I had to look up the meaning, and when I messaged my friend to tell her that if she wanted me to document this journey that had been forced upon her, I’d be more than happy to do so. She said thanks, and a couple of weeks later reached out with an idea that came to fruition this past weekend.
Noni has been in Woman as Art before and done boudoir, but this was the first time she brought her whole family, and friends, and clippers, and scissors.
In fact it was the first time I’ve photographed anyone getting their head shaved before starting chemo.
The process was later something that she described as ‘therapeutic for all of us’ and accomplished something that she wanted – to be in control of some part of the process. She said, “None of this was anything we have control of. I love that this is one thing I can do on my own terms and not be “the victim”. I guess it just kind of feels like if I can do this on my own terms then I’m almost taking the control back in a way.”
She entered my studio a fighter and left even more so.
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.
The model’s own words, “You’d be hard pressed to find even an inch of my body that isn’t scarred, stretched, or jiggling. But I AM BEAUTIFUL and no one can convince me otherwise. My body is all mine and it’s been through the wringer and now it’s more a work of art than its ever been.”
“I feel like I’m in love with myself. In no way shape or form am I perfect. But I’m me in the most imperfect way.”
“I’ve looked at it 1,000 times. It shows me as a woman, and not as a girl. I can see maturity and it reminds me of all of the things that’s happened in my life, good and bad.”
“I look like a different person than I used to be. And I am. But at first it sort of freaked me out, I was like wow! But the more I looked at it, the happier it made me. I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be.”
“It may just look like a picture but it means more than that to me.”
We all have, whether we be men or women, roads that must be traveled, and many times those roads are rather rocky. Such is the case for this model and friend. She appeared here in a different image a few weeks back. It was the scar on her side in that image, created as a result of a childhood surgery. In this image I merely asked her to close her eyes and let herself wander to a different place. Perhaps a smoother road. Perhaps a road ahead.
If someone would ask you what you thought about being photographed ‘boudoir’ style and your response is that “you would never look good that way”, you really only need to meet my new friend, Melody.
I certainly won’t tell you Melody’s age, but know that she’s a ‘contemporary’ of mine and enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.
And she’s a beautiful and amazing woman who’s overcome serious health issues to shine brightly.
She’s also not afraid to tell you that the three hours she spent in my studio making photographs to give to her husband – CHANGED HER LIFE.
This is in fact something every woman should do – to see themselves how others see them.
(By the way – I still have openings for Valentine’s Day)