Like many women, I have body issues. Like most women, at times, they feel like huge issues. We always strive to look the way we feel we should look based on what we see on television, magazines and social media, just to name a few. Or by how great looking our friends are.
I wished I didn’t have these issues. I wished I loved my body – the bumps, the humps, the dimples, the saggy skin, the discolorations and oh my, the stretch marks – the god-awful stretch marks. UGH! But I simply don’t. I am trying. And I admit, there are days I look in the mirror and actually kind of like what I see – as long as I have clothes on, that is. I like what I see when I see my face, don’t get me wrong. It’s the rest of the body I can’t stand – especially naked!
As some may remember, this summer, I actually posted a photo of me in a swimsuit on social media. Not that big of deal, right? Well, for the last few years, I have not worn a swimsuit, or worn one in public. I used to wear one all the time. When I had a body I somewhat liked or at the very least, didn’t mind. And I most often don’t wear shorts, unless I am running. I finally got over that a few years ago and now, in the summer, shorts are all I wear when running – even at races where I know people will see my legs, specifically my thighs, or even more specifically, the back of my thighs. Oh my – I actually shudder just thinking about it. But, like I said, I have gotten over it. I did actually wear shorts this summer to a music festival my husband and I went to. I was a little self-conscious all day, but I did and I was happy I did because it was dang hot out!
When it comes to my legs, I know they are strong because they have carried me many, many miles and although they are far from perfect, they allow me to run and have gotten me through 201 races in the last eight years. I just wish they LOOKED better.
I really didn’t like this picture of me because my legs – to ME – look huge. I can nitpick a picture of me to death and tell you everything wrong with it – seriously, just ask my husband. I am SUPER picky when it comes to pictures of myself, especially if my whole body is going to be in the photo.
But recently, I did something that not only surprised my husband, it surprised me. However, it was not without a lot of anxiety, worry and trepidation.
But you know what, I do it again in a heartbeat. Why? Because of the experience.
Soooo, what I am talking about? I am talking about a boudoir photo session. And I now believe that every single woman should have one.
It started out with me trying to figure out a gift for my husband for our upcoming 10-year anniversary. It’s not that he is hard to buy for, because he’s not, but I wanted something extra special.
I started researching the net, trying to find someone local who does boudoir sessions because that is what I settled on. I thought it would be a pretty cool gift. I searched and searched and at first, came up with nothing. I found boudoir photographers in St. Cloud, Fargo and of course the Twin Cities metro area, but I didn’t think there were any in Alexandria.
I messaged a local photographer I know, Jennifer Guenther, and asked if she did boudoir sessions. She did. I was so excited – and hesitant – and nervous. We chatted via Facebook messenger and before I knew it, the appointment was scheduled. I will admit I almost canceled – on more than one occasion. I truly didn’t know if I could go through with it. I just knew the photos were going to look horrible no matter what I had – or didn’t have – on. Not because Jennifer isn’t a good photographer, but because my body is gross. Yes, I said it. It’s gross. At least it is to me.
As the day crept closer and closer, I kept feeling more and more anxious about it. I truly didn’t know if I could go through with it. But yet, at the same time, there was this part of me that felt excited, bold, brave and kind of pumped. I even talked about it with a few girlfriends. I told them what I was going to do. It helped calm me a little.
The day came and I had everything ready. My outfits were picked out. My hair looked decent. I put on a little more make-up than usual. I had a couple of accessories with me – my running shoes, a music CD and a bottle of wine (to be used in the photos not for drinking…Lol!). I was ready. But still nervous. Very, very nervous.
But I am here to tell you right now that Jennifer Guenther is amazing! She put me at ease. She made me feel very comfortable. She was professional. She made me feel relaxed. And, she knows her shit. She knows how to use a camera. She knows how to use natural light. She knows poses. She just knows. That’s it. It was the most fun and best experience ever. And no, she did not pay me to say those things. This is how I truly feel. She simply was the best.
HOWEVER, because I was still feeling uneasy about seeing my photos – Ya’all I have still major body issues. Remember that – I asked Jen if she would pick out the photos that were to be used for the photo book I was going to give my husband. I asked her not to show me the gallery until AFTER I had given my husband the photo book. I asked her to pick out the photos, design the book and then when it arrived, I asked her to wrap it up for me. I thought if I looked at the pictures beforehand, my husband would have never received his present.
But again, Jennifer is amazing and not only does she know photography, she knows how to make a girl – a woman – feel good about herself. At one point during the photo shoot, she asked if I wanted a sneak peek. I didn’t. But yet I did. So, she showed me one of the pictures. And you know what, it wasn’t too bad. I actually, for the first time in a really, really, really long time, liked what I saw. She – Jennifer Guenther – made me see myself in a completely different light. She made me see myself for the beautiful woman my husband sees and loves so very much.
It felt amazing. It felt empowering. I felt relieved. I knew this was the right thing to do. Not really so much for my husband, but for myself.
The day I went to pick up the photo book, Jen talked me into opening it and taking a look at what she had produced.
In my conversations with her in the beginning, I asked if she could airbrush my skin to make it look perfect. I didn’t ask her to make me skinnier or better looking, but I just wanted – for once in my life – to have perfect looking skin. Because truly, that is what I despise about my body. It is my skin. She told me she keeps the texture in people’s skin. She said, “I still want it to be you.” She said she could remove the stretch marks and the scars, but then it wouldn’t be me. But she also said that she softens lines and uses the light to her and my advantage. She told me I would be happy.
And you know what? I was. I was actually more than happy. When I unwrapped that book and opened it to the first page, I was speechless. My eyes filled up with tears. My heart actually felt happy. She made me look beautiful – not photoshop beautiful, but me beautiful. I saw someone in those photos that I haven’t seen in a very long time. I was in awe. And I was thankful. I was thankful to Jen for her beautiful work and for making me, see me. Those pictures – that book – her words, her kindness, her mad photography skills – mean way more to me then she will ever know. She was so genuine. She wasn’t being fake with her compliments to me. Or if she was, I surely didn’t feel it. All I felt was good. I felt empowered. And happy. And yes, beautiful.
By the way, yes, my hubby loved his present and it was so worth it – for him and for me.
Ladies, listen up. If need a present for your significant other – or if you just want a present for yourself – I highly recommend booking yourself a boudoir session with Jennifer Guenther Photography. It is 100 percent worth it. Trust me.
I debated posting any of the photos, but then decided, what the hell. So, here ya go:
(Sorry, Jen, I had to put the text box on it…it showed a little more than I was comfortable with!)
Please, if you ever do a boudoir photo shoot, contact Jennifer Guenther.
(Yes, Jen, I stole this from your Facebook page!)