Boudoir Was One Of The Most Liberating Experiences Of My Whole Goddamned Adult Life
M. was one of our inaugural Muses. I asked her to share about her experience in the studio. She’s come in twice! And what a transformation of confidence! These are images from her second session. Thank you for sharing your words and your images!
We shot on the day of the summer solstice in 2019. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my whole goddamned adult life.
In high school, I discovered the concept of “body image issues.” It was junior year and I had put on a bit of weight recently, enough that I tore my prom dress during prom. It wasn’t too noticeable, but I knew I was getting fat. I wrote a short essay comparing myself to ballet dancers I’d seen on PBS and how I coveted their lean, muscular lines over my round, fat ones for English class. A friend of mine thought it was hilarious that I described myself as “Rubenesque,” which it probably was because that was overkill for a 16-year-old who probably just needed to stop skipping gym class.
This was the genesis of some serious hatred for my body.
I was short, weak, incredibly unathletic, awkward, nerdy, and clumsy as hell. I could trip over nothing. Later I found out that I had multiple sclerosis, and that was a pretty fair reason for tripping over nothing, but I didn’t know that at the time. I started birth control in my early twenties, and I gained about 20 pounds. I was diagnosed with MS, had to go on heavy-duty steroids, and gained about 20 pounds each time I took them. I gained weight because I was depressed.
After trying a bunch of diets, exercise, and weight loss programs, it was a combination of a hospital weight loss program and my marriage ending that finally got me to lose weight permanently. Great! For the first time in 12 years, I could walk into Old Navy and buy something off of the rack!
I was shattered by my marriage ending and felt like I needed to do something to feel some sense of self-validation. I hadn’t given in to despair. I was newly single and ready to mingle. I had discovered Savage X Fenty lingerie. Allana’s boudoir photography included plus-size clients.It all came together perfectly.
After I got my hair and makeup done, I ducked into the bathroom to change into my first outfit, and there I was, but this hotter, sexier, like eight thousand times more desirable version of myself. Daaaaamn! Who is this?!?! I kept thinking. This isn’t me. This is a likable me! This is the doable me! I had felt so ugly and so gross for so long, and today, I felt like the powered-up me. It was Usagi from Sailor Moon using her disguise pen to transform from a dumpy high school student to a fancy dress party guest. I was so excited to see the results.
Seeing the photos was a shock. There I was, pudgy body and all. I thought that I would be cringing my way through the whole reveal. There were pictures that went way beyond my expectations. A la “She is a bae” where “bae = me” and it was hard to immediately accept that. I’ve always thought of myself as like a solid 5. I thought of myself as someone that people think of as smart and funny, not pretty or beautiful.
My ex once told me that I was pretty but not beautiful. These photos were beautiful. I daresay maybe even gorgeous. I dared to think that I wasn’t the worst of my thoughts about myself, my body, my personality, or my life. This woman was someone deserving of love and compassion. For me, it meant self-acceptance.
You can take baths and go to the spa and get a mani-pedi day with your friends, but this is something that can only be done by you. Seeing yourself at your most vulnerable looking the most beautiful is a gift that you owe to yourself.