This post was written by a guest contributor, and is a candid reaction to the process leading up to and following a boudoir session. Adia shares her vulnerabilities and fears about her body and how she feels about it in a way I think will resonate with women. This is definitely a great read if you're considering a session for yourself. Enjoy.
"I did a thing. A pretty major thing. Well maybe not for some people, but for me it is a pretty big deal. See, I am someone who identifies as a woman who always has a gripe about their body. Something is ALWAYS wrong. I can want to take a selfie, take about 10 or 12, decide they ALL suck and then just delete them, telling myself today was not the day for it and abandon the idea altogether. And that’s just MY FACE. But then a dear friend decided to rebrand her photography business into boudoir photography. She wanted to use her gift to promote confidence, body positivity and sexiness all at once. When she put the call out for models, I jumped at the opportunity…..basically because I knew if I thought about it for too long, I would talk myself out of it.
A little background though….Shannon and I “met” on Facebook. When I began my social media journey, I swore I would never become friends with anyone I had never met in person. I actually stood by that for quite a few years until a friend put me in a group discussing politics, race, religion and everything in between. I ended up bonding with a number of the people in that group who lived all over the country. Through a friend in that group, I became friends with Shannon.(Yep, I met Shannon, someone I had never met, through another woman I was friends with, whom I also had never met. What can I say? People change.) Shannon was cool, confident and very open on social media. She lays her life out to bear without sugar coating anything. Basically, she just came across as extremely real and authentic. However, we lived on opposite ends of the country. I put her in my circle of friends I call “really awesome people I would love to meet in person but likely never will cuz LIFE.” And then, about a year ago, she moved. She was now TWO HOURS AWAY FROM ME. Wow, this was one social media friend I may actually get to meet!
During the 2 years prior to us finally meeting, I had been experiencing the “joys” of getting older. I am in my early 40s but thanks to genetics, I have already begun perimenopause. I was not surprised when I began having symptoms such as dizziness and changes in my cycle because my mom had prepared me for that. What I was not expecting was the other physical body changes: I gained weight in places I never had before and it was more difficult to keep it off, my breasts got much bigger and at times were painful and heavy (bras were, and still are, EXTREMELY uncomfortable), and my hips spread. I was never someone who was insanely impressed with my body in general, but I knew what I looked like and this was NOT it. It was really hard to accept. I had to buy new clothes because things I had been able to wear for several years I now had to relegate to the Goodwill pile. I don’t think I would say I obsessed over it, but it takes time to get used to any “new normal,” even body changes. I sometimes began to find myself doing something I had stopped doing entirely: avoiding looking in the mirror when I was naked. I won’t say I reached a level of acceptance, merely tolerance; not thrilled about it, but it is what it is. This is why I said I jumped on the opportunity to model for Shannon so quickly. I get in my head so easily and I figured if I put out there that I was interested, I was then committed to *actually* doing it. I don’t like to flake on people and my “yes” was my way of telling my internal nay-sayer, “chill, this is happening regardless of what you think.”
In the time between scheduling the shoot and the actual day, Shannon was wonderful with providing me with information that she shares with her clients about how to prepare and even gave me suggestions on what to bring and what to wear. Due to my body changes, I went about the business of purchasing a new outfit for the shoot and also planned to take a nice matching bra and panty set I had recently bought. Every once in a while my nerves would get the better of me. I have NO IDEA how to be or look “sexy.” I have friends who post phenomenal selfies all the time. Shannon posted pictures of her prior shoots and they were always gorgeous and I just couldn’t see myself being up to that level. I even had the thought, “Ugggh, wish I had done this when I was 35 and my body wasn’t such a mess,” but again, I was committed and worked hard to push these thoughts out of my head. The night before, I made sure my outfits and make up were together and was ready to set off to her house for the shoot the next morning.
I got up early the next morning to drive the 2 hours to her house. She was jumping up and down when I arrived and she gave me a big hug. She was still working on her prior shoot and left me on the couch to hang out until she was finished. I don’t know if I could say I was nervous as in shaking or feeling sick or anything like that, I just still didn’t know what all I had gotten myself in to! When it was my turn, she ushered me into a back room that she had turned into her studio. There was an air mattress, candles and other props she uses for her shoots. She left me alone to change into my first outfit, a lacy red halter nightie that hugged my body and stopped just below my behind. I instantly loved it when I ordered it and was hoping it would work out well for the shoot. I put on my make-up and heels and we got started.
