Yesterday I took my clothes off on camera.
Do I have your attention?! (insert chuckle)
I have so many things to say about the experience I had taking Boudoir photos... and I'll narrow a bit but I suppose before I do that, I should fill in some context as to why they mattered the way that they did.
I am not the most confident person in the world as it relates to my body. I have worked very hard to overcome the pressures from the media, like every woman I know but in addition to that, I have two interesting vantage points. One being that I work IN the beauty industry where there is no attainable perfection and two, that I am a sexual abuse survivor- always in the pursuit of total recovery. Those two things in and of themselves elicit a push and pull response in me that leaves me suspended- clinging between an advantage and crippling self doubt.
See, I have been on the sets of women from all backgrounds, ethnicities, creeds, sizes and shapes who have had the courage to step out, one lone heel click at a time, and into the spotlight of the lens. I have watched their hair fly, curves accentuate, smiles widen and mouths open just so subtly as they gazed with fire into the camera. I've stood witness to everything raw, real and glorious. I've read the navigation of life on their bodies... that tattoo at 18, the lines of motherhood over the hips and breasts. I've instinctually adored the scar from a c-Section to a hysterectomy that brought about a tribe-like compassion from my soul. I've even watched them tremble, cry, shy away and push through like the warrior-badass she longed to see.
Interestingly enough, from the sidelines I was inspired, empowered really. I wanted to do my part as the stylist to comfort, mother and care for this woman to help her see the upmost radiance that we all saw in her. The goal for the crew was to have her blown away by her immaculate individuality. And it was GAME-ON until she left the set with her confidence level through the roof.
Although I knew this and had never been introduced to any other concept of boudoir photography... over the period of 15 years, I remained locked in my own cell of inadequacy. I'd watch every other woman around me and although not "perfect" there would always be something to celebrate beyond compare...
-Maybe her thick hair that scaled down her toned back or
-Maybe the way her booty rounded and plumped in all the right areas
-Or maybe just the beautiful tone and creaminess of her smooth skin
...and though that was the story Id tell myself about her... when it came time to find the things to celebrate about myself, I noticed nothing. In fact, I'd recall the women I'd seen so raw and become envious of the "body I'd never have". Though I could fall so in love with them, so forgiving of flaw and see only God-graced beauty, I could offer myself none of that.
I'm sure at this point I don't need to go into the obvious issues I had within myself nor why they existed. Because, this story is actually one of triumph and love... within myself. One of how I actually turned that around, somehow, and of what I would tell you if you stood in front of me with an exact understanding of how I felt.
babygirl (lets be real, take a big inhale and exhale)...
You will find someone on the other side of that lens and in those photos that you don't know.
She will surprise you, encourage you, lift you and cause you to question the doubt you've allowed yourself to live with all these years.
The only one who you've been hiding your body from is yourself. The only person you have yet to introduce yourself and your curves to yet, is YOU, boo. You can stand in your favorite position in the mirror to tighten, lift onto your toes and suck in until you find the closest thing to"ideal" that you can muster but have you considered, thats just one stance? One position that you do NOT walk around in everyday? That the whole world gets a 360 degree view of you all day, everyday? Do you really think your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend with benefits.. (whoever) doesn't know what you look like? That they haven't noticed that stretch-mark, saggy skin, roll, mole, hole... or whatever other "ole" you can think of? And furthermore... don't they stay committed and make love to you regardless? Why wouldn't you want the per-view of seeing yourself the way someone else does?
If you're like I was, half of my boudoir undertaking was for my hubby but the other and most important half was for ME. See, I hit 36 and realized that life just keeps happening. The tides of life continue to rise and fall. Trying to plan for weight-loss or the perfect hair length among finances, motherhood, working...etc., was like trying to catch a single rain drop in a jar. It's most-likely not going to align that way. And while I was waiting for it to do so- the very things that were holding me back were compounding... tiny lines in my face, a new spot on my leg (damn tanning beds), a new scar from tripping over my daughters barbie car... a weight loss of 5 pounds and then a gain of 10. My abs would pop out one day after a week of great nutrition and then hide the next after I enjoyed Fro-yo with the fam. (And don't you for one second think i'm some fit junky... I've been 197 pounds and 128 pounds with a whole lotta in-betweens at 5'3")...but you see?
Life really is the tiny moments happening while your busy planning the big ones.
And the most important. We all have an expiration date. No, don't boo-hoo and flip your lid that the concept of photos quickly turned into a death convo. Its perspective. Remember when you were younger and probably thought you were "fat" or "too thin", too tall, nerdy, short...whatever... and then you look back on those photos and notice things (more-so) like, what a babyface you had or how thick your hair was, how shiny your eyes were or you see an old shirt or necklace you loved and suddenly you express a warmth or nostalgia toward the person and the photo that once was?
THIS will be no different. Trust me 10 years from NOW, let alone when you're old and gray, you'll wish you had the energy, plumpness, color and promise ahead of you then as much as you do right now. Be the wise one who doesn't look back in regret over wearing a suit of shame and discomfort that you never had any business putting on in the first place.
Here is a little walk through my journey with Raymie Day Photography on one of the most vulnerable but confidence boosting of my life. (insert a huge puffy heart of love there!)
-Morning time consisted of a hydration mask from AHAVA and those awesome eye de-puffers from Blaq Hydrogel Eye Mask. They helped me lose the inflammation after that froyo I told you about! (oops! Oh well!)
-Naturally I am a FREAK about my own makeup so of course I did it (www.WendyRaeMakeup.com)
-However, one of my dearest friends and soul-sister-stylists Melissa Dunn rocked my blow out for me as sometimes being pampered is good for the spirit!
I planned this shoot for weeks, maybe a few months even. I had everything considered to include hair, nails, makeup, wardrobe etc. and the idea was to execute it just as dynamic as I believe my personality is. One side of me is loving, flowery, girly, optimistic and kind. The other is sarcastic, sassy, tom-boyish, sporty, more badass I guess. LOL! To incorporate both, I planned outfits around heels & lace and the other around a black brimmed LA Dodgers hat and boy shorts.
We even had a major crash of glass and plant bits ejected from the wall at us mid-shoot but we couldn't help but laugh at the sign that fell and how it almost seemed to spell out: "U HOE"... eek! Straight comedy!
And now here I sit with all the history of what I explained... the years spent in
and a lack in confidence
Only to tell you, it was worthless to feel the way I did. It was a lie I allowed myself to believe and did nothing for my outlook on life nor my self worth. Yesterday I slayed that shoot and although I had to pep talk myself into the first 20 minutes, the outcome is one that will stay with me forever and today I have awoken better for it.
NOW GO BOOK YOURS!