What is a “real woman”

What is a “real woman”

Every Women’s Month we are reminded – more than usual – how we as women need to stand up and rise. How us as women should go for our goals and dreams. How we should all stand up for one another and empower each other. We are reminded of the current femicide; the gender inequality that we face and the sexual violence and attacks on us women and on children. It’s amazing to see how more and more women do indeed embrace themselves and start standing up for one another. From a personal point of view I’ve always felt that we can all win. There is no “competition”.

Over the last little while I have however noticed how easy it is for women to throw around the “men-are-trash” terms and love to jump onto that bandwagon when it suits them; however some of the same women would post: “A real women would never…” or the whole body-shaming and slut-shaming thing. One can only deduct that this type of opinions would certainly be of those how have not felt adequate enough or perhaps even insecure themselves. I’d really love to know how any of these ladies actually stand up for other women and cheer for them – regardless if it’s something they would personally do or not do.

I find it ironic how many of these ladies demand respect and recognition for being a Queen. For being empowered and independent; yet have no problem pointing out the unruliness of another empowered woman. When another woman’s courage becomes a “vanity” problem; or someone’s self-confidence is suddenly highlighted as “no self-respect”. Earlier this evening I read on a lady’s post that “real women do not need the validation from other people, therefore, they do not seek attention by wearing little clothing”. Is that not just loaded with “I wish I could be brave enough to dress whichever way I want to and not care what others think whilst winning”?

This leads me to the two questions: 1. Since when has the amount of clothing made you more or less successful invalidating your own feelings or your self worth? 2. How does the amount of clothing you wear or the amount of skin make you less or more valuable as an individual? How does said woman praise and shout for women empowerment yet at the same time shoot any lady down that shows a little more skin than she would dare? This also sounds like the very same woman that may just say that the amount of clothing you wear would be equal to the amount of respect you earn/deserve.

Recently I have discussed the numbers of women who are raped in South Africa per annum (note that due to the number of cases that are not reported; it is not possible to give a correct number of possible rapes per hour/day/month/year) and consequently to that the number of gender-based violence.

Population-based surveys show very high levels of intimate partner violence (IPV) and non-partner sexual violence (SV) in particular, with IPV being the most common form of violence against women.

  • Whilst people of all genders perpetrate and experience intimate partner and or sexual violence, men are most often the perpetrators and women and children the victims
  • More than half of all the women murdered (56%) in 2009 were killed by an intimate male partner
  • Between 25% and 40% of South African women have experienced sexual and/or physical IPV (intimate partner violence) in their lifetime
  • Just under 50% of women report having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse at the hands of their intimate partners in their lifetime
  • Prevalence estimates of rape in South Africa range between 12% and 28% of women ever reporting being raped in their lifetime
  • Between 28 and 37% of adult men report having raped a woman
  • Non-partner SV is particularly common, but reporting to the police is very low. One study found that one in 13 women in Gauteng had reported non-partner rape, and only one in 25 ┬árapes had been reported to the police
  • South Africa also faces a high prevalence of gang rape
  • Most men who rape do so for the first time as teenagers and almost all men who ever rape do so by their mid-20s
  • There is limited research into rape targeting women who have sex with women. One study across four Southern African countries, including South Africa, found that 31.1% of women reported having experienced forced sex
  • Male victims of rape are another under-studied group. One survey in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape found that 9.6% of men reported having experienced sexual victimisation by another man

What the stats above do not show are the number of women who are verbally or psychologically abused by other women. How people are targeted, bullied and called out on social media for the way they live their life or for what they choose to post about themselves on social media. How women would rather band together and stand up with other men; slut-shaming women who post selfies and/or “sexy” images on social media, than standing up for those women. It’s easy to say “men-are-trash” when a guy makes a funny by posting a “women belong in the kitchen” joke, yet it is okay to agree with the same guy calling out another woman who has found self-confidence and enjoys posting about herself/her outfit/her weight gain or loss/her sock and shoes/the food she eats/the competition she took part in etc etc. One of the latest repetitive posts I see is “I’m so tired of all these selfies with quotes and all you see is bum and boobs” or “show me a real woman who does not feel like she needs validation or attention from the whole world by showing off her body”. What does that even mean? What makes a woman a “real” woman?

