Anna Smart, Author at Smart Photography

All Posts by Anna Smart

Talking to Yourself

"Talk to Yourself Like You Would To Someone You Love"

This is one of my absolute favourite quotes, from the fabulous BrenĂ©  Brown.

It's also really, really hard to do. Plus, we sometimes fall into a pattern of familiarity with people we love that means, well, we don't always let them know that we love them.

How about then, we at least try to talk to ourselves with respect?

When we respect our own opinions, our health, our bodies, we're showing that we believe in ourselves - and this is at the root of confidence.

When we don't have faith in our decisions, and waver, second guess, or start to lose track of ourselves, our confidence levels fall.

Body confidence is not separate from any other kind of confidence - build your confidence in one area and it will ripple through your life.

Build your body confidence, and you will gain more general confidence
Build your overall confidence, and you will gain more body confidence

Respecting your opinions doesn't mean you somehow think you're always right. Don't people who do think they're always right just annoy the hell out of you?
It just means that you place trust in your own decisions. If something doesn't work out, well, we're all on a constant learning curve, that's how we grow and change our minds over time.

Equally, respecting your body doesn't mean considering it to be 'perfect'. It simply means that you make decisions based on what you know to be good for your health, good for your body, good for you.

Establish a pattern of respect for yourself, and your confidence will grow

There are so many ways to do this, and it will vary for everyone.

If, for example, you start sentences with "I'm probably wrong...", catch yourself, stop yourself, remove the preamble and just say what you think.

If you never choose what film to see, or what restaurant to go to, because you are more concerned at pleasing other people than yourself, put your opinion forward. Yes, compromise is a wonderful thing, but not if you're always the one doing the compromising. 

If you feel like you don't 'deserve' nice clothes, well-fitting lingerie, or to be able to wear a bikini - show yourself that you are absolutely as deserving as the next person.

Act right now how you think you would act if you had more confidence

Because that's all anyone else is doing.

Ditch Your ‘Before’

Is your 'before' photo motivating you, or messing with your mind?

I meet a lot of women who have been on major weight loss journeys. 4 stone, 7 stone, even 12 stone!

These are amazing achievements in getting healthy, and every one of these women should be feeling proud. But the reason I meet them, is the exact opposite. They're not feeling proud. They're often feeling disheartened. When they look in the mirror, they can't see the difference.

They'll always show me a before photo

Across the board, the photos most to hand to show to me will be 'before' photos.
Typically, our clients don't like having the photos taken, so they won't have a lot of photos of themselves. The ones they look at and remind themselves of, though, are the befores.

The version of yourself you see the most, is how you think you look

I've said this before with regard to photos - because the version of yourself you see in the mirror is the opposite way round to how everyone else sees you, and how you appear in photos - this is one of the major reasons people think they look 'off' in photos.

But we can also get a bit used to not really 'seeing' ourselves in mirrors.

If the version of yourself you look at most often is your 'before', are you training your brain that that's who you are?

So that when you look in the mirror, your brain infills the version of you it's most familiar with?

Do 'before' photos trap your brain in the past?

I really think they do.
For all people say "this was me" when showing their 'before', I think their brains are hearing "this is me".


Whilst I understand wanting to keep these images, I think there is equal, if not more value, in pushing past 'photo fear' and having at least one 'now' photo to look at - so that every time you look at an old one, you also remind your brain that things have changed.

Much love,
Anna
xx

Our Embrace Your Body Project

Embrace Your Body Project 2019

We can't wait for you to be a part of our 'Embrace Your Body' movement!

About the project

For the last 8 years, our West Oxfordshire studio has been creating body-confidence boosting portraits for women. But we know that a lot of women are held back from coming along for a boudoir portrait session, by a lack of confidence, by not loving their bodies, and by feeling that they are somehow not 'right' for boudoir.

The Embrace Your Body Project is all about empowering women to love themselves and their bodies, as they are, right now.

It's about embracing our bodies, whatever flaws we may think we have, and accepting ourselves.

It's about showing that nobody is perfect, but that we are all beautiful in our imperfections.

And it's about sharing that experience with other women, to help them on their journey to body confidence.

Can you face your face?

So, to most people this is a ridiculous question - you're quite happy with your face, thanks!  However lots of people, women in particular, absolutely hate looking at themselves.

In the average week I will hear several times, as women flick through images "nothing like this - too much face".  Now, sometimes this will be because they want something that shows more than just their face. But a lot of the time it's because they specifically don't want an image of their face.  Not close up. No way.

"I won't like it", they tell me.
"I hate my face".
There may be actual wincing.

What, you may ask, is wrong with their faces then?  Just who do I have sitting in front of me?  The answer is that nothing is wrong.  I'm always a little taken aback, especially when people clarify with "well, obviously nothing too facey" as if I should be totally in on the reasoning.

Except, the thing is...I kind of am. Or at least, I should be. I don't love my face. I have been told more than once that I look like my dad.  I mean, there was nothing wrong with my dad, but, you know, he was a man, and I'm not. And I really do have his face.

And so we go from not liking our faces, to avoiding looking at our faces, to not liking photos (because we're confronted with our faces) to avoiding photos.

