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Sunday, April 20, 2014

The story behind the picture

***Updated on 4/22/2014 to include website link for Amy. I have not received any compensation for linking to my blog post. I think she is a kick ass photographer.***

I changed my Facebook profile picture the other day. No big deal, right? Except for the fact that it is one of my most favorite pictures of me. I jokingly said that there was a story behind the pictures. I've actually decided to "come clean" about the photo shoot and what lead me to it.

So here's one huge confession about the picture. I did a boudoir photo shoot.

Now I could sit here and finish typing one handed while my other hand covers my eyes and I have to peek between my fingers in shame over admitting that. I could get beet red and all embarrassed in admitting that and saying it OUT LOUD that I had such a photo shoot.

But I'm not going to do that. I AM NOT doing that.

Cuz here's the thing. It took me about THREE YEARS to get the courage to do a boudoir shoot. THREE FUCKING YEARS!

What's the big deal, right? Those shoots are made so you can get pictures taken in your underwear, acting all sexy, looking like a whore/slut/tramp (insert your own derogatory term here) for your husband/boyfriend/partner.

If that's what you really, truly, with all your close-mindedness think that's what these photo shoots are about, you can stop reading right here. If you've made it this far. Seriously. This isn't the post for you.

Still with me?

What stopped me from doing a photo shoot, was....wait for it....  my arms. Yep. Those two appendages that connect my hands to my body.  Most specifically, it was my upper arms.

Does that even make any sense? Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? My arms can't be that big? No one is even going to notice them. No one is going to be looking at my arms specifically. But guess what? It doesn't matter if it sounds ridiculous to you. It was a real problem for me.

I'm just like everyone else. I get insecure about my body. I have moments that I refuse to have pictures taken of me or refuse to post pictures of me unless it's from the neck up. I'll compare myself, my progress, my journey to another person's. I have my pity parties.

Here's what I did. I did my research. (Don't forget that I'm a huge nerd, and I will research the shit out of something before I accept it as fact.) Up until I booked my appointment, I researched and researched photographers, clothing, make-up, and poses. I wasn't going into this thing blind and I wasn't going to spend my money on pics that I could have any one of my non-professional photographer friends do. I knew what I didn't want to look like, and I had a good idea about what I did want to look like. I still didn't like my arms, but I was ready.

The day of the shoot went down like this, in a nutshell.  I went to my photo shoot appointment, met my photographer Amy (http://www.amyzellmer.net/), she was wonderful, made me feel at ease... she had me pose this way and that way, looking this way and that way... snap, snap, snap... click click click... and then I had to wait for an email when the pictures were ready. It was actually really fun! :)

I got my pictures back and I was beyond amazed at how they turned out. I showed my husband, and he was really impressed and really liked them too. I showed one or two to a couple other girls who told me they were really good, so I went ahead and posted one I really loved on Facebook. I left it at that. I wasn't looking for everyone to "like" it or comment on it. It's just a picture of me, right? This got me thinking... Actually, it was conversations with five of my girlfriends that got me thinking.

What kept coming up, was my friends saying, "I could never do that." "You have so much more confidence than me." "I could never look that good." "No one wants to see me in pictures like that."

And then it hit me.

My doing these pictures, was to prove to MYSELF, that I am okay with my body as it is today, as it was on the day that I went and had the pictures taken. I'm not a size 00, I have cellulite, and I definitely don't have a flat tummy.

When I look at my pictures, I can see how everyone else might possibly see me. Yes, camera angles do wonders. And yes, you have to have a lot of faith and trust in your photographer that they aren't going to capture your image from your bad side.

But my pictures... I can't stop looking at them. It amazes me that she was able to capture me so that I thought I looked beautiful from this angle or that angle. I was right to wait as long as I did because I might not have been as accepting of the fact that my body is what it is, and it's not so bad.

Tonight I had friends researching the photographers in their areas that do boudoir photos. I was getting lots of messages, and having lots of fun talking about it. They were relieved that they knew someone who had been through a shoot and could answer questions, give tips, encourage them to go for it.

I think every BODY should do something similar to a boudoir shoot. The human body is beautiful. Find a photographer who isn't going to take pictures of you that will have you feeling slut-shamed (unless that's what you're after. I'm not going to judge you on that.) If you've been hesitant, like I was, don't be. Don't be so hard on yourself. Seriously. If someone tells you that you look beautiful, I bet they're right. Have pictures to look back on so that you can maybe, hopefully, see yourself as others see you.



And my arms. Yeah, I don't even notice them in these pictures. Who would've guessed?


(I chose not to post any of the pictures from my shoot, including the one that I used on Facebook, mainly because even though I love them, they are private pictures that I am choosing to not share with the world.) 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Accountability and acceptance

I pretty much took a break from publishing posts over the winter. Life happens and blogging here took a backseat. I have some posts that I started and never hit publish. Maybe I'll go back and actually publish them. Maybe.

So why is today special?

I ran/walked my first 5K of the year. It's funny how I'm in such a different place this year than I was last year. Not a bad place either. 

This past week, I unexpectedly got a couple messages from friends. One of them I felt I needed to share because there are so many days where I just want to hit delete on this blog and take it off the list of things that I need to work on.  
Edited to protect the innocent. Just kidding. I didn't tell her I was using this.

I like helping people. It feels good to know that I have inspired someone to make a change. What's different for me now is that, I don't feel like I have to blog weekly or monthly to let people know that. Maybe it's because people already know that they can reach out to me? I don't know the answer for why I've changed things, but I'm very content with where things are in my life.

Which leads me to the title of my post: Accountability and acceptance. Back in January a lot of people were coming up with a word to describe their goal for the year. I didn't want to just pick one word, but "accountability" has been sticking with me for quite some time. I am trying very hard to be accountable for all my actions. For my activity and inactivity level, for my food intake, my moods, my parenting, and on and on. If I don't own what I'm doing, why do it? Why make excuses? Yes, some things can't be helped, but I'm trying hard to own up to each and every thing that I do or don't do.

Acceptance. It's not easy to accept who I am, and also to accept other people for who they CHOOSE to be. It doesn't mean I have to like what that person does, or even like them, but it does mean that I can accept what they've done and make a choice to continue with them in my life or be done with them. Now that may sound harsh, but really, I was hanging on to too many people in my life that didn't need to be there. In a lot of ways it was holding me back. I'm not perfect by any means, but I definitely don't have to keep people around who make me doubt myself and keep me from accepting myself for who I am.

Bottom line, I like happy people. I like being surrounded by people who don't dwell on the bad days and the misery in their life. I like being around people who lift me and others up. I know a few years ago I couldn't have said the same thing. But here I am.

Soon I will have a product giveaway to post. I was contacted by a company to review some of their clothing items and host a giveaway for up to 5 winners. Right now I'm still waiting to receive the product to review. Hopefully it arrives this week! Stay tuned!