Me, Too. | Standing against sexual assault and harassment

ME, TOO. 

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You've likely witnessed the onslaught of social media posts that read "Me too" in reference to those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed. Genuinely, I would be shocked if you haven't been, as well. 

While sexual assault is an actual physical violation that likely will forever scar the victim, harassment is so rampant that it's normalized. Hell, *I* have normalized it. If I were to let myself get all up in a tizzy every time a man relentlessly cat called me, every time a man licked his lips at me, every time I got a honk followed with "where you going, baby?!", I wouldn't have any time left for happiness. I've begun to shrug it off as normal. I roll my eyes, occasionally flip the bird, and don't make eye contact. 

I've experimented with my outfits, I've experimented with my reactions, I've experimented with my body language as I'm walking. None of it makes a difference, the harassment continues, and I'm feeling really embarrassed that I even toyed with the idea that I should be doing something different to avoid the harassment.  

With the rise of feminism, I'm happy to say that the US population, especially women, has become more vocal about harassment and assault. People are coming forward more than ever before saying, "Me, too. And it's NOT fucking ok!" Victims are finally beginning to say "It is NOT my fault." Though, society isn't fully on board with that just yet.

Questions are still being asked following a proclamation of sexual assault. Questions like "But did you see how she was dressed?!", "What did she think was going to happen going up to his hotel room for a business meeting?!", and "She should have been more in control of her body and not drank so much." NO. NOT OK.  

"Why did you wait so long to report it?!" Is a question I hear so often when women wait years...often until another woman speaks up about the same individual, before making it publicly known that she was assaulted. I was one of them. Years. And it was a common story. Young girl, older boy, often in a place or situation I shouldn't have been in. I didn't speak up until years later when the rapist resurfaced and began stalking me and threatening me again and I was so terrified that he would get to me, that I finally reported it. Yet I was still asked by people close to me, by law enforcement..."Why are you just now reporting this?". EMBARRASSMENT. SELF BLAME. FEAR OF JUDGEMENT, AND THE FACT THAT I NEVER EVER EVER WANTED TO VOCALIZE THE DETAILS OF MY ASSAULTS. That's why. 

When I went public with my story several months ago to raise awareness for young women who have been raped, abused, neglected, I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support....and also not at all surprised to hear so, SO many people tell me that it has happened to them as well. It's absolutely sickening. 

Almost 20 years after my assaults, I've made my peace (with a side of "mad as hell") and have found my happiness. My husband has restored my belief that there are still good men out there. 

We have voices and need to be heard. If we stop normalizing this behavior, maybe this behavior will stop. If we start calling out the pigs, maybe he pigs will disappear.  At the very least, making ourselves heard is giving permission to other victims that it's important to speak up. 

My choice in career should come as no surprise to those who are closest to me.  I continue to help women reconnect (or maybe connect for the first time) with their bodies, to claim their body as their own, to claim their sexuality as their own. 

And that is why my narrative at Kara Marie Boudoir is do it for yourself. Do it for you! Own your own body, own your sexuality.

Sure, you can gift a book of images to your partner and they will love them. But the experience...that's for you. The moment that you lose your breath while sitting with me at your photo reveal appointment....that's for YOU. The strong, proud, badass feeling you get when you see your favorite image on your bedroom wall every day...THAT IS FOR YOU. No one can take that from you. And if they try, we can call them out on it.  We WILL call them out. I stand with you.

It is more than OK to love yourself...it's necessary. The more we love and respect ourselves, the more we will call out these unacceptable behaviors that pollute our society. 

 

YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE OF...

...clothes

...personality 

...body language

...company

...lovers 

 

NOBODY deserves to take those choices from you. NOBODY deserves that kind of power over you...but yourself.  

Choose yourself.

Love yourself.

Respect yourself.

And call out all the assholes that don't. 

 

I love you all so much, thank you so much for all of the support. Know that I'm here for you and will continue to be a voice against those who try to take your power from you. 

SO, you're sick of all the New Year's posts....

"17 days past due"

Every day, over the last 2 weeks, I've watched that number increase next to the to-do list item: "Write and schedule New Year's blog post". Of course the app I use makes anything past due red. It's a really condescending shade of red, too. 

I started the post several times, but kept deleting everything I wrote. Then I would just stare at my computer screen blankly for 3-4 minutes before finally closing my laptop and deciding I was too hungry to think. 

There's a lot of pressure on us to make and share our resolutions. And when I say pressure I mean: Well, everyone ELSE is doing it....so.....

We boldly proclaim that THIS year, we're finally going to get our shit together. We are finally going to lose that 10 pounds, eat cleaner, be more organized, travel more, spend less, wear pants more often (Imma tell you right now...not gonna happen for me), be better parents, etc etc etc. It's pretty exhausting thinking of all the ways we can be "better" people. 

