As you've read in previous blog posts, I've always struggled with my self-image and self-esteem. As my 34th birthday was hurtling towards me, I decided to change the narrative that typically played in my mind whenever I looked in the mirror. What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, usually, whenever I looked in the mirror, I would only see the parts of my body that I didn't like. I would make comments to myself about what I wish I could change. This was starting to become a bit of a slippery slope for me as I've been in recovery from my eating disorder for the last 12 years.
So, I wanted to take things into my own hands and jump completely outside of my comfort zone. That's where the idea of a boudoir shoot came to mind.
"Hey Google, I need a boudoir photographer!"
Over the past couple of years, I've been intrigued by women who took part in boudoir shoots. They looked so confident, sexy and happy in their own skin. That's how I wanted to feel, even if I didn't think I was any of that. I decided this was exactly what I needed to change what I saw when I looked at myself.
Thanks to a quick Google search and countless reviews, I found Provocateur Images based in Toronto. I can't say this enough; it was the best decision I have ever made.
After going through the website, I still wasn't 100 per cent sure I could take the plunge, but I went ahead and booked an initial consultation with Trevor, the photographer and owner of Provocateur Images.
The stage was set for our call two days later. For those two days, my negative thoughts were on overdrive. I kept replaying, "Who do I think I am that I can do a boudoir shoot?!" But as soon as Trevor started talking to me, my fear and self-doubt started to chip away. He asked me why I was doing this, and it felt empowering for me to say that this whole adventure was just for me.
He walked me through what the process would be, from the wardrobe consultation to the day of the shoot and everything in between. He made sure I felt comfortable about everything, and then he asked the question, "Do I schedule you for a shoot?"
To my surprise, without any hesitation, I said, "YES! When is the earliest you can fit me in?"
The Wardrobe Consultation
Once the shoot date was set, it was time for me to figure out what I would be wearing! This was a hell of a lot more fun than I expected. I actually was getting excited about the idea that I was going to see myself in a new light. I researched outfits that would fit my body best, plus Trevor had a Facebook group for clients and those interested in a boudoir session where he posted tips and ideas on what type of lingerie works.
Something fantastic that Provocateur Images does is that Trevor will schedule a one-on-one wardrobe consultation with you about a week before the shoot. I was so damn excited about it! Again, this came from the woman who didn't think she deserved to think about doing this type of thing.
Through FaceTime, I showed Trevor what I had picked out, what I liked most and what I just wasn't sure about. His keen eye for what works on camera helped us narrow my wardrobe picks to three. And let me tell you, the man was right!
The day finally came, shoot day! I was so anxious, terrified and yet incredibly excited for the day. I arrived a bit early because I was just filled with jitters and, well, I'm always super early. When I walked into the studio, Trevor had just arrived, and Emma, my wonderful and amazing hair and makeup artist, was just getting ready. This dynamic duo had my fears and anxieties melt away so quickly! And, to be honest, the glass of champagne may have also helped (it was delicious!).
As Emma was setting up, Trevor showed me around the studio, helping me feel more comfortable with the surroundings. He asked if I had a playlist I wanted to start playing, so I handed over my phone and let my boudoir Spotify list do its thing. Once Emma was ready, it was an hour of fabulous conversation as she did my hair and makeup, the whole time boosting my confidence and making me feel more at ease with the idea that I was actually going through with it.
Once hair and makeup were done, it was time for me to get into my first outfit. This was the most terrifying moment of my life! All the negative thoughts about myself came rushing in at once. All the comments others had made about my body were playing in my head. As I nervously stepped out of the dressing room, Emma said I looked amazing, and Trevor said the outfit was perfect. Those negative thoughts started to subside. It was time to listen to Trevor and let him guide me to look and feel sexy, beautiful and happy in my skin.
Within the hour and a half, I had three different outfits photographed and a couple where I was even topless! My, oh my! Now and then, Trevor would show me a photo, and I'd almost cry. I didn't recognize the beautiful woman in the pictures. Who was she? How is that me? Needless to say, my confidence during the shoot kept growing and growing. I couldn't help it, and for the first time, I thought to myself, "Damn, I actually look good. I'm beautiful!"
Once the shoot was over, I got changed and returned to my normal self. But I was completely changed. As I was changing, I looked in the mirror, and those negative thoughts were gone.
Trevor and I chatted a bit about how the shoot went; I recorded a testimonial about how incredible the experience was. Before I left, Trevor reminded me to book my photo reveal session. This is where I'd get to see all the photos from the shoot and choose which ones I wanted in my book. But, he wasn't going to make me wait too long for a sneak peek.
The Sneak Peek
On my way home, I was on Cloud 9. I couldn't believe I had actually gone through with the shoot and that I felt this good about myself. When I got home, I found myself constantly checking my email, hoping the sneak peek would arrive at that second. That evening, it arrived! I quickly skimmed the email and looked for the attachment, but there wasn't one. I was so confused, but I thought I should probably read the email more closely.
As I started reading, the email said that the image at the top of the email was my sneak peek. I DIDN'T RECOGNIZE MYSELF!!! I quickly skipped the image, thinking it was another client that Trevor was using as a header image for his emails. But it was me! I started to tear up. I looked beautiful. After I composed myself, I shared it with some of my closest friends who knew I was doing the shoot. Their comments were beyond what I ever could have expected. I finally was seeing what they and my husband saw when they looked at me...
About 10 days after the shoot, it was time for my Zoom call with Trevor. I had been counting down the days to this very moment. I didn't know what to expect. In the past, whenever I looked at photos of myself, I just saw the negative things. I was worried that would happen with the reveal, but it never happened.
As I joined the Zoom call, there was a slideshow of six photos of me, rotating one after the other, and it took me a minute to realize it was me! This seems to be a running theme for me throughout this entire process. Trevor joined the call, and we started to go through the book and all the images. Holding back tears, all I could really muster to say was, "Wow!"
I was in complete shock and disbelief that the person in the images was me. We went through each image and layout options for the book while talking about the experience for about an hour. It was one picture more stunning than the other. Trevor knocked it out of the park!
Loving The Skin I'm In
Since the reveal, I've found brand new confidence in myself. When I look in the mirror, I love what I'm seeing. I'm embracing the beauty and flaws of my body and ignoring all the negative thoughts. I don't think I would be in this headspace if it weren't for me taking this leap and Provocateur Images' incredible team. Trevor and Emma have a special place in my heart that will never go away. They helped me find a love for myself that I've been missing for 34 years.
To anyone who is considering doing a boudoir shoot, please do it! You may think you're doing it as a gift for your partner, but in the end, you're really doing it for yourself. Get out of your comfort zone, embrace your body, and learn to love the skin you're in.