I ask client about a photo session.
Her reply, written later, “I found it awkward because any picture I do have of my self is for some sort of accomplishment. There is a reason or purpose in documenting that moment in time. I earned it. Never would I be photographed without reason and I didn’t have one. I felt to have a photograph of myself, aside from the usual selfie, would make me arrogant.
“If you find yourself asking why, here is my answer, “Woman by their very creation are walking, talking works of art. Way too many have lost the concept of their beauty. Woman as Art is a project that celebrates the masterpiece in all of them.”
I’ve always used my eating disorder to hide. It’s always been something I could use to hide from my own feelings and my own personality. I used it to ignore feelings and I let people’s comments on my body and my size be the only thing I based my worth on.
This photo session made me feel like I was breaking free of all of that. Like I was done hiding behind a physical body and was ready to be a real human that deserves validation regardless of her body. Like someone who deserved to let all of that go and love herself again for who she truly is and not the person she hides behind.
In the client’s own words:
Today, a man stared at me while breastfeeding.
My baby and boob were covered. At 8 months to be covered without so much as a flailing arm is a rarity.
Nevertheless the staring man confidentially said, while never breaking his stare, he confidentially said; “Breastfeeding and c-sections are disgusting. Such a pity for a beautiful woman to willingly destroy her body.” He continued to go on about how hideous both breast and scared tummies are.
I debated posting this, but I think a lot of times we see things on social media and casually think this isn’t an issue close to home, because we’ve not experienced it firsthand.
I was told it would be hard to find a man to love me, because my body was wrecked after I found myself a single mom at seventeen.
This is life.
My body has carried three beautiful babies.
Do not let selfish men or a backward world tell you that the process and proof of life is not beautiful.
We are not meant to be ageless and without cracks.”You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”-Song of Solomon 4:7
When I started Woman as Art it began I wanted to be able to make images that women would celebrate for themselves.
There’s a big deal about ‘boudoir’ now and while that’s something that I do a lot of, I always rejoice when a client comes to see me for images – for them, and not for someone else.
As I began to celebrate the art that women truly are in session after session I began to gather the best of those images into a website – and my wife and several others have suggested that Woman as Art become a book, and I heartily agreed to that statement.
But there’s a vast chasm between putting a few images on a website, and putting together a book. And I doubted that I could ever do it.
Recent events have caused me to re-think that, however.
So, as of today – Woman as Art is GOING to be a book. A book filled with images of strong, beautiful women. And their stories.
I have no idea how it’s going to work, just that it will.
What I need from my friends is – volunteers. Models who want to be part of the project. To reveal their skin and their soul so that other women can be made stronger by it. I might need later – advice, referrals, money, etc. But right now I need models. So, if you are so inclined, or know someone who might be – send me an email.
Catherine Howard (one of King Henry VIII’s wives) has been referred to as “the rose without a thorn.” Always beautiful, always proper. Women call themselves today to be that rose in society, and to hide the thorns. Be flawless.
Roses and thorns though are part of the same plant. The rose stays on the plant for only a few days, the thorn is there forever – and some say it’s there to protect the plant from being eaten by animals – so the thorns then make the rose possible.
People tend to see the beauty of the rose and pretend the thorn is not present, but on a cactus the only thing that you can see is thorns but in fact many bloom quite beautifully.
In either case – the thorns are what makes the plants that carry the beauty, survive.
There’s been a real movement recently to ‘embrace’ who you are, and that may come from a gradual acceptance, or one decision to do so.
This is a story about one of those decisions.This particular client made such a decision – to have breast reduction surgery.Because, I feel, ‘embracing’ who you are doesn’t have to be about settling for what you have, it’s about being empowered to take charge. To understand that there are risks and consequences for making the decision and for following through with it. And being prepared to live with the consequences.I was not aware that this particular model had reduction surgery until we spoke of it during the session, and she told me that she didn’t really felt like she ‘embraced’ her body – I’d add that she did empower herself to make her own decision, and has since accepted the scars that came as a result of it. “And I would do it again,” she added. “Best decision I ever made for myself.”