance your body. Because I think every person should be in charge of their own view of beauty and how they want to achieve it.

Callie

You can see the rest of Callie's set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Callie, and I'm a 21 year old ENFP. I identify as a straight female and, for now, non-monogamous. I value friendship, deep conversation, and open communication beyond all else; and I enjoy exploring romantic relationships with friends that I already know and find interesting and attractive.

My favorite part of me is probably my eyes. The bright green is striking and, if the lighting is right, some flecks of orange are visible that are really unique.

Moving well when the music feels right, whether solo or partnered, is one of the biggest ways that I feel sexy. The dance floor is usually the easiest place for me to let go of any sources of stress and be unapologetically myself. It seems a little more obvious to feel sexy dancing styles like Blues or West Coast, but I think it's equally true of Lindy Hop. Good connection, the ability to listen and respond, creativity, and silliness are all imperative to Lindy Hop, and are things I find extremely attractive.

I never put much thought into conforming to gender roles when I was young. If you'd walked into my childhood home, you would find my younger brother and me playing together doing anything from playing school with dolls and stuffed animals, to fighting with lightsabers and nerf guns. I definitely went through a phase when I was young where I didn't associate with most things considered "girly". I refused to wear anything pink, bought a good number of my shoes from the boy's section (because I had to be able to run fast to beat the boys when we raced on the playground, and so many girls shoes didn't have backs) and wore mostly sweat pants and tshirts unless I was told I had to wear something different. That style choice dissipated before middle school, but I've always been comfortable wearing and liking whatever I wanted.

Sensuality is still a relatively new thing to be explored for me though, because the world I grew up in that said sensual = bad. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be doing a photoshoot where I was taking of my clothes, I would have laughed in your face. There came a point growing up where I couldn't wear a lot of the things I wanted to, because "boys would look at me in an inappropriate way". Showing a shadow of cleavage? You get labeled as a slut by all the girls at school. It's a world filled with contrasting messages about looking feminine, but not *too feminine*. Escaping that environment and learning to dance has been the most beneficial way for me to explore learning how to move and control my body and the power I have freely.