I did a boudoir shoot back in April with The Boudoir Divas as a gift for Gabriel, my husband. If you want a liberating experience that will leave you feeling gorgeous, DO A BOUDOIR shoot. I am serious. I was so terrified the days leading up to the shoot. While I have struggled to believe I was beautiful, the past two years have been exceptionally difficult on my self esteem. In fact, I wrote a blog post on my weight gain back in April.
So, here I am, feeling uncomfortable in my skin, and terrified, because I am about to get in front of a camera (AND REAL LIFE HUMANS, YALL!) and start posing! Walking into this, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing.
The studio itself is just darling, a little beach front loft in Leucadia (they have since moved locations!), and I was offered a glass of champagne as I had my hair and makeup done. I didn’t have any expectations for my shoot, I just knew that I wanted to snap some pictures of me wearing my husbands “Keep Calm and Chive On” shirt as well as his sweater. I was able to pick a few other outfits from their closet of pretty things, and after talking through the concepts, off we went to shoot
Ladies, I cannot stress enough how much of a supermodel I felt. Maybe it was the glass (or two) of champagne. Maybe it was my hair and makeup. Maybe it was the way Marissa kept telling me I was hitting all of the poses right…but I walked out of that studio a new person. I felt gorgeous. I blasted some jams on the way home, dancing the whole time ….”Yes, I have a few extra pounds, but look at me now, yall!”
I wish I always felt that confident. If I am being honest, this past weekend was tough for me.
When I was younger, I was all awkward angles and bones. My ears stuck out a little too much, my nose was too large for my face, and my teeth…oh, my word, my teeth. My nickname was Jaws. Long story, short. I have always struggled with my self image. That physical image looking back at me in the mirror. Now that I’m older and a little more thick, I shake my head thinking about the days when I would feel so “fat” in a swim suit.
But then this past weekend….well, you see, I lost 12 pounds in the course of the month. I was eating all the good foods, working out, and if you were to look at my side by side pictures — I looked great! But then, I had to go to a party….and everything I was wearing felt awful. It emphasized my stomach that still felt too large, and it made my butt look flat, and I just felt like a lumpy, walking square. I was having a pity party, and snapping at my husband, and just spewing this negative energy over my entire home and my family.
In the midst of this meltdown over a stupid outfit, I was curling my hair, and I sat there staring at myself, and thinking “Mia. You’re giving in to this negativity. You’re allowing this to consume you, you’re allowing this to affect your relationships, you’re allowing this to affect your day.”
This gave into a whole spiral of thoughts. It’s SO MUCH EASIER TO give in to the negativity. It FEELS SO GOOD in this sick, masochistic way to allow the darkness to creep over you and to allow yourself to sit in this terrible muck and mire of depressed thoughts and feelings. Why is that? Because it takes effort to CHANGE mindset. It takes an effort to CHOOSE to love oneself. It truly felt like a physical effort to pull myself out of the funk, apologize to my husband, and to find something to wear.
Loving self is a concept that is very difficult for the women in my family.
But I know it doesn’t stop there. I know that it’s difficult for women in the world.
As women start to get more vocal about body image, it becomes even more apparent that we are not alone in our struggles. We are constantly hearing mixed messages of “you’re too big”, “you’re too skinny”, “you wear too much makeup”, “God, take care of yourself, put on some makeup!” over and over and over and over. While there are companies like Aerie who keep it real and don’t airbrush, there are still a thousand more visual images of women with sleek, tanned skin and a dimple-less thighs. The messages don’t stop.
The other morning, as I was reading, I started sobbing when I came upon this chapter, “Seven Pounds of Redemption” by N’tima Preusser.
”But to my daughters, I will beg, ‘Fall in love with yourself, first’. And I do not mean a tolerant, conditional, praise-yourself-when-you-look-good kind of love. I mean a deeply rooted, white hot, irrevocable, laugh at yourself love.”
What would it mean to love myself that much?? To fully understand, comprehend, and walk in the truth of knowing that my body is strong, capable, and LIFE-GIVING. What would it mean to know that I am beautiful because I am determined. I am beautiful because I am persistent. I am beautiful because I have an insatiable desire to learn and to grow and to understand. My body is only a “shell” of my spirit within.
I don’t have the answers when it comes to loving yourself. I know it’s easier to see the flaws, and oh gosh, do I ever know how it feels so much easier to wallow in the yuck. However, as N’tima says, “loving yourself is the beginning of all victories”. I know that I am made for so much more and I refuse to settle for the easy.
If you struggle with loving yourself…you are not alone. My two favorite accounts to follow that bring real-life honesty when it comes to loving your body and all the dimples and curves are Jenna Kutcher and Sarah Nicole of The Birds Papaya. And I highly, highly encourage you to have an experience like a boudoir shoot that pushes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to see your beauty, inside and out.