So why not trash the resolution list, huh? Screw it. Goals are definitely good! But not in the form of bashing yourself over all the things you aren't. 

Instead, look back on 2015 and realize all the cool stuff you did. Realize how blessed you are. Realize that even if 2016 doesn't get ANY better than this, you've still got a pretty rad life. 

 

IN 2015 I TRAVELED TO/SHOT IN...

Las Vegas, Erie, San Francisco, Monterrey, Midland, Galveston, Key West, Tulum, NYC.

 

IN 2015, THIS DARLING BUSINESS OF MINE...

...Had an 8 page feature in Philosophie Magazine

...Upgraded from "Click Chick Boudoir" to "Kara Marie Boudoir"

...Brought on a new and awesome studio assistant, Elaine

...Had it's BEST.YEAR.EVER

...Surpassed all quarterly goals

...Gave over 300 women a badass boudoir experience

...Was featured by over 40 international brands

...Donated over $10,000 in beauty/boudoir photo shoot experience credits to charity organizations

...And kicked my 2014 business' ass

It was an absolutely killer year, and of course, had it's downfalls too. I just choose not to dwell on them. Overall, I give 2015 a 9.9999 out of 10 (because there's always room for improvement.)

And because PHOTOS are my preferred method of communication, here is a whole crap ton of images that got the most love on Instagram in 2015 and sum up the year perfectly!

 

And in 2016, instead of willing yourself skinnier, funnier, happier, richer, or a completely different person....how about you just try to not be an asshole? Let's not create a list of 10341 things that make us inadequate and then feel supremely defeated looking at that list.  Just narrow that right down to 1 goal: Don't be an asshole. Boom. 

The rest, you can make up along the way. 

Thank you all SO much for every single comment, follow, like, share, and shoot. I love y'all to pieces!

Cheers to 2016, dahhlings!

MAKE 2016 THE YEAR YOU FINALLY DO A BOUDOIR SHOOT! LET'S CHAT, DAHHLING!

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Striving for Perfection is Pointless | Austin Boudoir Photographer

Based on her on-paper age (21), I'm fairly certain she was the youngest I've photographed in the boudoir capacity.  Her maturity level, though...wow. I feel like she's as wise as a 90 year old. Her initial emails to me nearly a year ago were so profound. She wanted this session NOT to have sexy photos, but to celebrate herself. To celebrate her life changes, her hard work, and the fact that she was a bad ass woman.  She was a creative type, a musician, a force to be reckoned with, and I dig that. 

 

I knew she was going to really value this experience. 

 

She set foot in my studio with the most unique wardrobe and accessories. It was clear she had a style and a mind all of her own. It was clear this shoot was ALL about her and not at all about any one else. THESE are my favorite types of sessions. 

 

When I heard her playlist, I knew we were sorta kinda soulmates. Girl's got a wicked good taste in music...wise beyond her years.

 

Please read her story...all of it. She's got a powerful message!

"I realized that I couldn’t run to Kara with my soul in pieces. It took plenty of time on my own to put myself back together before I was ready for validation of my progress. Kara simply sealed the deal, in a beautiful way. I built up this idea so high in my head that by doing this shoot I was finally closing a really dark chapter in my life. I had finally breached the surface of my depression. I lost almost all of my college weight, I started yoga, got a dog, and surrounded myself with art in many shapes and forms.

I grasped at anything I could get my hands on to make me feel at peace. I finally found my self-love and really became proud of who I was and where I’ve been and what I endured to get there.. But I forgot that I was a woman. When I looked in the mirror I saw a sweet and loving college girl, a musician, a friend, daughter, and sister. I loved all of those things about myself but I didn’t see myself as a WOMAN. I thought that a 21 year old couldn’t be sexy, she’s just a girl. I didn’t appreciate what I was working with.

Sexuality and confidence are seen as shameful in some settings. As young girls we fall into the black hole of societies' so-called “beauty standards” and inevitably feel inadequate. From a young age, we begin to compare ourselves to the photo-shopped models in magazines, wishing to be them and hating what we have. Instead we should take a second and realize what’s real. We are real. We are beautiful, and we don’t need society to decide that."

 

"As soon as I stepped foot into the studio Kara was so warm and welcoming. I immediately felt like we were best friends *hair flip*.  She treated me as a woman and not as a girl. I was not embarrassed to be expressing myself while dressed in lingerie. I felt strong and powerful. Kara has the personality of grace and confidence that pours onto anyone in her presence. The photoshoot was absolutely magical. It flew by so quickly, I was sad to leave. But I knew when I stepped foot out of that studio, I was changed forever."

 

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"Do not strive for perfection because it's pointless. To clarify, stop with the excuses. I worked my ass of at the gym months prior to my shoot and sure, I would’ve loved to have been about 10 lbs lighter. But who cares? Confidence isn’t about perfection, it’s about being content. Not that you “settle” but to be content with where you are, and you understand that the work of art that is YOU, is a constant process.