I feel our country specifically is facing a tough time. Apart from the global economical damage that we are facing, the all-time high unemployment rate that is continually rising and our own government’s crimes and corruption; we are facing a particular tricky era where we as women are rising. Standing up against the oppression of what our fore-mothers faced. We are in an incredible era where we as women have more of a voice than ever before. Yet here you are, spitting on another queen who’s rising in her own time on her own terms in her own way. Standing with all the aggression against other women. What kind of empowerment are you after? Why demand equality, justice and empowerment when you stand up and laugh other women down. Calling them out for believing in themselves? Knocking them down for owning who they are? What is a “real woman”? One who can clap for another woman, without judgement, without malice and without misogyny.

Social Media’s hold

Social Media’s hold

Captured by
Boudoir Fusion Photography
Inked by Tony from
Awhe Tattoo Studio

I’ve recently decided that I have too many eggs in one basket and too many fingers in a pie. And as much as it’s brilliant to think that I am a “Jack of all trades”- reality is that where you focus you grow. And unfortunately it is impossible to grow in too many avenues.

I have had to deal with a few personal challenges which caused another Lupus flare. This consisted of mostly extreme fatigue, flu-like symptoms, aching joints and recently swollen face. Not being able to sleep comfortably yet feeling so incredibly exhausted really took its toll. Then the social media frustrations…

As most of you know; I’ve taken a short break from Social Media. This was prompted after the frustration of not being able to follow other accounts, like others’ posts at times and not being able to comment on other’s posts. Should you not know this; these actions are all integral for the growth of your social media profiles. (Besides the fact that I actually enjoy interacting with my followers.)

I do not take it [social media] too seriously; however I do depend on getting work through some of my social media pages. This all led to me deciding on a little detox. Now as much as such a decision is rather easy; allot of my close friends continue checking up on me asking me whether I’m “coping” without my Social Media accounts. Was I really that much on those platforms that people thought I’d struggle?

Whilst all of this is said with tongue in cheek, one of the scariest realisations recently is that people place so much value on social media that they actually identify their social standing or even their life accomplishments on being “available, present and seen” on their profiles. Their “likes” and “followers” become such an obsession that they begin to identify themselves with it! Studies have now shown that teen depression and teen suicidal tendencies are at its highest ever. This largely due to the pressure of a “false life” on social media.

Captured by
Boudoir Fusion Photography
Inked by Tony from
Awhe Tattoo Studio

You see it way too often on the story lines. You see someone you idolise at some prominent restaurant and perhaps take a short video of sipping on some exotic drink with bags of shopping around them. This now seems very ideal; and probably cool to the average teen, who copies this. Only they try and emulate what they saw. Perhaps trying on the newest brand clothing and posting it as if they have just bought it. Another peer sees this and envies this. Perhaps goes to a bespoke bar and takes a snap insinuating that they dine there. This is seen by others who now feel so depressed that they are unable to afford these kind of life styles exhibited by their peers. And so the circle continues. Talking to people “in the know”, social media is still so new that these issues that come along with it is just as new, and our experts have no experience in treating this. Or very little at the moment.

It’s become quite evident how Social Media can take over and how one can allow it to affect them. Taking breaks and also limiting the amount of time you “check” on what’s going on, “checking in” to see what is going on, and “checking new likes and follows”, all will benefit your mental health I assure you. What I have personally realised from this is that when I have a spare moment I usually grab my phone and try catching up.

When I announced that I’d take a break, I deleted every social media application off my phone. This not only takes away temptation to “just quickly check what’s going on”, but also in those moments that you’d forget about your decision. I am so surprised that I have continuously had a couple moments free time and automatically went for my phone to catch up, only to see a void where the apps were – and feeling literally confused and lost. Like what now? What can I do with the time I used to spend on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter?

With most smart phones now; you are able to gauge how much time is spent on your phone, and reminders “to take breaks”.

This break from my virtual reality made me realise that I’m not only “detoxing” from Social Media, I’m freeing up “thinking space” and allowing my creative juices to flow freely. Less human interaction – which in reality exhausted me – and more ME time. Whilst social media is an integral part of what I do; I will from now on take one day completely away from all social media, as well as once a month take a four day break. I’d suggest to anyone and everyone to do the same. Take days completely away from Social Media – to allow your mind a break as well as to connect with nature/family/real life/ hobbies etc. It is so easy to get carried away with this virtual reality. So easy to loose sight of YOU. So easy to get caught up in other people’s (pretend?) lives and neglect your own self.

Captured by
Boudoir Fusion Photography
Inked by Tony from
Awhe Tattoo Studio
Your Understanding vs My Reality

Your Understanding vs My Reality

Many a times I am asked the strangest questions; (strange to me) about what I do – or I hear the assumptions and can’t help but have a giggle.

