I walked into the studio and felt the sweat begin to bead on my forehead. I had watched girls disrobe and grin all day long. Gorgeous bodies that had carried babies, given birth at home or in a hospital, vaginally or surgically, bodies that had been forever changed. And bodies that were being celebrated not as mothers now, but as sexy women.
The photographer began to snap and I didn’t feel that calm that I watched wash over so many others. I didn’t feel that relaxed confidence that I had seen them all embrace. I felt more awkward, more fat, more sweaty. Then she stopped. Looked me square in the eye and said “don’t change a thing.”
Tiffany turned the camera around and I saw this.
And tears sprung to my eyes. Because I don’t want to change a thing. For the first time I can remember.
I have felt like not only would it be incorrect to think I am beautiful but that it would be wrong and prideful. That doing something that the soul purpose was to celebrate my body would be somehow selfish/gross. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After receiving my photos I walk taller. Feel more love for my husband. And can own my womanhood free of motherhood with a wielding power that feels incredible. My body was forever changed by birth, and my eyes hold experiences and intense love that I never knew possible, my girls have changed me forever. But they haven’t ruined me. They have empowered me to realize how important it is to think I am gorgeous.
I regularly tell others that they are beautiful and I mean it. I daily tell my girls how beautiful, smart, strong, well made, and awesome they are; and I mean it. But to myself? I toss on whatever is on the floor, reject all the compliments Charlie lavish’s on me, and cast off confidence like it’s a prideful rag I can’t stand to put on.
Since this shoot I have been picking up confidence and robing myself in it. Taking True words about myself and allowing them to hang on me beautifully. I have been looking in the mirror and seeing what Charlie sees, what I should see, and not staring into the flaws with intensity. Because I was not designed with that in mind.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
(from Psalm 139)
I had these photos taken for a few reasons.
The biggest reasons was to have something beautiful to show my girls when they have a low moment about their body. The short legs they inherited from me, the small waist and ample hips, the tiny curvy feet, the cheeks that apple up with every smile. There is a photo of my Mom on a swing set in a mini skirt with big blond hair, little waist, and wide smile. It is sexy, gorgeous, and affirming. I look at it and see her but I also look at it and can see me and my sister, I can see where we came from and appreciate the pieces of me that I inherited and have been less than loving to. I want my girls to find themselves in these photos and be able to have that same recognition of inherited beauty that I get when I see my Mom’s sparkling eyes, little whoo nose, and short strong legs.
I left with a gift as big and bigger. I left with the ability to see myself through someone else’s eyes. To see a person who is wonderfully made. Who is strong. Confident. Gorgeous.
Because, guess what? It is more than okay to think you are gorgeous. It isn’t socially acceptable, women are taught to speak lame words about themselves, to not appreciate their bodies, to cut themselves and other women down for any perceived flaw. But the truth is different. The truth is that healthy and strong is sexy. That every woman has so much beauty in them. That stepping back from the mirror, stepping away from where your eyes are drawn (the purple stretch marks and loose belly, the wide hips or fat thighs, the arms that wag, or the back with rolls) and see that all of that, all of you, all of me, it’s pretty damn remarkable. Not just for it’s accomplishments, but just because. Because it’s more than good and more than right to look at yourself and think and say “yes, I just look gorgeous. All of me.” Because you do.
It isn’t a size or number. It isn’t “real women have curves.” because we are all real women and beautiful in exactly the skin we have on today. I know that boudoir photography isn’t for everyone. But if you even think for one moment that you would glean something from it, get off the fence and do it (but only with a GREAT photographer). I can’t tell you enough how incredibly altering, beautiful, affirming, and marriage improving this was. I’m sharing a couple of photos, but saving the rest for Charlie (and a few for my little girls when they are bigger girls). I wasn’t planning on blogging about this, because really? Who wants to see pictures of some random Mom in a corset? But the experience was so much more than wearing lingerie for a picture.
I walked into that shoot with a despicable beast on my back whispering “Your body is ruined. You aren’t worth this. These will be so gross. Why would Charlie ever want to see this?” and I walked out free of that voice, that shame, and those words. And it’s been three weeks and I am still walking free of that horrible little voice.
Because this body? It’s just gorgeous.
Make-up by Love Beauty
and hair, duh, no-heat-curls