Ren

Check out the full set and help support this project at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Lauren, Ren is good too (and preferable). She/her/hers. I am a goofy and chaotic awkward queer femme person who most identifies as something like demi-pan or demi-bi-sexual. I am usually almost completely monogamous. I enjoy dancing, drinking, playing board games and d&d, watching movies, travel and spending time with my friends, as well as meeting new ones.

I recently broke up with my long-term partner and was feeling a bit lost after. My anxiety has been terrible and I’ve been feeling pretty low for the past couple months. But I’ve been taking the time to figure out how to be my best self, and what is important to me. I cut my hair, now I’ve dyed it purple, and have plans to get more piercings and my first tattoo (things I’ve wanted to do for a long time but was told were not attractive). I’m making steps to be who I want to be both externally and internally.  I scheduled a shoot with Braden to try and connect with my sexy side. It is usually hard for me to get out of my head due to heightened anxiety, and it did take me awhile to open up / be playful with the shoot (which is what I wanted). But Braden was great at throwing out ideas and going with my suggestions. My favorite shots are probably in the shower because I was just being silly and being myself. I felt most confident during those shots and I think that shows.

I’ve never felt very sexy. I’ve carried a lot of guilt with me all my life, and have for a majority of time been disconnected with my sexuality and my body. I’ve always been an extremely giving person even at my own expense, and have had to learn to ask for things that I need and walk away from people who take advantage of that. It was only over the past couple years that I really started to explore my sexuality and let myself be OK with however I felt and however I wanted to be. I feel sexiest any time I can get out of my thoughts and just be in the moment and confident with me, when I am surrounded by people or friends at a dance or a concert, or when I am wanted by a partner…

I’m still learning who I am and what I like and what I want and how to be present and confident and connected to my body… It’s been a process and I’m still working towards owning my identity as a slightly kinky, very loving and sexual person, letting go of any guilt and just being kind to myself and learning to love myself first.  

Check out Ren's entire set and help us keep the lights on at Hella Positive by supporting us on Patreon! You'll get access to all past sets as well, and you'll see all future sets a week early!

Delica Tessen

Check out the full set and support this project at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Eliza Grace / Delicatessen/ Choreographer/ Burlesquer/ Director/ Producer

Sexiness is a state of being, a mentality, I’ve taken a lot of time to play in and familiarize myself with. Walking onstage, knowing you’ll take your clothes off for 100+ stranger can be a gulp, as the music starts, knowing there’s now way out of it, hoping that Venus smiles upon you for those three minutes.

The more I settle into it, the more I realize that the conventional, socialized representations of sexy just don’t do it for me any more, nor do I think that’s really what “does it” for most of us. Sure, a great ass or a sexy dress can be amazing, but is it really that thing that’s sexy, that’s creating the hightened state? These days, my answer is generally “no”. There can be a great ass and still no “UMPH”… or on the other hand, some body I’m told is not supposed to be beautiful, can suddenly captivate me and make me drool conspicuously!

When my friends have come up to me, shyly admitting they just don’t feel sexy, and how do I do it, I tell them - fully aware of the cliche- you can’t BE sexy until you FEEL sexy. And I can’t feel sexy for anyone else until I feel sexy for myself.

For most women, it can be downright painful to step in front of the mirror and not airbrush away the flaws with your imaginations or picture yourself “5 lbs thinner” or however else you want to be. Since stepping into my burlesque wonderland, I’ve realized that the only way I can turn on that magic onstage, or at a dance, or for a lover, is if I can really love myself, and find some part of myself deeply sexy.

Lately it’s my killer rock climber shoulders and forearms

Sometimes, it’s my cleavage, sometimes it’s my smile, sometimes it’s the curve of my calves in an amazing pair of heels. One way or another, I have to stop saying “what if” and just actually LOVE MYSELF to get that feeling of sexiness to flood in.

For those people who come to me, asking these questions, I try to make it very clear: sexiness is incredibly powerful. Once you know how to turn it on, it will garner you a lot of attention. You need to know how to turn it off when you don’t want that. I call it the “Buick -Porsche” game. I can walk down the street, imagining myself as the ugliest car, and I become virtually invisible. Or I can feel like the sleekest, fastest machine, and everyone will stare. Having some methods of protection are a way to control that energy, to direct it at specific targets, or to know when to lower the volume if a situation feels unsafe.

Recently, I was talking with a new friend who’s just starting to step into her sexual confidence as a dancer, willing to be a little more daring or seductive from time to time. I could see how exhilarating it felt for her to not be so cloistered or shamed in it, but also how it terrified her to draw that attention. When she asked me how I navigated those more burlesque-y spaces, I told her it’s all about creating your container. Once you know how to turn it on, you have to know how to give it out, or who you’re giving it to. Sometimes it’s not for the whole room - just one person. Sometimes it’s only for yourself it there’s an amazing song you want to solo to. Since the partner dance world doesn’t have a lot of practice with those teasing mini strips being brought onto the social floor, you have to know how to read the room - is it appropriate here? is there anyone who will make me feel uncomfortable? is there someone who would feel especially honored that I want to shower with this? Make a decision, and if someone steps into your space that you’re not inviting to witness this, you have every. damn. right. to say “this is not for you right now”.

Lastly, I want to take a moment to reflect on the ways it seems that sexually empowered or confident women/ femmes in a given social world can be pitted against each other, often without any action on our parts. It’s so common that men can feel at odds with multiple attractions, and thus have to rank us, creating tension or competition. Especially in the dance world, where men who dance well and are not creepy as hell can seem a scarce commodity, it’s easy to feel like we’re in competition for a limited resource. To that I’d say - if we could just do away with the competitive bullshit and acknowledge each other for being badass, glorious beasts, we might all feel sexier, and safer, because we could share resources and knowledge.

Sexiness is incredibly powerful. When you own it, people just can’t fuck with you the same way. Some men are truly terrified of not being able to manipulate a women with some shame around her sexuality. Some women are jealous. To all those our there, wishing to claim little more of their sexiness, know this: Your sexiness looks like no one else’s in the history of the world and no one can take it away from you. IT’S YOURS to give as you choose.

Check out Eliza's entire set and help us keep the lights on at Hella Positive by supporting us on Patreon! You'll get access to all past sets as well, and you'll see all future sets a week early!

Lady Murasaki

Check out the full set and help support this project at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Lady Murasaki. This is obviously a moniker that I borrowed from a badass lady, Murasaki Shikibu. She terrified men. Murasaki Shikibu was so revolutionary that she forced her father, a prominent member of the government, to teach her Chinese, which was a “forbidden” language to women because it was taught only to gentry and men. Through her unconventional education, she revolutionized Japanese literature during the Heian Period, and wrote Genji no Monogatari (The Tale of Genji). Even today, The Tale of Genji is still one of the most influential pieces of literature and pop culture in Japan. Murasaki battled gender roles and societal constrains, but she cut down every one of her opposers, and blazed a new trail for herself and her voice.