You continue to gain worth as you chisel away the negative space, day by day. Confidence is more about looking in the mirror and loving WHO you see, and not what you see. I was very intimidated before I booked and the anxiety built inside me leading up to my shoot. The clients’ photos I had seen on Kara’s website had me awestricken. All of the women were so beautiful and strong, and mature. They are wives, mothers, girlfriends, and WOMEN with life experience and wisdom. So where does that leave me? I felt like I could not compete at all, and maybe I had no business doing something like this. But these inspiring women didn’t just wake up like this *cue Beyonce* they too, had been 21 once, just like me. Young and free- not as naive as people believe we are at this age, but making mistakes and learning every day, creating who we are.

This is the foundation for the rest of my life, and this photoshoot with Kara signifies that. When I finally saw my photos, I was so blown away. I wanted to plaster them all over my entire house. I had never seen myself in that way before but I hope to always keep that light within me. I know who I am. I love who I am. I am proud of that woman I see in the mirror. I can finally breathe, I feel like I earned my wings. Don’t waste another second. Book a shoot with Kara and let it keep you up at night. Write it on your calendar, dream about it, obsess over it. It will be the best damn thing you’ve done this year."

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Whoah. 

Am I right!?

This girl understands more about herself and empowerment than many of us get to achieve in all of our years on this planet. She may be much younger than me, but I look up to her. And you should, too.

 

Makeup by Gertie Murray.

 

you've been through a lot.  are you ready to celebrate yourself with boudoir? Let's chat.

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Well-behaved women | Austin Boudoir Studio

 

"Well-behaved women seldom make history." -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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Stand up, speak out, fight for everything you believe is right. Make your stance known. Do not let any man OR woman tell you what you should or should not be doing. You do you. Make mistakes and learn from them. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about them. Be compassionate and love with all of your might.

I'm coming out swinging today.

The Darling Detail and the Darling behind it | Austin Beauty Photographer

Get ready for adorable chic overload! This darling is OOZING with put-togetherness. Seriously! Jessi Ashfin of The Darling Detail is an incredible fashion writer and style blogger located here in Austin. She's got a massive Instagram following for a reason...she's seriously darling. You can't scroll past one of her images without giving it the ol' double tap!

Floral arrangements by Margot Blair Floral. Subject and wardrobe styling: Jessi Ashfin of The Darling Detail.

Floral arrangements by Margot Blair Floral. Subject and wardrobe styling: Jessi Ashfin of The Darling Detail.

I was elated when Carly of Margot Blair Floral set up a shoot with me for Jessi and some incredible floral arrangements. Both of these ladies are insanely good at what they do and we had SUCH a fun shoot! 

Here's just a quick peek at what we came up with together...but PLEASE head on over to The Darling Detail for all of the awesomeness!

 

Major props goes to the amazing Carly of Margot Blair floral who whipped together these flower arrangements and orchestrated this shoot. Be sure to follow her on Instagram (@margotblair - you won't regret it!) and check out her Website.


And, of course to Jessi Ashfin of The Darling Detail for bringing her supermodel A-game to the session. Y'all...I actually felt guilty because I wasn't working harder! She made it such a breeze. Hit up her Instagram account ( @thedarlingdetail ) and her blog HERE.


Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go re-evaluate my wardrobe STAT!


Miss L and her Badass Curves | Austin Boudoir Studio

I may have squealed loud enough for my neighbors to hear when I got word that Miss L was allowing me to share her words and photos with y'all. Her shoot was seriously incredible.  And...y'all....I would kill for her curves! Seriously. Hair, lips, boobs, waist, legs, booty...the whole damn package. 

She's been following my work on Instagram for a few years now, and it was so fun to bring her in, doll her up, and let her shine in front of my lens. I could have photographed her all day. 

Here's what Miss "L" had to say!:

"It's hard to be a woman sometimes. Heck, it's hard to be a human these days! I'm finally in a place of my life where I'm able to fully embrace my career, my womanhood, my romance, and more - woohoo!

It took a long time to realize life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful and I knew I wanted to capture this time with something special... something sassy... something sexy! I've followed Kara's work for a few years and just love her vision. Every image tells a little story and I knew I had to work with her someday. As soon as I gained the courage to sign up for a boudoir photo session, it was a fantastic experience through the entire process!

Kara captured my look and mood in every photo. She gives great direction and her compliments help you relax. I would definitely do it again and recommend her to EVERY girl I know. No matter your body type or age, she'll make you feel like a beautiful woman. Thanks, Kara - keep rockin' it!!!"

Is she not just a blonde goddess!? Ahh! Love these images. Ok, carry on.

Thank you to Miss L for sharing her gorgeousness with us! And also, as always, to my lovely makeup artist Kendall! 

WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU WAITING FOR!? LET'S SHOOT! 

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