When I asked Amy to write about her boudoir shoot experience with us, she quickly responded with a “YES!”. Reading about her experience was honestly one of the most touching things for me... Here is her story, written by Amy herself.
I've watched the scale go up and down over the last several years and my confidence bottomed out after having my kids. Don't get me wrong, love them to death, but that post-partum mom body hit me really hard and took a MAJOR toll on my mental health.
Gaining weight during pregnancy and having postpartum depression did a number on my body. I was living in what felt like a trap. I was searching for an answer, anything that could pull me out of the funk I was deeply in. Changing my hair and putting on makeup lasted a short minute, but didn't help long term. I was still miserable.
I appreciated the love and compliments from my significant other, but it was had to believe him most days. I knew HE thought I was perfect, but what was he seeing that I couldn’t? A boudoir shoot would blow his mind. He would NEVER expect it. I could do this for him…I think. I never expected to feel immediate doubt. WHAT was I thinking? Scheduling a boudoir shoot? In front of strangers no less?
I wasn’t a sexy person- I knew next to nothing about what looked sexy on me. I don't even think I OWNED a piece of lingerie. I went to my best friend for support, but all I got in reply was her shocked face. “You’re doing WHAT..?” “You’re brave.” “I could NEVER do that..”
Doubt and anxiety echoed back at me. NEVER do that? But why not? Why never? My friends are stunning, but I couldn’t convince them otherwise. Is that what I was doing to myself without even realizing it? Was I looking down on myself instead of loving myself? If I could build my friends up, shouldn’t I be loving myself in the same way? The world makes it so easy to for us, as women, to focus on our imperfections- to focus on all of our flaws. Society presents us with the “perfect” woman literally everywhere...in our faces...all of the time.
I prepared for my boudoir shoot as much as I could, checking off all of the things on my list to but and do to make myself look like a better version of myself. Nails and toes done?- check. Hair done? Check. Go to Victoria’s Secret and have the sales associate get over the headset to announce I was headed to the fitting room for a boudoir shoot? And then having the thrilled woman in charge of the fitting room exclaim that I MUST show her once I had the lingerie on?- Embarrassing check.
Then it was here- Boudoir Shoot day. I shuffled into the studio- wearing leggings and an oversized sweatshirt- and was immediately greeted by friendly faces.
Immediately the thoughts started to race as I sat down for hair and makeup. I’M SO OUT OF MY ELEMENT, I thought. I’M NOT SEXY. WHAT IF MY MAN DOESN’T LIKE THE PICTURES AFTER ALL?
“What are you going for today?” Ali asked me, interrupting my negative self-talk.
“Well…I don’t ever really wear makeup…and I tend to keep it pretty simple. So..” I had no idea how to answer and was acutely aware of the breakout on my face that of course popped up overnight.
“Do you like curls?”
I smiled. I LOVED when my hair was curled. I started to get more comfortable. While I was getting my hair and makeup done, Emma and Victoria were chatting with me about life, work, photography. I even made a joke about being half naked in front of a group of strangers- and they laughed! Maybe I CAN do this. Especially when I looked at myself in the mirror once I was done in the chair. I couldn’t stop staring. Could I REALLY look that pretty? I genuinely didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror- Why was I so obsessed with focusing on the negative? I'm pretty sure I cried with tears of happiness.
Now, I only brought one outfit with me from VS. I have a really difficult time finding things that fit my body well. Emma immediately jumped into the wardrobe portion asking me about the things I wanted to highlight (and not so much) and she listened to how I saw my body. The outfits that she pulled for me from their client closet were literally perfect. I was skeptical about a couple of them, but I'm glad I trusted her judgment because they were amazing once I put them on.
It’s really all about jumping off that cliff- even if you have a fear of heights. The place where all your insecurities hang out and whisper those lies into your soul. The cliff where you have never felt good enough. The cliff where we judge other women for what THEY look like. Just....Jump.
I finally started to come out of my shell.
“Look how stunning you are!” Emma rushed over to show me a picture on the camera. And I started to believe it.
Even if I had to play my hype girl playlist in my head to hype me up in the beginning. Even if Emma had to help me hook up my thigh-highs to the garter belt. Even when I couldn’t relax the worry-wrinkles on my forehead. Even when I was laughing hysterically because Emma was cracking jokes the whole time. Even when I laid down on the cold, bare floor to get the perfect shot. I finally let go- I felt free. I could have never imagined what the final product would be.
You would never think that putting your clothes back on for the Reveal Session would actually be the most nerve-wracking moment of the day. I felt sexy, I felt confident, I felt beautiful. Would all that come through in the pictures?
Emma showed me picture after picture- a woman I hardly recognized.
“Is that me?!” That’s not me,“ I kept repeating.
“Yes! That IS you!” They kept saying. I didn’t focus on the flaws and imperfection that plagued my daily life. It was so liberating. For the very first time in my life, I genuinely didn’t feel weighed down by those thoughts. Maybe it took Emma’s perspective for me to see myself in a true light. That stunning woman in those pictures WAS me- looking completely and utterly flawless. I was speechless.
Flawless. Me. Used in the same sentence. (I get emotional just writing this.) I had never felt that way before. I felt like I was on top of he world. Is this what it felt like to see me through everyone else's eyes? Is this what it felt like to truly love yourself?
I knew that if I felt this was about myself, there was no way on earth he wouldn’t be surprised. I decided to get a photo album for my fiancé- 20 glorious and glossy pages from the boudoir shoot that I flip through MYSELF every chance I get. I think I look at them more than he does. It’s a daily reminder that my self-image has completely changed after having my boudoir shoot. A new level of confidence and acceptance became a part of my every day life..all thanks to Emma and her team, a group of people who have the very special talent of finding beauty in everyone.
I feel empowered just being, well..me. I had realized in giving my boyfriend this gift, I had unintentionally given myself the best gift of all.