To understand what I do, is to understand why I am doing what I do first. Have I lost you? What I mean is that when you look at my work, my posts on Instagram and my website; there is a general assumption as to what I do without realising what I actually do.

In the past I’ve received private messages on Social Media…

Asking for explicit images of me sometimes posing in suggestive ways. Usually this amuses me; and I always ask what gave them the idea that I’d do that or that I’m a porn star. And usually the response would be that I shouldn’t get offended as I am the one “asking for it” by posting nude images of myself. My first question would usually be : where did I show my genitals and second question : where do I pleasure myself.

You see, we as humans, and we as society have been lied to for so many years that we actually believe that the human body is a dirty, sinful thing when not covered with fabric. We have taught generations of children to be ashamed of themselves. To be embarrassed with what we were born with. That evil creatures will lurk around any corner and will pounce on you for showing a little too much skin. That there would be justification for those acts! You asked for it after all by “exposing” some of what you were born with!!

I was asked in a recent interview what I’d tell anyone who condemns what I do or brand my work as pornography. The difficult thing is that I cannot change society’s mind single handily. I do however believe that if we brought our children up to love their own bodies, and not to be ashamed of their bodies, that we respect each other’s naked bodies – not by hiding it but accepting it as natural and normal. Not to sexualise nudity and skin; that it would solve so many of our crimes and the worlds issues today.

Think about it…

There would be less sexual crimes, less depression due to self esteem issues, less self harm and eating disorders. Imagine a world with more confidence and acceptance of one self? We would have so much more success in every business sector! So many more people would achieve their dreams and optimum productivity!

Captured by Boudoir Fusion Photography

I digress. Years ago when I posed for a boudoir shoot, and whilst changing outfits, the photographer of the day asked whether he could take a shot (picture) of me. My back was facing him and I was dressed in only my knickers. I felt a little shy yet intrigued. I’ve never really had an issue with being naked; yet I’ve never actually thought of being photographed naked.

Once I got changed into my next outfit the photographer showed me on the LCD viewer what he had taken of me whilst topless. It was a gorgeous shot. It summed up to me; what I see in women. Soft, elegant, warm, feminine, sensual, love, beauty all in one. I was amazed that THAT was me! And so I was happy to shoot implied nude. After realising that this not only motivated me to share the beauty of a woman, but also to encourage other women – who do not have self confidence – that they are in fact beautiful in their own skin!

After a few months of shooting boudoir and implied nude; I met Peter from Boudoir Fusion Photography who took my first bodyscape images and I was blown away! Never mind that the images I was looking at; was of me!!! However; the human body is so darn beautiful. And every other bodyscape that Peter have done, took my breath away. I quickly learned that my art, my expression through my modelling and the images taken by me, can show emotion and can evoke emotion.

When you look at my work…

I would like to believe that most people see past the ‘nakedness’. That you notice the colours, the shapes, the textures in the images. That you are able to feel or notice whether there is sorrow, or happiness. Whether the image is more of a fine art piece to be hung on a wall of a surgeons office, or something that could be looked at or admired from your mobile phone screen, used in an advertising campaign empowering women, or used as a PC screensaver. That you can believe that I’m more than a ‘naked woman’; someone who at the age of 39 believes wholeheartedly that ANYONE can love themselves and is art. That anyone – no matter what your age, your size or your background – can love the skin that they are in. That nudity DOES NOT equal sexuality.

I love modelling, photography and matters of the heart and mind. I love art. I love the human body. Combine all of these; and you will find what I do. This is only the beginning…

Little ripples and Big waves

Little ripples and Big waves

I spoke to someone recently about what their life purpose is. It has dawned on me that so many people are on the same path of self realisation. Little comments about how suddenly you just don’t feel like putting up with certain energies. How things feel differently. How it has become more common to meditate or stay with people who “gets” you and “vibes” with you. Talking about spiritual growth and awakening. This is such an exciting time to be alive.

Recently I listened to a podcast where they said that imagine we used the jargon above 50/60 years ago. “Hold on Ann, I just need to clean my chakras”. Or “Sorry Steve, I get a bad energy from that crowd so won’t join you tonight”. How about “Frank, please take the Rose Quarts and Amethyst with you when you’re called for national service”.

Truth is that times are changing so rapidly and people are becoming more and more aware how their energies, their vibes and their thought processes influence themselves, their circles around them and their future. And how their attitude, their beliefs and their outlooks can change their present and future circumstances.

