In the winter of 2016, a friend told me she was setting up a boudoir photo shoot for a cheese spread and needed a human model to go along with the wedges. I was flattered that she thought of me and figured that my garter belt could always use some more airplay, so I accepted.
The next week, I spent a morning in the sunroom of a former college classmate who I had always meant to get to know better, lounging on a pink divan, and wearing my nicest silk robe. We chatted and snacked, and I gazed sensuously at a gorgeously arranged cheese plate.
That photo shoot was one of the most body-affirming experiences I’ve ever had. Having photos taken of you in small amounts of clothing, for the express purpose of widespread consumption by friends and strangers, is not usually something that inspires huge amounts of body positivity. But that morning, I felt totally comfortable, babely, and at home in my body. And I still think the photos look pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.
Later, it struck me that the reasons the photo shoot was so positive were the same reasons that people devote themselves to cheese.
Cheese enthusiasm is about knowing that the funky and bizarre parts might be the tastiest. It’s about remembering that naturally occurring phenomena are important, and that bodily pleasure for its own sake is worthwhile. What we find compelling and fascinating about a person might be things that turn someone else off; it’s the same with cheese. It’s the unique qualities that draw us in—the qualities that won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Both, too, are about taking time to indulge our senses. It takes time to invite a friend over, to arrange a cheese plate, and to put on a nice red lip. It takes time to pair flavors and textures, and it takes time to arrange a garter belt and stocking.
We aren’t increasing market value or making ourselves better, faster, or stronger. So these practices are pointless according to a capitalist world of constant busyness and endless productivity.
Instead, these aesthetic and sensory flourishes are small treats that we give to ourselves and to those around us, if for no other reason that it feels good and makes us happy. Which is enough.
And that morning reminded me that we should remember to do all those things for ourselves—and for one another—just a little more often.
Photo Credit: Cheese Sex Death