Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Being told you have a "pretty face" as a chubby girl or as an aging plus-sized woman, you eventually realize the message repeated to you is that because of your oversized, rounded figure only your face could be the attractive quality you possess [insert eye roll here]. Or, how about pursuing dating? When social friends make comments like "Just swipe right on him! You can't afford to be picky" you are reminded that a woman of my size couldn't possibly have standards otherwise she will be alone forever [insert angry red faced emoji here]. I could share endless commentary I have received over all of my curvy years.
If you have read a couple of my blog posts by now, you know about my journey in releasing the power that decades of body image issues and self-hate used to hold over me. With that freedom, I gained a clearer perspective in looking back on some of the decisions I made throughout my life. Relationships I chose to get into. Men I fell for. "Friends" I surrounded myself with.
I understand now looking back with this perspective that I feared so much of being the single fat woman forever that I dropped my standards and my self-worth heartbreakingly low.
I allowed other people, especially men, to treat me horribly giving them a pass at every opportunity because I was afraid to be alone, unaccepted, not needed. And the sex? Was it satisfying, passionate, giving, honest and full of love? Of course not. But, was I able to say I was getting some? Sure. Was I truly happy? No, but I didn't understand that then. Now, I understand that I allowed myself to treat myself this way.
As I started to form ideas on what I wanted to experience and then share with you here, I knew I wanted to do something bold. Not just for the outcome of a blog post, but something that could take me on a life altering journey. Something that would strengthen my confidence and unleash a part of me maybe that I didn't even know I had in me.
On a moment while going through a drawer of files about my past relationships in the library of my mind, I noticed a pattern.
1) I have never been told by a man I was involved with that he thought of me as sexy
2) I never could look at myself and think 'sexy'... maybe moments where I thought 'kinda sexy for a big girl', but definitely not "hell yea, I'm sexy AF as a woman, period"
3) I hinged how I saw myself as a sexual being by waiting for the opposite sex to tell me that I was
I remembered on my former 'When I'm Skinny, I Will..." list in the back of my mind (don't worry - that list has been blown to smithereens) I had always wanted to do a boudoir photo shoot for my significant other.
But today, I am the heaviest I have ever been. No one has seen me in lingerie other than myself in recent years. And, I am single, so who would I even show these to?
With the confidence I have been building in myself these past two years, I came to understand that...
1) I don't need a man to tell me that I am sexy for me to believe it.
2) I don't need to lose weight to feel sexy. I am a complex human with many layers. One of which is a beautiful and sexy woman that is always there no matter what size she currently wears.
3) I am going to do this for myself. To capture a time in my life when despite the various molds I don't currently fit in to, I am caught basking in my confident, sexy, bold, bodacious self and that I had the "balls" to share it with perfect strangers.
And although my confidence has been spiking as of late, I have to be honest and say that it is a daily struggle to keep working on it. I have good days, great days, mediocre days and bad days. Just like any other area of our lives, confidence is something that can be volatile and tricky to foster on the daily. I knew in order for me to do this vulnerable photo shoot, I needed two things:
1) A photographer I could trust and who has an aesthetic vision similar to mine
2) Look at myself naked... a lot [insert 'see no evil' emoji here].
Through hours of research on local photographers that specialize in boudoir shoots and have an ethic of complete inclusivity, I found Suma Jane Dark. After scanning through her gallery and her 'about me' I knew she was the photographer for me. The love and care she shows in the moments she captures brings out the beauty and sexiness already in front of the camera. With little to no editing and the use of only natural light, her photos are pure and soft. On top of being an insanely talented photographer, Suma is an inspiring social media influencer. She is radiant and vulnerable and raw and relatable. Her story is unique, but one that everyone, especially us curvy girls, can relate to in every way. I couldn't wait to meet her. In only a few minutes diving into her digital storybook, I was a fan. I emailed her right away to book my shoot. She responded back within hours and we were set for July 7th.
