Monday, June 8, 2015

7 Things My Sexy Boudoir Photos Taught Me

Prude warning, there will be boobs here. Undoubtedly some profanity. Potentially some triggering words about body image.

I've been struggling to deal with body image issues for.... oh, most of my life. Got closets full of clothes in assorted sizes to testify to it. Anyone else?

I've realized I am never going to be able to come to better terms with, let alone love, my soon-to-be post-cancer, battle-scarred body. Not if I am hating on the body I have now.

How many times have I recited to myself a laundry list of my body flaws? Even when I was younger and relatively thin, I was hating on myself much more often than I was appreciating and loving myself.

I have to learn to love my body. As it is, not as I would like it to be.

Project: Self-Love
Here's my target.

Project: Self-Love

I am working on becoming more mindful, learning to be aware when my inner hater starts in with her negativity. And from being aware, to figuratively jamming a ball-gag in her mouth. Because I would never hang with a friend who talks smack to me the way she does.

Hating As A Strategy Does Not Work

Hate doesn't work as a long-term, healthy-body strategy. Hate doesn't work as a good strategy for anything, from foreign relations, to career-advancement, to dating, and certainly not for healing a damaged body.

So I have been working showing myself the love. On improving my nutrition, on giving up projects that were giving me more stress than satisfaction.

On appreciating the wonderful experiences and pleasure my body, as it is right now, has given me, and continues to give me.

My body truly is, as Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about in The Joyous Body, a faithful and loyal companion, who deserves to be treated as someone loved and valued.

This leads me to... sexy boudoir photos. Because I wanted to honor (and memorialize) "the girls," and myself, before my surgery and radiation.

I expected it would feel a little awkward at first (it did), and then, because I was blessed with an incredibly talented photographer who totally put me at my ease, I was able to open up, not just physically, but emotionally.  I came away from the session with more than some amazing smutty photos, but thoughts, impressions, and experiences I will be unpacking for months, if not years, to come.

Here's 7 things my sexy boudoir pictures taught me about self-love, and life:

1. More is more, when it comes to photos.

Most of us don't like ourselves in pictures because we often only take 2-3 of them at a time. None of them are good, so we conclude we are not photogenic or attractive, and then we avoid having pictures taken, or wear a pissy expression when we are forced into it. Expecting to look fugly in pictures becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If we take dozens, hundreds of photos even, and loosen up a little, have fun with it,

chances are we'll find at least a few pictures of ourselves that we like.

I found so many that I liked, so many that had me looking at myself with new eyes, and saying, Wow, amazing! I look hot! Who knew?!? 

Actually, it made me tear up a little.

Sure, there are pictures I don't like as much, but for once, instead of zooming in on those, and ripping myself to shreds, I focused on the ones I liked.  I found myself falling a little bit in love with me.

2. I really do have an expressive face.

I loved this photo shoot. Nick (Nick Holmes Photography) was super fun, yet super professional, and because he drew so many looks out of me, from a glam Hollywood look, to playful, serious, earth mother, sensuous...

3. Usually our our perspective is skewed. 

I had no idea my tits looked so different, and well, big, from other angles.

4. Things change, sometimes dramatically, when we shine a different light on them.

5. It's not all about the makeup.

Makeup is fun. Makeup and hair styling [inserting a commercial plug and shout-out to Liana and Mel at Studio 15 Salon] can make a person feel attractive, and glamorous (and I did), but at the end of the day, when your makeup is mostly schmeared off and your hair's gone flat, how do you feel? I felt playful and amazing.

Absolutely, lighting and makeup and camera filters made me look sexy and glamorous in this shoot, but I have to claim some of the credit. That's my personality (as well as my tongue and tits), sticking out from so many of these shots. I look like a person I would like to be friends with.

Kind of validating to be able to say that about myself.

6. Tiaras do make everything better.

I am planning to rock my tiara for all the rest of my cancer journey, because by the Power of Glitter and All Things Shiny, I am going to kick this beast to the curb.

7. I think I could easily develop a taste for young, sexy, talented photographers.

Some of you might remember the headshots I had taken in south-central Oregon a couple years ago with sexy photographer Kirk McKenzie.

I have noticed the word amazing coming up a lot here. I cannot speak highly enough of my Pasadena photographer, Nick Holmes, who took my virginity (at nude and semi-nude posing) with his skillful direction as to poses, costumes changes, lighting changes, background changes, explaining to me about posture, all without ever making me feel awkward.

Even though I was.  Even though at one point, in trying to go for a pose, I overbalanced leaning forward (see big tits, above) and gracefully faceplanted on the floor.

Nick not only looks great in a tiara. but he's agreed to do a second shoot with me, when I am through my lumpectomy (scheduled for June 15), and whatever comes next, probably radiation+meds. And I'm looking forward to using another boudoir shoot as a tool, to learn and embrace the beauty and sexiness of the post-breast-cancer me.

Have you ever done a boudoir shoot?
How did you feel about yourself afterward?
Your thoughts?