In 2004, I was a lost, insecure 25-year-old with a decade of eating issues and a lifetime of body hang-ups.
The thought of taking my clothes off in front of anyone, unless I was drunk, was a big ‘NO’. And there was no chance in hell that being naked in bright light was ever going to happen. All my romantic interactions involved so much guilt, and the voice in my head constantly criticised my every move.
The world around me was a steady stream of misogyny. The double standards between what society said men could do and what women could do sexually just fuelled the anger in me.
The result of my anger? In 2005 I launched Killing Kittens.
I imagined a world where I could feel in control, where I could look at myself with love and feel empowered. A world without judgement, without negative voices controlling the opinion I had of myself.
I looked at the other women in my life and saw so much of the same shame and hang-ups. I wanted to create a world for them, for all women to feel safe. When I looked at my own body, all I saw were faults and the things I wanted to change. I hated every part of it.
In creating Killing Kittens, I never imagined how much I would change.
I see what it does for our members year after year, and I see how strong women are. I listen to their stories of abuse and how Killing Kittens has changed their lives for the better. These people inspire me beyond belief. They empower me and give me the inner strength to view myself differently, to change my mind-set. These women are my heroes.
Simultaneously to founding Killing Kittens…
I launched Sisterhood, a group of women taking part in ultra races all over the world in aid of various women’s and children’s charities.
I might have merged Killing Kittens and Sisterhood in my mind as both were trying to help women around me find their voices and their confidence whilst backing themselves. Looking back, it’s clear that I was on a mission to find myself, to push my mind and body whilst looking for my purpose in life.
Fifteen years on, I see what my body has done, and I look at it with total awe.
My body is my hero.
From running the Marathon des Sables across the Sahara, swimming the Channel, rafting the Amazon, and climbing Kilimanjaro, to growing three babies through three childbirths, I have watched my body change. I have found both mental and physical strength I didn’t know was possible, over and over again.
If I could go back to my 25-year-old self and ask her who her hero would be, I would now answer, “My 40-year-old self”.
Even so, when Alex from FYEO messaged me asking if she could take my photos – very intimate photos – I immediately thought, ‘no chance’.
I’ve spent fifteen years passing offers over to other team members or using them as prizes for our amazing KK members. But this time, the voice in my head delivered some harsh words, so I thought to myself, just go for it. If I expect our members to own their sexuality, to back themselves, to embrace their bodies in all their glory, then I should practice what I preach.
Get a grip, Emma, and woman up!
I committed to it. I did it for me – and for every woman who ever doubted herself.
It was never for promotional purposes; it was all about me and my body. There was nothing sexual or objectifying about it, just me giving my body, my hero, the high-five it deserves.
I felt so empowered, liberated, and proud – and I loved every minute of it. I left the studio fully charged. Such intimate photos were meant for my husband’s and my eyes, only. Using the results of the shoot for any business purposes only came about by chance.
I showed some of the team the shots, and their opinion was unanimous. It’s KK’s fifteenth birthday this year; it feels absolutely right to tell my story, to be totally honest, to be open and proud of my journey, in the same way we ask our members to share their journeys.
So here’s to all the women out there – my Killing Kittens sisterhood! This is for every one of you that has stood proud as part of a kittens party or in the throng of a kittens nightclub, playing your part in liberating yourself and our members.
You are so strong, so badass, and so courageous. You are such sexy kittens. Let your bodies be your heroes. Get out there and back yourselves from the bedroom to the boardroom.
Emma is one of the UK’s leading ‘sex-entrepreneurs’. She made her name launching the elite global adult-party brand Killing Kittens in 2005, which now has over 80,000 members having launched events across the US, Australia and Europe.