Updated: Apr 21, 2021
When you start a business, one of the first pieces of advice you'll come across is "don't get political." You don't want to alienate anyone. You don't want to piss anyone off that might be a potential customer. Your monetary success is far more important than being political. I've even given variations of this advice to folks starting a business like "you can share your political beliefs but don't go sooo far you annoy people into unfollowing you." (I have a much different opinion now.)
In the boudoir community right now, there's a lot of discussion about this. Should we be rejecting clients who don't believe black lives matter? Should we be booting people from our groups who don't hold the same political views as us? Do politics really need to be involved? Let people have their own opinions, right?
Boudoir is political, whether you like it or not. Bodies are political, and our job focuses so much on bodies. How can politics not work their way into our day job? In our society, the body you have dictates so much - your access to healthcare, your murder rate, your incarceration rate, your likelihood of a hate crime, or your ability to adopt a child. Of course our job gets political, and of course I want to surround myself with people who respect all bodies.
We work with bodies of all shapes, genders and races. Trans bodies. Black bodies. Asian bodies. Fat bodies. Disabled bodies. All marginalized bodies struggle in our society because our society wasn't built for them, and we photograph those people. Just look at who the majority of our clients are: women! Our society doesn't treat women's bodies the same as men's bodies. If you don't believe in gender equality, what are you even doing in this genre? The intersectionality only goes on from there.
How can I tell someone to love their body when they live in a world that doesn't love it? How can I teach someone that their body has value when the world around them adamantly disagrees? As boudoir photographers, we can try to set our marginalized clients up for body love success using photography, but the minute they leave our studios, they're back in a world that doesn't love them. (I'm willing to bet many of us have failed to create 100% safe spaces for them, too, especially if we're white, cis, able bodied or straight.)
My job can't just revolve around making sure folks have a better relationship with their body when they are with me for a few hours. I need to make sure I'm creating a community outside of my studio that doesn't harm my clients. That comes from voting, from going to protests, from donating to non-profits, and from LISTENING to marginalized bodies. This comes from booting racists and sexists from my social media groups. It comes from having hard conversations with my family and friends. Creating a safe community comes from looking at my own biases and seeing how I'm messing up.
If you're afraid to say black lives matter, if you're afraid to critique political leaders, if you're worried that publicly supporting marginalized bodies is going to offend someone, don't be a boudoir photographer. You don't get to tell folks they deserve to love themselves and then vote for hate at the polling place. You don't get to pay your bills with the money of a marginalized person and then keep quiet when they cry out for help.
If you don't want to deal with the politics surrounding bodies, don't become a boudoir photographer.