10 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Did A Boudoir Photo Shoot (At 41 and One Month After Giving Birth)

Starting when I was a little kid and continuing until I left home to attend university, any time my mom caught me looking at myself in the mirror, she would say, “Who’s going to look at you anyway”? It always made me feel a toxic mix of shame+guilt+ anxiety +self-doubt.

Who was I to admire myself in the mirror? Who did I think I was?

Sometimes it is friends or family members who make hurtful comments about our appearance. Other times it is the media presenting an ever-changing, not only unattainable but non-existent ideal. It is like chasing the horizon. We can’t catch a break. As women it seems like no one wants us to feel happy with just being ourselves.

We ask ourselves, or worse our partners, our friends and family their opinion on our bodies. “Am I fat”? “Is my butt too big”? “Are my breasts too small”? “Should I get a nose job? Face lift? Injections?” “Do you think I’m pretty”? “Do you think she is prettier than me?” And these questions aren’t for an honest critique to improve ourselves. We might as well ask, “Based on my looks, am I good enough”? “Am I worthy of love from you? From myself?”

While some publications and companies have made an attempt to celebrate (use?) women of different shapes, sizes, races, and “real” women, or celebrities with no make-up or untouched by the deft hands of a designer with Photoshop. While we cheer other women for being “brave” and “real” and “beautiful” for daring to put themselves out there, whether it is posting a make-up free selfie or wearing a bikini at the beach. But for ourselves? Our inner critic tells us pretty matters and we aren’t pretty.

My deepest regret in life was being so self-consciousness about my appearance, my freckles, my breasts, even my height that it stopped me from living my life to the fullest at an age when I should have been reveling in my youth.

When I was in university, I acquired the nickname “Troll” at my residence. Even seeing the word on the screen now, 20 years later is giving me a lump in my throat. It was, and still is, to me, a disgusting, degrading word. I equate it to the four-letter C-word. My self-confidence dropped. I didn’t go into the common room, the kitchen, floor meetings, or events. For our Christmas Party(which I didn’t attend) I was gifted by my Secret Santa a very large Troll doll. Nice. After it was dropped off in my room I sat alone, miles from home and cried for hours. I played my roommate’s Depeche Mode CD.

The worse thing from the experience was instead of believing in my worth, in my beauty, in my power I bought into someone else’s definition of who I was and gave them authority over me. Instead of showing up for myself, I shrunk. I hid. I dimmed my light.

I acquiesced to the dorm’s popular opinion that I wasn’t even human.

And even after I got “over” it, sometimes, something would whisper that name to me. Always below the surface. Always waiting for a vulnerable moment to invite itself in. In job interviews. Flirting with cute guys. On dates. Standing next to a beautiful woman on the subway. When I looked in the mirror.

At the beginning of the boudoir photo shoot.

“Hey Troll”.

When the photos were ready about a month or so later, I sat down and took a long look at the proofs and saw something other than a Troll. I realized a permanent transformation took place. It wasn’t just from the hair, make-up and lingerie…although they were the props that pushed things through.

The transformation was internal. And you can see it on my face. The entire process was exactly what I needed. Especially after buying into other peoples’ definition of who is attractive for far too long. Especially waiting to turn 42. Especially after giving birth to my daughter a little over a month before.

So while I was nervous I am so, so, so glad I did this and here are 10 reasons why:

  1. I got to be PAMPERED by a hair and make-up professional. Hello fake eyelashes!
  2. I felt EMPOWERED. I left the studio wanting to kick ass.
  3. Getting naked in front of a near-stranger gets you out of your comfort zone. In three hours I GREW as a woman.
  4. As soon as the makeup artist began working her magic on me I felt SEXY. While some women can feel sexy without the hair done, the make-up expertly applied, the sexy bra and panties and stockings is something I love. I feel powerful with extra feminine touches like fragrances, fashion, makeup and lingerie. For me, I enjoy making the effort to look put together. No it is not natural, but it doesn’t make me a shallow person.
  5. I gained CONFIDENCE in myself as a woman and as a mother.
  6. It was FUN. I was nervous for the first 10 minutes of the photo shoot, but eventually started to feel confident and let myself go.
  7. I was INSPIRED to start House of LoveJoy. I wanted other women, particularly petite women to know they can learn what silhouette is the most flattering for their shape, which trends to embrace, which ones to ignore. How they can use hair, makeup and accessories to create their own unique style with confidence.
  8. The best part in addition to gaining this whole new attitude is I have a tangible KEEPSAKE of this exciting experience which made me finally shed the Troll label.
  9. It was a time to CELEBRATE the woman I am now. At the time of the photo shoot in February I was almost 42 with two beautiful children a 13-year-old boy and newborn baby girl. It was a ritual of leaving the insecure 20-year-old behind for good and not worrying about the future me, because I know she will be alright…and beautiful…and confident.
  10. It was the perfect excuse to ADD to my lingerie drawer and shoe collection. While you should never wait for a special event to treat yourself to the finer things your favourite shops offer, it made me more conscious of what items I was shopping. I wasn’t just looking at my standard, tried and true staples or what was on sale. I expanded my collection by picking some things I would never have bought before, experimenting with different brands, materials and colours.

Have you ever done a boudoir photo shoot? What did you gain from the experience? Are you thinking about doing one? Is something holding you back? Let me know in the comments.