Need Some Self Love? Try Boudoir!

It’s not that I hated my body before: I could just never imagine getting in front of a camera in lingerie and posing in the body that I have.

Every image I had seen of boudoir up until the middle of this year was always the same: thin—and I mean thin—women posing provocatively in their underwear or nude. They looked so carefree and empowered by the way they embraced their femininity. But, I just couldn’t see myself in them, as much as I wanted to feel the same way they looked.

Then, this summer, I started following a few local photographers, one in particular—Jesse Mercedes—who posted boudoir concepts amongst other photos, and only half her clients were what I’d been conditioned to consider modelesque. The women in many of her boudoir photos were bigger girls or women with curves. These were women who looked more like me, and they were rocking it in the bodies they were in! From the looks on their faces, I could tell they had felt that same sense of freedom I had seen in the thinner women doing boudoir.

It made me really want to try boudoir.

Even so, I held off for months before I finally built up the courage to sign up for an event. Jesse often hosted mini-events for either specialty boudoir or the option to have boudoir-type images done, and I’d watched a few sell out during my time following her Instagram. These mini-events duplicated longer, individual sessions, but instead, you’d get a half-hour of hair/makeup and a half-hour of photos, with other clients before and after you.

Jesse announced she was hosting one such set of mini-sessions for a date in mid-October and after months of contemplating, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait until I had lost a few pounds or until I had gone to the gym a few more times. I shouldn’t have to wait to love the body I had. As soon as I got the email with the information, I sent in my non-refundable deposit, figuring if I paid for part of it and did so before I could talk myself out of it, I’d have to go through with it. The ideology worked.

I was nervous, I won’t lie. I was terrified that I would show up and be the biggest girl in the room, or that I wouldn’t feel as confident as I wanted to look once she started snapping photos. I went out and bought a new bodysuit for the event, to help make it feel even more special. But the entire time leading up to the event, despite the encouragement I received from my boyfriend and Jesse—who was in contact with me every step of the way—I was terrified. The morning of my session, I don’t think I ate because my stomach was rolling so much.

But I’m here to tell you that despite all the nerves and all the butterflies in my stomach, going to that boudoir session was the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time.

I showed up and was instantly surrounded by a team of encouraging and positive women. With my hair and makeup done, I felt like an absolute gem, and I didn’t hear a word of negativity when I stepped out of the washroom that doubled as a changing room—only hollers of praise at the bodysuit I’d bought. Not only that, but several other women who were there waiting to get hair and makeup for their own shoots chimed in to create an aura of positivity that filled the room. While being half-naked in a room of strangers is usually a daunting thought, it felt so natural in that space.

I can honestly say that even before receiving my photos back, I felt 100% more confident in myself. I didn’t even have time to think about any awkwardness that I might’ve felt with not knowing what to do with my body because Jesse was extremely energetic and guided me through a number of poses over the course of my session. Upon leaving the studio, I found myself thinking I could do almost anything afterward: I had gotten photos done of myself half-naked. If I could do that, I could wear the mini-skirt I loved but had been too afraid to wear because of my thighs. I could eat the extra dessert because my body was worth enjoying the things I loved—that extra dessert hadn’t made me unphotographable before and it wouldn’t in the future. I felt so free after my session that, even without the photos for proof, I felt like I could take on the world.

Now I won’t lie, I didn’t love every picture I got back. I think it would have been too much to ask for that to happen. There will always be angles that I find unflattering on me and parts of myself that I don’t like being shown in pictures. But there were many images that, every time I see them (because of course, I chose some of them as part of my watermark-free album), I feel such fierce pride and admiration for the woman I see in them.

I didn’t do boudoir for anybody but myself, and I honestly encourage any woman to get boudoir photos done for her own damn self if she is even somewhat curious about the concept! It doesn’t matter what you look like: your body is worthy of the love and attention that a boudoir shoot allows you to have! 

There’s something so special about paying for professional photos with no expectation of sharing them (although you totally can if you want!). My boudoir photos are for me to look at and remember how it felt to step out of my comfort zone, and they are a reminder that even if there are some things I want to change about myself, the one thing I shouldn’t change is the belief that I am worthy of love, especially from myself.

For anybody interested in participating in a session with Jesse, you can find her at www.baresoulboudoir.com or on Instagram @baresoulboudoir for all things boudoir, or, if you’re interested in non-boudoir concepts, @jesscaptures_

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