Dancing on Empty | Detroit Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I have been traveling around with these super soft organic bamboo cotton panties and lounge pants from Rayne and Skye Essentials for a few months now, frantically trying to get them photographed. The Universe was playing tricks on me because every time I set something up it wouldn’t pan out and I felt like I was letting the brand down and MYSELF down by not following through in a timely fashion. First I found a model, but then she moved to Denver. Then I had an awesome location but no model. Then I had an awesome model but no spot! And I refused to just throw something together that didn’t make sense. Oh the stress. I finally had a spot and a model in Detroit lined up. BUT THEN the model fell through and, while talking to Vanessa about my troubles she volunteered herself. Halle-fucking-lujah! And she also roped in her friend Cammie as well who will be in a later post.

I knew that Vanessa was a dancer and actress (ummm hello let’s just do the splits on the windowsill real casual-like!). But I didn’t know, until reading her self love journey story how similar we are as people. It really was like I was reading a piece of my own life. The dancing, the perfectionism, the short girl problems (it’s a real thing OKAY?! You try being 5 feet tall and idolizing VS models and wondering why you don’t look like them even though you spend every second of your life at the gym and counting calories. News flash ladies- their legs alone span the length of almost your whole entire body. You are NEVER gonna look like them!), and even the man who saved the day…not by actually saving you because you’re the only one who can save yourself, but by supporting you along your journey.

By bravely opening up about our struggles we can help others who are struggling AND feel connected by our similarities.

SO. Without further rambling on my part here’s Vanessa’s self-love journey—-

“Hmmm... my body and my self-love journey. I suppose this is the first time I've ever spoke out about this in a public way, as I am still processing things myself and learning how to handle my own thoughts. But nonetheless, here I go!

I have been a dancer since I was 4-years-old (so about 16 years). I took it very seriously, and it was a very competitive thing for me and many others around me, especially come high school. I was constantly at rehearsal, competing in dance competitions, even performing in the Nutcracker, etc. So, naturally, I was always surrounded by very skinny girls in leotards. Looking back on it, I was quite skinny, too... but by the age of 11, I started seeing things differently in the mirror.

As the years went on, this problem began getting worse. I was more muscular looking than the other girls, who were just so thin, and I perceived this in a negative way. I wanted to be thin. I hated my short and stubby build. I criticized my torso area the most, starting at such a pathetically young age.

I was well-liked by a lot of boys in high school, and my body was talked about a lot. It did make me feel uncomfortable, but I realized it got me attention, so I felt I had built an image for myself that I needed to maintain. I cared what others thought and I wanted to impress them. It was a very toxic process that only made me put more pressure on my body appearance, and significantly more vulnerable to asshole teenage boys. Looking back on it, that is a period in my life where I'd be most ashamed of myself.

Moving on into my college years, these issues that I figured were just your typical teenage insecurities worsened in a way that seemed unhealthy. When I was 18, I was offered a role in a musical at the university I attend that involved the characteristic of having an outstanding physique. I was beyond pumped to land a minor lead as a freshman... which may have led me to take it too far. The role was fitness queen, Brooke Wyndham (Legally Blonde: The Musical) so I felt pressured to take my athletic body to a whole other level.

This is where it became too overwhelming for me. I was dancing 4 days a week, going to the gym 5, giving myself strict dietary restrictions, and hating myself if I ate something that strayed from those guidelines. I remember I was living in the dorms at school at the time, and I was having to call my mother every other night after rehearsal because I was having (what I know now) were anxiety attacks. I was constantly looking in the mirror at my stomach. Breaking down on the inside when I despised what I saw.

This behavior along with the over-bearing habits kept on for over a year. I was no longer finding a positive release through exercise; I dreaded it. Yet, my mind would contradict itself, and I would panic when I wasn't able to workout. I obsessively thought about what foods I was or wasn't eating that day. Looking up all these other celebrities' diets that I felt had ideal bodies. Going to bed upset every night feeling lost and almost purposeless... all over an aspect of my appearance. My mind truly just wanted a rest.

Finally, in March of 2018, I fell in love with my best friend. He is everything I needed in a man. He turned everything around for me. I stopped looking in the mirror at my stomach as much. I started motivating myself to go to the gym when I could, rather than pressuring myself and stressing to make the time. I slowly was okay with treating myself again, indulging in my sweet-tooth when I felt necessary. He made me feel unconditionally beautiful every day. And he still does. Something switched in me.

