By Alyssa Royse from her blog Just Alyssa on 6/11/11
I love bodies. I love both men’s and women’s bodies. I love my body. I have always loved Stoya’s body, hers especially. (And her amazingly pale skin, dark hair, pouty lips…. ) And, like many women, I look at all the bodies in the media, and I never see my own body. I often joke that I am built like a 16 year-old boy, which doesn’t fit in either Madison Avenue or The Valley’s idea of sexy. I have always wanted to see my body reflected back at me in a way that tells me that society deems it beautiful. (We all want that, even those of us who “know” better.)
Stoya on the cover of Richardson Magazine, As photographed by Steven Klein. So, imagine my shock when the new issue of Richardson Magazine, which is essentially high-art porn and graphic discussion of sex and sexuality, featured Stoya on the cover. As I’ve never seen her before. She’s always been very traditionally feminine. Super slender, but soft and curvy. Not any more. She is now sporting six-pack abs, defined deltoids and the kind of sinewy muscles you’d expect on a, well, on a guy. Or on me. Imagine my shock when I saw a body that looks like mine on the cover of a magazine. And imagine my shock when I realized that my first response was one of disappointment. I didn’t really like it.
WHAT THE FUCK? How could I not like it? In an attempt to figure out what was going on in my mind, I took my laptop into my room, took off all my clothes and stood in front of the mirror to compare our bodies. Yup, pretty much the same.
Me, August 2010, feeling strong and sexy, if not traditionally feminine.
So what’s going on in my head? Could it be as simple as that she has pubic hair, something I can’t stand? Nope, not that simple.
Could it be some deep-rooted self-loathing that I wasn’t aware of? I don’t think so, I genuinely love my body, and have a damned good relationship with it.
After thinking about it, I came up with some ideas that may tap into something much larger when it comes to porn, sexuality, and even our relationships with our lovers.
1. Porn may be more about aspiration than validation. That may seem obvious, but it’s novel to me. I have often said that I can’t stand watching porn in which the women have fake breasts, because it’s just ridiculous, they don’t seem real. The women, not the breasts. Or women with tons of make-up, unless it’s all artsy. Or super cheesy greasy body-building men, because they are just as fake. I, generally, enjoy more natural, real bodies, even though that also means that they are a little heavier, or softer or….
Seeing Stoya with my body was just too real. It left me nothing to aspire too. Or for. There was no fantasy, it was just reality as I know it. If I wanted to fantasize about my real life, that would leave me with a messy house, unpaid bills, a string of immature men and batteries that die too quickly. No thanks.
2. I want you to be what I want you to be, and I don’t want you to change. This one, obviously, sucks to realize. But I think this may plague us in our real relationships, not just our relationships with porn stars. Stoya, to me, has always been this Porcelain Doll fantasy creature who was delicate and feminine, as soft and smooth as a statue whose satin patina was earned by centuries of admirers rubbing a lucky spot. When she suddenly became something else, I didn’t want her any more.
God that sucks. I am disappointed in myself for this one. I am a little mad at her for leaving me alone in the fantasy that I created for her. What right does she have to self-actualize? To become stronger? To not fill my fantasies?
Yup, relationships die of that kind of narcissism. Mine, not hers.
So I look again at Stoya. She’s hotter than ever. She looks strong in every way, the look in her eye says, “this is me, can you handle it,” rather than “I’ll be your fantasy.”
If I met her in the real world, I’d be blown away by her strength and beauty and sex appeal. I’d judge a man by whether or not he found her attractive, because her sexiness is of a much more imposing sort now. It’s raw and powerful. And there is nothing sexier than a man who TRULY finds strong, powerful women sexy.
I look at her picture and I’m almost scared of her. It’s not the approachable and easy sexiness that I am used to from her. It’s like a dare, a challenge. It’s a little scary.
I look at me. And for the first time I think I feel what I know so many men feel when they encounter me when my internal fires are lit. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the words, “too intense,” “too much,” and “I’m not ready” uttered by men I have loved, been loved by and wanted to keep loving and being loved by.
And there I am, naked, on the cover of this magazine. It hurt. I got it.
I got comfortable with it.
Perhaps this is the “me” that I needed to see reflected. Not the shape of the body, but the intensity of the stand and the stare. The still strength.
This is not how people have traditionally defined sexy. This is a woman who is strong as hell, and not in a “trying to be a guy” way. Not in an unnatural way. Not in a seductive way. She is just standing in her own power and letting people react how they want, unconcerned, unassuming and yes, uninviting. Because her sexuality, it turns out, isn’t anyone else’s business, and she doesn’t need you in it.
Credit where credit is due, the photo was taken by Steven Klein who is a ridiculously talented photographer who does largely editorial portrait work. But the power, that’s all her.
Now, when I look at the cover, I realize that it is aspirational. More than anything I’ve ever seen.
That’s what naked power is. And it’s sexy as hell. Strength, and sexiness, comes from the inside. The outside is just a container, and sometimes, it can’t be contained.
IF YOU ARE OVER 18 AND CAN LEGALLY LOOK AT NAKED PICTURES OF BODIES (as if anyone can stop you and it’s anyone else’s business,) here is a very buff Stoya very much in the buff.
Alyssa Royse is freelance writer, speaker and sex-educator living in Seattle with her boyfriend and their 3 daughters. She co-hosts Sexxx Talk Radio on The Progressive Radio Network and is the co-founder of NotSoSecret.com, a site dedicated to empowered women’s sexuality. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Twitter: @AlyssaRoyse Website: Just Alyssa TEDx: Your Sexuality: Ask & Tell Progressive Radio Network: SexxxTalk Radio
Other writing by Alyssa Royse:
Nice Guys Commit Rape Too – xoJane
The Danger In Demonizing Male Sexuality – The Good Men Project