I’m a woman, and like Murasaki, I’ve been at war with my body and society’s constraints of “what my body should look like” for nearly my entire life. I’ve struggled with never being enough—not skinny enough, not smart enough, not worthy enough for love, not pretty enough, just never enough. I’ve mostly been in monogamous relationships with men who don’t love themselves. I’ve had men look at me in a bikini and tell me, at 120 lbs, I was too fat and I needed to go to the gym to lose weight. I’ve had people tell me my arms are too big, my thighs are covered in cellulite, and my belly is just too large; how could anyone love me when I wasn’t skinny and my belly sticks out? Currently, I’ve gained over 30 pounds, and I’ve struggled even more with feeling sexy—as if my playful eyes, my joyous smile, my kindness, and my fierce loyalty were all based on the scale and diminished by my belly fat. Slowly however, I’ve been learning to embrace my inner child, to sit with her and tell her she is beautiful because she is a strong.

Now, although I am far from perfect, I realize that feeling sexy is cultivated from appreciating and celebrating what your body can do, instead of focusing on what you believe you should look like. My curves, my rock-hard muscles under my soft belly and my thick thighs, have carried me through anxiety, anger, loss, fear, pain, isolation, and darkness. I am sexy because I am strong; I am sexy because I embody a warrior goddess, and like Wonder Woman, I am an Amazon in my own right. After I took my entrance exam for medical school, I bought myself the sword I used in my photoshoot. This sword hangs above my bed to remind me every day that I walked through my fear of not being enough; if I faced it once, I can face it again. I am sexy because, despite my fear, my weight gain, and body dysmorphia, I still dare greatly and try to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I am sexy because, when people tell me I’m not skinny enough, I will swallow my insecurity, and wear a bikini anyway.

At the precipice of fear, when the white raging waters of doubt threaten to drown me, I still choose to jump. I am sexy because I am brave. Maybe one day, I can love myself and truly understand why I matter. Maybe one day after my showers, when I look at the steam laden mirror and trace the lines in my belly, I will feel the self-love my inner child hungers for; I will accept myself and see my value the way I always should have seen it. I hope that by seeing my body today, people will be brave enough to love themselves the way they always should have; and create a sexy revolution one bold word at a time.

Check out Lady Murasaki's entire set and help us keep the lights on at Hella Positive by supporting us on Patreon! You'll get access to all past sets as well, and you'll see all future sets a week early!

Katie

Check out Katie's full set and help support this project at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Hi there!
My name is Katie and I’m a lady from the land of sunshine!

Like most people in their mid-twenties I had to learn some difficult lessons recently. I had to learn the hard lesson that if you live by someone else’s idea of what YOUR life should be, you’ll never live your own life and you’ll never be happy. Perhaps like many, I come from a very high pressure family, where if you don’t have that degree, or this life plan or accomplished this or that, in their eyes you won’t amount to anything. So the past year of 2017 was a tough one, I thought I was pursuing what was my own ambition and dream in becoming a naval aviator. It took until I almost signed away 10+ years of my life to realize it wasn’t my dream and I almost threw away 20 years of my passion. Which is music! I’ve been playing piano for nearly 20 years and guitar for just over 12. Those are my main instruments that I have a degree in, but I can actually play 7! Music is in everything and anything I interact with. You can probably find me skipping around and humming everywhere or noodling on various instruments. Right now I have my own little studio of badass students. I love bringing up the next generation of musicians to unleash into the world.  It took me realizing I was being pressured and swayed into something uncomfortable and noticing the complete discord that I felt internally that something was terribly wrong. For the first time in my life I stood up for myself and said “No.” and walked away. I promised myself from that day forward I would live unapologetically me. So yes! I can pop wheelies on my motorcycle in a tutu if I want! Or shred in a biker bar in my favorite summer dress and no one will ever tell me that I’m not being appropriate or that it isn’t right. Because it is right! You know why? Because it’s who I am. And that’s okay.

Growing up was kind of hilarious development into becoming who I am today. My mom likes to say I got hit with double-whammy stubborn since both of my parents are basically oxen. Boy, was she right. A good example of me both being as stubborn as a rock and having my own ahem “style” is my progression of clothes. My parents gave up REAL early trying to wrestle me into their fashion ideas and I promptly left the house in rain boots, little jean shorts and a flannel. The boots eventually evolved into Star Wars shoes and later into standards such as keds. I was repulsed by dresses and skirts until I was almost an adult. I hated when people said that I couldn’t do things just because I had a dress or a skirt on. So I used to hide every skirt or dress my mom or grandmother tried to bring home. I think I even buried one in the yard at some point. (sorry mom). However, as I started to grow into who I am today I loved the freedom of dresses! What were these silly people thinking. There’s so much freedom to move! No restriction that pants usually cause! I started dancing when I turned 18 and discovered the awesomeness that is a swirly skirt and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever looked back. Around 20 I started riding motorcycles and on top of playing guitar I realized I wasn’t the most outwardly “girly” person but I loved being a bouncy ball of sunshine. I think I thrived on that opposing image, of leather jackets and guitars with sundresses and lipstick. It was in these “opposites” that I found and embraced myself only recently.

Attractiveness was a hard concept for me. People started commenting on my body pretty early on, which left me with a confused notion on what was attractive. Most people commented on my weight because it took me longer to lose the baby cheeks. I started riding my bike over 10 miles a day starting in 7th grade and in high school although I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, I was giving my lunch to my friends whose familes couldn’t afford lunches. I knew deep down I was really giving my lunch away because I was struggling internally with an eating disorder. My father knew I was giving my lunch away and started packing a second lunch. I just found more and more hungry people. It wasn’t until I was in college when I realized that this wasn’t normal and definitely not healthy when I almost passed out at a dance. It had been three days since I had a meal other than coffee. That’s when I decided healthy is beautiful. I had a lot of help from very supportive friends that made sure I was consistently eating and I ran and went to the gym just about everyday and pretty soon people stopped commenting on my weight and instead started saying things like “look at those arms” or “Those are some strong calves” and so on. It was in a very important turning point where I realized that I suddenly also found myself attractive and proud of the journey it had taken to get to a point where I was proud of the work I put into my body and there were things I actually liked about myself. To this day I think my favorite feature is my green eyes and my little cutie booty.

Doing this post and working with Braden was wonderful, he is an incredible artist and human. He allowed me to step out of the little bubble and shell I had built for myself. He helped me embrace and celebrate what I loved about me too. I encourage everyone to take moments out of their day and appreciate self as well. Thank you very much to this very talented artist and to this community! Cheers.

Check out Katie's entire set and help us keep the lights on at Hella Positive by supporting us on Patreon! You'll get access to all past sets as well, and you'll see all future sets a week early

Ada

Check out Ada's full set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Okay, I'm honestly hoping that this is a first for Hella Positive Pinup: I'm a Beauxbatons.  For those of you who are not Potter-heads, this won't matter.  For those of us who are, we don't all have to fit into a Hogwarts house!  Part of why I say I'm more of a Beauxbatons student is that my erotic self enjoys feeling elegant, lady-like, romantic, and a little exhibitionistic.  Just like the Beauxbatons students' entrance in Goblet of Fire, I love feeling all eyes on me, preferably while I'm dancing in a tailored vintage dress.  On the other hand, my erotic self can be equally silly, scrappy, and mischievous.  Whether that means embodying a succubus or a flouncing fairy sprite, I love not taking myself too seriously.   