To get ready for this shoot I did some shopping as well as dug out some of my favorite lingerie I haven't even put on in a long time. All girls can relate. We have our 'everyday' pile of tattered bras and high-waisted cotton briefs that we essentially live off of. And then we have our 'sexy' drawer that we keep on reserve for special occasions. You know this to be true.
I bought a full-length mirror and did what I have always dreaded doing... standing in front of it, bare ass naked. The reason behind my bold move was twofold. One, because I needed to start looking at all of me to see what angles I liked and to practice posing. Two, because I was about to get nearly naked in front of a complete stranger who will be taking photos of me.
So I did just that. Naked every day leading up to the shoot in front of that mirror. On the first day I quickly walked past the mirror for a brief check after getting out of the shower. The second day, I stood there for less than a minute and got into that 'bad day' of confidence only focusing on my flaws. The third day, I went through hundreds of photos women in the Dove #ShowUs campaign and was inspired by endless images of every shape, size, color, ability flourish with confidence and empowerment. So, I stood for a minute and made a mental list of everything I found sexy, beautiful or strong about my body.
By the seventh day I could barely dry off with the towel before jetting to my mirror and posing fully naked in front of it while shouting out to myself "look at that booty poppin" and other phrases to boost me up. I was ready.
Upon arrival to the shoot location, I was greeted with love and warmth and overall badass female energy from Suma and stylist Jodi Vaughn. The studio was decorated like a Parisian apartment from the 1960s with blush tones, gauzy drapes and delicious textures throughout the space. The assortment of looks I brought and the modernized version of a 1940s pinup girl style I was going for was perfectly matched in this space.
We started off with Jodi styling my hair and makeup and then...
it was just me and Suma... and the camera.
Some of my nerves about showing my body came back just before I arrived that day, but as soon as my first look was on and I walked out onto the set, I felt this sense of confidence and pride and giddy excitement sweep over every inch of me. Suma made this experience so personalized to me. It was seamless and effortless in how she directed my poses. I didn't have to think about it... I just felt my sexiness come out on its own with her capturing every moment.
Not only was this experience greatly successful in my mission to do something bold and life altering, but the magic that Suma and I created together resulted in what I believe to be a powerful bond. We met a week later to review photos and to select which ones would go into my personalized book.
As she clicked through each photo, at first I couldn't believe that was ME. I kept saying, "Oh she's hot" or "Wow, she is stunning". Suma reminded me that this IS ME, and that these photos were perfect, unedited reflections of who I am. And thereafter, my reaction was "Wow, I am sexy".
We both teary-eyed and overjoyed with excitement had an excruciating tasks of narrowing down the choices. Even with two photos that seemingly looked the same, the turn of the chin or raise of the eyebrow or angle of the hip told a completely different story than the photo next to it. But we did it. We narrow it down.
The fact that I am able to share these photos of me in one of my most vulnerable days of my adult life shows how much I have overcome. (Disclaimer - some of these photos have been cropped out or I have not revealed all photos to keep some pieces of me private [insert eye wink emoji here]. To be clear not because I am ashamed of how my body looks, but solely for the fact that I want to keep some things a mystery and private for myself and future hunny).
An experience like this was liberating and freeing. I unleashed my fat sexiness in front of that camera. I was able to diminish any shame I felt about sex or sexiness as a fat woman. I showed up that day as a sexy, bold, beautiful, sophisticated, happy, passionate, creative, smart, valued, worthy and loving woman. And here I am, standing in front of the camera with curves and rolls, stretch marks and dimples, chub rub and jiggly bits, all while oozing with self-confidence, self-love and pride.
Do you have something bold you'd love to see me experience? Comment below.
Hair & Make-Up: Jodi Vaughn https://www.jodivaughnmuah.com/
Photographer: Suma Jane Dark https://sumajanedark.com
Floral sheer crop top, Black padded strap bra, High-waisted full coverage thong: Torrid
Pink & Black structured bra: Cacique
Sequin bomber jacket: Lane Bryant
Blush cardigan: Lane Bryant
Floral bra and lace undies: Cacique