Welcome to the blog for Project Live Unchained, a multi-media anthology created for and by black women across the African Diaspora. Here you can learn more about the women and supporters of Live Unchained as well as issues, events, opportunities and people we think you'll find interesting. Please visit www.liveunchained.com to learn more.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Discover, Explore, Unleash: TaMara Campbell Discusses Beautifully Me
Live Unchained had the opportunity to ask TaMara Campbell a few questions about her business Beautifully Me. TaMara describes Beautifully Me as a company that offers empowering, creative and innovative services that include: The Art of Pole Dancing, eXotic Dance & Sensual Movement,the trademark class SEXYROBICS®, SeXy Education classes including HIV and STD workshops Women's Wellness and Education among several others.
TaMara's business and other initiatives inspire women to embrace their sexuality, beauty and femininity in an un-apolagetic way. With the alarming rate of HIV and STD’s in our communities, TaMara’s efforts are significant as Beautifully Me empowers and inspires women to make safe choices about their sexual encounters and sexuality.
I'm honored that TaMara has shared some of her thoughts on Beautifully Me, Sex and femininity, with Live Unchained. In addition to the interview below, you can find out more about her and her project at: www.beautifully-me.com, and her blog at: http://beautifullymellc.blogspot.com
Can you tell us about Beautifully Me and your blog?
Beautifully Me is dedicated to creating experiences to empower women with the knowledge and skills necessary to embark on a journey of self-discovery, self-love, and self-efficacy, hereby increasing confidence which will enable women to feel good about making safer and healthier decisions that will increase the quality of life in the five dimensions of wellness, increase the value of reproductive health, and reduce risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). It was important to me to create a place where women could feel safe, supported and free of judgment. We offer a variety of empowering, creative and innovative services that include: Our Blog, The Art of Pole Dancing, eXotic Dance & Sensual Movement, our trademark class SEXYROBICS®, SeXy Education classes including HIV and STI workshops, adult novelty home parties, "girls, night out" and our Savior-La Femme Pleasure Series, Women's Wellness & Education and much more!
Our Blog is dedicated to addressing women’s most intimate questions and providing sexy and sassy practical educational information to empower women with knowledge, skills and tools needed to become a sexy, empowered and confident woman in and out of the bedroom.
It’s important for women to have a safe space to discuss sexuality, sensuality, love, relationships & much more. The Beautifully Me Blog serves as this place. Here, women can express themselves openly and honestly without fear of judgment and/or conditions.
The sharing of knowledge is invaluable! We as women embody a unique voice and wealth of experience from which we can all learn and grow. I respect and appreciate your input and invite you to share your thoughts, ideals, adventures and experience by becoming involved in the Beautifully Me Blog!
What inspired you to create Beautifully Me?
I have always been about women’s empowerment even from a very young age. But the inspiration for creating Beautifully Me was very different and very personal! Beautifully Me grew out of my journey to self empowerment. I was at a very interesting yet challenging place in my life. I had just lost my job. I wasn’t happy in my marriage and I was in a new city where I didn’t know many people. I felt isolated, alone and I was unhappy. I knew I needed to make some serious changes in my life because I was on the edge of losing myself.
One morning, I woke up and decided that enough was enough! If I didn’t take back control of my life, I was going to spiral downward into a depression that I may not have been able to overcome. I made up my mind that morning that I was going to do something about it.
I began searching for classes that I could take to strengthen my mind, body, spirit and soul and also to meet some other ladies. I just so happened to come across a listing for pole dancing classes. At first, I thought what the heck? They’re really classes for this? Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. Although I didn’t make the initial deposit when I originally was suppose to because I almost allowed myself and other people talk me out of it, I’m so glad that I did because from the very first night of the class I was hooked.
By the end of the six week class, I began to notice the transformation taking place, my body was more tone, my walk was a little taller and I was feeling more confident. I thought to myself, if this class has had this type of effect on me, I know other women could benefit from this amazing feeling, empowering feeling. Right then and there Beautifully Me was born.
My vision was to create a one-stop-shop business for women’s sexuality education and empowerment. I already had 15+ years experience in the field of HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health, so I decided to add a pole dancing component to compliment the experience and work that I had already done.
When I began Beautifully Me, keep in mind that pole dancing as a class was a very new phenomenon, so no one knew whether or not it would last long. So with that in mind, I never used pole dancing as the foundation of Beautifully Me but rather as an innovative tool to empower and educate women on all aspects of sexuality.
As we approach our 5th year of business in September 2009, Beautifully Me is still remaining true to our vision. The beautiful thing about Beautifully Me is that I take pride in the fact that it is a lifestyle company that grows and changes with life. The more I grow and mature, the better Beautifully Me becomes. Beautifully Me is Love and there’s nothing in this world that I love more than helping to empower women!
