I have struggled with self-love and self-esteem issues ever since a boy I had a crush on asked me, “why aren’t you pretty like all your friends?”. I was seven years old.
Ever since that day, I have tried to discover ways to make myself feel beautiful. Whether it was as extreme as starving myself or something as simple as buying myself a new outfit. I’ve tried it all.
My journey of self-love has been a long and rough one but I still seem to trek on.
So me being the super self-conscious and critical woman I am, I decided the best thing for me to do was partake in a boudoir photo shoot for my two year anniversary present to my boyfriend. Makes perfect sense, right?
A photographer I had been following for a while on Instagram posted that she was doing a boudoir photo shoot package including hair and makeup as a Valentine’s Day gift idea and I signed up right away.
I was obviously very hesitant to partake in the photo shoot due to my body image issues, but little did I know that this photo shoot would be one of the most empowering and impactful things I have ever done for myself. I honestly thought that me posing provocatively in sexy lingerie was just a great gift for my boyfriend, which it was, but it was also a gift in disguise to myself.
On my way to the photo shoot, I was stressing out about the outfits I had picked out for myself. My two main insecurities had always been both my stomach and my arms. So naturally, I got two outfits that covered both with just enough skin showing that I felt comfortable but also sexy.
As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by the photographer, Jessica (@lagophoto), the makeup artists and hairstylists, Jess, Hailey and Loe, as well as the other women that were there for their own shoot.
These women were immediately so friendly and made me instantly feel comfortable. I was surrounded by women who were constantly speaking words of encouragement and love to each other from the second I stepped out of my car.
Once my makeup and hair were complete I went into the house to watch the ending of one of the other woman’s shoot. And let me tell you, this woman was PERFECT. She was nailing each pose and didn’t have to be directed as to what to do once. This scared me a little since I knew I was going to need A LOT of coaching on my poses and facial expressions since I knew I’d be somewhat stiff once the camera was on me. Oh, and I felt that my physical appearance was nowhere near as flawless as she was.
When it was my turn to shoot, I went and changed into my first outfit and I’m not going to lie, I gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror before stepping out.
But the second that I walked out of the bathroom all of the women began to boost my confidence with their “damn”, “oohs” and “ahhs”. And honestly their words of encouragement and constantly assisting me with my poses.
This boudoir photo shoot was honestly such an amazingly positive experience for me. I was surrounded by women who genuinely support other women and aren’t threatened by another woman’s beauty or confidence.
For the first time in a long time, I felt so beautiful and sexy in my own skin and it was all thanks to these women.
While I was shooting, I wasn’t once worried about how the poses made my stomach look or whether my arms were pushed against my sides making them look fat. I was able to feel free and confident. I was living in the moment, which hasn’t happened to me in years!
There was even a time during the shoot that the photographer asked me to take off my lace kimono, which I was wearing to cover up my arms. It had been my security blanket throughout the whole shoot and I told her that I hated my arms and she told me to stop being silly and to take it off.
Taking off that security blanket, while it may seem so simple and easy, was a big deal for me. I haven’t worn anything that shows off my arms in about two or three years. So at first, I was nervous but honestly removing it felt so freeing!
Doing something so out of my comfort zone like 1. wearing lingerie and 2. wearing it in front of strangers and 3. having photo evidence of both of those things was honestly one of the best ideas I have ever had. It forced me to face my fears and confidence issues and left me feeling empowered, loved and self-assured.
When I received my photos I cried. I had never once in my life seen myself in that light before. I was so beautiful. The photos were breathtaking. I looked and felt so confident in my own skin.
But at the same time, I was overcome with sadness. Why had I not seen this side of myself before? Why was I now, at 25 years old, seeing the natural and raw beauty in myself?
That thought was extremely saddening. But it made me realize that I need to step out of my comfort zone more often and put myself in situations that will not only help me learn to love myself but also situations that allow me to build other women up. Women encouraging other women is so important and impactful.
The women that were on “set” that day with me probably don’t even realize how much of an impact they made on me and my confidence that day. They made me feel invincible and forced me to see my own beauty. It has always been extremely easy for me to see and express the beauty in others, but I have never been able to do that for myself. So these women really made a lasting effect on me with their kind and honest words.
Since gifting the photos to my boyfriend, I have been trying to better myself for myself. I have been working on my self-confidence and self-love. My goal is to see myself the way my boyfriend sees me; effortlessly beautiful.
I know that the journey of self-love is going to be a lifelong journey but it’s something that needs to happen in order for me to feel fulfilled and truly happy.
I never thought that something as simple as partaking in a boudoir photo shoot would have such an impact on me. But it did. And I cannot express how much this experience meant to me and how I feel like every single woman should do one for herself.
I thought this photo shoot was for my boyfriend as an anniversary gift, but it truly was for me and my own personal empowerment. It made me understand that us women need to stick together and support each other no matter what.
The years of women being pitted against each other to make themselves feel better is behind us. We need to stand together, support and empower each other. We are stronger together!