Ever since the incredible Kalene of Blue Muse Photography asked me to be a part of this project, I knew I wanted to write about it.
Ever since I got the results back on the reader survey that I sent out into the internet, and I read about how many of you are challenged by your own sense of body image, I knew I wanted to write about it.
Ever since Saturday afternoon when Kat and I were driving home from this exciting, mind-shifting experience, I knew I wanted to write about it.
Ever since Kalene showed me these final (not-photoshopped) photos and I squealed over them, I knew I wanted to write about it.
Man, but what is there to say when I don’t have any words? Or, rather, I have so many words that I can’t form them into anything coherent? But I know I need to write about it so here we go, I’m going to just do it and allow the magic that happens when you trust the process take shape.
Kalene texted me and said she was shooting some empowerment sessions and “we’d love to have you model for us if you’re up for it.”
My exact response, “It sounds terrifying and awesome. Let’s do it.” I knew what she meant by “empowerment”. She meant vulnerable. She meant showing some skin, perhaps. She meant boudoir. But boudoir for yourself, not for the sake of anyone else. A recognition of your own beauty and power. I preach the importance of self love and self celebration and I felt like this was an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. So I said yes before I was ready because I knew it was right.
I almost never see images of women who look like me who love themselves and feel good in their bodies. There are a few out there in the public eye but until that’s no longer considered unusual or “brave”, there’s not enough in front of our eyes. I knew that if I want to unlock this door that gives a fat woman in my community permission to see herself as beautiful in any state of dress or readiness, I was going to have to say yes to this.
I decided to ask my dear friend Kat to come with me. She’s a good person to call when you need an eager “let’s do this!” She’s a good person to call when you want a cheerleader in your corner. And she had told me, in passing, years ago that she’s always wanted to do something like this. We asked Kalene what we should wear and she said, “Whatever makes you feel beautiful and comfortable at the same time.”
That meant different things for each of us and I loved that. I wore leggings and a shawl but I also wore this beautiful, sheer negligee that I’d bought and never worn because I felt so silly even owning it. So when I tried it on, I fully expected to laugh and take it off and find something else. But instead, I tried it on and felt so… right. Was my VBO out and about for the whole world to see? Yup. Was my back fat pudging out and living its best life now? Uh huh. But did I feel even remotely ashamed? I didn’t. I felt like myself. This body in the mirror in front of me was me. And Me is awesome.
Since I was wearing all black and I knew that the location would be all white, I grabbed this incredible teal shawl that Kat made for me for my wedding. I was happy to be wrapped up in this love that was made from the hands of my friend and the memories of the last time that I wore it at a moment when I knew I had the potential to start feeling vulnerable.
But you know what? When we got there and got started, I was feeling spectacularly not-vulnerable! I surprised myself. The location was incredible. Kalene had an expert empowerment playlist going and also, trusting her was easy. If you look at her website you can see that she sees beauty everywhere. Real, gorgeous, everyday glory. And because I knew that she is an expert beauty hunter, I knew that what she would show would be things that made me feel glorious. And not only that but once she gets going, she gets so excited. She squeals when she gets a good shot. She shows you, throughout the process, great unedited shots on the back of her camera and that keeps you going. She started a joy epidemic for us.
Taking a friend with me was the best idea. Not just because she got to go home feeling as filled and full of life as I did, but also because I had a cheerleader in my corner. She kept me flying high and feeling good. At our session, Kat went first. So I got to watch in her full glory–so stunning and strong and having the time of her life. When it was my turn, I felt as beautiful as she looked to me.
There’s not a part of me that feels vulnerable to share these pictures with you. I don’t feel brave because this isn’t scary to me. This is me. My real body. My real smile. My real heart on display for all of you.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
e. e. cummings
If you’re looking at these shots and thinking you’d like to get in on them—or you want to gift a session to a friend, just please do it. You’ll talk yourself out of it if you think too much. Say yes. Don’t say “when I lose fifteen pounds” or “when I feel better about my neck”. Who you are in this moment is who you are in this life. Don’t wait for things to change. Things are always changing. Just contact Kalene—I vouch for her completely. Here’s what she wrote about these Celebrate You sessions. Her words are as magical as her images.
Here’s a link to her website. Here’s a link to her Facebook. Message her, she’s so friggin’ easy going. Let her tell the story that you have inside of you.
And contact me if you have any questions at all! Please, this might be all I ever want to talk about for a while. I’m already planning my next shoot.
I love you.
I hope you showcase that.
(All photos courtesy of Blue Muse Photography)
PS: If you want to go shopping you can check out this (which is similar to what I was wearing in my photos). Or these stockings, which would help make for an incredible and fun photo shoot.
Or have a look at these things that are all on sale right now: