It's about time I told you about what my own beauty session taught me.
I once wrote to you about making sure that you do your session for YOURSELF, not for someone else. And it’s important for you to know that I practice what I preach.
My husband had no idea I had done my own session. No, not because I was waiting to surprise him with my photos. He didn’t find out until a year later when he happened to mention that maybe I should do a shoot of my own someday. I then decided it was the right time to tell him I was way ahead of him on that one.
There are a few reasons that I put myself in front of the camera, when I’m so used to being behind it—and none of them have to do with giving my pictures to my husband as a gift.
My Beauty Session
At the time of my session, my youngest daughter was a year old. I was still nursing her and didn’t feel like my body was my own anymore. I hadn’t lost my baby weight and found myself comparing my body to other women’s, and beating myself up for not “bouncing back” like they had.
All I could see was my own story and wish for the times a decade earlier when I was at my fittest (and of course, back then I thought I was overweight, too). I wished I could just go back instead of being content with where I was right then.
One day, I stood in front of a mirror and started at the top of my body and studied each area, telling myself every negative message and harsh criticism that crossed my mind. When I got to my hips, I noticed my then 4-year old daughter watching me. I was horrified that I was setting that example for her. It wasn’t a surprise to me when I found her weighing herself a few different times.
This took me straight back to so many of my own childhood memories. Memories of being heavier than most of the kids in my class, feeling awkward and clumsy, and being told I had “woman legs” when I was only seven years old.
Being a mom to girls, I owe it to them to set a better example. In no universe would I ever say to them what I had been telling myself. I would never let anyone speak of them that way. So, why was it okay for me to do it to myself?
Then, I thought about all the amazing women I’ve photographed. I was with them in some of their most vulnerable spots, and I heard a lot of them say negative things about themselves. I encouraged them to see their beauty, to accept themselves just as they are. That it was okay to want changes, but to see their value no matter what their body looked like.
What It Taught Me
I saw the hypocrisy in how I viewed and spoke to myself in comparison to how I treat my clients.
Putting myself in my clients’ shoes is important in order to be able to fully relate to their experiences. I want to be able to see myself in a new light, and start on the path to loving and accepting my body for how it was right then.
To be honest, it was difficult for me to think about doing a session for myself. Crazy, right? But I knew it was something I needed to do, and I owed it to myself.
Standing in the dressing room, I was frozen, for what felt like forever. I was nervous, scared, and a little embarrassed to open the door and be seen. I caught myself thinking about all my “flaws,” and how was I going to get comfortable enough to bare it in front of the camera?
Getting over myself and making myself go out became a priority. I had to remember that I owed it to my little girls, my clients, and myself to be brave and strong. The mental block of “this is too hard…I don’t have the body for this…I’m not cut out for this”, had to go!
The choice I made to love and accept myself, and do something scary and hard for the benefit of myself, my girls, and my clients was so freeing. I felt like I had conquered the world!
Immediately, I saw so much more than what I’d been giving myself credit for all my life. I was a strong, powerful, brave, and sexy woman who deserved to be loved. The realization that I’d been believing lies about myself was hard, but now I had the chance to stare them in the face and tell them that they no longer had power over me.
One of my photos is framed on the wall at home. I look at it as my victory photo. It literally feels as much of an accomplishment when I see it as I do when I look at my picture from when I completed a half marathon.
I’m a better photographer for having done a boudoir session of my own. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made that has impacted me in a huge way, both personally and professionally.
Everyone has a different story—we’re all wired differently and have different circumstances and in different seasons of life.
What’s NOT different about us is the fact that we’re all equally valuable, worthy, important, and beautiful.
Don’t let your mirror (or yourself) ever tell you otherwise.