Now, I know how this may come off, but allow me to make this clear: I in no way depend on him for self-love, confidence, or happiness. But he was the crutch that helped me get there. I was previously in two separate toxic relationships that truly did not help my own image of self worth. It was nice to be shown genuine love to get me back on my feet.

Body dysmorphia is a very real and awful grey cloud, but I feel I grow in a different way every day because of overcoming it. Progress is everything. I have been a vegetarian for 7 months, and a vegan for 1 now (loving it)! I love practicing Pilates, yoga, dance, and even the occasional visit to the good ole gym. I have learned to love my build as an individual, and now try to focus on making MY body the best version of itself, rather than comparing it to someone else's. My new philosophy is being healthy and practicing self-care/love above all. Although the periodic days of anxiety still come and go, I don't give up; and I won't.”

A Part of Me | Omaha Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I think artists are always just trying to create things that will give their lives worth. Things that will be there long after they are gone. Things that live forever, or at least for as long as anyone cares to look at them. 

I create for all of those reasons.

I create because if I don't I literally feel like life is pointless. 

I also create because I have so many fucking feelings inside of me that need to get out. 

So in a way it's my therapy. 

If you know an artist and you think their work is awesome PLEASE TELL THEM. Like their photos, comment on their work, buy their things, tell your friends.

Being an artist can be so terrible sometimes. You put your soul into something, put it out there and...crickets. Suddenly a flood of feelings hits you like a wall. Does everyone hate it? Does it suck? I suck. I'm horrible. I should quit. No one cares. If no one sees my work or likes my work does it even exist? Do I even exist? What is the point of living? 

I can't be the only artist that goes through this.

I know rationally that my worth isn't determined by likes and comments. I KNOW this. I know that the social media algorithm is not in my favor and a whole slew of other things can effect how many people even see my images. But when you are an artist that has reclusive tendencies and putting your work 'out there' on the web is the equivalent of going to a party and no one says "hi" it fucking sucks because that's what happens at the real life party too. So it can seem like you're failing at everything. And that is a dangerous place to be in for sensitive souls. 

BUT. Sometimes we create something that is so in alignment with our feelings and emotions and psyches that it doesn't fucking matter what anyone else thinks. You want to share it with the world and you do not care if people 'like' it because YOU do and you just want everyone to see a part of you.

And that is this session here. 

I've been going through a lot of stuff lately. I'm not going to hide it or pretend I'm okay and that everything is hunky-dorey. There are way too many people out there acting like everything is fine when there is a fire going on inside of them and I really don't want to add to that list and help fan the flames of the stigma around mental health. So anyways... I had this session coming up and it was supposed to be nice and light boudoir-y but I just could not do that. I was feeling too dark. Some stuff had just happened that really (I hate to say this word but it's so true in this sense) triggered a lot of things I've stuffed way deep down for far too long, things that I thought I was over but clearly am not. 

So I talked to my model Lola a bit about it. And from the minute I met her I just knew she got it. She truly understood what I was feeling. 

And then we made art. 

Thank you for helping me express some of the pain I've been feeling. Thank you for being an emoter and an artist and a muse. Thank you for giving me something that I'm proud to have live forever long after I'm gone. 

All of the leather pieces are made by AudioHelkuik. I was so impressed with the quality and the amazing human who makes these pieces that I ordered one (the first of many!) for myself. 

Model Misconceptions | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

 

There are a lot of misconceptions about models. The way they look, their IQ level, and the ease of their job are constantly being dragged through the mud by people who simply don't know any better. Yes, models are beautiful (that's #1 priority of their job!) but most are extremely smart, a lot of them using the money they make to put themselves through school, and their job is anything but easy. You'd know if you spent just one hour posing like they do! 

I recently shot with Danielle Maddox, a professional model and actress who travels between Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and anywhere the job takes her! It was really refreshing not having to direct every move for once and just pretty much let her do her thing. And she is AWESOME. There's this thing she can do where she laughs on cue and it legit looks like she's having the time of her dang life! I mean, I know I'm funny but I'm not THAT funny. You'll see what I'm talking about when you get to the images.

