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My Journey in Boudoir

Hello! If you haven't met me yet, in person or through the rest of my website, I am Kara Cavalca.

I grew up in Durango Colorado, attended college at Arcadia University in Philadelphia, studied abroad at University of Cape Town, traveled around the world with a program called Up with People, and landed back in Durango where I met my wonderful brazilian husband.

So now that we got the cliffnotes out of the way, I want to dive a little deeper into my journey with sensuality, sexuality and boudoir.

I never had a relationship in high school, not even a situationship. A lot of my friends made fun of me for being a "prude" or "too picky". I swear, by the time I graduated, I was the only virgin I knew, and I still wasn't comfortable in two piece bathing suits. But I noticed how the girls who did kiss boys at parties were treated, and if they did more than that they were just labeled a slut or a hoe automatically. So it really seemed like a lose lose situation to me.

My high school friends even wrote a song and played it in the commons about a girl who had mayyybe kissed a boy at a party that one of my friends liked, the song was calling her a mexican whore. She was a beautiful petite hispanic girl, who wore cute skirts and had long beautiful hair. She expressed a tiny bit of sexuality, and was demonized for it, by MY friends. I felt horrible, but also got the message.

If I didn't kiss anyone I was a prude, if I did I was a whore. Adults around me made comments about girls who wore clothes that were "too revealing". My science teacher would measure my tank top straps in front of the class and then if they were less than 3" or something ridiculous like that, (do they even make tank tops like that?) he made me wear a huge shirt for the rest of class.

There was so much outside judgement when it came to sexuality, or just being a girl with skin and a body, I never really felt comfortable or safe to explore how I actually felt.

Then I got to college, I had some much more accepting friends, that supported me and just let me be me whatever that meant. There were less adults policing how I dressed, or what I did. I started exploring my sexuality a bit more as many college students do. It still took me a little while to get out of the shell I had created in high school.

But once I did, I realized I am actually a pretty sexual person, I actually feel very comfortable in my sexuality. So I started to embrace that. My true friends celebrated me, and I felt empowered.

Then I was labeled a slut by my roommates.

Guys at bars started taking advantage of me. I was yelled at, or assaulted, by guys for not going home with them after they bought me a drink. Then given no sympathy by certain people, being told that I should've expected that wearing what I wore.

I realized that even though I had a great group of supportive friends now, overall being a women with any sexuality was still a lose lose situation.

So you might think that going back to my "prude" status would be better. But no! The older I got the worse being a prude was too. I mean technically I was being a "prude" for NOT sleeping with those guys from the bar, and I was literally assaulted for that sometimes. But if I HAD slept with them, I would be a slut, and face judgement and ridicule by certain populations of my classmates.

So by my senior year, after struggling with the invisible line of having to be sexy and sexual to "have value" but also not too sexy or sexual or you are "degrading yourself". I decided to do my senior thesis on female sexuality.

I got my BFA in photography, so in addition to writing a 20 page paper on female sexuality, I needed a photo series project to accompany my paper.

I used myself as the subject, because I know myself the best, and it was easiest to explore this subject through myself!

I decided to portray both my "sexual/sensual side" and my "outward society facing side" in each image. So in every photo there were two of me, interacting with myself. Sometimes I would be embracing my sexual/sensual side, sometimes I would be ignoring them, or shunning them, by they were always there, always a part of me whether I acknowledged them or not.

If you would like to see my thesis project, my artist statement and my imagery, feel free to check it out HERE.

But be warned, there is nudity.

My thesis was very cathartic for me. Creating these images was healing, empowering, and transformative. I thought even if nobody else gets it, it was very helpful for myself to go through this process.

But people did get it. When I exhibited my project at the senior thesis show, all I had were a few blown up images on the wall, an album of the rest of my imagery, and a plaque with my artist statement. I didn't have any extremely detailed explanation of the project, but still people seemed to really resonate with it.

I had numerous women come up to me, crying, telling me how much my project touched them. I even had a few people tell me about sexual assault experiences, and other traumas they had gone through, that they had never told anyone before, but wanted to tell me because my project made them feel seen.

I thought helping myself heal was going to be the best thing I got out of this project, but it wasn't, it was watching the effect it had on other women who resonated with it.

At this point I didn't really know what boudoir was, but I had already been shooting what would be considered "self-boudoir portraits" for years.

When I discovered boudoir, it felt like a calling to continue the work I had started with my thesis, but be able to give other women what my thesis gave to me.

Boudoir is a safe place for sexuality, it is a place where only you get to define what is means to be sexy, to feel powerful and confident without worrying about anyone else's opinions. To remind ourselves that sexuality is a huge spectrum and you get to decide where you fall. If you want to be fully nude, go for it! If you want to be sexy in a full coverage dress, that is great! If you want to try out one of those fun pieces of lingerie you've been eyeing for a while it's the perfect reason to get it!

Boudoir is an individual experience, you make the rules, I just create the space for you to be exactly who you are and help illustrate the power, beauty and worth you carry so that you can have a keepsake of your experience to look back on and remind you that you are amazing and wonderful and worthy just the way you are.

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