Fight Every Day | Detroit Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Oh my god. Hearing all of these stories after photographing and getting to know these amazing women on a superficial level is just so incredibly moving to me. I feel like I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I say that we are all similar, and that everyone is going through battles you have no fucking idea about so just please for the love of everything holy and a box of crackers BE KIND. Never in a million years would I have guessed that Cammie had been through what she had. She’s so upbeat and smiley! But that just drives the point home. Trauma doesn’t announce itself when it walks into a room. It hides in the corners of the mind, sometimes dictating everything you do, until you work to heal yourself.

Here are Cammie’s words-

“Body image as a whole has been full of its ups and downs for me as well as for many other people. Some days it is hard to look in the mirror, and I am simply disgusted with everything I see, but other days, I am lucky enough to love my body. I have always been a skinny girl, and I never had to work hard to look “fit”. This changed once I hit college and went through some pretty traumatic things with a boy. My body was finally “growing into its paws” right at the time that I started to despise my body and refused to claim it as my own. It was something taken from me, and it was something I didn’t want back. I started to gain some much needed weight because I was a late bloomer, but I avoided anything to do with my body. I didn’t treat it right, I didn’t eat healthy food, I didn’t exercise, and that started to really weigh down on me. Not only did I hate myself and who I had become, but I didn’t like the physical things about me, either. Being told, “So many girls would kill to be as skinny as you!” Or, “You are so much luckier than me, I don’t know how you couldn’t love your body”, has always irked me because there are reasons far deeper than just looking in a mirror and not liking what I saw. Though I never hit an unhealthy weight or any weight that people would consider bad at all, I didn’t feel physically good at all. I have recently started to work out consistently and pay a little better attention to the things I eat, but still insecurity creeps in. 

I think being in an abusive relationship really could take anything in my life and remind me why I am a problem. Without understanding the ownership of your own body or the love from another person, I don’t know that I ever learned to love my physical body the way that every person should. I spent 2 years with a person who abused it constantly in many ways, and knowing how little I meant to a person I gave everything to, made me feel like my body is worth a dime, if anything at all. I spent years trying to hide and conceal everything that happened to me with my ex-boyfriend, but it still comes back to haunt me from time to time, and it mainly possesses my outermost appearance. The very thing taken away from me without my permission. The thing I will probably always have a struggle with. My body.

I am on a long journey back to self-love and care. I do everything in my power to become more of a kick-ass woman every day, but like everyone, I fail. This journey is taking me back to loving my body, but also treating it better in general. It is critical to understand who you are, why things happened to you, and how they have affected you, but also to take those effects and use them to your advantage as greatly as possible, and that is my journey. My road to becoming a self-appreciating woman. I just hope my story can help other people realize that nothing ends you except death and yourself. Choose to be better and to fight every day because it always proves to be worth it.”

The pants and undies are by Rayne and Skye Essentials and are in all honestly, the most comfy things EVER.

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.”

I Needed You Ten Years Ago | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

If you actually read my blog regularly and not just hang around for the pretty pictures you will have gotten the hint that I have had a difficult time 'accepting' my body over the years. It's still an uphill battle, but at least it's no longer a full-blown apocalypse in the temple that houses my soul. And my work as a boudoir photographer has really helped me heal myself, and in turn heal others. 

One of the things in my past that really triggered me, or kept me in the downward spiral, was all of the magazines and fashion blogs I used to look at. All I saw in them were thin women. Thin, HAPPY women. And I wanted that. I NEEDED that. 

But. 

Being thin doesn't buy happiness. Loving yourself does. 

It's so easy to just fucking SAY that. Not so easy to believe it when you're staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering why you don't look like the perfectly toned, incredibly talented actresses you work next to every day. (UMMMM maybe Paige because you regularly eat Taco Bell, hate working out, and don't get paid to maintain a certain weight.) I'd like to tell you I'm all better, I'm above that but, newsflash, I'm still working through some shit. 

