Your Cleavage Is Not Art To Me: Why Boudoir Photography Should Be Kept Private

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A girl that I work with decided to add me as her friend on Blackberry Messenger. Minutes after I had accepted her request, a profile picture was displayed revealing my co-worker in lacy underwear sprawled out on a bed.  I suddenly felt very awkward. I was never pre-warned that having her as a contact on messenger would mean that I would be seeing various photographs of her in her underwear being sexually suggestive, and I am not sure I would have agreed to those terms had I been warned. Leaving work that day, I mentioned to her that she had quite the saucy picture up on her profile and she replied “Oh yeah that is one of my Boudoir photos.”

Not knowing how to respond after that, I decided the humorous approach was best. “Oh, I thought you were coming on to me.” I responded. The joke was lost on her just as much as the merit of her displaying her boudoir photos to the general public was lost on me.

The genre of Boudoir has existed throughout the history of art and photography. People have always liked artistically portraying people either scantily clad or in the nude.  Michelangelo sculpted a nude David, the Venus De Milo was covered only by a sheet, and if we all recall from the movie “Titanic”, young men loved painting young women naked on luxury cruises.  Currently, the Boudoir genre has become more common and has achieved a new level of respectability in the opinion of the masses. What has altered the face of Boudoir photography the most, however, is the increased audience in which these photos are shown to.

In the past, Boudoir photography was considered a more confidential form of art. Usually the pictures were only seen by the person’s lover, and were usually given as a gift for a birthday or anniversary.  Although today many people still keep their Boudoir photos private, many women (and some men) are now displaying their Boudoir photos on social networks or as their profile pictures on social communication programs for anyone to see. Although there are obviously many fans of these public displays of sexuality, there are many reasons why a person should not use their Boudoir photos on a public website. All I could think of when my co-worker’s Boudoir photo came up on my messenger was that if I was a man, or a lesbian with a girlfriend, I could get in all sorts of trouble for being friends with this girl. My girlfriend upon noticing my co-worker’s profile would automatically wonder if this girl was attempting to seduce me, leading to arguments which had no basis besides that my co-worker wanted to show me and everyone else how hot she looks in her underwear.

Being a straight woman, I don’t want to see these portraits because I just don’t want to see my coworkers, acquaintances, or even my closest friends in that way. It is not that people can’t be proud of the way they look in their Boudoir photos, but people should be more selective in whom they show these pictures to. Although there are very tasteful Boudoir photos which could be displayed artistically, it is better to just assume that they are all slightly inappropriate for the general public. I don’t want people to revert back to the Victorian era in terms of sexual repression, but I would appreciate some recognition that not everyone wants to see everyone else’s bits. It is time that people realize that overly shared Boudoir photos betray their otherwise artistic qualities, and instead reveal to their audience a pathetic form of exhibitionism.