It takes a great deal of confidence to be willing to expose yourself and your body in this way, especially with someone you have not met in person before. Knowing someone on Facebook is one thing, but you never really know if who they are online is going to hold up in real life. Shannon absolutely was who I came to know on screen, which made it so easy for me to relax in my “barely there” nightie and try my best to flirt with the camera. She gave great direction, but what impressed me most was her attention to detail: how much thought she put into what she was doing, how she was doing it, and the research she had done in order to achieve taking the best shot. My job (in theory) was easy: just maintain a pose. There was so much more involved that I had never thought about. For example, she did attempt several poses with me and she would take a couple of pictures and say, “Nope, that’s not working.” Seeing as how everybody is different, that then means every BODY is different. Some poses just naturally look better on some bodies than others. This also made me realize that’s why all models are tall, lanky stick figures: they’re bendy and can get into preferred poses more easily. To work with people, especially those who identify as women, of all shapes and sizes, you have to change your approach with the camera for each individual. You have to find the right angles, the right light, the right pose for THAT person. Shannon did that with me the whole time and I appreciated her so much for that. She wasn’t just trying to get a great picture for her portfolio; she was trying to get a great picture of ME. She paid attention to my body, my curves, my angles and movements and adjusted what she needed to in order to get the best shots. That was what was so amazing: it was truly a photo shoot tailored to MY BODY. It also made me realize many of those big time photographers who shoot runway and print models don’t have any actual skill at all. How do you show the skill of your art and the depth of your ability when you are just shooting toothpicks in the same poses all the time?
Suffice it to say, I had so much fun. We listened to ‘90s music, we laughed and just enjoyed the moment. She mocked me for saying I couldn’t look sexy and she showed me some of my pictures on her camera after she took them that made me say, “Damn!” Shannon took pictures of me in various outfits and poses for over 90 minutes. I loved every minute of it. She encouraged me by letting me know that they were turning out well and she was getting some good shots. I have this mental picture of myself just being awkward and goofy so knowing that I was doing well in a boudoir shoot did not fit how I identify myself…but that was the point, wasn’t it? Part of the appeal, other than getting over my feelings about my body, was for me to see myself in a different light.
After I left the house, I was feeling real good and also really hungry! Believe it or not, modeling is kind of a work out and I was starving. However, what I did not expect was to be as sore and I was the next morning. My calves were SCREAMING. Now all I had to do was wait for her to edit the pics and send me the proofs to see. The truth is, this part was entirely more nerve-wracking for me than the actual shoot. Remember, this is the person who deletes selfies when they aren’t just right. I couldn’t imagine looking at pictures of myself with my body exposed like that. I wanted to see them, but then again, was totally afraid to. Several days later, Shannon sent me a text that said, “Omgggg. Your images are fire." She was close to finishing; time for me to have my own personal little freak out. Less than 2 hours later, she sent me the link to the pictures to the 36 pictures that made the cut. In true “me” fashion, my eyes immediately went to what I deem are my flaws, but I could not deny, those pictures were me. That was me looking seductively into the camera. I scrolled through them quickly, then put down my phone, took some time and went back later. And the next time, I began looking past all the things that I complain about it and looking at just ME.
There I was laying on the bed, leaning against the wall, playing behind the shower window in playful, sex kitten fashion. And I looked sexy. And comfortable. And confident. All things you would be hard pressed to get me to say about myself in a personal description. More than anything, I saw someone who did something she never would have done. Something that would probably freak out 21 year old me because even though I had what I would consider a more toned, in shape body at the time, I would never have chosen to make myself vulnerable in such a way and for it to be documented for all time. But 43 year old me took a chance and as a result, I saw things in myself I never thought I would see. And now, I can be more confident in describing myself as “sexy.”
What do you think? Do you share any of the apprehensions about your own body? A boudoir session is certainly a way to confront those insecurities and nagging doubts. If you'd like to talk to me and learn how I will work to create a relaxing and special experience for you, click here.
And don't forget to check out all my boudoir related blog posts, click here. I hope something I've written is helpful and inspiring for you.