It's an issue. For starters, we could probably do with stopping being so disappointed in ourselves.  Are we surrounded by super models? Only in magazines, and on social media -why should those carry so much weight with us?

Do we recoil from the faces of our friends, families, work colleagues? I know I don't!

We need to be less hard on ourselves and, crucially,  stop trying to avoid looking at ourselves because, guess what? You look normal! I look normal! This is what normal people look like, and no one else is bothered by us so we shouldn't be either!

Much love
Anna
xx

The Secret to Body Confidence

Is There a Secret to Body Confidence?

Well, if you were hoping I would go with 'this one neat trick to give you more body confidence', I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed!

However, I can tell you how to improve your body confidence, so don't despair (unless you are looking for something that takes zero work on your part!).

Changing how you look won't necessarily increase your body confidence

secret to body confidence

Think about it - do all the women who look how you wish you did brim with confidence?
Or do they just have a whole different set of insecurities?

I used to think that 'beautiful people' must be aware of it. Newsflash - they often aren't. And if they are, then they are also often aware of how fleeting beauty (in the traditional, media enforced sense) is. 

You can look at this as bad news - so what's the point of even trying to 'improve' if it won't make you feel better about yourself?

Or you can see it as good news - because there are plenty of regular, normal women, like you and me around, who aren't gorgeous supermodel types, who are perfectly confident and comfortable in their own skin.

If body confidence doesn't have to be tied up in how you look, then it's attainable to all of us, right now! Yay!

So what can you do?

You need to change how you feel.
Sounds so simple, doesn't it? Well, realistically, it is simple. Simple is just not the same as easy.

Here Are 4 Tips on Changing How You Feel and Improving Body Confidence

1. Ditch The Competition

To do this, you've got to suss who your competition is.

It could be:

-  your friends.
Don't literally ditch them! They're your friends. But remember that pretty much everyone has insecurities, problems and a whole load of 'stuff' going on. You are not in competition with them.

- the people you follow on social media.
Social media can be fabulous for making you feel connected, and terrible for making you feel like you're failing, inadequate or underachieving.
If who or what you are choosing to follow doesn't inspire positivity, just stop following. Kon Marie your social media until it only 'sparks joy'!

- yourself!
For most of us, our impression of how we look, and even who we are, is formed in our late teens/early twenties. So, the further away from that we get, and the more our bodies go through (childbirth, illness, the menopause), the less we sometimes identify with ourselves.
Your mental image of yourself needs updating, rather than constantly thinking you should be trying to be more like a much younger self.

secret to body confidence

2. Listen To Yourself

secret to body confidence

For many women, our own wants and needs get drowned out by the demands of, well, life.
Jobs, children, relationships and trying to balance everything, all of the time, means that something usually falls by the wayside - what you need.

It becomes increasingly difficult to prioritise yourself. We are excellent at stifling our inner voice that cries out to say 'take a break'. When she's never being heard, she eventually just shuts up. Well done, we have managed to silence our own wants.

You need to turn the volume up on your inner voice and start listening. Of course, we can't drop everything when she says 'a week on a beach with a good book and no demands' is what she craves. But if we never listen to our own internal voice at all, we 100% lose the ability to even know what we want.

If you have no clue where to even start with listening to yourself, click here to go and take a look through our 'Summer of Self Love'* videos, as that is exactly what they are all about.

(*may also be followed in Winter).

3. Stop Believing That How You Look Affects What You Can Do

I'm not beautiful. I don't have the perfect figure, and everything seems to sag a little bit more each day.

I probably have to accept that I am not going to make it as a supermodel.

Anything else I might want to do though, is there for me to crack on and do. I can learn what I want, wear what I want, go where I want, do what I want.

I may have other constraints (mainly financial!) but how I look can't stop me doing anything, unless I make the decision to let it.

Why would I make that decision?

4. Let Your Body Know That You Love It

(Even if you don't).
We often punish ourselves when we've fallen out of love with our bodies. Couple that with putting ourselves to the bottom of the pile when it comes to our priorities in life, and we have the perfect recipe for self loathing.

This manifests in so many ways, and it varies from person to person. It often boils down to one thought - 'I don't deserve...'
We sometimes attach 'conditions' to when we might allow ourselves nice things (and the biggest of these, by far, is 'until I've lost weight'.

- I won't get new clothes, until I've lost weight
- I can't go and do <whatever fabulous thing you want to>, until I've lost weight

Let's not pretend that exercise can't become a form of punishment too, when it becomes obsessive.

It's understanding the difference between setting goals - which can be a great motivator - versus deprivation - which is less so.

Your body deserves lingerie that fits you, nourishing food that you enjoy, your care, your love and your attention.

Your body does not deserve your punishment. It doesn't deserve to be uncomfortable or in pain and to have these things ignored. You don't need to pay a penance for not achieving whatever it is you want to with your body, by allowing it to hurt.

Your body does deserve to be celebrated. It's amazing. Even when it's broken, even when it doesn't look how you want, it is doing it's best for you. Let your body know that it's best is always good enough.

Don't love your body? Fake it, and treat it like you do. It won't be able to tell the difference.

If you can do all of these things, then do. Each one will make a difference. If you can only do one - treat your body as if you love it already. 
Fake it 'til you make it.

Much love,
Anna
xx

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