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    As Someone Who Can't Have Penetrative Sex, It's Hard To See Myself As Sexy. So I Got A Boudoir Shoot Done

    As a straight woman who is unable to have penetrative sex, I've always struggled to see myself as a sexual person. So I decided to have a boudoir photoshoot.

    Hi world, Lara here, and in case you have not yet heard β€” I have Vagina Problems. I deal with a lot of vaginal pain on a daily basis which is the result of things like endometriosis, vaginismus, and overall pelvic floor dysfunction. And because of this, penetrative sex is currently not possible for me.

    But despite the fact that I have mostly known pain associated with sexual intimacy of any kind for a decade now, I have always desired a sex life. I've generally always considered myself a pretty sexual person, and it's one of the many ways I like to express myself. But for a very long time, I never felt like I was allowed to express myself this way, or think of myself as a sexual person at all.

    But in the last year or so, I have really started to embrace the sexual person that I am β€” with or without vaginal pain. I used to always say that I cannot have sex. But what I've realized since then is that I actually can have sex. I just can't have penetrative sex. And frankly, that's a very small fraction of what sex is...or what sex can be.

    So in an effort to fully embrace this new part of my journey where I am accepting of my pain and what it means for me and my (still active!) sex life, I decided to do a boudoir shoot.

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    For anyone who isn't familiar with what a boudoir shoot is β€” boudoir refers to a style in which people pose for photographs partially clothed, naked, or in lingerie. The photos are meant to document how great you feel about yourself at any given time. For me, the shoot would be the final marker of me giving myself full permission to be a sexual person. To stand up and say, "Fuck yeah I like to orgasm, and it doesn't matter whether or not a dick can go inside me!"

    For my photo shoot, I enrolled the help of Michael Sasser of Boudouir by Sasser Photography.

    The night before the shoot I was nervous. On top of having vaginal pain β€” I am also just in pain a lot. I have chronic pain all over my body. So never knowing how I am going to feel physically while also being completely outside of my comfort zone doing something that had felt so off-limits to me for so long was a bit scary for me. I am not a model, I do not know how to pose, and since giving myself permission to view myself as a sexual person was so new β€” it was hard to imagine how I would come across as sexy.

    Once we got on set, I sat down in the hair and makeup chair. Hair and makeup was provided by Vivian Tran Artistry and...thank goodness. I am not talented in the "doing my own hair or makeup" department. Once I got my hair and makeup done, I felt approximately 1000x more ready to do the shoot. The nerves disappeared. I felt GOOD. Here's what my final hair and makeup looked like:

    Next, it was time to start taking photographs! Prior to starting the actual shoot, Michael went through some quick tips and tricks and poses for me. He actually got into the poses himself on the couch, floor, and bed which helped me feel more comfortable and also I am a visual learner.

    Some of the biggest tips Michael provided are as follows:

    1. Pointing your toes makes your legs look longer! POINT. YOUR. DAMN. TOES.

    2. Arching your back shows better posture, and even if you think it is arched enough...it probably isn't. We're talking like, you need to be uncomfortable.

    3. Use your hands to tug on clothes, toss your hair, play with your face. If it feels awkward, it probably looks great on camera.

    4. But most importantly, have fun with it. If you feel nervous, you might look nervous. If you think, damn I look good as shit right now...it'll come through on camera.

    Then, it was time to ACTUALLY TAKE THE DAMN PHOTOS. We started off with a simple off-the-shoulder sweater to ease me in.

    Once we moved from standing to the couch, I started to feel much more comfortable. I was like, YES, I AM A SEXUAL BEING BABY!!!!

    After the initial nerves wore off, and I started feeling myself more, we moved onto lingerie. First up was this amazing two-piece set from Lonely Lingerie.

    I loved this lingerie set so much and I felt incredibly confident. Looking at these pictures now makes me kind of emotional because I can tell how good I felt. It was empowering.

    I was never given permission to be upset about the fact that I was experiencing pain during sex. I needed someone to say, "You are allowed to be upset about the fact that sex is painful for you. You are allowed to still want it." During this photoshoot, I gave myself permission. I allowed myself to embrace the sexual energy I always had, but felt as if I didn't deserve because of my issues.

    To say that this experience was emotional for me would be an understatement. I felt empowered, sad, elated, and nervous all at the same time. I felt a twinge of anger at all of the doctors who downplayed this pain or the effect that it can have on someone's life. But mostly: I just felt fucking proud of myself.

    Regardless of your reasoning for doing a boudoir shoot β€” whether you are overcoming something of your own, or because you just freaking want to β€” I highly recommend the experience to literally everyone.

    For more information on Michael Sasser's boudoir photoshoots, you can check out his website here.

    But honestly, if you're on a budget like many of us are, I think you can receive the many of the same benefits I experienced by getting a friend, a Polaroid camera, and something you feel good in.

    The photoshoot and some of the lingerie was provided to us free of charge, but we weren't obligated to write about them or say anything positive in exchange.