You promote the celebration and power of being a woman unapologetically—confident, expressing our sexual desires. Do you think aspects of American and Global societies create an environment that makes that expression difficult? What is your advice to women in navigating these environments?
In many aspects yes, I do think that some societies make it difficult for women to express not only their sexual desires but sexuality as a whole. One of the reasons being is that sexuality is still taboo among many cultures and societies. In addition, society has over-glamorized and over sexualized women in such a negative way by displaying images of scantily clad women behaving in such a degrading and disrespectful manner that disempowers women.
However, in some societies, sexuality is positively embraced from a much earlier age. It’s normalized as a part of their culture and/or society. Women are taught to appreciate their sexual self. Transition into womanhood is a celebration of honor and respect. I think that if the Western world would open their hearts and minds to understanding sexuality as a normal and healthy part of life, then that would help to create opportunities for open and honest conversations about sexuality, reduce teen pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
My advice to women in those environments is to first love and empower themselves regardless of their current circumstances because the love that they generate from within is the love that will transcend time and circumstances.
There are so many misconceptions, societal taboos regarding sex that often times people fear what they don’t know. Knowledge is power! Educate yourself on all aspects of sexuality and use it to empower yourself and your community. Be become an advocate for healthy sexuality for individuals and communities! Many people don’t realize the socioeconomic impact of sexuality on a community. I believe that if we begin to stop looking through judgmental lenses and begin to see past the moral aspect of sexuality and start to focus on the emotional, social and financial encumbrances, societies will begin to take more of a proactive role in creating an environment that supports development of healthy sexuality.
Why do you think it is so important for women to embrace their sexuality? What does that mean to you?
Women must embrace their sexuality in order to save their lives! In addition, in order to facilitate safer, healthier and more fulfilling sexual experiences, women must begin to take their sexuality into their own hands.
Embracing sexuality is a lifestyle. It’s being aware of your needs, wants and desires. It’s being able to communicate with your mate. It’s intimacy. It’s feminine. It’s vulnerability. It’s strength. It’s a power that women posses to give life or destroy it if used incorrectly or irrationally. It’s art of giving and taking. It’s pleasure undefiled. It’s unconditional. It’s who we are and were created to be.
Beautifully Me works to empower women to make safer, healthier sexual choices. Often discussions about safe sex and sexuality are discussed separately. Do you think it is important to talk about these two issues side by side? If so, why?
Sex and sexuality are often times used interchangeably when in fact; they are two very different concepts. Sex is only but a small part of sexuality. The term sex usually refers to the biological and physiological aspects of sexuality i.e. reproduction and intercourse. While sexuality is the larger term that refers to how individuals experience and express themselves as sexual beings. Sexuality has many aspects:
* Biological and physiology includes hormones, reproduction, pleasure and physical aspect such as intercourse,
* Psychological includes emotional response, sexual attitudes and behaviors,
* Sociological includes cultural, political and legal aspects,
* Philosophically includes the moral, ethical, spiritual or religious aspects.
I think it’s important to discuss these issues not side by side but rather as one because you can’t have one without the other. It’s important for women to have a true understanding of sexuality in order to facilitate and experience a healthy sexual life. Additionally, this empowers you to advocate for issues of sexuality that matter most to you. It also helps to provide a platform for healthy discussions around sexuality.
At what age do you think it is a good idea for women to start learning about not just sexual behavior, but their sexuality as well?
I think discussions about sexuality can happen at any age just as long as it is done in an age appropriate manner. But I would definitely say prior to the time a young woman begins her first menstrual cycle and budding breast. It’s important for her to know, to understand and to be comfortable with her body. She should also be taught that the changes that are taking place in her body are normal and natural. She should be taught to embrace her entry into womanhood. Discussions also should be open and honest. She hould be allowed to ask any questions. The discussion should focus on all aspects of sexuality not just sex/intercourse. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation discussing sexuality, then you always can refer to a professional who is more experienced dealing with this. Please do not attempt to answer questions that you are unsure about or do not have the answers to, as this only helps to contribute to an already confusing time. Providing partial and/or inaccurate information can actually end being more harmful.
What are your future goals for Beautifully Me?
As Beautifully Me approaches year five in September 2009, we are undergoing some amazing changes. We are taking this time to reflect, reconnect and renew in an effort to continue to provide the most effective, purposeful and empowering services. We are very excited and hope that women will continue to support us in our growth. Visit our website frequently or join our online interactive community to stay abreast of all the upcoming activities. We will be making major announcements after September 16, 2009.
Finally, What does living unchained mean to you?
Living unchained is living life to the fullest without allowing self-defeating behaviors and societal constraints to limit your potential. It’s self-awareness! It’s a respect and an appreciation for where you are at this moment in time. It’s being fully present in the moment. Letting go of all regrets and moving forward. In essence, it’s love just the same as Beautifully Me.