When not channeling witches, demons, and fairies, I'm a ciswoman who responds to she/her pronouns.  I’m mostly androphilic (attracted to masculinity), though the more I've played with cishet couples the more I've gotten to explore my attraction to femininity as well.  Right now I'm enjoying a solo non-monogamous lifestyle, though at some point I'd love a monogamish partnership.  I'm a sucker for chivalry, but I melt over anticipation and and domination.  My ideal partner is someone who holds the door, but isn’t afraid to tackle me to the ground and give me a good spanking when I deserve it.    

My favorite aspect of my sexuality is my Core Erotic Theme (read “The Erotic Mind” by Jack Morin).  For those who haven't been nerding out about sex for the last several years, let me explain: our CET is a pattern that emerges in our hottest fantasies/experiences and, fascinatingly, often traces back to a childhood wound.  By eroticizing our wounds, we gain control over them and use them for pleasure, healing, and growth.  As for me, I had one neglectful parent and one smothering parent.   So it follows that my CET includes both being the focus of someone’s attention (the opposite of neglect), and having that someone take their time and exercise restraint in their approach until I’m ready for more (the opposite of smothering).   

My CET leaves so much room for creativity and exploration, that my erotic life gets to constantly evolve.  This year, I started modeling with several sex-positive and body-positive boudoir photographers, and it's one of the most empowering things I've ever done.  I recommend it (and especially HellaPositive!) to anyone who could use a major confidence boost!

Check out Ada's entire set and help us keep the lights on at Hella Positive by supporting us on Patreon! You'll get access to all past sets as well, and you'll see all future sets a week early!

Lauren J

Check out Lauren's full set by supporting this project at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I came of age in a deeply repressive environment, having grown up on a conservative religious cult in southwestern Pennsylvania. My rebellious nature kept getting me into trouble as I found subtle ways to express myself. I would alter the length of my skirts to look more flattering or clumsily apply black shoe polish to my lashes with a toothbrush. Yep, that’s right, I’m the original flapper. Except this was the 2000’s not the 1920’s! My dream was to go to college, which is what finally got me kicked out of the cult.  Suddenly I was on my own, juggling as many jobs as I could to put myself through school. I struggled with low self-esteem and constant self-doubt throughout this transition. It’s been difficult but rewarding to transform myself into the proud, sexy, independent woman I am today. 

It’s only recently that I started really owning and enjoying my femininity in more ways than just physical appearance and style. I identify as cis-gender female and use she/her/hers pronouns. I am primarily attracted to men, and love the interplay between masculine and feminine. But I have a fiercely independent streak, which causes me to be in my masculinity at times. I want to soften those edges and allow myself to open up more around others, especially men, and not always feel I need to do everything on my own.

I approach all my relationships, not just romantic ones, with pure intention, love, and trust. I’m authentic, down-to-earth, and affectionate. My long-term relationships have been mostly monogamous or monogamish.  Having experimented with non-monogamy, I don’t feel like I need that to be happy in a committed relationship so I guess my ideal relationship style is pretty traditional, mostly monogamous, with an occasional playmate but that would be something we’d do together as a couple.  I feel like this post is reading like a personal ad, ha! But I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want in a romantic partnership lately so I guess this shoot was just perfect timing. 

I often hold back from fully expressing my sexuality, flirting, or wearing sexy, revealing clothes. It’s partly because of my upbringing on the cult, and partly because I’ve been afraid of my own power.  I want to shed this fear as I grow into a more confident version of myself. I feel my sexiest when I’m taking care of my health and staying active, but it’s also about having a clear mind, not just a bangin’ body. I like to savor little delicious moments, like riding my bike across the city when the streets are quieter at night, feeling my skirt fluttering gently across my legs in the breeze. Slipping into my favorite jeans and heels to go out on a fun date. The way I feel when I walk out onto the smooth dance floor wearing my favorite silk romper and heels, or a flowy dress that swirls when I dance. My favorite part of me is my brain, but my booty is a close second! One of my partners once referred to it as “The BOTUS” (The Booty of the United States). I’m ok with that. :)

What I want people to see in me is my spark, my radiance, and my commitment to myself. I recently started doing some transformational work around self-love and allowing myself to have everything I truly desire. As I do this work of “turning up the volume on my inner voice”, what I want to share with the world is how important it is to really listen to yourself. It’s so easy to let fear or limiting beliefs block out this inner voice. It was such a gift to participate in this photoshoot because it shifted the way I see myself. I feel these pictures capture the real quirky me, while embodying confidence and femininity simultaneously.  Thank you to the wonderfully talented Braden for not only being an all-around amazing human, but for creating this unique space which is so accessible and real.  What an incredibly unique way for people to declare their self-love to the world, or, if they are struggling with that, to share that too. Thank you to this community of friends, supporters, dancers, lovers, and visionaries, especially to everyone who has shared their incredible stories so openly. I’m so moved and inspired by all of you! 

Zoe

Check out Zoe's complete set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Hi! I’m Zoë.

I’m a professional musician / starving artist, a fire dancer, and occasional DJ living in a big weird house full of queer folks in Washington, DC. She / her pronouns (amateur-nouns unspecified). When forced to pick a genre my music mainly falls into I grudgingly admit to being in the ‘Sad Lesbians With Guitars, And Feelings To Put In You’ genre; and people generally immediately know what I mean. So, that’s a helpful shorthand! 

I’m a witchy queer femme poly sub variety of human (though having switchy feels lately, too! Confusing!). I presently have one local sweetie with whom I am in a D/s dynamic, a wonderful sweetie that lives in Baltimore, and a new sweetie who lives in Philadelphia with whom I’m presently engaged in a nearly endless exchange of flirts. 

I spent most of my life identifying as a lesbian, but these days I tend to favor the term ‘queer’ as I feel it more accurately represents my present day identity and my spectrum of attractions to a wider variety of female, femme, genderqueer, and non-binary humans than I tend to feel ‘lesbian’ covers. 

‘Queer’ is a term I’ve resisted on and off over time, but these days I feel better about the whole “reclaiming” it thing; and that we’ve mostly “taken it back”, having got past a lot of my experiences growing up as a EXTREMELY NOTICEABLY QUEER kid in and around parts of the DC region’s LGBTQ+ community in the 80s & 90s and having had that term be weaponized against me and my various people, usually followed by physical violence to round out the emotional violence.

The 10-15 people I see most often have in the last year or so taken to calling me ‘Squid’ or ‘Squiddie’ as a nickname largely due to the combination of my general status as a known cephalopod enthusiast, my pink dreadlocks, and my tentacle tattoos. My band-mates, and several former romantic partners still refer to me as ‘Panda’; mainly because they saw me clumsily stumble, roll, bounce, and miraculously emerge mostly intact from my 20s, while often having serious panda-eye from falling asleep still wearing heavy eye makeup after a night/several consecutive nights of making increasingly regrettable life decisions. 

Music is my life, my love, and my work. It’s the language of my soul, the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, that keeps me going, and gives my life form, shape, and purpose. I am very lucky to have had the successes I’ve had and to have developed the audience I’ve built in recent years; and to be able to continue to pursue doing the thing that I am best at which continues to be what gives me the most satisfaction and weird new adventures in my life. 

