Photo by Sara Hini
We love speaking to other people about intimacy, sexiness, nudity, stereotypes and everything else related to sex wellness. Because the more perspectives we get on the subject, the closer we get to an honest take on sexiness.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with incredible Sara Hini. Sara is Algerian-Candian photographer and creative director based in Montreal. She is the co-creator of several projects including the Instagram account @the_womanhood_project, which seeks to portray and write about authentic and complex issues related to womanhood.
Her reflections on sex, intimacy, sexuality and love is so eyeopening and just really thoughtful. We learned a lot from her and it made us realise (even more than we already had) that redefining sexiness will be a forever journey because it is such an individual subject and everyone’s version of it should be free to exist. Hope you’ll enjoy our chat as much as we did.
Hi Sara, thanks for talking to us. Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your interest in portraying real and honest intimacy began?
My interest in everything love and relationship related began when my parents separated many years ago. It was tough and it happened around the same time as I had a heartbreak of my own. Thanks to all this, I got deeply fascinated in how the intricacy of human connection works. I've also been through therapy to work through my own conditioning on what love is. Through this constant work and with the endless quantity of books I’ve read on the subject, these past years have been about redefining my own perception of intimacy, eroticism, sex, love and relationship. It all quickly became one of my main interests. Since photography is how I express myself and understand the world around me, I wanted to merge these two passions of mine and start a deeper exploration within myself and with the subjects in front of my lens.
You take really intimate photos of people. Why do you think it’s important to portray nudity and the body from this real and authentic perspective?
My main desire is to show how beautiful nudity and the body is in all its shapes and forms. Then there is also a necessity to fight against that constant homogeneity we are faced with in the imagery we consume in the media. All bodies, all experiences, all stories are valid and can teach us a lot. I am very aware that not everyone understands the point of nudity, but it is important to show that a naked body isn't automatically a sexual object. Nudity is natural and context matters. A naked body can be either sexy, neutral, tender, happy, sad, vibrant and so much more. To me, a naked body is a landscape that tells a story. It's such a complex and powerful thing to witness and that’s why it’s important to portray a multitude of it.
You’re the co-creator of lots of different forward-thinking initiatives including The Womanhood Project. Why and how did you start this?
My friend Cassandra Cacheiro and I started this project 5 years ago and it quickly became our baby. It all started from a frustration rooted in what we constantly saw on social media and we wanted to bring more female gaze into the content that was created. At the time, there was a huge trend going on in Montreal of ‘‘guys with a camera shooting beautiful white women’’. A lot of these guys, who became very big and famous, have recently been called out for sexual abuse and extremely awful behaviors. It shows how toxic a pattern can become if we don’t speak out about it. We were tired of seeing the same images non-stop, so we wanted to speak out in our own way and use photography to simply create a more diverse imagery.
How do you think people get affected by the images we see of sexiness, the body and intimacy?
It affects us in a very sneaky way. It infiltrates our mind and makes us think that there is only one right way to be and to exist in our bodies. When in fact intimacy, eroticism and sexiness exist on a large spectrum of possibilities. Each of us can design our own definition of it. Hence the importance of creating images to challenge these preconceived notions and show us all the beautiful alternatives and realities that inhabit us as human beings.
Sara Hini self portrait
Do you think we need to see more unfiltered nudity and intimacy?
I will say a very enthusiastic YES! First, for all the reasons I mentioned above. Second, to simply open a dialogue on intimacy and nudity but also to bridge this gap that exists between individuals. We often project our own fears and insecurity onto others, so simply being able to ask ourselves some questions about these fears can be a tremendous step toward opening this dialogue on nudity and intimacy.
Photo by Sara Hini
Lastly - what do you think each one of us can do to push for a more honest and mindful representation of sexiness and intimacy?
Stay curious! All day, every day! With ourselves first, then with others. We need to explore more of what feels good to us and we deserve to create a safe space (offline and online) to talk more openly about all of this stuff. We are constantly evolving as human beings, it is only natural that our definition of intimacy and sexiness also changes with time. With genuine curiosity, mindfulness in our approach to these subjects will become easier.
Thank you Sara for such thoughtful inputs. Follow Sara on Instagram @sara_hini for honest and thoughtful portraits. And please share with anyone who would love this article - because the more we talk openly about intimacy, the closer we get to a more honest, real and inclusive take on sexiness.If you know anyone you think we should talk to? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org