Hi there, Sexy!
I thought it would be helpful this month to tackle a state of mind which can be crippling in camming: perfectionism. I’m defining it to mean the need to appear perfect always and all ways, as well as rejecting anything about ourselves we deem to be substandard.
It makes sense that perfectionism is so potent in sex work: camming is show business. Our job is to literally be other people’s fantasy. How closely we match someone else’s idea of the ideal can have real impact on our bottom line, so there’s a huge amount of pressure to perform and to always look and act certain ways. I don’t want to take anything away from those very real pressures.
At the same time, the endless burden to be flawless can be utterly exhausting.
As Brené Brown, author on shame and vulnerability, writes, “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun, and fear is the backseat driver.” Not a great way to live.
So, let’s start out by taking apart the myth of even trying to be perfect, and then spend a little time readjusting our outlook to something healthier and more attainable.
Three Forms Of Perfectionism
To get started, it might help to first break down different forms of perfectionism. In general, there are three, but each state of mind can bleed over and feed into the others.
- Holding unrealistic expectations of oneself.
- Living in a social context where others are excessively demanding.
- Imposing unrealistic standards on others.
None of these states of mind is life-affirming. I’m going to ignore the third form of perfectionism today and just focus on the relationship between the first and second kinds. After all, it’s natural that we might view ourselves harshly if we think we must be impeachable in order to get fans and tokens and tips.
No One Is Perfect
So, cliché alert, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway, loud and clear: No One Is Perfect.
And I do mean no one! Not even the most seemingly flawless, well-put-together performer. They may have tremendous gifts, they may work extremely hard, they may work out seven days a week. But here’s the honest truth: even those folks who appear to be gods have flaws just like everyone else.
Thinking someone is perfect because of how they present online is like thinking someone is automatically happy because they are always smiling.
Here’s another way to look at those folks who conjure up so much envy in the rest of us: those folks are very good at hiding their blemishes from the rest of the world. When your entire identity is wrapped up in being perfect, there’s tremendous pressure to never let anything slip. And who wants to live with that knife always hanging over one’s head? Far better to cultivate self-acceptance and self-love.
Where Does Your Version Of Perfect Come From?
If feeling like you’re always falling short is eating away at your sense of worth, it can be useful to stop and take some time to really think through how you arrived at this vision. Who gets to be perfect, and how come it isn’t you just exactly as you are? Who benefits from you feeling less-than? (Spoiler alert: folks who want to sell you stuff.) Are there other models of loveliness, sexiness, intelligence, and excellence that include you? I suggest purging your media diet of images that contribute to feelings of low self-esteem and cultivating a feed that not only reflects the world as you’d like to see it, but also where you comfortably reign supreme.
The Real Has Appeal
As I wrote in my first book, Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry:
Just how does the sex industry keep generating billions of dollars every year by mere mortals doing the work? Turns out, what you’re selling is reality. You provide a sexual experience only you can offer, so just be yourself. Let go of thinking that you have to be flawless. Not only do you waste energy feeling bad about yourself, you squander your very best asset: who you really are.
I can’t say it any simpler than that. Chasing some unattainable ideal ignores the value that you offer fans by showing up as yourself, warts and all. In addition, practicing self-compassion by seeing shortcomings as opportunities to grow and evolve is a sustainable self-improvement plan.
Lev White, a Buddhist teacher and friend of mine, has a lovely saying to soothe our aching hearts whenever we feel we’re not good enough: “Nothing can ever be perfect, and yet everything is just as it should be.” Wise words to live by.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself.
Lola Davina is a longtime veteran of the sex industry and author of “Thriving in Sex Work: Sex Work and Money,” her follow-up to the formative “Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry,” is available wherever books are sold. You can find audio versions located at Audible, iTunes and Awesound.