I'm not saying that if there was more diversity in social media at the time that I was using it as fuel to light my eating disordered funeral pyre I wouldn't have gotten sick BUT seeing people with curves and tits and asses and bellies and jiggly bits and all sorts of different bodies might have acted like a cold bucket of water to the utter hatred I felt about myself. Maybe if I saw people like me back then looking fabulous and happy instead of just used as the before picture to a weight loss program I wouldn't have been so UTTERLY TERRIFIED of becoming MYSELF. 

But the only way forward is forward and the future is looking pretty awesome! There have been a ton of body positive people coming out of the woodwork the last few years. People who I look forward to watching re-shape society's idea of beauty, people who are making a difference for the youth of tomorrow.

One of these people is Jalyn. She is a powerhouse of curves and beauty and brains combined with a humbleness that just instantly draws you in. I needed her ten years ago, but at least I have her today! 

I think we all have our body battle stories. And I believe that by sharing them with one another we can really start to relate to one another as women instead of competing. I asked Jalyn to answer a few questions for me so you can get a feel for the woman that she is instead of only seeing the gorgeous images. And I think it's going to become a regular thing because even I'm getting tired of talking about myself all the damn time!

So without further ado here is Jalyn's interview!

 

Q: How has your relationship with your body changed over the years?

Growing up I was always very insecure of my body. I didn’t like the way I looked or felt in leotards in ballet, I hated to way my oxford button down made me look like a box during grade school. I was always self conscious about my stomach, back, thighs, and arms. I wore nothing but sweatpants & hoodies to the beach for countless summers. I never wanted to be caught showing any type of skin. I lived in baggy tees with bulky jeans. As I grew older, closer to my freshman year of college, I started modeling (thank you Hunter McGrady for being a role model through out that process) I had to teach myself that it was okay to have self love and to be confident in the shape of my body. I became really involved in fitness and using running as an outlet for the trials of high school. I lost about 70/80 in that time and I really started to accept that my body was always going to have curves because that is how my body was sculpted. There’s nothing wrong with cellulite, rolls, bumps, dimples, or any type of beautiful characteristics. 

 

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful? 

I feel my most beautiful in 2 completely opposite ways. The first is, as soon as I wake up in the morning, fresh faced, hair slightly disheveled with nothing but an oversized T-shirt on. Skin glowing from being well rested and a beaming sun, shining outside. The second is, when I’m full glam shooting for a brand or company. Wearing a jumper with heels like in these images or even a sundress. Beachy, blonde waves, glimmering highlighters, peachy pout, with stilettos, strutting my curves on set.  

 

Q: Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today and why?

If I could have a career like anyone it would be Ashley Graham or Ashley Alexiss. Ashley Alexiss has been one of my most influential role models since I started my modeling journey back in 2015. She built her own career without an agent or someone managing her and continues to handle all of her own management. It’s inspiring that a single person can accumulate millions of followers, build her own net worth through social media and modeling, then be completely independent in finding jobs and opportunities. I am inspired by people who create their own lane, their own opportunities. They see what everyone else is doing and do something different. She built an entire swimwear line, has a modeling career, and a Masters in business. That is what I strive for. She’s not only a beautiful model, but she’s a boss babe, a business woman, an entrepreneur, and a trail blazer. 

 

What is your favorite body part on yourself?

My favorite body part is either my hips or my hair. I have really wide hips but I love having a thigh brow and how my waist is smaller than my hips giving my body an hourglass figure. My hair is also my favorite because of how long and wavy it is. 

 

Q: What is it like shooting with me (Paige)? 

I had an absolute blast on set! It always makes shooting so much more memorable and fun when you can vibe with the photographer. You have a vision and it’s my job to execute it. It was such an honor to work with you and I can’t wait to do more shoots in the future. Your vibrant and joyful personality made shooting a breeze and I loved how well we work together!

 

Q: Why should other women consider doing a boudoir shoot of their own?

There is nothing more sexy or empowering than feeling like a boss babe in lingerie. You build up a confidence by working your body and realizing that all of your curves are so sexy when you really start stripping away the layers of insecurities and self doubt. 

 

Yup, Jalyn is a badass. Here are her images! 

If you want to be the change you wish to see in the world and book your own shoot- CLICK THIS!

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!