New love is always so fun and exciting. Your heart skips a beat, you are constantly smiling, and in your eyes, your love can do no wrong. This is a different kind of new love for me. It is a love for myself. A new affair that began recently and the only thing about it that makes me sad is that it took me almost 32 years to get here and I had no idea. For years, my love, my best friend was right here, and I treated her terribly, thought mean thoughts about her, and constantly compared her to everyone else and never embraced the beauty that she had all along.
I am so fortunate to have a phenomenal photographer as one of my best friends. Candace Rock Photography(can't miss the chance to plug her work!) This means I get dibs on some pretty amazing photo shoots before they sell out to the public. She has been training and dabbling in Boudoir photos for a while, and finally put together a mini marathon to capture the sexiness of some awesome women. I was immediately all over it, because as I mentioned above, my body and I are newly in love and I wanted to celebrate that with some sexy shots. Ok, yes, ideally they were going to be for my husband...but I knew they would be for me too.
It wasn't until Candace sent me the prep guide and questionnaire that I realized how 'for me' this shoot was going to be. She asked questions about what kind of style I liked, and what my dream shoot would be, and what my partner loved about me and my body. But when I got to the question: 'what do you love about your body?' I started to cry. And those tears made me cry even more. I wasn't crying because I didn't have an answer. I was crying because for once in my life, finally, I had a lot of answers. I didn't need to ask someone else, or make up something that I thought should say. Nope. I had a whole paragraph of what I love about myself. And it felt amazing.
'I love that it is strong. I love that you can see my muscles. That you can tell I can probably kick a little ass. I love that I can smile when I look in the mirror at myself naked (most of the time). I love that I work hard for it. I love that it allows me to do what I love- run and teach. I love that I look like a real woman and mother, with curves and hips and a booty. I love that I am finally at a point in my life where I truly do love my body.'
It felt liberating. And not only did it feel great to love myself, it felt great to be able to say it...without feeling like I was bragging, or that I should keep it to myself.
Heading into the shoot I was excited to see how my pictures would turn out. I was excited to feel confident in front of the camera, and let go of any bad thoughts that might linger in the back of my mind. And I was excited for a glass of champagne. I had been holding off all week to look good for the pictures ;)
I walked into the room, and saw my friend Melissa prepping for her shoot. Insert teeny tiny perfectly tan, adorably cute, not a wrinkle, line or mark on her body Melissa. And yes, she is a mother of 2. I got a little lump in my throat. I felt a voice starting to creep in my head. A voice of doubt. Finally, finally, my love was real with myself, and in creeps some jealousy and doubt. I could never look like Melissa. I am so embarrassed that the photographer (hello, my friend) and the make up artist were going to see my body right after hers. Maybe I need 2 glasses of champagne.
It took me so long to get to this point, was it really all going back down the drain in self-doubt?
I put on my first outfit, and felt just as bad. And then worse for thinking that way. I became nervous, and worried I would look stupid. That this inner sexiness I was feeling wasn't going to come across in the pictures. And that I would forever look like the insecure girl it took me 32 years to get away from.
But then something happened. As I sat in front of the camera, I remembered why it was I fell in love with my body. It wasn't because I looked like a swimsuit model, or that I weighed 110 pounds(so far from that!). It was because I worked hard, I looked strong, I was happy. I began to relax a bit, and get into my shoot. Not worrying about the other girls around me. To be honest, they were saying nice things, and complimenting me. Not staring and pointing.
By the end of the shoot I had let loose, was excited to see the pictures of my body, and felt amazing letting myself be so free, and roll around in the sheets with my new love. And it shows in the pictures. And that is exactly the story I was hoping to tell.
At the end of the day it didn't matter what my body looked like in the photos, but just an fyi- it looked really good! What mattered is that you could tell I was owning and loving every inch of my body.
The last question Candace asked on the questionnaire was 'What story do you want to tell with your images?' And here was my answer:
'That I am a confident and strong woman, but also one that is very fragile and sweet. I'm not a skinny model like girl, and I like that about me. I want to own my body, right here and right now, embrace every curve and muscle that I have worked for. And I want that love to show. So that I can always remember that I love myself. I might need to draw back on that over the years.'
Mission Accomplished. My new love has passed the test. I am hoping this is one that lasts forever.