I’m first and foremost an author, but occasionally life grants me other opportunities. Sometimes it’s difficult to go outside my comfort zone, but I want to push myself when it’s something important to me, such as queer visibility.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a unique opportunity to participate in a photoshoot for Bluestockings Boutique, an online LGBTQIA+ lingerie and underthings boutique. Jeanna, the amazing founder and owner of Bluestockings, put out a call for models over the summer and I responded. I honestly wasn’t sure what exactly she was looking for (besides “LGBTQIA models”), or if I’d fit in with the group, but I wanted to give it a try.
I’m so glad I took the chance and replied because not only did it work out for me to participate, but it was an amazing experience!
As I communicated with Jeanna in the weeks leading up to the shoot, I did some thinking about why I wanted to participate. After all, I’m a writer, not a model. In my writing, I purposefully include a wide variety of queer characters, including those who are nonbinary, transgender, bisexual, gay, lesbian, asexual-spectrum, or some combination of the above.
However, representation is important enough to me that I wasn’t content to let this opportunity pass me by. I really love the idea of a queer lingerie boutique. As a nonbinary person, I feel uncomfortable shopping for men’s and women’s underwear alike, frustrated by the severe gender binary of both the products and the marketing. I want to increase positive nonbinary visibility, and being a part of this photoshoot was a great way to do that.
Perhaps the most compelling reason that I wanted to participate was more personal. As many of you know, I had both top surgery and middle surgery this summer. Getting my breasts and internal reproductive organs removed was a vital step towards being happier with my body and confirming my nonbinary gender. However, we still live in a society with a lot of narrow beauty standards that glorify and sexualize breasts, while scars are viewed as unappealing, if not downright ugly. I still struggle with some of these messages, since I internalized many societal beauty standards while being raised as a girl. As such, being part of the photoshoot was a little bit scary for me, but I wanted my nonbinary self to be visible through this photoshoot, scars and all.
The Bluestockings Boutique photoshoot was one of the most body-positive and gender-affirming experiences I’ve had in my life. It was so freeing to have everyone use the correct pronouns for me even though most people there were near-strangers to me. The models were diverse: all part of the LGBTQIA community, two other models on the trans or nonbinary spectrum, and two out of the six people of color. Everyone was kind, friendly, and supportive. It really felt like hanging out with a bunch of friends while we happened to be in our underwear.
I don’t have plans to continue modeling, but I feel lucky to have had this opportunity with Bluestockings. I had a great time, made new friends, contributed to nonbinary visibility, and helped out an LGBTQIA+ business. If you’re in the market for underwear, regardless of your gender or orientation, I hope you’ll look into Bluestockings Boutique. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable shopping for underwear, not just those who fall into binary, cisnormative standards of beauty.