You know the phrase, “If I had a dollar for every time someone said…?” In the boudoir world, that sentence would end with “I would totally do this if I was twenty pounds lighter.” Behind the scenes, we stand right in the middle of completely relating and a heavy sigh.
I’ve been working with Emily Polzin of Love, Emily Boudoir for well over a year. I’m lucky enough to be the first part of her clients’ morning, enhancing their own beauty to get them camera ready for their boudoir sessions. Based on the reviews and comments I see on Emily’s work in her VIP group, many women who haven’t had a session yet seem to think the clients coming into her space have some sort of ‘other-ness’ or model-like quality they don’t possess. I can tell you first hand, that’s not the case. Whether creating this album for a wedding gift or as a gift to themselves, they’re all every day women, each with their own insecurities and nervousness about the day.
If I’m going to be honest, my favorite clients are the ones that are doing this as gift to themselves. I love hearing them say how they silently watched from the sidelines, looking at the photos before putting their doubts aside and just going for it. They’re women with all different stories who haven’t felt sexy for a whole slew of reasons that boil down to…well, life.
I did a session for me. If I’m going to be honest with you, I wasn’t feeling the greatest about myself by the time my session rolled around. When I booked, I was consistent with the gym and had solid eating habits. Then my busy season hit and I got really depressed, stopped having energy to go to the gym (which I honestly love to do) and ate anything that gave me instant gratification.
I’ve been thinking about this from different perspectives and I think had I not worked behind the scenes so much, I would have wanted to reschedule… or at least pause to reconsider. However, I sincerely mean it when I say not feeling great about yourself is a prime time to do something like this. In a way, it forced me to really look at and accept where I was. Boudoir opens you up to exploring what makes you feel sexy, what you feel good in, and that means something different to everyone.
I feel self-centered saying this, but one of the things I loved about doing this shoot was having an experience with the focus on me. Working with brides and hell, even bartending, the focus is on that one person or making sure everyone is having a great time, despite what I have going on internally.
One of my favorite parts of the booking process was filling out the questionnaire Emily sends prior to your shoot. It’s a cool thing to get to talk openly and honestly about yourself, not only about the things you’re self-conscious of but also the things you love and want to showcase about yourself.
We definitely live in a culture where we’re both taught to celebrate our flaws but are equally shamed for showing off the parts of ourselves we find sexy. Even searching for photos to share in this post, I agonized over which could show off Emily’s work but also wouldn’t make me feel weird knowing my family would see them. Texting with my cousin, she asked if I was nervous of feeling uncomfortable or making other people uncomfortable; I said both. “Post them and leave people to deal with their own reactions feeling beautiful and free.” So, here they are.
I think we all have a desire to be seen in all different ways. I also think it’s just as important, if not even more so, to see ourselves. Scrolling through Instagram, Emily had posted a photo of me.
“Is that my butt?” I zoomed in to see my arms to confirm it was my tattoos.
“I wish I looked like that in real life,” I said to my boyfriend.
“You do,” he replied.
“But the lighting, posing…”
“Yes, you do,” he reiterated.
“Huh,” I said.
I still don’t totally agree with him, but I’m still feeling all kinds of good things from these photos of me, at thirty-three.