Bodies in Porn

I like porn. I struggle with that fact at times. I know the industry can be very exploitative and that the body images featured in porn contribute to the narrow concept of beauty. I know not everyone in porn is there of their own free will with the full desire to participate. Still, I enjoy it.

I recently began two projects of my own involving visual porn (I write porn, but that is not what I am addressing here). One was my film for the HUMP Festival competition (see it here). The other is my kinky inspirational poster series (behind the scenes photos are available on the Photo page of this blog). Both projects involve images of people naked or engaged in some sort of sexual activity.

Thinking About Beauty When Casting Images

When I began to cast my models and actors for each shot I actually spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted in an image. I am lucky in that I know a lot of people who fit the traditional images of beauty who are also willing to participate in these projects. The women are thin, lithe, fair skinned and young. The men are young, muscular, and not overly hairy. Ultimately, I did not go with too many of these models.

I sought out people who fit a wide range of physical forms. In my film, I specifically approached a dark-skinned, heavy set Black woman with lots of tattoos. I think she is amazing and I have seen her dance with a burlesque troupe. Her moves are amazingly sexy. Her facial expressions are fantastic! I wanted her in this project because she represents beauty and sexuality in the way I want it portrayed. Additionally, women who look like her are not regularly involved in mainstream porn.

I have several shots for my calendar project where I did go with traditionally beautiful women. The woman I chose for the “Hang in there kitten” shot is a lithe young white woman. She is beautiful and beautiful by traditional standards. She fit the image I wanted for the shot and could get into the position I needed her to in a suspension.

For many of my other shots, I specifically sought out people who do not traditionally appear in porn images, even kink porn. My oldest model is in her mid-sixties. I have men who are heavy-set. Most of my models have tattoos or piercings. The two shots that involve hard penises are models that are less than nine inches when hard (unusual in close-up cock shots). I have models of lots of different races. I have cis- and transgendered models. I have models who span the spectrum of sexual orientation.

I know that not having the traditional images of beauty in every shot will change how some of the images sell. I know for some of the images, choosing more traditionally attractive people would increase sales. For me, it came down to the necessity to represent different bodies in porn and kink images. That to me is critical.

Fetlife and Reification of Beauty

I am on Fetlife. Fet features their “Kinky & Popular” page. These are the collection of the most popular images, writings, and videos posted to the site. Yes, K&P occasionally features non-traditionally beautiful bodies. However, the incredible majority is of thin white women and very fit white men under the age for 35. Its boring. It reinforces cultural concepts of beauty. Its exclusionary.


Thin, fit, young and white sells.


These images make K&P because they are what most of the members “like” – they have been tagged by people as images they enjoy. For all the talk we have in the United States and in the kink community about accepting a broader set of beauty standards, we generally select a very narrow version of beauty for our enjoyment. Thin, fit, young and white sells. Its what we click on when we want to watch something or look at porn. We, as a culture, perpetuate this and then tell people outside this image, “You should love yourself. All people are beautiful. I just don’t want to see you in any porn.” That doesn’t work.

Impact of Limited Ideas of Beauty

I don’t love my body. Part of it has to do with a chronic condition that causes a ton of debilitating pain, but part of it is that I don’t look like I think I should. I am much heavier than I want to be. I am older than I want to be. My breasts could be higher than they are. Generally I am okay with how I look, but I know I could look better.

I have gotten to the point where I am okay with what is reflected back when I look at myself. My issue comes when I interact with others. When I am out with friends and there is a traditionally beautiful woman around, everyone pops up to comment, “Wow! Look at her! She is stunning!” When people know I am friends with a number of beautiful women they implore me to try and set up dates. My female friends will spend hours lamenting how “fat” and “unattractive” they are when I am much heavier then them. I know from this I am not attractive.

I haven’t heard, “You are beautiful” in over decade. I have recently lost 60 pounds What I have heard is, “Wow! Look how much weight you have lost!” and “Wow! You must be so happy!” I lost the weight because I have been incredibly ill. But, we are so obsessed with being thin in this culture, people assume waist size means happiness.

People also use size to say awful things. I have counted more than a dozen times in the last three months someone has started a sentence, “I know this sounds bad, but you are a big girl, you can take it.” Then they follow with, “I met a girl who I like but she is fat and I don’t know if I can be seen dating her,” or “You get why I like skinny girls in porn,” or “you understand why I want to be around beautiful women.” No, what I understand is you are so attached to a specific image of beauty you have no problem being an asshole to someone who does not fit that model.

Power of Porn

I don’t think beautiful, young, thin, white women need to be excluded from porn. What I think is that we need much more thoughtful inclusion of a much broader type of beauty. As long a the majority of porn represents a singular image of beauty it will reinforce these standards.

There are a few porn production companies seeking to expand the idea of what is beautiful. I see more work with women who are heavily tattooed, who have a big butt, or who are a bit older. However, the “non-traditional” models are still largely white, largely young, and largely thin. For example, the professional porn with heavily tattooed women choose women who are young and white and thin. The porn with older women have women who are older, white, and fairly fit for their age. The ones that use heavier women choose white women who are not tattooed. Apparently you can only violate one standard of beauty at once.

I know from the reactions I have gotten from my film that people can find a wide range of images sexy. Pretty unanimously, when people see the opening blow job scene they fan themselves or otherwise indicate that it is really hot. My models were chosen specifically because they don’t fit mainstream images of beauty. However, they were amazingly hot on screen. I know they have aided more than a few people in a private fantasy moment in the last month.

Neither of my models would probably be signed by a major porn company. The fact that they perform well on screen and turn people on is trumped by the need to limit porn to traditional standards of beauty. We need to get beyond that. I think people who produce porn images need to specifically go out of their way to produce images more inclusive. The world would be a better, hotter place.

4 comments

  1. Reblogged this on dave94015 and commented:
    Is there a limited range of “beautiful” actors in #porn…and does that limit our expectations of beauty…and our fantasies we get from porn? A call to expand our “standards”

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  2. […] Most of the time I write about body image, it is in relationship to representation in porn. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about how bodies are represented, sexualized and marketed. When I have filmed my own porn films, I spend a lot of time thinking about casting and how the people will be received. I have an extended post on producing porn here. […]

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