When Mandy first got in contact with us, she wrote “I have real hatred for my body.” We knew Mandy needed help, she needed to see how amazing she is.
It all started with a moment of madness
Now, Mandy believes that getting in contact with us was a moment of madness - what we see as madness is how much she hated her body and for how long! Women going decades hating their bodies and how they look is madness, and it needs to start changing.
"I hated it. I couldn't even bring myself to look at myself in the mirror. It was head only, nothing else."
"Getting in contact was a moment of madness to be honest. I'm not really sure, it was just like “If there is a chance I can feel better about myself, I might as well go for it.”
From terrified to relaxed in 5 minutes
Nobody ever believes us when we say they'll be completely relaxed after the first few shots. Your session is nowhere near as scary as you think it will be. After those first few shots you realise what a portrait session is actually like, which is typically you, Robin, and your stylist chatting for a few hours and having a laugh whilst you work together to create some amazing photos.
"Terrified, but within 5 minutes Katrina and Robin made me feel so at ease and comfortable and we were laughing, and in between the sets, saying “Do this. Do that etc.” Yeah, it was something I never could have dreamed of. I've never felt so relaxed in my own skin as I did that day. "
"After the session though, I was buzzing. I was absolutely buzzing. I never thought I could feel that feeling. I never thought I could stand there, semi naked in front of someone and not be trying to hide myself."
Some disbelief still lingered
Before her viewing, Mandy's outlook was that if the photos weren't good, at least she hadn't lost anything from it or gotten her hopes up. But a little voice in the back of her mind tempted her to think, if she had her hair and make-up done they must be a little bit better than how she looked everyday, so maybe she would like them? She had no idea just how amazing her photos were going to be.
"Before my viewing I was feeling slightly nervous because I was like “if the photos are no good, then I was right all along.” But you've still got that little bit of hope that the photos are going to be better than what you imagined they were gonna be, because you always imagine you're gonna look fat, you're gonna look ugly, you're gonna see your stretch marks. And you just think “any improvement is an improvement, no matter how slight.” I still had that “I can't believe I did it” feeling, and the “I can't believe how good it felt” feeling but I also had that “Oh, well, you know, I'm never gonna look as good as the other ones. I'm going to look at those photos and think “what the hell have I done?” But they're amazing. "
Shocked is a understatement
"I don't think I have ever felt as confident about the way I look as I do right now. I know now that I can look good. I never, ever dreamed I could look good, not naked.
Anyone can hide behind make-up and clothes, but when you're just there... so exposed... I never, ever dreamed I could actually look good, but I do."
A few final words from Mandy for anyone considering taking part
"Oh, go for it. Even the buzz itself is enough, go for it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be completely and utterly selfish. Think of you, do something for you.
It just makes you feel so proud of yourself, that you were actually brave enough to do it and you've actually got something beautiful at the end of it.
If I can do it, anyone can."
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.
Entries are now open to take part, at our new Bampton studio, from October 2020 onwards.