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!
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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.
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