Walking down the street, locking eyes with a passerby, we smile and maybe they don’t smile back— we judge. Someone acts out and we don’t understand why— we judge. Life has a funny way of dealing it’s cards. You can see a person, even know them, yet have no idea the deck they’ve been dealt. Maybe their corners are folded and ripped; maybe they were left out and have coffee stains on the crowns of their kings and queens. We all have a story. What if we lived in a world where we understood without knowing. What if we didn’t have to know, yet still recognized that people carry past pains that can affect their present, and whatever that was, we intrinsically understood that they are enough. I think we do. I think we all understand, yet sometimes forget, and that’s okay. “Life is a cycle of remembering and forgetting.” Let’s push ourselves to remember, though. Let’s accept people as they are, for where they are on their journeys; let’s wipe clean each other’s stains and reveal the crowns that were always there; and mostly importantly, let’s not forget to do this for ourselves as well.
Sexual assault can forever alter a person’s path and ability to form healthy relationships— with themselves and others. It can sever the connection between soul and source, soul and truth and love, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel if you choose to seek it, no matter how much resistance the journey presents. Resiliency is what trudges people through the mud, and Alli is resilient. Boudoir sessions, for a lot of people, can be a reclaiming of the power that was stolen from them when they felt powerless. It can be a reclaiming of sexuality, independence, confidence, what have you, and the experience can be deeply significant. That is why our scar sessions mean so much— so much healing can take place when we are exposed, with nothing to hide behind. It is important to let ourselves be seen, emotionally or physically. We are all beautiful and are born with something to offer the world. We can take our disadvantageous pasts and grow from them as advantages. Our challenges can become our allies, and we can overcome. Allie has fought to be where she is today and has decided to share her story with us. Here it is:
“I refuse to be silenced by my past. I refuse to be quiet about events that have taken place, just because they may feel taboo. There are things that need to be discussed in order for my generation and every generation of women to be prepared for what may come. It is important to share our stories, and learn from each other’s experiences. Here’s mine.
I was 19 the first time I was sexually assaulted. I was 21 when I was raped, and sexually assaulted again a month later. I turned 22 the month before I was sexually assaulted for the fourth time.
I’ve been assaulted in my place of work, at a friend’s house, at my gym, and in my own bedroom, in total by 3 males I knew and one stranger.
I know that not a single one of these events was my fault.
Still, as a result of these experiences, I spend most of my time alone. I find it very difficult to trust people, and I wear my walls high. I’ve gone through periods of serious depression, and will suffer with PTSD for the rest of my life.
I am tired of the “hush hush” attitude surrounding sexual assault. There is no shame in being a victim. As spirit-breaking and tragic as these these events are, we survive, and we grow from sharing our experiences. We have the power in reporting it, in talking about it, and in uniting together against a society run by those who will not advocate for us, designed to give them power over us. We have strength in our numbers; as women standing together, for our weak and our distraught, our sisters unsure what steps to take forward or how to escape their abusive situations.
My body is MINE, and I reject the idea that I have to keep it covered just because men “can’t control themselves”. That concept is the result of a major failure of the system, and the prioritization of man over woman, and men’s needs over women’s needs.
That is why I decided to participate in this particular shoot. It allowed me to show my deep emotion and be vulnerable in front of the camera, while giving me the strength and power to overcome. It is paramount to my survival to realize that there is beauty not only all around me, but within me. It is my choice to embrace it and live my life without suppression.
Today, I walk tall. I have returned to my gym. I am sleeping again, despite my nightmares. And I refuse to allow the affliction that I’ve faced define who I am.
Not only am I an artist, but I am ART.”
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“I decided to book the shoot because I think it’s vital to share stories like mine. When I was in the middle of a living hell and had my world torn apart, I survived because some people close to me made sure that I knew that I wasn’t alone. Getting my story out there to let other women know that they aren’t alone is something that motivates me. I hope to be an advocate for women with stories, similar to mine or otherwise.”“The shoot how I imagined it happened at the beginning of when we were shooting. I thought I’d feel vulnerable or afraid. I was practically naked on an overpass and at a public lake, for Pete’s sake! But what I found out while shooting was that my confidence level was at a maximum. There were very few people around (with the exception of the trucks honking as they drove under the overpass I was posing on). In addition to feeling “wild and free”, there was a sense of validation coming through from Brit and Mike. “Following sexual assaults, I spent a lot of time wearing lots of layers. Covering myself up, as if it were my body’s fault. But then I realized that it didn’t matter what I was wearing. My body is MINE. No matter how I choose to dress it, nobody else has the right to touch my body unless I allow them to. This photo shoot was so liberating. While it may seem scary to be so exposed, shooting with Brit and Mike creates a certain feeling of comfortable freedom, free from fear or danger. ““DO IT! Not for a minute will you regret your decision. Art like this can change your life! I don’t think I’ve ever felt so secure about who I am or confident in myself than I did after my session.”
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