I’ve been a socially and physically awkward human from as far back as I can recall. I *love* talking with and learning about people just as much as I am constantly convinced no one actually wants me around and is only humoring me for any of a variety of reasons my brain chemistry seeks to convince me of. I somehow manage to say just enough of the right things to be clever, funny, and entertaining, and just enough of the wrong things to have caused a surprisingly wide gulf in people’s opinions and experiences of me over the years. 

I absolutely thrive on sensation (touch, sound, and taste, most intensely) and human contact in general; but always seem to somehow manage to project some flavor of shyness or awkwardness. And yet... when people are first encountering me or have only had limited interaction I’m constantly told I’m intimidating AF or “too cool to talk to” (hahahaha that’s adorable. I am a huge nerd.)

Being the Manic Pixie Dreamsquid that I am; all the above combined with body image stuff, mental/emotional health weirdness, serious difficulty with face-blindness and name retention, and early-life genderfeels struggles, all of that combines to form the Voltron Of Awkwardness which roars and shoots lasers from its face and chases people away just as often as I manage to actually keep anyone around long enough to get close to. 

It is safe to say I have very rarely through much of my life actually felt sexy, attractive, or that my presence is desirable in any way. Except, oddly, for when I’m on stage and in front of dozens/hundreds/thousands of people. If I’m singing, playing music, spinning fire, DJing, etc., I somehow tap into this magical space where I radiate something entirely different; and people who meet me in one context are often surprised by the dramatic difference between Stage-Me or Get Shit Done Me, and Day-To-Day Me. 

As someone who’s never been particularly comfortable with their body, being naked or semi naked in a room just with any of my partner(s) was hard enough for most of my life; let alone even entertaining the possibility of PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW SEEING ME OMG WHYYYY WOULD I DO THAT. 

Then I fell into the Burner community, and over time found my way into other communities (especially the Kink community at large, but specifically in the Mid-Atlantic region) and spaces that encouraged and lovingly challenged people to find ways to be and and to express themselves in more radical ways, more authentic ways, and ways that challenged an individual to surpass the (often mostly arbitrary) limitations imposed on themselves by *themselves* or from the words, thoughts, or actions of people in their lives.

I should note: nakedness, despite persistent media stereotypes, is not really a major component of nor the point of the majority of the community’s experience at Burns. Being authentic and being yourself, however, very much is. And to some people, becoming comfortable in their own skin can involve becoming comfortable *with* their own skin at Burns and other such events. Taking your clothes off in front of people may not seem that radical, but it’s A BIG DEAL for many. If you’d told me 10 years ago that by the time I was in my 30s I’d regularly be doing fire performances (at all, let alone) in various states of undress in all manner of places and venues, or that I’d be posing naked in front of cameras, or other such things...well, I’d have had a pretty hard time believing it! 

I look back on the first Burn I attended at which I was comfortable enough in my own skin being topless and running about in cute tiny underlovelies, and recall talking with several friends of mine about the experience they’d had with finding the things in that community and in themselves which let them not feel like they were committing a crime just by having a body. Those conversations stuck with me, and so has an ever increasing sense of comfort with my physical shape. 

I’m constantly told by people about my physical features that I think look too “masculine” at worse or strongly “unfeminine” at best, only they’re all saying how hot the things I see negatively make me. It used to be I couldn’t see myself as attractive *at all*, and there were definitely those in my life I mistakenly let get close to me that reinforced those thoughts; but a good number of friends and housemates and romantic/play partners over the last 6-7 years have done wonders at de-programming that shit by constantly finding ways to challenge my (mis)conceptions about my looks, my personality, and my value and place in their lives. Nowadays I almost actually catch myself defaulting to *not* thinking negatively about myself. Maybe one day I’ll get all the way there. Every year that passes I get better at seeing the things I like about my body instead of the things which I don’t.

Over the last 2-3 years, having to be photographed and videoed and interviewed and all that so often, and performing to ever bigger audiences and having my name and my creative endeavors out there in a muuuuch bigger way than I ever really expected has forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things about my life and myself; not the least of which is that a lot of really great people *do* actually like me, appreciate my work, my personality, and yes, would totally hit that! Who knew?! (Apparently everyone but me.)

The thing that most makes me feel sexy is the look in one of my partners eyes when they watch me perform my music. The perfect mix of desire, deep engagement with and emotional response to the words and sounds I’m channeling, support for me and my life path, and pure love. It tells me everything I need to know about how they’re thinking, looking at, and experiencing me; and often strongly suggests how else they’d like to be experiencing me! 

For example: one of the hottest things that’s ever happened in my life was shortly before my (now ex) wife and I started getting serious, she came to see me and my band performing and basically spent the entire show dancing and just absolutely nonstop eye-fucking me from the balcony of the venue we were playing; and it was all I could do not to get lost in her eyes while trying to perform. Damn near everyone in the extremely crowded room seemed to pick up on i;, including my band-mates, who gave me no end of shit for it! 

My favorite part of me would have to be my fingers. They are the means by which I turn pretty sounds into emotionally charged experiences for people (and yes ok, fine get out the gutter, y’all... but sure... that, too). 

Anyway that’s a lot more than I set out to say (as usual!) but I hope you have enjoyed this long strange trip into the space between my ears, and that you enjoy Braden’s absolutely gorgeous photos! It was so wonderful getting to work with him for Hella Positive Pinup. I’m so excited to be featured on the site and I’m grateful for the ways in which this experience has helped me move even further along toward being able to see some more of what others say they can see when they look at me.

Salmalin

You can see Salmalin's entire set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

These days I go by a lot of names, but you may call me, Salmalin. My relationship with sex and sexy things has always been complicated. My relationship with beauty and attractiveness even more so. When I hit puberty I realized many things at once.

1 I would never be tall. For some reason I always found the tallest people to be the most attractive. The taller, the more powerful and elegant, the more adult and sexy, the beautiful and gorgeous. My doctor told me around 12 that I, would never be taller than an average 8th grader. I was devastated.
2 My body was going through changes I didn’t ask for. As much as I admired my mother as a person, I don’t think I understood that one day being a “girl” meant becoming a “woman”. It was distressing, and frustrating to find myself changing in ways that didn’t match my “boy” friends. I guess I didn’t really see a difference between them and me.
3 Pain was going to be a big part of my life. In, so many ways.
4 I had little to no sexual desire and was confused by the preoccupation of friends wanting sex/sexy things
5 Finding opposite gender attractive= normal. Finding same sex attractive= unusual. Finding that sex nor gender having no bearing on attractiveness, absolutely odd to other humans. It was so, obvious. Pretty people are pretty.
6 No one dates black women

It, was a lot to handle. Since then people have tried to label me in many ways. Queer, non-binary, bi, pansexual, Gender Fuck, Gender Fluid, woman who takes low amounts of T, Trans*, woman, mostly straight,  and this is just around my gender and sexuality. In my own head, I choose to not label myself and just be, me.

