Boudoir model Ashley Resch, 20, is using her personal experience to speak out on the issue of bullying and sexualisation online.

In the past year, Resch has received plenty of social media attention and currently has more than 100,000 followers across multiple social media sites. However, the young model receives a plethora of hateful comments and said bullying is not something new to her.

“Being bullied in high school was one of the hardest things I've ever dealt with,” said Resch. “It put me through a really dark time in my life and into different mental illnesses that I still deal with.”

Local photographer Vanessa Paterson said she has seen Resch grow into a more grounded and confident person since starting modeling despite her negative experiences.

Initially Paterson admits that she did not aim to be a boudoir photographer. After slowly adding boudoir to her portfolio, she now understands how the culture empowers women.

“I can’t even really put it into words. Seeing a girl who is kind of iffy about herself and look at a photo, and accept it in a really positive way, I’m just glad I got into it eventually.”

In addition to the hateful comments on social media, Resch says showing her body online has made her the target for a lot of negative sexualisation. Although Resch is aware of how her career exposes her body, and says she receives up to 20 unsolicited and inappropriate messages a week from strangers.

According to Resch, people tell her she deserve the hateful comments because she’s posing half naked. But Resch said she’s still a person and still doesn’t deserve it if she was walking down the street either.

Although there are drawbacks to online fame, Resch tries to stay positive about the situation. Having a large following online allows her to educate the public from a different perspective. She said she would like to break the assumption that just because a photo is posted on social media, it doesn’t mean you’re going to “have sex with everything that walks.”

“Feeling sexy in your underwear and being sexual is one hundred per cent different.”

Fellow boudoir dancer and model Fiona Matthews hasn’t received the same amount of attention, but knows the feeling of the public sexualizing her profession.

"It’s a celebration of femininity and beauty, it’s not a raunchy photo session,” said Matthews, “it’s not degrading in any way. It’s really empowering.”

Along with Resch, Matthews hopes to educate the public on the true culture of boudoir and believes it is something every girl should try before judging others online.

“You can take the time to explore that part of yourself in a positive way in a comfortable environment. It changes the way you see it,” she said. “I think just continuing to be transparent in our goal. What we’re doing is empowering a positive thing, it’s not behind closed doors. It’s not taboo, it’s photography.”

Resch said she hopes that by telling her story she will be able to make other women going through similar situations online feel less alone.

“I want to focus more on being involved with one or two girls and talking to them, and being able to impact more people.”

 

Have you ever been negatively sexualized or bullied online?

 

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