I woke up with a start. My heart was racing. I was sweating. I was having a nightmare about the photo shoot that was scheduled for that afternoon. In my dream, everything that could go wrong did. The house was under construction, I slept through the shoot time, the photographer didn’t show up, and my friend, Laura, (who ended up being my saving grace at the shoot in real life) refused to take the pictures for me.
I had been a nervous wreck for days. I was on edge, antsy and overly sensitive. I was having major doubts about getting naked in front of a stranger, having my picture taken and then sharing those images publicly. I was worried about what people would think. I was worried about being judged. I was worried about making people uncomfortable. Mostly, I was worried that I would hate the pictures. I was worried that I would look at them and want to burn them all. I was worried I would be disappointed by the body that I had been working so hard to love and accept.
I first had the idea for a nude photo shoot back in September. I had set some new fitness and wellness goals for myself and I was swept up in feelings of inspiration and possibility. I used my birthday for my deadline. I imagined myself working diligently towards my goals for 10 months and saw myself feeling more strong, proud and vibrant than ever before. I was jazzed about celebrating all of my hard work with what I imagined to be an amazing, empowering photo shoot.
Truth be told, I still haven’t reached all of the goals that I had for myself. There was a part of me that felt resistant to schedule the shoot when I realized that I hadn’t quite gotten to where I hoped to be. Did I really want to celebrate a work in progress?
HELL YES I DID!
The fact is, I am always a work in progress. If I wait to celebrate until I am “perfect” or “finished working” or “have it all figured out,” I’ll be waiting forever. I can and will continue to work towards my goals, but my body still deserves to be loved and appreciated every step of the way, including right now.
This was the first time in my entire life when I put my body, exactly as it is, into the spotlight. I didn’t try to mask her under blousy, flowing clothes. I didn’t stand in the back row to cover as much of her as I could from the lens. I didn’t count calories or schedule extra workouts leading up to the shoot. I didn’t try to manipulate her into being or looking differently. I just let her be. I loved her anyway. I gave her a whole day to be the center of attention, to be seen and to be celebrated.
It wasn’t the experience I originally envisioned. This was not an “after” shoot. I was not the poster child for “working on your wellness goals consistently.” In fact, none of the changes I’ve noticed since September are even visible to the naked eye.
Did it feel amazing and empowering to strip down and put myself out there? At times. At other times it felt scary and vulnerable. It felt incredibly awkward. It also felt really fun. There were some pictures that I loved. There were some that I hated and wanted to burn.
Though it wasn't the exact experience I first imagined, I loved it anyway. I wasn’t showcasing six-pack abs, but I went through with something that felt scary which made me feel strong. I was able to put aside self-judgment in favor for self-love for a few hours and that made me feel proud. When I felt uncomfortable, I was able to find fun and silliness in the situation. We pumped up the music, poured some Prosecco and I laughed until my face hurt. I felt vibrant. So while the shoot, my body and the pictures all looked a little different than I had originally thought, the experience as a whole felt exactly how I hoped it would.
Check out the video below for behind the scenes footage and some of my favortie images from the day!
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