Lauren J

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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!