Posing for boudoir photoshoots dates back to the 1930's, but I can name at least five friends who, in recent years, have spent a pretty penny to be their partner’s pin-up. And because the individuals marketing boudoir photos’ resurgence are apparently geniuses, the genre has been repurposed as a ritual of empowerment, especially for trauma survivors. Unfortunately, in the case of a woman in Utah, her own boudoir photoshoot—a gift for her then-husband—feels like quite the opposite.
According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, Lindsay Marsh, who is in the process of divorcing her ex-husband, Chris Marsh, was ordered by a judge to not only give her ex the boudoir albums she’d made for him years earlier—which included messages she wrote alongside the photos—but to have the private photographs edited by a third-party photographer in order to digitally obscure her nude body.
“That person is to do whatever it takes to modify the pages of the pictures so that any photographs of [Lindsay Marsh] in lingerie or that sort of thing or even without clothing are obscured and taken out,” 2nd District Judge Michael Edwards wrote in a ruling given to the Tribune, “but the words are maintained for memory’s sake.”
That’s right, her ex-husband is simply attached to the sentiments in the albums. Her nude body has nothing to do with it! Is revenge poetry the new revenge porn?
“I cherish the loving memories we had for all those years as part of normal and appropriate exchanges between a husband and wife,” Chris Marsh told the publication, “and sought to preserve that in having the inscriptions.”
Lindsay Marsh, on the other hand, said she feels “violated” by the order—especially considering that a third party photographer would be given access to such intimate photographs (to edit them) without her consent. Fortunately, the person who took the photographs—a friend of hers—agreed to alter them after initially expressing discomfort about doing so, as she felt it would harm her “legitimacy” as a boudoir photographer. While Marsh’s body is now entirely covered with black boxes, private messages she wrote to her ex-husband remain.
“That’s even violating,” she said, “because these are things that were sensual and loving that I wrote to my husband that I loved. You’re my ex-husband now.”
As for other partners in the process of divorce in the state, divorce attorney Aaron Harris told the Tribune that an ex’s entitlement to their partner’s nude photographs is handled on a case-by-case basis and, disturbingly, largely left to the discretion of a judge.
“The issue with divorce cases is coming up with a ‘typical,’ because the judge is supposed to do what’s equitable,” Aaron said. “And in my mind, equitable is the same as arbitrary. It’s really hard to predict sometimes what a judge thinks is fair.”
In sharing her story, Marsh said she hopes to “expose” the things that her ex “thinks are OK” and “protect” others from enduring what she has.” As for what she plans to do with her own copies of the albums? She’ll hold a “burning party.”
Barbecuing the sweet nothings one has written for an ex feels a lot healthier than hanging onto them for all eternity, but hey, I’m only an adult woman who’s just realized that when it comes to breaking up, neither her body nor her words actually belong to her.