I am in tears after reading Miss L's story. These are the words by the beautiful, brave woman featured in the photographs below:
I've struggled with my body image my entire life.
My weight has always fluctuated and it was hard for me to find balance. I was always too fat, too skinny, too nerdy, too ugly, too mean, too WHATEVER... but never too loving. How could I be? How could I love other people when I couldn't love myself? Growing up, life was rough. Yes I was "daddy's little girl" but that was about it. Just Daddy's. My mother was virtually non existent and I think that this had such a negative impact on how I perceived myself. I felt like something was wrong with me. I was the youngest of 4 kids and she left when I was a baby. Why after me? Why were they happy after my 3 siblings but it end when I was born? I blamed myself for their marriage falling apart, but what did I know. I was just a kid. I was broken.
My dad was a single father raising 4 kids completely on his own, he did the best he could, so I'm not knocking him. I mainly wore hand-me-down clothes and attempted (key word there) to fix my own hair. That brought on a lot of bullying which made me hate myself even more. That's nothing too bad right? Most kids go through that kind of stuff. It was tolerable until I was 10. Well, here's a big truth bomb. Not to many people know this. Matter of fact, only 2 people alive know. But the truth will set you free... right?
So to my family. If you're reading this. I'm sorry for not speaking up.
When I was 10 my grandmother was dying and a family friend would come help her. Mow the grass, check off things on her honey-do list, you know that kind of stuff. He raped me. I told her and she didn't believe me. She said that no one would and that I should just keep quiet. So I did. Every time I looked in the mirror I hated myself. I felt ruined. That summer I gained a lot of weight, about 40 pounds worth. When it came time to shop for school clothes, nothing in the girls section fit, so into the boys I went. oh and did I mention I got lice too and my hair got cut to my ears? That was a great look for me (insert sarcasm here) and gave fuel to that little bullying fire.
Fast forward to 21: I had met the man of my dreams...or so I thought. We weren't together long but we quickly moved in with each other. That's when his true colors showed. He quit his job, started doing drugs and then the relationship turned abusive. Again, here I was broken. Why me? Eventually I got pregnant and left him. But of course my self perception was ruined. I couldn't stand to look in the mirror. I'd say I was at about a 2 on most days and a 3 at best.
Deciding to apply for a boudie call shoot was stressful and scary.
What if I hated the woman the pictures showed even more? I said "what the hell" and did it anyway. I was so nervous I thought I'd puke when the day finally came for my shoot, but I'd say within a good 10-15 minutes Ashlee and Angelina had me completely comfortable, opening up and ready to be naked in front of them. While it did take me a minute to get used to Ashlee's breathing techniques, I felt so empowered during me shoot. Dare I say I felt sexy. I was STOKED to see my pictures and as good as I anticipated them being, they surpassed my expectations.
I couldn't believe that was me! Holy crap I was hot! I felt like a 10 looking at them!
I have NEVER felt like that in my life. I was in such a high that I tagged as many people as I could in her sneak peek post because I wanted to share them with the world. Now I'm about an 8 on a bad day and 9 on most.
Society's perception of beauty can kiss my ass. We aren't cookie cutter people. There shouldn't even be a definition of beauty. Who says that we have to look a certain way or dress a certain way to be beautiful. That's bullshit and I don't know why I didn't see it sooner. My favorite part of this whole experience was finding that I can love myself and my body! I'm not the people or the trials that I've been through.
I cannot thank Ashlee enough for allowing me to see that. Now, I just want to carry a view finder around with my images and show everyone I meet! Doing a shoot rates pretty high on the list of best decisions of my life. Ashlee showed me the best possible version of myself and I am forever grateful. I would do it 10000 times over again. Ashlee was absolutely phenomenal at capturing the best possible side of myself!