Friday, April 25, 2014

Finding My Beauty

I recently had the wonderful experience of a Femmeography photo shoot with Natasha Komoda.
I've been following Jade Beall ( ) for a while and that's how I came across Natasha and her beautiful photographs. I was drooling the moment I saw them and really wishing I could do a session, and kind of thinking it would never happen. When an opportunity presented itself you can believe I jumped at it and made sure it happened.

I've been on a self-love journey for the past decade, and on a body-love journey for the past year or so. The timing for this was absolutely perfect. I was mentally and emotionally in just the right place to get the most out of this experience. 
Here is my story:

Yesterday I wrote, "I just opened my hotmail inbox to find my femmeography portraits. I am SO SCARED to open that email!
I am terrified that I have not come as far as I think I have in accepting myself and that I will see more flaws than beauty when I look at my photos. I am afraid I will find myself in an old sad place."

          Before I went to the shoot I was thinking about how absolutely lovely all the ladies in the photos were. No matter their size or shape or “flaws”, they were all gorgeous. I was really excited to do the shoot, and a little nervous. I’ve come a Long way in this past year toward accepting myself and seeing my beauty. Still, the day before we drove to Natasha's studio I was noticing things that were getting me wound up. Dry skin on my arm that was becoming inflamed and looked like a rash, and so on.
           I worried about my weight and couldn’t help wishing I could do this photo shoot “when I’m more fit”. Which is completely beside the point. Duh! I looked in the mirror and tried to find the beauty I’ve been seeing more and more lately. And I remembered something. At my thinnest I still had just as many days when I was shocked by the mirror and the not-beauty I saw there. I had just as many days when I saw my beauty. It was not different from now.


        . . . We arrive at Natasha's studio in the rain. We've been driving since shortly after 5 a.m. It's good to get out of the car. We meet Natasha and then Nate heads out for a stroll around the neighborhood. I change into comfy clothes.

I'm nervous, but it soon fades almost entirely away. Natasha is so sweet and awesome, she puts me at ease right away. I freeze up a couple of times during the shoot, but not for long.  
My nervous face

I enjoy chatting with Natasha, and laughing. Lots of laughing. I remember things I love about myself. I am me. I am introverted and reserved, happy inside my head. I am loving and funny and I want to be seen. My skin is soft and my eyes lovely. I know that when I smile and laugh it glows through every part of me.

I love the crinkly lines by my eyes when I smile

I love the human face! What a funny thing it is. So marvelously mobile and potentially hilarious.

Yes, I love my face

I love ME

When I dance I fly away from the pain for a moment.

The pain that keeps me from the portion of the session that involves lying on the floor. The pain that had me worried on the drive up here, wondering if I would be able to move at all. It has been a constant these eleven months, adding an unbearable weight to the weakness and exhaustion I was already being crushed under.

I'm Alive

I've come a long way since THIS post. Far from hating my body any more I can hug my big belly and say to my body “I love you. You work so hard to protect me from whatever this is. Thank you.”  

After the shoot I was so full. Full of energy. Full of thoughts. Full of a swirling mixture of elation and confusion. To be so vulnerable in front of someone else is a big stretch for me, but it helped to open me up inside and out and take the next step in discovering my beauty.
My perception of myself, my personality, my interactions with other people, my thoughts about the world, fill my head with what I “look” like. Somehow what I saw in the mirror the times I saw ugliness did not match my perception of myself. I’m not sure why that is, whether it’s some cultural concept of what I ‘should’ look like or whether it’s some other reason.

My journey lately has been, not only to see beauty in every person, including myself, no matter what our culture says beauty is and isn’t, but also to reconcile what I perceive about myself with what I see in the mirror. To cause those two things to line up.

I looked through my femmeography photos through floods of tears. When words finally came what burst out of me was, “Oh. My. Gosh. I am so freaking Beautiful!”

And I'm not afraid any more. I know the journey is real, where I am now is real. I am beautiful.