Last week I went to camp--for adults!! Yeah, I know! It was not the typical conventional photography conference/workshop experience. Combine a community of amazing photographers, world renown speakers, shoot-outs, talent shows, dance parties, and campfires. This was only for members of the Do More boudoir community. It was such an amazing experience for me, both personally as well as professionally.
One of the biggest reasons for shooting boudoir, for me, is to empower women. To switch the default mode in our heads, our own body shaming that we do to ourselves. It's about freedom, finding your strength, confidence, and loving yourself- just as you are now. Radical self love and acceptance in every stage of life.
It was really interesting to see how many of us photographers- who empower others and truly believe that all body types are beautiful-- have a hard time doing this for ourselves when getting in front of the camera. We all need a little help sometimes. I wasn't planning on getting photographed. But I'm beyond grateful that I just went for it. I let go. I trusted. Strength in vulnerability. That experience I cannot put into words. I haven't even seen any photos yet. I truly feel empowered just by the experience. It's funny how it even reaches the fears in life that have nothing to do with body image. Strength. Confidence. It's been different since I've been back. I've been different.
We all have our own backgrounds and experiences that shape how we see ourselves, in addition to what society forces onto us. I believe I've always had a higher vision, even in my youth, in which outside physique was in there somewhere, but very low on the totem pole. I was too busy with things that really mattered. I was more concerned with what I was DOING. I wanted to do everything, make a difference, even as young as I was, and I still have that mindset. "Imagine if people stopped trying so damn hard to change their bodies. They could use that energy to change the world." - Teri Hofford, Do More photographer and educator, "Babes Against Bullshit" promoter
Also, it's all just temporary. I've fluctuated with size all my life, since I was a little kid. It never once changed the way I viewed myself. I've been skinny, big, all the in-betweens. In high school, I had a medical condition and was on steroids that made me swell up a few sizes. My face was huge. That's senior pictures and prom, y'all. Look at the bigger picture. It's just temporary. I was more concerned about my health and that I could keep playing sports and doing theatre and art. I knew that my mom's fears and tears had nothing to do with my weight. I was more pissed that I couldn't travel. I missed a trip to Paris.
Yes, there were douchebags. One of them said something right in front of the whole class. That threw me off, sure. In the midst of my reaction, I remember thinking that my situation was temporary (even in the highest of meanings, as I am a spiritual person), but people like that will always be assholes. Fast forward to present day. As adults, we still deal with bullies and ignorant peons. Their judgement says more about them than it does about you. Many women and I have shared experiences about narcissists, alcoholics, the mentally ill, abusive loved ones- be it verbal, mental, or physical... the emotional sickness that can take root if you let it. The psychological onion has many layers, no matter what your story, and boudoir has been tremendous therapy for thousands of women. The effect of an intimate lifestyle shoot is strong, and quicker than what years of therapy may try to convey. Themes also include individuality, independence, sensuality, and intimacy. It's kind of a big deal.
It is a win win gift, but boudoir is great for divorces and breakups, for milestone birthdays, just had a baby!, or for no reason other than some compassion and care for yourself. We hardly make that a priority.
Last week one of my friends who has been battling with weight for a while had a hard day because someone made a horrible comment specifically about her weight. She is a fitness instructor and I was just telling her a week before what a role model she was for me and she actually helped me stop smoking years ago. This was my response to her day, which I've been saying to all of my friends for decades:
"The reason you were a role model to me had nothing to do with your outside package. I've always believed that OUR WORTH IS NOT IN OUR WAISTLINE. I get what you're feeling, because we are human and that's just a default mode we need to adjust. It was your sass, your feistiness, your positivity and confidence, and you made me feel good about myself! That's a big deal in this world.
I feel sorry for people who don't get it about weight. They don't get anything, really. PRIORITIES off much? Excuse me, miss, you dropped your VALUES. We all have SO MUCH MORE TO US than that one stupid thing. It's temporary too! What are they going to do when they're boobs are down to their knees? What about when they get old? What happens if they lose a limb? A bit SHALLOW, am I right? They'll never get it. FEEL SORRY FOR THEM AND MOVE ON.
I love you for YOU. Even when your boobs will be at your knees.
And yes, you will still be gorgeous at that time."
Another friend has done the battle with weight for years and necessary medication is a factor. She didn't want to go to her reunion. She didn't want to put on a bathing suit on her vacation. It was heart wrenching the way she was speaking about someone I loved- her!
I told her these same things, essentially, but also that she needs to talk to herself like her daughter was listening. She is the ROLE MODEL that girl has, and her daughter's vision will be shaped by that, whether she likes it or not. So PAY ATTENTION. How you view yourself, how you talk to yourself... maybe you need to put yourself in timeout for a bit.
I wrote a while ago in my Wake Up Call post that some moms won't even get in the family photos because of their body image issues. I've had too many people ask if I had something-anything more of so and so, could I look again... Always needing as much as they possibly could hold onto after a loved one passes. I had a daughter ask for photos of her mom, when sadly, mom had done what way too many moms do and decided she only wanted photos of the kids. She hated getting her picture taken. That always breaks my heart. The kids don't see a double chin, they see their hero. (And a professional knows how to work with angles so that wouldn't even be the case. It's not like Aunt Betty taking a photo with her phone.)
I would like to add a little note, as I'm writing this for women because they are my usual clients, this applies to men as well. In my experience, they have the same damn default mode too. So, keep that in mind and lift them up as well.
It's time to change the distorted perception of beauty that has been driven into us for far too long. It's time to stop the judgment. When I think of beautiful women, the first that come to mind are of all shapes and sizes, most are "bigger (curvy) ladies" by society's standards, and three of the top ones are over 45yrs old. Helen Mirren is amazing for crying out loud!
Embrace who you are. Celebrate it.
And if you need help--- get a professional photographer to show you just how gorgeous you are...
AND WITH THAT--- BOUDIE CALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"You don't need to lose weight. You need to lose that attitude." - DO MORE.
My dear newsletter peeps are getting first dibs. I'm offering a special on boudoir sessions if you BOOK by July 30th. The shoot does not have to be in July- just book it. $50 off the sitting fee.
Bring your bestie and you get $100 off your sitting fee. You each get your own session. Gal Pal Day is where you get three or more of your friends to all do sessions, and you get a FREE sitting fee. These are such a blast! You're all together getting ready, sippin' champagne, dancing to music, and you each get photographed separately. Please contact me for details.
I have more tips and tricks that I give to my clients before a boudoir shoot, to try to tweak that default setting. Maybe I could share a few in another letter... Hmmmmm......Stay tuned.
You can check out some Boudoir Betties here:
Read some testimonials, and see one full session here:
(For more samples, please contact me. They are password protected. You will get a private gallery.)
Do you know anyone who struggles with negative body image?
Please feel free to pass this on. I'd love to have more newsletter peeps...
BOUDIE CALL!!! Let's do this!