Shortly after entering puberty, I started being attacked with messages about myself specifically about my body and it’s sexines and beauty. My body was a weapon that would ruin the lives of men. That I was destined to become “another statistic” following the stereotype of young black women. I was not smart enough to know if someone loved me and would, get pregnant and ruin my life and the life of those around me. I was shamed for wearing the same clothes I wore the summer before. I was forced into bras and dresses and shamed for having any signs of having a period, ever.

Time went on and I started to be tortured by a man near my age who lived with me. He degraded me, caused me physical pain, tied me up, and threatened me with knives and violence. All the while these things happened telling me I was weird, unattractive, and not good enough. He’d whisper to me that I liked it. In the end he raped me. In therapy we found it probably wasn’t the first time I’d been assaulted.

I got out of that situation and found myself… in an odd position. Feeling sexy feels dangerous. Feeling feminine feels, odd. I feel ugly and ignored but desire to explore love and polyamory. I’m unsure if monogamy is right for me. My kinks are often echos of my past, with my consent and yet, minor issues trigger me.

So, naturally with all that I decided getting undressed in front of a veritable stranger would be the best time to force me to figure out what sexy meant to me. I don’t do things half assed. After my shoot I realized some important things. For starters, I haven’t healed. I found my sexiness in my vulnerability. I thought I’d want to look like model, the sexiest of sex bomb. Turns out that I my hesitation was beautiful. That my attempts to find internal peace were striking. My nerves were sweet as I tried to push past the old memories.  

Today I struggle with my health and the effects of that. One being weight gain. It’s hard to feel sexy when you feel so upset with how you look, and honestly, I’m still struggling with it.

For me, sexy means a great deal of things. Sexy mean powerful. Owning my own power is a beautiful thing, as beautiful as giving it to someone else. Sexy means feeling proud of your body. Sexy means being yourself. Even if you dislike something about yourself, be it temporary or forever you also can still be sexy.

As a black person I’ve felt the weight of my skin and now I find it incredible. I know that dating as a black woman will always be hard so I need to love my skin even more. My skin is soft, caramel brown and I love it. I wish I could show it off MORE often. I love the space between my shoulders and the bottom of my sternum. I love my eyes and the versatility of my hair. I love how i can express myself with my hair color even being told, I could never pull it off. I think but butt will only get better in time and overall my carefree attitude is the way I am attractive.

It can be hard to feel sexy when you struggle with various things, be that mental or physical health, but you can always find it in the little things. Spending time with yourself and acknowledging what YOU like about yourself, can get you far. If you can’t think of anything asking a trusted friend (even better one you find attractive) and asking for what you need can be helpful.

Moxie

Check out Moxie's full set and support this blog at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Moxie is my name, and being non-binary is my game. They/them respectfully but
that’s a new thing for me so sometimes I still respond to she/her (kind of like my
other name [some people still call me Emma, but that number is dwindling by the
day]). I’m a polyamorous human living my best life in Chicago with some of the
best people in the entire world.


Being non-binary struggling with BDD means some days are harder than others to
love myself and to think of myself is sexy, especially when I don’t know which
way I fall on the femme v. masculine spectrum; some days I feel incredibly femme
and I AM ALL WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR. And then, there are days where I
feel so masculine that I want to be on an Old Spice commercial, riding a majestic
horse on the beach while smelling like your grandfather. Look down. Now look
back up; you’re still reading my blog. Awesome.


Now most people who know me when asked to describe something “sexy” about
me will 99.99% say it’s my booty. People have even written POETRY about it, so
you know it’s legit and I get it: it’s a good booty BUTT (hehe) it sometimes fucks
with how I see myself how and it doesn’t help that I was sexually exploited at a
young age because of it. So sure, I like my booty but no, I don’t define it as my
sexiest ASSpect (I swear I’ll stop). What I find most attractive about myself is a tie
between my jaw line, and the muscle definition I am beginning to see now that I’m
working out more and they both have something is common:

STRENGTH.

I feel at my most sexy when I feel strong (or when I see that strong, defined jaw
line in a window passing by. UNF.) and that strength can come from a really good
round at the gym or struggling through tough choreography and absolutely nailing
it after the umpteenth time. Or when I lay myself bare and vulnerable to someone,
like one of my partners, friends or sometime a stranger. I find such strength when
we can admit when we need help or feeling weak and I’m finding more and more
strength within myself, and from the community I’ve created around me, including
working with Hella Positive Pin-Up because there’s not just one kind of sexy.
Everyone is sexy, and we should all celebrate our own brand of sexy; with or with
out clothing, with or without gender, and most importantly, with one another.

Juliana

Check out Juliana's entire set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Juliana! I’m known to some people as Jules so whichever works for you. I’m trying to live my best life in the very sexy and sinful city of Las Vegas. I use she/her pronouns but do fluctuate across the spectrum in terms of how I express gender and sexuality.

It took me a lot of thinking about what makes me feel sexy and everything I thought of had one thing in common: being in control of my body. I’ve had my fair share of medical issues that made me feel like I didn’t have much autonomy when it came to my own body. As I gained that back I picked dancing back up, cut off all my hair, and started getting tattoos.

I think everybody expects me to say my legs are physically my favorite thing about myself but it’s actually my eyes. They’ve been a defining feature of mine ever since I was a kid, yet I’m still not quite sure what color they are. My favorite part of myself in a more abstract sense is that I somehow attract other awesome people. I don’t mean for that to sound like I’m trying to inflate my ego but I’ve surrounded myself with some of the most incredible, loving, hilarious people that I’m lucky to call friends and family. I don’t know how I did it, but I did it and I’m okay with that.

I’m really grateful for how much open dialogue I am able to engage in now. I grew up in a conservative Catholic environment where most of the things that lie of the spectrums of sexuality, relationships, and gender were never shared with me. From a young age I knew that I didn’t quite fit into the neat boxes that people expected me to and didn’t know what to make of it. I think that can be said about a lot of people. I’ve been very fortunate that a lot of my education around sexuality, gender, and relationships have come from these people that didn’t fit in that came before me and have created a discourse I’m now able to participate in and learn from. It’s safe to say that all of the people that felt empowered to come before me in the Hella Positive Pinup shoot are my inspiration for participating.

Mingus

 Check out Mingus's full set at  https://hellapositivepinup.pixieset.com/ferrets/

Name: Mingus
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Relationship style: Business-casual
Position: Accountant

HI MY NAME MINGUS AND I WANTS A TREAT PLEASE.

I BELIEVE ALWAYS BE THE SEXY IS MOST IMPORTANT. SEXY IS LIFESTYLE FOR ME.

MOST IMPORTANT THING TO LIVE SEXY LIFESTYLE IS MUST BE A SHAPES LIKE A NOODLES. ALL NOODLE ARE SEXY EVEN A LINGUINE AND A FETTUCINE AND A FARFELLE AND A LASAGNA AND A RAVIOLI AND A MACARONI AND A SPAGHETTI. ALL FERRET IS A NOODLES AND ALL FERRET IS A SEXY NOODLE.

PLEASE SEND A TREATS FOR MORE SEXY PICTURE THANKS YOU IN ADVANCED.

Kevin

 See Kevin's full set at  http://patreon.com/hellapositive !

