This is the seventh article in the series Baring It All: Living Authentically From the Inside Out. If you are new to this series, check out our introduction here

We’re entering the home stretch now, Authenticity Experts! Today will be a short article, densely packed with tips and tricks for bringing your genuine self out into the open. We’ve touched on many of these in past articles (check out our practical guide to finding your authentic voice for a refresher), and hopefully some of them are already becoming part of your self-care practices.

Short Term

What can I do today?

  • Set an intention for the day. This may be something as simple as “I will listen to my instincts instead of second guessing” or “If I judge myself or others, I will ask where that judgment came from.”
  • Take five minutes at the end of the day to reflect on a moment where you truly felt like you were acting authentically. What did it feel like? How can you do that again?
  • If you catch yourself saying or doing something that you know isn’t really indicative of how you feel, take a moment to reset. It may help to even say out loud “That wasn’t me. The truth is...”
  • Find something to wear or carry on you that really reflects you. Use it as a grounding item when you are getting flustered or overwhelmed by the world’s demands.

Medium Term

What can I work on in the coming weeks?

  • Keep track of how many times someone else’s opinion comes out of your mouth. You can keep a diary or note on your phone, use a click counter, or any other method that will help you. At the end of the week, review how many times it happened, and try to examine where these situations pop up most. Go into the next week trying to be mindful of where your common pitfalls are and see if you can preemptively self-correct.
  • Focus on one aspect where you would like to be more authentic (how you dress, what you write on social media, etc). Ask yourself what a genuine expression would look like and actively work to obtain that wherever possible. After two weeks, reflect on your efforts, especially noticing if it became more automatic over time.
  • Undertake some exposure therapy by reviewing old social media photos. Take note of your first impressions of them, and then go back and see if your real thoughts are the same as your snap judgments or if it’s something different. Look for any patterns there and try to be mindful of common pitfalls.
A model in lingerie and a denim vest appraises themself in the mirror.

Long Term

What life-long habits can I build?

  • Set out a plan for living as your truest self. Build a concrete list of inner truths, and keep it somewhere visible. Review and revise it over time, until you feel that you no longer need an external reminder. For example, you might create a whiteboard that looks something like this:
  • I think my body is...
  • I think my greatest asset is...
  • I want to improve on...
  • I am most influenced by...
  • I want to stop listening to...
  • I believe... (repeat this as many times as you’d like)
  • I feel confident when...
  • I feel insecure when...
  • I would like to change...
  • I don’t want to change...
  • Work with a therapist, counselor, or coach to unearth the source of your inner judgments and voices, and work towards leaving behind the ones that don’t suit you. 
  • Read up on topics such as mindfulness, acceptance and commitment, and other reality-based theories. Brene Brown and Lori Gottlieb are two popular authors who focus on the stories we tell ourselves. 
  • Get vocal. Make it a practice to tell people that you’re looking to live more authentically. Start small, with those you trust, and perhaps ask for feedback and assistance catching yourself when you’re not acting genuinely. Over time, expand to larger circles and more difficult situations. Stay in control, actively making choices based on your comfort and desires within any one social group.

What Does This Have to Do With Boudoir?

It may feel strange to incorporate boudoir into these practices. After all, intimate photo sessions tend to focus on playing up a fantasy or idealized look. But if you think about the core of it, those fantasies often tend to play into the sort of visions we see for ourselves. When you strip away society’s pressures to act or look a certain way, and you’re able to pay attention to what truly resonates with you, then you’re given much more agency to present yourself in the way that gives you a feeling of true power and confidence.

An Ivy Valentine Soulcalibur cosplayer stands in front of the ghost ship Adrian.

There’s a reason that so many of our clients choose to bring cosplay and high fantasy into their shoots. If you feel like a faerie monarch, a warrior, a dragon, a nymph, or a femme fatale, then you have the right to express that. The most important thing to remember here is that you’re choosing your appearance, based on what you (and only you) want. Even if your fantasy doesn’t extend any farther than wearing thigh highs and a short skirt, it’s still your choice and nobody gets to tell you otherwise.