Telling your story is an act of empowerment and self-expression.
Stories from The Tribe are real clients sharing their experiences and feelings that got them to the studio and how their own boudoir photoshoot changed their perspective. We all share similar fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities. They may not all look the same, but they feel the same, and many are so relatable.
I believe we all have a story to tell. I believe we should take up space to share and be loud. When you tell your story, and share your unique perspective, you have the power to inspire others. You may not know it, but not everyone is ready to spill the beans. But when someone can relate to a story and feel validated in their feelings? That’s powerful.
As your boudoir photographer, I can tell you how empowering a boudoir session can be. I can tell you how you will feel afterwards, during and before. But to hear from a real client, the experiences that they felt, just makes more sense coming from them. I want you to hear real stories from real everyday women.
This is Rebecca’s story.
The word often associated with boudoir photography is “empowering.” I know this is definitely the case when working with Deb – her incredible art is wholly centred around the celebration and expression of one’s beautiful self. And while we often associate the final product with aesthetic beautify, that really has almost nothing to do with what it’s actually about. At least, not for me.
Everyone’s journey to the studio looks different, obviously: we all start from different backgrounds, different comfort levels, different core beliefs….
Me? I come from a world a little different from most others. I won’t say it was worse, I would never assume that. But I do know that when I talk about it openly to people from the outside world that it’s uncommon for jaws not to hit the floor. The “religion” I survived didn’t equip me for much of anything, really, besides blind obedience of the life of a marginalized wife and mother. Fortunately my “true self” is shit at both of those callings, and when my 15.5 year marriage ended at age 36, I was finally able to allow myself to just…be.
Four years later and I’ve learned so much. I’ve grown comfortable enough in my skin that I can wear tank tops and expose the flesh of my shoulders without feeling like a harlot, and wear shorts ABOVE my knees in the blistering heat of the summer. I own sundresses and halter tops, I occasionally workout (in my basement) in a sports bra, I unapologetically wear two-piece bathing suits despite the stigma against them I grew up with and the fact that after bearing children my stomach isn’t really… pretty.
I know, now, that everything I was taught about my body, about my femininity, about my responsibility for the purity of the thoughts of men… was wrong. I still don’t feel “sexy” – it’s a word I literally cannot even say without shuddering, it’s so subconsciously ensconced in the carnal evils of the natural man – I can’t comfortably be naked around my partner, I often hide behind darkness, baggy clothes, or I’ll literally ask him to close his eyes while I’m coming through so he can’t see me.
I learned my entire worth was based around my physical self, around my appearance, and my presentation of that appearance. And maybe because I’m a girl in the society we live in I internalized that said appearance was never enough, I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough… a crazy juxtaposition of trying to maintain an acceptable level of attractiveness while always being reminded not to be TOO attractive as to garner the inescapable negative attention of men. They can’t help it.. I am their pornography (which is, of course, a scourge of evil upon the Earth) if I don’t dress properly. It’s my fault if a man’s eye wanders, if his thoughts are impure, if he assaults me.
So when I got to Deb’s and I got dressed, or undressed as it were, I froze. I stood behind the door in the beautiful changing area, hair and makeup done up stunningly, wearing a comfortable pair of knickers and a long-sleeved shirt because that was the best I could do in the moment… I completely froze. I couldn’t open the door. Couldn’t take the step. Couldn’t be seen like that. “Undressed.” Vulnerable. Slutty. She came and helped me open the door. Moved the curtain over so I could scoot over to sit while maintaining the barrier of fabric between me and her eyes, her camera. I sat down, feeling so exposed, so small, and so… wrong.
She ever-so-carefully explained to me her process, something I would expect she does in every case – you are safe here, you are okay. For me it was telling me that this is okay.
And nervously I allowed myself to be coached through different poses while she started clicking away, an artist at work in her perfected medium. Eventually I changed outfits, and as I was positioned on and around the beautiful set I found myself suddenly feeling… free? Like I was reclaiming myself. My body. Like everything that I’ve always learned that I am, the Lesser that I was taught by virtue of my being born female, was leaving. Like with every turn of the head or tilt of the shoulder I was screaming a big Fuck You to the cult that raised me.
Empowering is the word everyone uses,
and I don’t think that’s wrong at all. But for me, it was more than that. It’s the best and only word I can come up with, which is infuriating because words is one of my greatest strengths, but… what I experienced in front of Deb’s camera that day… it wasn’t JUST empowering. It was redefining. Reclaiming. Reaffirming that everything I am, all of me, regardless of the fact that I didn’t lose the 30lbs I wanted to before my photoshoot day, that all of it is okay. I am okay. I am WORTHY.
When I see the resultant pictures I’m in awe. To be frank when I first got the proofs I was nauseated: I couldn’t look at them. I couldn’t look at ME, couldn’t reconcile what I was seeing with what I know. But it quickly turned from I couldn’t look to I couldn’t look AWAY. I’m exposed. I’m vulnerable. And it’s beautiful.
I like to think maybe I’ll do it again one day, when I’m closer to the end of my healing journey, see what that Me brings to the camera. But having done it, now, when I’m “not ready,” when I’m not skinny enough, fit enough, confident enough… doing it now when it was so unbelievably outside any possible sense of comfort for me, I mean… it couldn’t have been more perfect.
Empowered, yes. But more than that. In front of that camera I learned I am mine. Wholly. Completely. Unabashedly.
And that is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.