Most of all though, how we all have a life purpose. A soul purpose. That all this woo-woo stuff I’m talking about has now been scientifically proven and backed.

So I spoke to this person about our life purpose. About how each of us are destined to (together) change the world and humanity; and they brought up that they are not cut out to stand on a stage and preach or to become some revolutionist. They can’t even talk in front of their family.

But that’s not the point. Like my husband says. It’s all about a little ripple in a pond. When one person is kind, loving and generous to those in their immediate circles, they create a little ripple. This ripple that affects perhaps a handful of people, also inspires those they touch; to do the same. So that one ripple multiplies by several ripples. This has a knock-on affect that then encourages more and more humans to do the same. A little kindness, a little love, a little understanding and a little generosity that eventually becomes a massive wave and affects everyone.

So whilst some of us were born to have a voice in front of the masses and literally be an inspiring presence in the public eye; the rest of us were born to be an inspiration to our close knit friends and families. And perhaps by doing some small act of kindness that changes several other peoples lives and restore some faith in humanity.

Oh hey there!

Oh hey there!

I thought I’d reintroduce myself. Last year I wrote a bio for my webpage, and I when people ask for information about me; I refer them back to my bio – however being the person that I am; I’d personally not go and look for my bio 😂. Not because I’m lazy – because I’m too darn busy to scroll through pages. Though I personally think some of my blogs are rather funny and well worth going through.

Who is Alli?

Hi! My name is Allison-Ann Montgomery-Maaske. So in answer to the most common questions:

I am 39 years old, my birthday is on 21 January and I am an Aquarius. Yes, it’s on the cusp – however I am indeed first day of an Aquarius. I am a spiritual being believing that we are the universe and the universe is us. We were created as the universe/God/Almighty Power existing in a human form/life. My full time job is as a model, ambassador for various brands, professional entertainment presence, Life Coach and counsellor.

Image captured by
Boudoir Fusion Photography

Adulting

I am a mum of two (Daughter and Son – 17 and 15), I’m studying part time psychology. I also have qualifications as a professional make-up artist, beautician, certified book keeper, diploma in social media marketing, diploma in photography (entry/beginner), diploma in sports nutrition and in fitness & weight loss.

NOTE: This goes against all writing rules, however this is also practically my CV, therefor all sentences – or nearly all of them – will start with: “I am” #sorrynotsorry

Passions

I am very very VERY passionate about equality (aka feminism – however people seem to think that word is the same as sexist, therefore we will stick to equality), empowerment and most of all: HELPING PEOPLE TO HEAL (will get back to this in a moment). I am a public speaker, and have spoken many times in front of pretty big crowds whilst living in England. Yes, I’ve lived in the UK most my adult life. My children are English, though we’ve been in South Africa the past 7 years.

I am a fitness fanatic, health fanatic and advocate for love and kindness. In fact I believe we would have a more harmonious life if we had a fair balance of those four areas. I’m also obsessed with human behaviour…..

But don’t let the diagnoses fool you…

I was diagnosed with several medical conditions through-out my life including Lupus, PCOS, rheumatoid arthritis, and various other lines’. I also have Depression, Anxiety and PTSD. I personally have been a stat/victim of sexual abuse and violence, physical and mental abuse.

I am incredibly grateful for all the above – it created and shaped the person I am. I have a burning desire to help as many people as possible, realise their dreams and passions, assist as many people as possible to achieve their dreams and passions, and most of all help as many people as possible heal from whatever obstacles or challenges they have faced (or currently facing).

Image captured by
Boudoir Fusion Photography

My creativity

My nude modelling is another passion. I have always been comfortable in my skin. Knowing that I am able to express a certain “look” or communicate without saying a single word; through my modelling is beautiful to me. Being your authentic self is beautiful. The human form is incredibly powerful, mechanical, breathtakingly beautiful. That each human was created the same but completely different? Just WOW! That with the help of one gesture; you can communicate love, anger, sadness, excitement, or even erotica.

In saying that,

I do not expect everyone to feel the way I do. I understand that what is liberating to me may be constrictive to another. Therefore I would never expect people to believe that nudity is the only or the right way. However I suppose with my art I’d like to believe that it has shown people that nudity can be beautiful. And to break that stigma of nudity = sex. Or nudity is “attention seeking”.

Now with all of the above – I trust I have given you all the answers to all the common questions I’m usually asked.

One last thing

I LOVE music and books and most of all intellectual conversations.