See Kevin's full set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Kevin, and I am a straight person who responds to he/him but has never felt much loyalty to or inclusion by a tribe of maleness, or even to normal modes of gender, though not because of principle or ideals. I'm a choreographer, performer, lindy hopper, contemporary dancer. 

I'm sure I'm not the first to say that the idea of feeling attractive or sexy, either in general or to someone specifically, was an entirely foreign concept growing up. I think what friends I had and I assumed IF someone liked you, it would be despite your physical body and because of some abundance of virtue of some kind, a concept I now understand as a root in "nice guy" or "friend-zone" mentalities. 

As I grew up and eventually became someone who is attractive to at least a few people, most of the things that partners remarked being attracted to on myself had nothing to do with fulfilling a "male" ideal at all, so even today I find it somewhat odd to consider myself male. 

I feel my sexiest, what I feel as sexy, when I'm dancing and grooving, and investigating the sensations of my body; or really, when I feel joyful. Training with Batsheva and Gaga have both opened doors to explore the sensations of pleasure that come from fulfilling our desire to move. 

I also feel sexiest when I give to my partners in some physical kind of way, during sexy times or otherwise. Experiencing your effects on them and their effects on you is pure, but in a good way.

I think my favorite parts of my body are currently my shoulder blades, but I'm told my butt is the fan favorite. Lots of squats, plies, and jumps! 

I believe, firmly, that sex and sexiness are integral parts of who we are, and while some people might seem naturally or obviously sexy, many (including myself) have lots of trouble believing and accepting our bodies as the vehicles for that sexiness. As a dancer in NYC, the amount of pressure and neuroses I have about my body are likely much greater than are obvious to those I teach or perform for/with. 

We are only given one body, the body we take with us until we move on, and accepting that is probably hard for any of us, even if we might seem to have won some genetic lottery that indicates otherwise. When it comes down to it, wanting to feel sexy, to feel empowered, to feel attractive comes down to a desire to be loved as we are. Doing this photo shoot with Braden was one of the hardest things I've done emotionally because it was one of the most vulnerable. We agreed to keep all photoshop and touch ups to a minimum as an exercise in accepting the body as it is, at that moment. 

Hopefully the honesty and vulnerability come through! Enjoy!

Aries

Check out the rest of Aries set by supporting us at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Yo, I’m Aries. I’m a very extra extrovert, a non-binary queer person, a Slytherin (primary), and the human embodiment of a labrador retriever. I live in Washington, DC with my chosen beloveds, who playfully call me Daddy.

As a massage therapist and a personal trainer, bodies are very literally my business. My own physical well-being is absolutely crucial to my ability to work safely. Yet it’s so challenging to see myself fully. In these photos, I see myself in this moment of maturation, of puberty, of change.

As a butch kid, a football-playing tomboy, I embodied such a limited understanding of masculinity. As a teen, I avoided puberty as much as possible; I did self-destructive things to stop the onset of secondary sex characteristics. Now as an adult, I feel capable of shaping myself as I want to be. I feel submerged in this warm bath, simmering, unclear of the type of dumpling I am, and what shape I will take in the coming months and years.

In this current mystery potsticker moment, my body-mind feels very fluid. My self-conception is wildly ambivalent: I am both entirely comfortable with myself, clothed and nude, and yet totally disconnected and unrecognizing of myself. The maturation feels like a positive event, a transformative shift in which I can embody and be more fully myself, acknowledging the flaws and charms of that person. How fraught it feels to be stepping into a more masculine identity, but yet, how joyful it feels to be caregiving and providing, and using my strength to protect and give. How good it feels to care for my beloveds. How good to feels to love others and myself.

Specifically, what I see, at present moment: I love the power in my body. I love the thickness of my legs and the juiciness of my ass. I love the shape of my shoulders; I love the strength in my back. I love the angles of my face, and how much I see of my parents (and my grandparents) in my features. I love seeing the changes in my body as I build muscle, and I love how good it feels to be in my body.

I experience desire physically; I sweat, my eyes narrow, my breath quickens. In these moments of heat, I feel like a great cat: a jaguar ready to pounce, ready to rip another cat apart. My strength and endurance pour out into intimacy; my deep focus on others bodies and my own enjoyment of embodiment puts me (perhaps us) into a swirling trance.

I first learned about sex, desire, intimacy, and all those “adult” topics from reading science fiction. There’s a whole lot of fucked-up sexist malarky in classic sci-fi, but modern writers often described functional, beautiful relationships with compassion and care (tho I notched pages for those kinky porn moments too). For me, sci-fi normalized and glorified relationships that I didn’t see represented well in other media: romantic friendships (often between spaceship-mates), relationships with power dynamics, and non-monogamous relationships. There were not-doomed queer relationships! Power femmes and tender butches on moto-scooters! Alien invasions slash robot uprisings and suddenly, characters had to talk about long-withheld feelings! Folks got trapped in wormholes and it was really hard to text!

I recently felt so appreciative for Becky Chambers, who described my sexuality in “A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.” In “Long Way,” Chamber’s imagines the Aandrisk, a species of sapient reptiles (with feather plumage), who have a very open relationship with sex, lots of intimate communication skills, and a way of building intergalactic family -- their feather family. Do read the book, and when you meet Sissix, the ship’s pilot, please think of me.

Here are some things about the Aandrisk that made me feel very seen:

  • Very physically affectionate, use touch to signal care + intimacy
  • Build family across the cosmos by giving tokens of themselves
  • Sexually gregarious and emotionally communicative
  • Very strong thighs
  • Loyal, enduring love

I have been so lucky in love, and I feel more lucky every day. I am romantically attracted to caretakers and breadmakers, analytical highly-verbal types, wood nymphs and shy fauns, femmes and butches, meticulous people with sharp eyes and a salty mouth, introverts full of feelings and dreams. I love to share activities with my sweeties, I love to be able to run together, to hike together, to sing together, to dance together, to teach and learn together. I love to be their caring puppy, their fawning fan, their doting friend.  

There is a very special love in my life, a love that has grown and endured for my whole adult existence. In our years together, we’ve both matured -- I’ve seen this beautiful boy grow into a deeply caring man. His love has nourished me and nurtured me to become the person I am now. Our love is another sun in my sky, a permanent, heating glow in my internal landscape. I have a thousand words for this love, for this relationship, but just know that I am a fusion (we are a fusion), and the fusion makes us stronger and yet more loving.

As lucky as I am in love, I struggle to be vulnerable. Adult Aries doesn’t let people in like they used to. Even when I’m speaking in front of a hundred people, I’m still hiding. I cram my feelings in tiny tupperwares, I hide some tuppers so far away that I’ll never find them. I become irate when things seep out of their plastic, and mess up my nice veneer, or when I jumble up the lids and nothing can fit and fucking hell why the fuck can’t I just put this one one stupid thing away. I’m trying to go through things gently, to let things go, and to give space to my emotions, even the ugly ones. I am trying.

I am so grateful to Braden, for his thoughtfulness and care. My hope is to follow up with you when I’ve been steaming a bit longer, and seeing where this dumpling has started to settle.

