• Sarah K. Hammer

Playboy Poolside Photo Shoot

Updated: Jun 28, 2018

There are two sides to every story. Everyone has their own version of reality.

This weekend I was asked to put my body away. I went to St. George for Salt Lake Creatives weekend retreat. Stylists, photographers and videoographers traveled across the state to meet up for collaborative creating. St. George had the most gorgeous weather and those who were ready waited for the other participants by the pool. I joined a few members of our group who had been waiting at the pool.

My Perspective

“I would have been much more receptive if they had asked me to stop because I’m setting an example for their daughters.”

As creatives, they took the opportunity to get photos and video clips by the pool. They had been shooting a 5’3’, 95lb girl before I arrived. When it was my turn to be photographed, two women came up to me and verbally slapped me in the face when they said, “this playboy photo shoot needs to end now.” I was shocked. I was wearing the same style of swimsuit the girl before me was wearing, but because I have curves, I was instantly sexualized. My friends’ immediate reaction was to defend me and explain we were not creating sexual content, just photos by the pool.

Blaming the Victim

The women’s reasoning for wanting my photo shoot to stop made me cringe. They told me their fourteen-year-old sons can’t stop looking over here because I am porn. I was devastated for these women. The mindset that I should hide my body because there may be a boy, or man, who will have ‘impure thoughts’ is exactly the kind of thinking that makes excuses for rapists and puts responsibility on the survivor of assault. I would have been much more receptive if they had asked me to stop because I’m setting an example for their daughters.

Her Perspective.

“This Playboy photo shoot needs to end now.”

Though I completely disagreed with the way these women handled the situation, I was kind and understanding (while fuming on the inside). I told them I would change into a more ‘modest’ swimsuit. They didn’t know that I have been working on my body confidence. My whole life I have struggled with my body image. I grew up wanting to be tiny, thin and have no curves. It has taken years for me to be able to wear a bikini to a pool and not feel insecure about my figure. Finally, I have the confidence to wear a bikini and I was told to put my body away.

So, I did. I hid my body, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I told the photographers to keep taking photos. I wasn’t going to let their rude words diminish my confidence. If they were concerned about my pornographic body, they should be happy I put a high-waisted swimsuit on to hide my curves.

Be Kind

The more I thought about the situation the softer my heart became. I reminded myself everyone has their own version of reality. My perspective comes from attending a liberal public university, surrounded by people who are challenging the status quo. In that educational setting I was introduced to ideas different than any I had ever considered. My whole world for the last nine years has been in the higher education system, surrounded by friends and associates who have liberal views and opinions. I have not spent much time around families.

These women have been in the family mindset for a very long time. I have no idea what they are going through that may have made them react the way they did towards my body. It could have been the fact that while I was taking photos their husbands game of catch kept getting closer and closer to me. They threw the ball so it would splash me and they’d have to swim over to me to get it. Maybe they are having problems in their marriage with their husbands watching porn or being unfaithful. Maybe no one ever taught them to love their bodies. Maybe they were taught to hide their bodies to help men control their minds. Maybe no one told them men have control over their thoughts and actions. Maybe they never had the confidence to be comfortable in their own skin even when it may not fit society’s idea of beauty.

I kindly touched one of the woman’s arms as she was putting me down. I sincerely apologized. I knew we were both coming from a completely different understanding and perspective. Maybe when I’m a mom I will understand where these women were coming from, but I will never make an excuse for my husband or sons. I will teach my children they are in control of their own thoughts and actions. I will teach them to love who they are wholly no matter what that may be. I will teach them to express their opinions with love and most of all I’ll teach them to be kind. -SK

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