Chicago Fine Art Boudoir Photographer

I’m asexual.

It’s a unique perspective to photograph boudoir from. You’d think someone who doesn’t really like sex would struggle with portraying sexy but it’s quite the opposite for me. I’m hyper aware of sexuality as someone who prefers sensuality. It’s easy for me to pose people and encourage their sexual side to come out to play.

Ashabi is a talented model, a warm spirit, and a passionate advocate for her identities. This interview will teach you about representation and why it matters. It’ll open your eyes to the spectrum of asexuality. And the music is a song we both immediately started dancing to when it came on. Please show some support and follow Ashabi on Instagram for more amazing photographs she’s been in.

Enjoy!

How would you rate your self-esteem from 1-10?
I would say probably an eight and a half or nine.

What goes into that number?
Lots of sessions with photographers who are shitty. Lots of sessions with photographers who are great. Lots of sessions with myself, looking in the mirror to see what I like and didn’t like. And figuring out that at the end of the day this is who I am and I’m going to make it work eventually.

Have you ever struggled with your self-esteem?
Oh fuck yeah! Haha. Hell yeah! High school was a bitch. It was awful. High school was awful. Grade school was awful. Everything leading up to my early/late teens was awful. I compared myself to everybody. I didn’t think I was pretty, I didn’t self worth. It was a really really bad time. I want to say it was the bulk of my self-confidence issues in my teens.

Who influenced your self-esteem growing up?
Wow. It’s kind of hard because I didn’t really have anyone to look up towards when I was growing up. Like A. My parents was really strict so I didn’t have that many friends. And all the friends I did have were all white. So I didn’t really have anybody to look up to who looked like me. So the people I looked up to didn’t look like me. So my image of liking myself was really skewed. Everything I saw didn’t really represent what I wanted to be. So….I guess…fuck. Your question was, “who do you look up to?” I don’t think I had anyone.

Who do you see nowadays that inspires your self esteem?
Oof! Wow. A lot of people. I mean like, since theres so many people now, I don’t really want to say my self esteem is attributed to people. I want to say, “I like what they’re doing and I can’t wait to be at that point” And I feel like where I’m at; I’ll be at that point. Even though there are people here, obviously I want to say Lupita. Because Lupita is a goddess. She’s one person that came out and has really shed light on being black and pretty in every aspect and form. And I like her a lot. And there’s other artists too. It’s how they present themselves and how they carry themselves. And that they also struggle like me to have that representation and they themselves became that. I feel like me seeing them, I am that and I’m going to be that for someone else.

You want to represent for others like you?
Yeah for people who see that person and say “I like what they’re doing. I hope that I can be at that point eventually”

Tell me a little bit about your sexuality.
Cool. So. I am asexual. That’s a thing I’ve identified with since I was seventeen. It’s become more solidified as I’ve gotten older. I self identify as a sensual asexual because I enjoy touch. I enjoy being emotionally vulnerable. That doesn’t necessarily mean being sexually open. It means being vulnerable emotionally. Vulnerable mentally. Just like hair touching, having a conversation with your friend in the car at 3AM crying. That’s all aspects of sensuality.

You connect to that deeper level of intimacy?
Yeah I love that. That’s a really important thing for society to focus on, because sexuality is prevalent and so in our faces that people forget about the sensuality side. And that’s what I focus on in my sexuality because that’s what gives me more connections and more foundation in my relationships.

What kind for discrimination have you faced as someone who is asexual and how does that intersect with your other identities?
I’m getting a lot more flak now because of how I present myself. I am a lot more confident now than I was when I was younger. That’s allowed me to be taken advantage of less and own myself when I walk into a room a lot more. So, I walk into a room and they’re seeing presented a pretty black woman. And I identify as asexual, black, femme, androgynous, and queer. So like all these things are also on top of the identities people assume me to be. So when I say these things they’re like, “What do you mean your asexual? That doesn’t exist? You don’t dress like you’re asexual, how does that work? I don’t get why you’re asexual, why can’t you just like me and wanna fuck me?” It’s all these things and it’s really stupid because I can’t be who you want me to be. I can only be myself.

So the expectations of sexuality are just constant from people.
Yeah and it’s really shitty. Like, I get it. You want to fuck me, that’s cool. But I also don’t wanna fuck you. That’s not why I’m here. I see your projection of attraction onto me and your projection of want onto me. And that makes me lowkey feel uncomfortable. But also, a part of me sees that and wants to take advantage of that immediately and rearrange how you think and figure out why you think that in the first place. I been with so many people that assume that. Many guys have cried when I told them I’m not straight and asexual. And they go, “What do you mean you don’t want to fuck me?!”

Really? Tears?!
Literally. White tears. In a cup. Overflowing in a water fall. It’s literally the worst thing. I can’t help it. Now that I’m older I’ve seen so many people show their true colors in regards to the queer community and the spectrum of sexuality and how elitist people can be. And I hate that. And being in that circle and understanding that a lot more, makes me want to work more towards deconstructing that. I feel like me going through what I’m going through and being able to hop out at those issues it going to be difficult but also going to be easy for me to do that because not a lot of people are out about asexuality. With it being like 1%-2% of the population most people don’t even think we exist. Being able to be the person that goes, “I exist! Not only do I exist but I’m also a triple minority. I exist extra and you can’t ignore me. And you’re going to listen to me.”

What kind of messages do you have for other asexual people?
Depending on how you navigate your sexuality, I would just understand sexuality is a spectrum. Asexuality is a spectrum. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel confused. If you feel like you’re not enough. If you feel like you’re not doing it right. Like you’re not supposed to do it right. Everything is trial and error. Life is trial and error. And you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t fit into the box that people want you to fit into. Have fun with how you express yourself, how you enjoy your body, how you enjoy life. And understand at the end of the day that can tell you otherwise is yourself. You are the one that’s going to make you happy, nobody else.

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