Yours truly,
Aries

Julia

Check out Julia's full set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Hey my name is Julia. I’m a cishet dinosaur-wannabe who uses she/her pronouns. I also mostly identify as non-monogamous although my last year of being not in a romantic relationship(s) has me questioning my feelings about partnering up with people. I am, however, in a very committed relationship with my cat, tiny (not pictured), who relies on me for food and attention and upon whom I rely for my sanity and general well-being.

I'm a weirdo. Like, a certified weirdo. Like when I was in the middle of my first official sexy photoshoot, I decided it would be a good idea to pick up a mink and pose with it for a good chunk of the shoot. And maybe I'm weird because that mink gave me the confidence to caulk my wagons and float through the uncharted waters of posing half-naked in front of a camera, or maybe it's Maybelline - I guess we'll never know. When I try to act sexy, I end up doing a face like the Grinch when he gets his wonderful, awful idea and if you're friends with me, you probably know exactly which face I'm talking about.

My favorite way to feel sexy on the inside is to put a lot of effort into my external appearance - going through the motions of showering, taking care of my body, styling my hair, putting on makeup, accessorizing, and picking out a bomb outfit to me is suiting up for battle. I do these things to have control over the way others see me and it is what makes me feel powerful. I especially love to emphasize my eyes as I feel they are the core of my ability to hypnotize people and lure them to their deaths. Anyways, that’s enough about me. Now go look at some pictures of me being sexy.

Ally

Check out the full set by supporting this project on http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

My name is Alison Marie Kowalski. When I was younger I was in a sexually abusive and emotionally manipulative relationship for quite some time. I said those words out loud for the first time a few months ago.

It was around this time last year when I first realized that what happened to me was abuse. Five years after it was over and I finally had a name for it. Five years and I could look it in the eyes, call it by its name and say “I am not afraid of you anymore.”

It took me years of failed and strained relationships with potential partners, friends and family; it took me years of doubt, of hopelessness, years of standing in front of a mirror asking “what is wrong with me?” It took years. It took hard work. It took introspection. It took loneliness. It took loving, wildly persistent friends, for me to get here.

When I did, I realized that I have never had a positive experience regarding sex. When I thought about any of my experiences the only thing I ever felt was shame. So I made a decision. I decided that I deserved positive sexual experiences. I deserved them, and I would start making them for myself. That started here, with this photo shoot. With feeling safe and sexy for the very first time, of my own fruition.

I had always thought that I was just bad at relationships. I used to think that no one could ever love me enough to deal with all of me, good parts and bad. I ran the moment anyone showed even a hint of interest in me. I was afraid of them, afraid of myself. I am still afraid, but now that fear feels more like excitement.

A year ago I couldn’t have imagined being half naked in front of a camera. For me, this year has been filled with so many things. Joy, depression, love, anxiety, risks—but more than anything, this year has been filled with growth. I am so excited to continue challenging myself, scaring myself, discovering myself.

Jasmine

Check out Jasmine's full set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I am Jasmine. I’m a sorta straight, demisexual, monogamish human who uses she/her pronouns and whose primary love language is touch. I have big boobs, a big butt and an even bigger personality.

Feeling sexy is basically my favorite thing ever. I have been in touch with my sexuality for a while and the ways in which I feel sexy have evolved over the years. When I was younger I found out about lacy underwear and you can be sure that Victoria’s Secret got all of my allowance money that year. For a while, really high heels made me feel incredible; I loved the way my legs look miles long in them and how they always magically made my butt look amazing and perky. Lately, different types of movement have been making me feel sexy. I’ve been taking hip hop lately and noticing how it’s teaching me to control every part of my body and to execute sharp, swift movements. That power of every part of me feels really sensual which is super interesting because having someone else be in control of me is another thing that makes me feel insanely sexy.

I am a pretty rad human and I have many favorite things about myself. I love my long thick hair that always seems to have the perfect amount of curl naturally. I love my hourglass shape and how it looks when it’s accentuated with a form fitting pencil dress or a corset. I love my legs that are strong and muscular and allow me to dance and run and jump.

Shantel

See Shantel's entire set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

To those whom are interested,

My name is Shantel, and I use she/her pronouns.

I view my life as a collection of short, wispy stories where I tend to hide in the background and
watch things happen. This contributes to a personality that some may call easily distracted, but I
prefer to think of as open to adventure. When you first meet me, I am a terribly shy person.
Always have been. The first five years of my life were predominately viewed from under my
mother’s skirt. Being shy was not cultivated from a conservative household. On the contrary, I
heard my mom tell stories of her hippie days burning bras, and I saw my sister shaved off all her
hair on a whim. For some reason, I never felt comfortable enough to latch onto that freedom.
Instead, I listened to my grandma. I took manners classes, learned how to sit, set a table, dress
like a lady, et. cetera. I never considered cultivating much of my own identity.

Without my own identity and definition of beauty, I conformed to societal images. Model
physique made me desperate to stay tiny and thin. I refused to embrace any bodily curves; I
wanted my clothing sizes to be small numbers. As a result, I struggled and continue to struggle
to consume food regularly. Forgetting to eat was a common problem. When I had access to
food, overeating was another problem. Friends and family keep telling me I was beautiful, but I
didn’t see it. I just strived to be thinner.

Growing up, we moved so frequently that I saw no point in making friends. Friends might have
enabled me to view all of me as beautiful not just this outside cover. It wasn’t until the middle of
my sixth grade year that my family settled in one one place for a while, and we lived there
through my high school years. As a result, I created a solid friend group, and, shockingly, they
complimented me on more than my appearance. They loved my eye color, the color combos
with my clothing choices, and my personality NOT just my tall, thin body. I began to actually like
something about my body, and my eyes became my first favorite trait.

Fast forward to my 18th birthday, I pack up my belongings and move off to live with my older
sister. In my sister’s house, I was the prude hiding from sexual innuendos and any possible
announcement of “naked times.” The atmosphere of positive body image began to rub off on me
anyway. In the privacy of my room, I created a new look. Piecing different clothing items
together to achieve a style of my own.

My confidence grew. I started dating based on the connection I felt with individuals. My
adventurous side sparked, and I felt comfortable enough to explore myself. I came to realize I
am a polyamorous and kinky pansexual. Ideas my grandma would never understand. Direct
contrasts to my manners classes. Nevertheless, it was me. The freedom I gained to date and
dress my own way made me feel sexier and more confident.

I went to my first kink event, and it blew my mind. It seemed that everyone I met knew what
made them feel sexy and emphasized it. I wanted that strong body image. With minor
reluctance, I let extroverts guide me to future kink friendly events. After the first few socials, I
dove in head first. I found beauty in myself through all my kinks. My body became an art canvas
for kink scenes. Rope weaved and tied accentuated my body features. Pain made me feel more
alive. I began to show off any marks I got from kinks. Over time, I wanted to show off marks
even if it meant exposing my body. If you look close enough, you might manage to spot a few
wrestling and bite marks on my body.

Kink wasn’t the only thing that built up my body image. I found blues dancing even before the
kink world. My love of blues blossomed as I explored the kink world. If you aren’t a dancer, I will
try to tell you how it makes me feel. A sense of complete comfort and safety comes from
dancing. I find blues as an escape from mental problems, and I can feel truly happy at a dance
social. Dancing helped me feel pretty and graceful. All my dancer friends encouraged my
exploration and self journey. Amongst dancer friends, I have grown comfortable enough to more
frequently lose my top than keep it on.

