Jerica is such a beautiful soul and I'm so honored that she loved her experience at Sincerely You Portraits and trusts me (and the community I've built) enough to share her story with us.
-Ashlee, Sincerely You Portraits
To me the term "beauty standards" in itself is BS. Who ever said there were standards to being beautiful? I don't remember the exact day it dawned on me that "looks mattered."
At the age of 11 society had already taught me what "beauty standards" were supposed to be in my mind.. but the only message I received was that I wasn't good enough.. not with my crooked teeth and scrawny figure.
We should have never been taught these things, but we live in a world where people follow other individuals' ways of thinking instead of thinking for themselves.
In turn, that leaves misinformed individuals going around and teaching these things to their children who then go to school and teach it to other children, and the cycle just continues.
We cant change the world we live in, but we can change how we live in this world.
After all the "beauty standards" I was taught in my early grade school years, I was still trying to fit in by the time I got to 7th grade. Trying to find friends who would like me for me, even though I didn't dress as nice or look as mature as some of the other girls. So I did what a lot of young teenagers do, I started acting out. By the time I was a Sophomore, I partied regularly with older groups of people.
Eventually the partying led me to a boy - lets call him "Bill." Things ended up getting serious with "Bill," and I thought I was in love. And maybe I was... next thing I knew, I was 17 and pregnant. To my surprise, he was thrilled. How could he be happy about this? He was only 19 & living off friends by selling weed.
With this unexpected turn in my life, I realized my priorities needed to change, I had to finish high school. Where there was no motivation before, there was now 100% dedication to graduating with my class our senior year. This caused problems, my priorities changed while his stayed the same.
My hormones were out of whack and I was stressed with school, so I would nag at him or give him a little attitude here and there. One day in the car I smarted off to him, and I wish I could remember what it was I said, but he grabbed me by the nape of my hair and got in my face and said "don't you ever talk to me like that again!" So I tried not to.
As months went by there were a couple altercations similar to the first. Nothing too serious.. right?
We could spend our days being jealous of what X-person looks like, or we can learn to love ourselves and to uplift others around us.
It's so much more fun to give someone a compliment and watch their face light up, than to critique everyone on their appearance!
Lets stop pointing out the flaws in one another, but instead lets start praising individuals on their great qualities.
To me, beauty comes from within and it shines on the outside.
To be quite honest I think society's "beauty standards"
can fuck off!
I was so tired when my newborn boy woke me up at 2am, very sore and just wanted some help.. "Bill" was sound asleep with no interest in helping. I said something along the lines of, "I wish you would just help a little!" Next thing I know I am on the floor and he's on top of me with his hands wrapped around my throat.
I struggled with him for what felt like minutes while he screamed at me, but I couldn't hear him; all I could think was "where is my baby?" When he was finished yelling, he simply got back into bed and went back to sleep like nothing had happened. I slept with my 2 day old in his crib that night. Did I mention that was my birthday?
The altercations became more frequent and more dangerous. I was trapped. My family had no idea at first. I didn't want them to know, I was ashamed. I couldn't find clothes that fit me anywhere because I was 85lbs; I wasn't that tiny because I starved myself to be, or because I was sick. It could be just the thought alone of "Bill" being angry with me that would cause me to lose my appetite.
He was angry with me more days than not, and by the time my son was 3 I had been countlessly choked, slapped, kicked in the face and chest, had things thrown at my head. The verbal abuse was so extreme and constant I actually started to believe I was all of these awful things he said I was.
Of course anyone who has never been there will say "just leave" but how do you leave when the person you fear the most is standing in your way with a gun in his hand, telling you to go but demanding you leave the child or else... As bad as I wanted out of his grasp, out of this life, I stayed.
At this point I was convinced I would be in this relationship until my boy turned 18 and could go at his own will. I accepted that. I had lost all faith.
Finally one night in September my prayers were answered! The police raided our home and took us to jail for possession of marijuana.
We were bailed out the next morning. "Bill" chose to run to another state, while I stayed behind to deal with the consequences of my pending court case. He ended up getting caught and was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
I could finally breathe a little easier. My son and I moved into a bedroom at a friends house and began to start over. Eventually, I got a job and an apartment.
Then I met the man of my dreams! My real life prince charming. A gentleman that really has his life together.
Jim showed me a love that I never knew existed. He treated me with respect and dignity, like a woman is supposed to be treated. Like I needed to be treated. I had my walls built pretty high up to protect my broken soul. He slowly helped me break those walls down.
We dated for a year before I finally let him meet my kiddo. We took that extremely slow, because there was no way I was going to let my son get attached to another man who was going to leave.
Of course there were lots of ups and down in the beginning. I often thought it was too good to be true, and that he couldn't possibly love me the way he says he does. I just knew, once he saw all those horrible flaws I had buried away he would leave.. but he never left.. and he never stopped loving me.
He showed me that I am enough, that I am worth loving.
Fast forward almost 4 years to today and I am now happily married to Jim, we have 2 adorable pups and of course an awesome 7 year old! He and my son have the best relationship. My son will grow up knowing and seeing how a real man should act and treat women and I am so thankful for that.
Although Jim loves me the way he does and thinks the world of me, I have still struggled to find that self love. All those things that were crammed into my brain day after day for 5 years still linger.
I am still on my journey to finding that unconditional self love.
The boudoir session with Ashlee was so amazing I'm not even sure how to describe it with words. We all have these things about our body that we just don't love, but she makes you feel like a freakin' rock star!
I was a little nervous before, but Ashlee is very comforting and informative. Prior to even meeting her I felt like she was a good friend I could talk to, and that's pretty special.
Before that photo shoot I would have rated my body confidence at a 6.5, but after the shoot I'm definitely giving myself a 9.5 (10 pending a few tat removals).
How she does it.. I just don't know. What I do know is that before the session with her I used to wear makeup 5-6 days a week, full face. Now, maybe once a week. Isn't that so crazy?
The session helped me in ways I didn't fully know needed the help. My favorite part of the entire session was how at ease I felt, and the music was right up my alley. We had a good time, and got some great pictures!
I was so in awe with the sneak peeks of my pictures, I just couldn't believe they turned out so great. After the initial shock I was so excited to see the rest I almost ruined the surprise for my husband!! Luckily Ashlee talked me down. ;)
If ever you are lucky enough to get a session with the AMAZING Ashlee, I would recommend lots of moisturizing, stretching your back and last but not least, bring that confidence!!