I asked her to share a bit about the inside world of modeling for all of us and here is what she had to say-

"Not all models are created equal, just as much as in any industry, modeling is a multifaceted world full of all shapes, colors, sizes, and aged models. Though within the media we only see the glamorized runway super models that are human alien gazelles with perfect skin, features, and bodies, they are only a fraction of the job market. All types of people, including myself, are making a living by posing in ads, commercials, catalogs, e-commerce, look books, some of which are classified as "real people" or not Actor or Model types. Normal photogenic relatable  models. Some even make livings just being a "Parts Model" which includes hand modeling. I do it- and it is very much a Zoolander joke 24/7. Some of us lucky ones cross over from Commercial modeling to Fashion and dabble in all aspects of the industry. The biggest misconception is that being a model is easy and glamorous. Sure, it is a heck of a day job, and I love what I do. But I don't get sick days, paid time off, health insurance, weekends, don't have a salary, or always know when my next paycheck will come as it can take 30-90 days to get paid (almost always 90 days.) I have to 24/7 take extra care of my hair, skin and nails, and foot the bill on all of that upkeep. And most importantly I have to exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet, all while working on sets Monday-Sunday sometimes 10+ hours. It's a tough life, but it's also wonderful!" 

Yeah, now you don't think it's so glamorous do ya?

 

She also was kind enough to share with us how she preps for a shoot!

When prepping for a photo shoot there are a few important things I like to do!

First and foremost-

1. Don't stress! Stressing makes you break out, and boy do I break out!

2. Hydrate, hydrate. (You should be doing this daily anyways.) If your skin is hydrated it will glow and look fresh and smooth on camera!

3. Lower your salt and alcohol intake 1-2 nights before a shoot. Both will make you bloat and retain water! A little wine the night before is fine! Just not the entire bottle!!!

4. Get plenty of rest- posing can be exhausting and make you tweak or 'twerk' some weird muscles that you didn't know existed. A well-rested body will be more relaxed and flexible! You may be sore after!

5. Practice posing at home!!! This is important especially if you are doing a shoot in little clothing! Grab that lingerie and pop that booty and practice! Knowing your body and being confident shines through on camera!

6. Don't forget to shave!! Or don't- embrace your natural state! 

7. Moisturize! If you moisturize day of- use an unscented body oil so you don't stain or transfer to the garments. Use a clear deodorant for the same reason. 

8. Remember that your body is absolutely beautiful and don't let it hold you back from loving every inch!

9. Most importantly during the shoot BREATHE and have a blast!!

 

And without further ado...here is how a lifestyle boudoir shoot with a model looks! 

 

Heartbreak Hotel | Memphis Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Getting over a break up is hard.

I don't have any recent experience, I've been with the same man for 12 years, but I still remember my last break up. It helped to shape me into who I am today. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

When it happened I was a complete and total mess for a long time, and it took years for me to finally heal all of the little pieces and fucking MOVE ON for good. I think it was because he was my first real love, my first real relationship, and the first time that I had sex. Oh, and I was like 16 or 17 so everything was very dramatic and I was going through a lot of other issues at the same time. It's not so much the break up that did the damage but the feelings of worthlessness that I held onto that I had to heal. 

I thought he was THE ONE. I thought that we were MEANT TO BE. I thought a lot of things back then. 

But time heals all wounds if you work on them and all healing takes time. 

I'm not really going to go into how shitty breaking up with someone feels, because most of us have been through it already and we know that it's a hell of a lot more than tubs of ice cream and Facebook stalking. 

I'm going to talk about the self-knowledge that comes from breaking up with someone. 

Because it can be a blessing in disguise in the long run, at least it was for me. 

When you're thrown into the deep end of the single pool a lot changes. You're suddenly on your own again. You only have yourself to think about, which for a lot of people turns into feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness. The woe-is-me mentality just sucking the life out of you day after day. 

But what if you treated each day as a single person as a day where you got to do exactly whatever set your soul on fire? What if you lived each day racing towards your bliss? And what if you could do this no matter what relationship status you are or aren't in? 

Newsflash-bang-POW! You can! It's really simple. Living your best life authentically IS the key to happiness, and it might even take you on the path to finding THE ONE who you are MEANT TO BE with. 

Lovers come and go, relationships come and go (so don't take them for granted) but you're stuck with yourself so you might as well cultivate a relationship with YOU. Treat yourself how you'd want your lover to treat you (Look up The Womanizer. TRUST ME). Take care of yourself how you want to be taken care of. In other words DO THINGS FOR YOUR OWN DAMN SELF. You're all you've got, for better or worse, so you might as well love yourself. And if someone comes booping along your path and ignites something within you then you already have a strong sense of self that can let them into your life but not let them take over your life.  

Revenge sessions, like this one, are a great way to jump-start the healing. It's a visual reminder of the fact that you are sexy, powerful, amazing... and you don't need someone else's validation in order to feel all of those things. 

I'm not gonna lie, it's also kind of fun to show them what they are missing. 

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

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