Now, I look at myself and see curves and hips intertwined with my lanky body. Some days, I
might see my thick thighs or small belly pudge as “ugly” or “unappealing.” More frequently, I see
them as dancer thighs that get down low or a belly able to take some scratches. When
prompted, I can consistently say the features I love about myself are my eyes, butt, and long
hair. I’ve still got a long way to go to love my body, but this photo shoot definitely helped.

For all the readers and viewers, enjoy the photos. I hope the laughter, rainbows, and silly
“clothing” creations show you that beauty comes from you being yourself. Being yourself is the
best way I’ve found to strive for happiness.

Cate

You can see Cate's entire set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

Hello! My name is Cate the Great and I use she/her pronouns. I have known I was bisexual for a long time, but have only really grown into my proudness of it in the last few years. I am in an open, poly relationship currently and am loving every day of it. The amount of love I can give and receive keeps me going on a daily basis.

I am an awkward human bean, but there are plenty of times that I feel “sexy”. The thing that reeaaallly amplifies it is when I’m having sexy time with someone and I can just see the lust in their eyes as they look at me in the moment. It’s thrilling and really makes me feel like I’m on top of the world. There are the more general things, like wearing good, fucking leather accessories to amp up my outfit, eating lollipops (I know. I know. That is so fucking corny.), and of course sending a good nude. Honestly, I love sending nude photos. My friends and I share them with each other and it’s just a never-ending source of positivity.

My favorite part of me, physically, is probably my butt. It’s small and cute and I love the way it looks in tight pants. Emotionally, I am just a lover. I search out ways to love people and while that can be really overwhelming, the majority of the time it is extremely fulfilling. However, if there’s one thing I want the world to know about me, it’s that I’m a big nerd who has a huge heart and dang, look at my cute butt.

Meg

Check out Meg's entire set by backing at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I’m really bad at writing about myself. Laughably bad. I’ve spent a full week sitting on these beautiful photographs because I just didn’t know what to say. I apologize for that, for keeping these from you for longer than you had to wait for them. Since I’m feeling so terse, I’ll turn it over to some of my friends: 

“She’s brilliant.” –Albert Einstein 

“I heard she could do like, a million squats. Look at her butt!” –Michelle Obama

“Why are you e-mailing us again? Why would we want to comment on this? Please stop.” –The NYT

I’m kidding; at least, mostly. Don’t e-mail the New York Times looking for a review of your butt unless it has some pulpy nonsense written on it—maybe I should do that for my next shoot. I’m a PhD student in Environmental Science and Public Policy. I study bats (just not the ones in my belfry… maybe you could come help me out). My main source of income is modeling pinup and boudoir, because my looks pay more than my brains right now. I’m street-smart, and tough, and intense.  I’m cheeky, and silly, and look mean, but it’s really just my face. Unless you’re a creep. In which case, Beat It. 

I feel the sexiest when I’m desired. Like when my partner is reacting to even minute changes in my eye contact, or when I catch a glimpse of myself in a vaguely reflective surface. Sometimes I’m walking to my motorcycle after sleeping in my office for two days and I catch myself in the broad side of a black SUV, and I’m like, “…would I still do me?” I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth, and I still have the imprint of a keyboard down the side of my face from where I slept on it, but yeah. Yeah, I totally would. 

I feel sexy when I feel powerful. Particularly in a well-structured suit jacket with fine leather elbow pads and kitten heels after rocking a lecture. Or when I attend a New Year’s Eve Party dressed apparently like I’m attending my very wealthy husband’s funeral after he died under suspicious circumstances. Dress for the job(s) you want, right? 

So here you have it. You don’t have to wait any longer. I’m wrapped up in lights like a holiday that celebrates me. You’re welcome. Oh, and NYT? I’m going to a funeral. It’s going to be yours.

Like what we're doing? Wanna see what a full set is like? Buy us a cup of coffee and help keep the lights on here, and we'll send you a link to one of our favorite sets to say thanks!

Emily

Check out Emily's full set at http://patreon.com/hellapositive!

I have had a hard time recently even feeling sexy. I sometimes doubt if I am even attractive anymore. It’s crazy how life works and sometimes you just feel so low. 

I use to feel on top of the world. I had built this career and business around my ability to interact with people and my look, my style. Feeling like it was time to pursue my dream of architecture, I decided to go back to grad school. I also decided then I wanted to wear my glasses all the time versus my contacts, as well as follow my crazy health-nut diet. The changes these decisions inflected if individually handled, I may had been able to endure, but collectively it was hard to bear.

My decision to wear my glasses is a pretty normal one people go through, but for me having built this marketing persona, I notice in slight ways how it made little interactions change. I began to be respected more in public. While I still get cat-called sometimes, it occurs less. It was the slightest and most confident of the changes, yet notable for the new me.

I got accepted to a grad school, then changed my mind at the last minute to go to another grad school in another city. While this was overall a great decision, so many plans made needed to be changed at the last minute. Also coming back to being a full time student after five years was more demanding than I ever imagined. I never had neglected my own needs more than when I became a student again. 

My most significant change for last year was my diet. I finally was strictly following what I had for a long time believed.. No sugar, gluten or animal products… I went a little crazy to say the least. It affected my body, my mood and my emotions. At times I would say it had become an eating disorder and I was struggling to find things appealing to eat and often skipped meals. It was irritating because the goal wasn't to lose weight, I was always pretty happy with my size, but it accidentally happened and it happened too much. Back in October, I had lost so much of my leg muscle I could barely hold up my scooter when stopped. I was told by a dear friend I looked like a little boy my hips had flattened out so. Pencil skirts were sliding off my hips. I was stressed, overworked, trying to fit into a new city and I hated the way I looked.

Thankfully, I listened to my dear friends advice and I craved to be stronger again so I made little changes overall towards healthy living. I loosened up on the strictness of my food restrictions, I try to be reasonable. I no longer am hovering over 100 pounds and am a healthier 113 pounds (working on that muscle!). I still don’t 100% like the way I look and it’s a struggle to feel sexy in normal life. I am trying to get use to this new me. I want to feel sexy the way I used to. 

I wanted this shoot to make myself explore those ideas further. For me: Sexy is playfulness. Sexy is putting in that extra effort to curl my hair. Sexy is just wearing a cute pair of underwear even if no one else sees it. Sexy means being respectful and having open communication. Sexiness shows itself in many forms and I think it shows best when someone rocks what they have. Sexiness can be found in the simple everyday, or in extravagant occasions. 

This is only the beginning of the journey for me. I know there will be ongoing struggles and I am not stuck in the past. I will become a new version of myself and I am excited to see who that is. I will regain my feeling of sexy and confidence and I know it will take time. I may not fully believe this every day but I try to remind myself if how far I have already come. Growing is not easy, but it is exciting and worth it.

Hella Positive Pin Up is entirely crowd-funded by rad readers like you! Wanna help us keep the lights on? Subscribe here to see the full sets, or buy us a cup of coffee (and get a free set as thanks!)