Guest Blog: Lexie O - Mother, Writer, Business Owner & Brand Ambassador for Inspired Eye Boudoir Photography
Total Transformation: The Wonderful Aftermath of a Boudoir Photoshoot
Last winter, as I was aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, I happened to notice that a local photography company was looking for brand ambassadors. As part of the job, each ambassador would receive a complimentary boudoir photoshoot.
I immediately knew I had to apply. Not because I had any experience with boudoir; quite the opposite. It was completely out of the box for me. Scary. A challenge. But something told me I had to do it, so I quickly squashed my fears and applied.
It took a while to hear back, but then things started picking up. First it was, “You’re in the top five!” I didn’t know if that meant there were five of us and the photographer still had to choose who won, or if I was in. Not long after, we had an interview, and the next thing I know, I’m signing a contract. I got the job!
In the spring, as an official brand ambassador for Inspired Eye Photography, I was blessed with the opportunity to pose for my complimentary boudoir-style shoot. And boy, was I nervous. Like I said, this was completely uncharacteristic of me. I had been waging a war with my body since the age of 12, when I started vying for thinner thighs and buns of steel. But as much as I worked out, I still never felt good enough. I compared myself to every other girl and woman I saw and thought, I’ll never be thin like her. In my twisted eyes, I had all sorts of things wrong with me. My nose. My legs and bum. My (lack of) boobs. To say the least, I definitely had body image issues. If I’m being completely transparent, it’s possible I had developed body dysmorphic disorder. I believed that I was flawed beyond repair. So remind me again why on earth I though posing in my panties was a good idea?
I’m a people-pleaser, so the day of the shoot, wanting to be social and agreeable, I swallowed my nerves, drove over to Sarah’s house and knocked on the door. Again. I rang the doorbell. Was I at the wrong house? Wrong day? Was this whole thing never meant to be? Finally someone heard me knocking, and I was whooshed into a beautiful home with beautiful ladies walking around in their undies, music jamming in the background and champagne in my glass. Okay. Maybe everything is going to be alright. I tried to relax and blend in.
But as I unpacked my wardrobe, of course, I started instantly comparing myself to the girl in the shoot going on before me. Wow. Okay, she has a way better body than me. And she’s so pretty. Wtf am I doing here? I cringed inside, thinking again maybe this wasn’t a good idea. Maybe I could back out. There was still time to run.
As I sat there struggling, I noticed how natural everything felt in the room. A cozy little sofa, blankets, the fireplace going; it felt comfortable. And I didn’t want to bail and let the whole team down. So I sat in the hair & makeup chair, sipping that champagne as fast as possible. Yeah, I could get used to this. I felt like a celebrity being pampered for the day. And before I knew it, it was my turn to strip down and put on whatever Sarah had picked out for me. For some strange reason, I felt okay. I was ready. There was just something about the whole vibe that made me feel safe. Alright, now I just have to fake confidence, I thought. But again, I was reminded how everything felt so easy and normal, and I realized I actually was comfortable walking around half naked in this woman’s home.
The shoot ended up being a blast. We chatted and laughed in between poses. I got to see some amazing interior design. I met new people. It was really an invigorating experience. (Plus, I couldn’t wait to show off my fake lashes to the world after we wrapped!) Then after the shoot, I really didn’t know what to expect. (I happen to be really bad about reading and absorbing information via email ☺ so I wasn’t sure when the photos would be ready or when I would get to see them.) Then one night, I got an email from Sarah basically telling me where to park my car. @#%$&%! I had totally spaced. It was the night of my image reveal, I completely forgot, and I was highly caffeinated and therefore extra jittery. But I sped over, ready or not.
During the reveal, I kinda freaked out a little bit in my head. I had this feeling that I wasn’t absorbing what I was seeing. I didn’t know how many images to cut or save. I didn’t know how many I had to choose from. I was too absent-minded to ask any questions. So what did I end up doing? I basically deleted every single photo that showed any even slight suggestion of fat or cellulite. I didn’t realize it in the moment, but the war against my body was clearly at its peak. I was essentially looking at myself on screen and saying Nope, not good enough. No way, you can see my belly button. OMG, so embarrassing. God! Do I really look like that??
I couldn’t silence my inner critic. I couldn’t see that my ego was driving the bus. All I could “see” were my flaws. I wasn’t accepting myself as a whole person. Like I wasn’t worthy because I’m not a size 2.
Little did I know, the photoshoot would ignite something in me. It was the start of some sort of journey or path. How so? Not long after the shoot, I found myself in a similar situation. Who do I think I am, pretending to be sexy and cool? Yet again, however, I wound up feeling comfortable. I enjoyed what I was doing. I felt confident, beautiful and powerful. Maybe I do have a “normal” body after all! (My body-thoughts were still a little judgy. Hello, all bodies are normal!!) But something had shifted. People were responding positively to my photos. More importantly, I was feeling more positive about my body. I wished I could go back and do the photoshoot again with this newfound confidence and courage. (Amazingly, we do get to have a second shoot, this November!!)
I wondered if this feeling would last, and, well, so far, it has. I’m taking better care of my body. I’m actually exercising a little bit, whereas before, you couldn’t even get me to walk on my perfectly crafted treadmill desk that is also perfectly positioned to watch Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu! And I’ve completely overhauled my diet. I don’t feel desperate around food any more. I’ve all but stopped overeating. I’m happier, healthier and not so critical of my body. I feel like I finally get it. It’s like I’ve somehow unraveled years and years of society impressing upon me the need to look and act a certain way. The body-shaming is way less than it used to be.
That in and of itself is super rad, but realizing it all started with Sarah and Inspired Eye makes it all come full circle for me. This is why you applied for the job. This is why you had to be brave. You’re being rewarded now, for stepping out of your comfort zone. Don’t you see? It was all for your growth and expansion. That’s a pretty big deal, and it never would have happened if I hadn’t experienced that photoshoot. I feel more free. I’m turning 40 next month. This is exactly what I needed.