Miss J submitted an amazing story to become a Glambassador and after I had the girls in my studio, there may have been some tears as she shared her past with us. This beautiful, brave, strong girl had a story so much like myself and I knew I had made the right decision in asking her to go through this experience. I am going to let her share her story with you because, well, she tells it much better than I ever could.
I remember sitting in the desks at school, and feeling my wide thighs leak over the sides of the chair. I remember being hunched over, grasping my belly into my hands, so mad at myself for being this way. Comparing myself to other girls was something I did every day, and every day I always came up short. I always wondered what I did wrong, why me… why did I have to be overweight. Why not her, or her? I was called fat and lazy and ugly so many times that those words didn’t even register after a while. I remember hating myself.
Throughout the years, I was bullied by everyone, but perhaps in a less direct, more subtle and more painful way. I would hear hollow statements from condescending sympathizers like, “oh, it’s what is on the inside that counts” or “but your face is so pretty” or “maybe if you lost like twenty pounds…” At the time, these comments made me angry, but I directed it towards myself, not others.
I hated being naked. I played sports and was quite active, which meant I had to change in front of others. I remember strategically planning my underwear and bra, to show as little as possible, arriving early to change, and being ashamed if anyone saw my belly. By now, there were bright red stretch marks everywhere. I avoided mirrors and especially pictures. I was good in sports, often considered one of the best defensemen on my Ringette team. I would have moments of excitement and pride, when I was able to stop goals or clear the zone. But that feeling never left. Sometimes I forgot about it, sure enough though, it would rear it’s ugly voice, reminding me that I am not good enough. Too fat. Too big. Too gross. Disgusting.
Years later, my body issues exploded into something far more complicated than I could have imagined. Infertility. Married, and ready to start a family, again, I was left wondering why me… why did this happen to me? I was (and am) so incredibly lucky to have such a supportive husband, who stood beside me, and we walked along my journey of infertility together. Still, my hatred for my body only grew, and never would I think I would be involved in boudoir. I did not like being naked. I hated being in a bathing suit. I did not own one piece of lingerie. It did not change for me until I became a Mom of four children in need of a safe and loving home. My daughter looked up to me, and I never wanted to make her feel like I felt. Over the course of a year, and with the help of surgery, I lost over one hundred pounds. Although this helped me keep up with my kids, I still had the ugly voice in my head, telling me I was not good enough. With a lot of work and support, I began to value myself.
I hear these amazing rewards from my children, when they talk about sticking up for heavier children who are bullied, or seeing a picture of me from before my weight loss, telling me I was just as beautiful as I am now, or that I am the same great Mom I always have been. They probably have no idea how much that means to me.
So when I found myself e-mailing Teri, telling her why I want to be a Glambassador, I honestly never thought that I would be considered. When she chose me though, I knew I was ready. The night before my shoot, I bought my first piece of lingerie. When I arrived, I was predictably nervous and worried. I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to pose properly, or that my face would look awkward. Sometimes it is so amazing to be wrong.
Teri was incredibly warm and welcoming. She explained the poses so well, and was patient when I was struggling to get in the right pose. Teri also said that not every picture will turn out great, but I will not see any unless they are. That really helped me let loose and go for it. It wasn’t long into the shoot when I was fully naked, lying on a bed, having photographs taken, and feeling completely comfortable. More than comfortable, I felt empowered, happy, and worthy.
The following week, I went into her studio again to have my reveal session. Of course I was nervous, not knowing how the pictures would turn out. During my slideshow, two things happened. I could not believe the muscles in my body, and how I looked from a different point of view. I had never seen myself from these perspectives, it was incredible. The second thing that happened, was I noticed my stretch marks. I noticed their white, wiggly lines trace my belly, arms, and breasts. For the first time in my life, these lines were celebrated.
I did not feel ashamed. I loved myself more that day. I continue the battle that most women face, to love themselves and feel worthy. Teri definitely contributed to my self-worth in a fun, creative, and powerful way.
Perhaps the best part, after I went through with Teri which photos were keepers, I got to share them with some of my close friends and my partner. It only gave me more reassurance and confidence to see their reactions, affirmations, and amazement. And just like that, the conversation changed from, “you have a pretty face” to “wow, you are beautiful” to “I am beautiful.” That last leap was in part because of Teri, and her remarkable ability to take women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and insecurities and make them feel beautiful.
Miss J opened up big time for her session and she exuded such…confidence and strength in her photos, and it wasn’t because of her body, but rather because of the self work that she has done over the past few years to truly start to love herself for WHO she is rather than WHAT she looks like.
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