Shadows of the Second Sex

I recently took photos of myself, naked. Midway through and without much thought (except I knew I was the second sex), I grabbed a book from my bookshelf and used it as a prop. That book was “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir. I’ve never read it. Little did I know that it would prompt the idea of this post.

At this point you’re either curious about my naked photos and/or the fact that I was posing naked with a book I’ve never read. Well some of the photos are here, and I’m going to read the book. Some things just don’t happen in a particular order. The book as a prop was a foreshadowing, as is this post to my reading of the book.

When I sat down to write this post, I stopped myself and went to grab the book again. With my grapefruit candle lit on my desk and wafting up between the pages, I tore through the introduction. It felt good to not be staring at a screen for once. Twelve pages later and I can’t wait to start the actual book, but first – there’s a blog post to finish.

The introduction to “The Second Sex” was a fascinating insight into Simone’s process of writing the book, which originated “by chance” and was initially meant to just be an essay about women. But “…she soon realized that she would first have to describe the condition of women in general.”

“One day I wanted to explain myself to myself… And it struck me with a sort of surprise that the first thing I had to say was ‘I am a woman.'”
~Simone de Beauvoir

This quote struck me. I kept reading that quote to myself over and over. The Sun Shadow Collective is not about labels. You are accepted here, regardless of your gender. Humans have been placed into categories and given labels in an effort to help “explain” us, but not all of them are true. We cannot fit into a box like that. Being given labels of male or female is one that society has run with since the dawn of time, and it confuses the shit out of some of us. We are lucky to live in a time to see this idea evolving.

Being a woman has labeled me and placed me in a category without my consent and that shadow has followed me my entire life (along with countless others). I didn’t ask to be a woman. I’ve spent 34 years trying to understand what makes me ME and the “woman” label wasn’t convincing me. Telling myself “I am a woman” never felt like a revelation of “this is WHO I am” and I refused to be put in that box. Being a woman isn’t who I am, it is just a biological description. But I’m lucky enough to live in a time where women have already fought and won a lot of battles. Not all of them, but the path has been paved, thanks to those like Simone.

With her one quote, it reminded me that I’ve spent years of my childhood and young adult years trying to understand what it meant to be a woman but also denying being a woman. For so long I thought it meant dresses and sex – the curse of an outdated generational concept. I loathed wearing dresses, I taped my boobs flat, I didn’t go to prom and was a virgin until my first year of college. Little did I know this wasn’t just about being a woman, it was also about my severe insecurities about my body, depression and anxiety. But why did I have those issues? Because of society’s view of the perfect woman. I didn’t size up and I knew it. Ironically, that perfect woman is dealing with the same exact thing I was (if not worse).

Taking nude photos is about vulnerability and claiming my femininity, despite my glaring flaws instilled by societal expectations and influences. It’s about self expression and raw sexuality as part of my personal artistic intent. This year I have been open to being vulnerable. It’s led me here. I’m writing, I’m creating, I’m connecting, I’m learning to accept. I am open to the universe and paying attention to the patterns and signs and I’m HERE:

Claiming the woman, embracing the goddess. That’s part of my story.

Also, I’m going to write a book someday.
Just putting that out into the universe.

Simone’s calling, gotta go.


Model is me. All photography is by me, @Rahlala.Photography

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