"All is pretty." - Andy Warhol
So, it's not very often (in fact, this is the first time since starting my own photography business) that I am given permission to post more than one or two images from a client's boudoir session. I totally understand this, and it really isn't a big deal, mainly because I respect my client's wishes over my own selfishness to want to broaden my visible portfolio. I do this job because I get to work with people, and with that comes letting them have the kind of experience they want.
Most people want these kind of images for their own personal uses, and not to plaster all over the internet. And I repeat, there is nothing wrong with that. For goodness sake people, please, have some private moments. We don't need to see everything. (Like your lunch. Or your child's pooping face. Or your weird rash. ...these are all things I've seen on my fb feed today.) ...but I do need to see your cute dogs, so keep those coming.
With that being said, a BIG THANK YOU to my roommate Carrie for putting it all out there, not only visually, but with your own written perspective (I asked Carrie to give me a few words to include with this post, they'll be at the bottom, after you see the images). I've known Carrie for a long time, we've lived together for... I actually don't know how many years without doing some serious thinking (she keeps track of that kind of stuff in our friend-marriage), but it's been a long time. I can assure you that while everyone else thinks Carrie has a 'perfect' body, rarely people who are given such a subjective label actually feel that way about themselves, and Carrie is no exception.
We all have hangups about our bodies. I have a lot of conversations with friends, strangers, future clients, etc., when people are curious about how I shoot 'naked people,' or are interested in this kind of session for themselves. They usually go the same way. 'I would love to do something like that but I need to look different in this way or that way.' 'Yeah maybe if I were skinny!' 'My husband doesn't need to see all my flaws!'
And my responses are usually the same too. As a plus-sized woman myself, I can tell you that I know it isn't easy to be comfortable in your skin all the time. With the pressures of our 'culture' screaming at you to be the most perfect, thin, happy, successful, giggling sex kitten you can be, it's not always possible to drown it out. But you can, I assure you.
Because nothing is more attractive than confidence. Except for maybe being at ease with yourself. They're probably tied.
I know it's unrealistic to say 'never feel bad about yourself or your body,' and probably not healthy either (sometimes those feelings will help you make better life choices). But I think it's also unrealistic to live your life feeling like you're never going to achieve some unrealistic standard when, quite frankly, you don't need to. What you need is to be happy, and few things will make you happier than feeling good about yourself. And I promise, your husband wants to see whatever you will show him. Forever.
Practice a little self-respect and think about your body the way you'd want 10 or 15 year-old you to feel about their body. Because the pressure starts young in America, and it seems to just get worse the older we get.
So here are some images from Carrie's shoot. She recently entered the 3rd decade, but that didn't stop her from sporting some rather fashionable teen underwear. I could easily write a whole post about how scary it is that half of this is from the Aerie line, and girls, not women, are wearing this stuff...while I was sporting day-of-the-week underwear when I was their age...but I digress. The point of that is to have fun at any age, with any body, wearing whatever the heck you want. And Carrie had fun. I included some behind-the-scenes shots because well, this is actually what life with dogs is like.
'Oh, here's a cute picture of me smiling down at my bum! SIKE, I'm just giggling at my dogs.'
And half way through we found a little lizard hanging out on the bed. It's a miracle we found him before the dogs did.
"It didn’t register until later that you styled my shoot with crystals, air plants, and feathers. Light and flight. I studied fine art in college, and my art has always been about this idealized femininity: birds and feathers, flowers and ballerinas with long romantic style tutus, a lot of fashion girls perched on their stilettos like herons and flamingos. I have an obsession with graceful arcs and lines.
Starting in middle school, I was painfully self-conscious. I studied every single fashion magazine, also known as: manuals on how to find your flaws. I was obsessed with this idealized ballerina beauty, and I found all the ways in which I was lacking that body shape. I was too short, I had no defined waist, I was a rectangle. My breasts were too small, and then too big, and then too small again. Seriously. It wasn't until college, surrounded by a million naked bodies in self portraits and figure drawing classes, that I became comfortable with my own body. I tried to see myself, not just a bunch of problems to be fixed. I learned how bodies look from different angles and with different lighting. I learned about Photoshop. I took a million and one pictures of myself with my digital camera, and I made myself into art. It was a little bit of healing.
All the problems my eyes are immediately drawn to? They aren't important to anyone else. They are not invisible, obviously, but all my so-called flaws are only so noticeable to me because I've nit-picked and obsessed. I still feel self-conscious, don't get me wrong, but I try to ignore it. I will forever feel weird, and I laugh at myself, and I get naked anyway."