I spout on about body confidence all of the time, and my job is pretty much dedicated to helping women appreciate their own bodies.
But, could I really ‘walk the walk’ when it came to it? I had a body acceptance portrait session, to find out.
I decided to have a portrait session with a difference, and have some images taken that weren’t perfectly posed to present me at my best – but that were challenging me to accept me, and my body, just as I am.
I have to say, Robin wasn’t keen. I’ve talked before about being Robin’s worst client ever, but, more than that, he didn’t want to create images of me that I wouldn’t absolutely love.
Robin and I have been together for a long time – he’s been with me through the shopping trips where I asked ‘Does this make me look fat?’ (over and over). And he’s seen me look at photos of myself in horror, and throw away whatever I was wearing in them, that I deemed to be too awful to ever be seen in public in again.
I’ve moved on a lot…but he’s not inside my head, and doesn’t know the level of comfort I have achieved in how I look.
He also wondered what I was trying to achieve – did I want to actively look my worst? No thanks!
I just didn’t want to hide or minimise myself. I didn’t want to shy away from my body’s shape.
Needless to say, we both approached my portrait session with some trepidation. I don’t traditionally love having my photograph taken, any more than the next client. And Robin was still unsure. I, at least, had the benefit of the calming time, whilst the fabulous Holly Andersen skilfully did my hair and make up.
As I don’t personally own any make up, I didn’t want to go overboard with a specific ‘look’ – I just left it to Holly to interpret my, rather vague, ‘natural, but, you know, not how I actually look right now’ instructions. She did so beautifully.
And then, my portrait session itself. This was a mix of our traditional posing, accompanied by me saying things like “how about how I usually sit, when I’m reading in bed?” and “can you photograph that from another angle, to show my belly”. I expected it to push me out of my comfort zone far more than it did. Maybe my constant affirming that all bodies are good bodies had sunk in?
Robin took a range of images, from ‘unposed me’ to tweaking what I was doing, to create a more flattering image.
But…would I like them? Or would I prefer only the posed images?
And here’s the thing. I love my body, for everything it enables me to do, but I am perfectly aware that it’s not meeting society’s standards of beauty. How would I feel?
As it turns out, I feel incredibly proud. I love all of my images. I love that some of them show my body, my stomach, just as it is.
I wouldn’t recommend a body acceptance portrait session to everyone. If you are low in confidence to start with, I’d say start with a body-confidence session, and take it from there.
But, for me, I found it very freeing to know that I have liberated how I feel about myself, and my body, from trying to achieve some ridiculous ‘standard’, to being comfortable with who, and how I am.
Me, just standing, waiting for Robin to pose and style the image.
The final image. Have to admit, I am stretching so tall, I thought I'd pull the curtains down!
By far the most challenging image for me, turned out to be this portrait, in profile, because I have never liked my nose. However, my longstanding childhood hang-up turns out to have been left behind.
What a difference a pose makes!
Ready to take the first step, with a body-confidence portrait session? Or maybe you're ready to celebrate, and accept, your body for exactly what it is, with a body acceptance session, like mine?
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