This post has been written and deleted SO many times. I’d be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with people I see in my day to day life reading and seeing this VERY public post. I’m sure that there are definitely people that I know who are also going to be really uncomfortable if they read it. And that’s ok. If this post helps ONE woman feel better about their own body, all the butterflies are worth it. If one person feels a little less alone after reading this, then I would post this over and over and over, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me feel.
For years, I’ve been telling my clients to love themselves, in the raw, and to allow themselves to be seen. To be proud of who they are, own their bodies, their curves, no matter what society or anyone else says. I led my clients to believe that I was leading by example and felt all of those things.
Sometime last year, in the midst of the new studio exploding, I feel into the trap of being proud of being busy – being proud of my job, my work, and my role as it related to everyone else in my life. I slowly became disconnected from me. I was ignoring the tiny messages I was sending myself about my own body. By the end of the year, I really had a pretty shitty body image. I would actively avoid mirrors when I jumped out of the shower, keep myself wrapped, and buried myself in my life and work. It was NOT ok.
I knew I needed to do something, and on a whim, I decided I needed to face myself. To actually LOOK at my body, and allow it to be seen. To create images that didn’t hide the vulnerability I had been feeling, and to let all the pieces show. (WARNING: If you’d be offended by seeing a nude human body, specifically, mine, I’d stop reading or scrolling now!).
I stripped down, pulled out my tripod, got everything set up (not in that order), and got to work. For about 20 minutes, I cried. I hated what was on the back of the camera, and knew I couldn’t stop shooting until I was able to see beauty in my own body. Then I decided to embrace the vulnerability and shot for 2 hours. For the first time in years, I really looked at myself, and for the first time EVER, I let a close friend see what my body actually looks like. We cried together. We talked for a while about the idea of being seen is terrifying. About how we all put on a strong face out in the world, and it’s not often that we see how strong it is to be vulnerable and raw. To let people know that the cracks and scars don’t equal weakness – it’s a map of your life and experiences. We cried about how being seen doesn’t have to be a sexual thing, and how much I was shaking with the idea of showing these images to her. I realized I OWE it to my clients to not only share how I talk the talk, but how I walk the walk and feel all the feels WITH you.
I KNOW it’s scary to be photographed. I know it’s scary to be seen. But trust me when I say the scarier something is, the more you NEED that thing to happen. It’s ok to be seen, clothed or not. As long as it’s on YOUR terms.