When my husband and I were first married, I told him that no matter what was going on in our lives, whether we had children or not, were fat or skinny, rich or poor, I wanted to have family pictures done every year. This was (still is) so important to me. I didn't know where life would take us and I wanted to have the tangible memories.
Well, the first year wasn't hard... who doesn't love having engagement and wedding pictures done! All that kissing and being in love... it's disgusting, really. :) I was in the best shape of my life, felt gorgeous and was totally confident! I LOVED my pictures! All our pictures were done in Janaury 2007, so we were good for that year.
The following year was rough. I got really sick and we couldn't figure out what was wrong. I was gaining weight like crazy, we were trying to get pregnant, I was on meds that were doing nothing for me, we got in a car accident that caused enough damage that I could barely work or do regular household chores... everything was just not going to plan. I was not happy with how I looked or how I felt, and it was SO HARD to even consider letting someone take a picture of me this way! But as December rolled around, and I was running out of year, I made the appointment to have pictures done. I didn't want to mess up my goal after only one year! So, childless and fatter, we took pictures. At the time I felt kinda dumb because I was insecure and the photos pretty much just look like engagement shots, but they still turned out good, and I was glad I kept to my goal. :)
2009 we had my sister in law take some pictures for us. It was still just the 2 of us, but I had managed to lose some of the weight I had gained and we were happy as ever, so there you go.
2010 was about the same. I still wasn't any skinnier, but you know what? It didn't really matter. That wasn't going to stop me from taking pictures. I didn't want to look back on this time in my life and wonder where the pictures were. I wanted the memories. I wanted to remember that we were happy, still in love and that we were living a fulfilling life despite the fact that it wasn't panning out exactly (hah! or even remotely) like we had planned. :)
2011- you guessed it. Just the 2 of us... we looked about the same... I still wasn't the perfect me I was on our wedding day. But you know, I was who I was. I tell people all the time that this is how everyone sees me already. It's not like by being in a picture that someone is all of a sudden going to say "Oh my gosh, look at how fat you are...".
Then came 2012 and for the first time, we had a little change to our photos that was not just my hair. :) We got to take a family photo WITH children. Wow... WAY more work than just Doug and I! But it was fun and even though I weighed more than the year before, I loved these pictures too. Our life changed dramatically when we adopted our 2 crazy little munchkins, and in order to have them AND us in the picture we needed to (GASP) have a full body shot! No more from the shoulders up! When I saw the pictures, I'm disappointed to say that I looked first at myself and thought some bad things, but then I got over it. I told myself the truth (which is no one else is going to notice that but me) and fell in love with the pictures.
Also, did you notice that I was not in black or a dark color? I, like most women, had fallen into the trap of black being slimming. Even though I think I look just fine in black, I discovered a program called Dressing Your Truth that gave me the courage to dress in brighter/lighter colors. :)
And that journey brings to me to the whole purpose of this post. I became a photographer because I wanted to capture the beauty of the people I came in contact with. When I found out about My Beauty Campaign, it really seemed to fill in the gaps of what I wanted to create. I truly believe in their mission. I believe that every woman can and should feel beautiful, and that every woman should have a photo of herself that she truly loves. Part of my process was having my own beauty session done. At first I didn't think I needed it. I mean, I have pictures of me... But I came to realize that this was more than just a family picture. This got to be about ME. Doing something for ME. And also about experiencing firsthand what I want my clients to experience.
So, there I was! The heaviest I have ever been (double my wedding weight) and a little scared, but also really excited to look and feel amazing.
I went shopping, got some cute new shirts and lots of jewelery. ;) Got my hair and nails done, even put on false eyelashes! (I had to practice putting them on for a week before I finally figured them out!)
There really was something so liberating about having a photo shoot for just me. I wasn't worried about whether so and so is smiling, or if everyone is looking at the camera, or any of those other crazy things women/mom's think about that then shows up in our facial expressions. :/ All I had to worry about was me. I didn't even really think about if I looked fat in this pose or what my hair was doing or whether my eyelashes were falling off. :) I had prepared and I just went with it. :)
My beautiful friend Becky was nice enough to take my pictures and she was phenomenal! I wish I could bottle all of her charm and personality and use it when I work with people. :) We had such a good time that I didn't even care if the pictures turned out horrible, because then we could do it all over again! :) I am happy to report though, that they turned out GREAT! And even though I don't look exactly the way I want, and I still have insecurities, I can honestly say that I love my pictures and I can love myself a little better now. I am grateful for my husband, my family and my friends who love me as I am and help me be confident in who I am. And you know what? I look back on all these pictures now and I wonder why I was so worried about how I looked. I don't see the flaws in every photo anymore. I can see the memories. I can see a beautiful woman and I can see growth and change and a happy life. I TRULY hope that every woman can experience this amazing transformation and find the beauty in her past and present self. :)