No, this isn’t about a nude photo session. I could’ve easily titled it ‘Time to Get Honest‘ but that just doesn’t have the same oomph as ‘naked’…and if you’ve spent much time around me, you know I don’t tend to hold back on the oomph 😉
When I first announced She is Loved back in August, I knew it was important. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with ‘noise’ about what profession or body type or hair color & style or fashion or ______ is considered popular or perfect, it’s nearly impossible to feel ‘good enough’ much less truly loved. Heck, I don’t think the majority of the population even knows what unconditional love really means. I thought I had a decent grasp on the concept two months ago but based on my understanding now, I’d say I was pretty clueless.
It has been a blast so far to hear your stories and come up with personalized photo shoots. I get a big goofy grin on my face when I look at the website’s home page and glance through the sessions and tributes already published. I’m giddy excited about the sessions that have yet to be photographed and/or shared.
This past weekend I took a minute to reflect on these first few weeks. I thought about what I shared in my initial post on erinkass.com – that my desire is to essentially photograph hearts, not just faces. And if I’m totally honest, I’ve struggled a bit in that area.
Let’s be real (naked): we all have stuff we don’t love about our appearance. We all have certain angles where we look our best…where we look closest to those ‘ideals’ I mentioned earlier. Many factors determine how we will actually appear in a finished image. There are ways to make a person look bigger or smaller through technical and posing adjustments. (and these days anything can be changed through photoshop!) But what I’m struggling with is balancing the ‘perfect’ with the authentic.
I absolutely want to give each lady images that she is proud to show off. I want to capture the ‘perfect angles’ and make the adjustments to ensure she feels like the beautiful person she is. However, if someone is running through a field in order to illustrate their newly discovered confidence and freedom, or if someone else is belly laughing at something ridiculous I do or say, chances are they may not be in a ‘perfect angle’ position. If I only stick to ‘perfect angle’ pictures, we’re not going to see who each of you amazing women actually are. Because none of us are perfect.
I didn’t love the first image above at first glance. I think I look better (read:thinner) photographed from the left side vs the right, my arm could be more toned and I don’t have long thin fingers. Then I thought ‘quit being silly’ and saw the joy on my face. I remembered the moment when I was laughing at the fact I was almost knee deep in nasty squishy mud. Suddenly I didn’t care so much about the other nit-picky details. The picture in the middle does not follow the ‘rules for photographing a lady in a flattering way’. But it was taken that way on purpose. Ginny felt impressed that she was supposed to throw out the normal posing and shoot me straight on & with my arms totally relaxed at my sides. It was to be a strong and powerful pose vs the more flattering pose that’s on the right.
I love both images on the right for what they stand for. But I have to choose to focus on the meaning and not the fact that the center one shows my thicker size-10-pear-shaped-body-dress-where-I-had-to-get-boobs-sewn-in-because-I-have-none vs the thinner looking ‘closer to size 4-6 dress appearance’ that I’d rather have. I was smaller for a lot of my life and then had serious health issues that resulted in me gaining weight. But instead of thinking ‘I look fat’…I’m choosing to think ‘I look strong and healthier than I’ve been in a long time…possibly ever’. The size I am now is a result of my story. It’s who I am and there’s nothing wrong with it!
I’m going on record that She is Loved is taking a stand to photograph authenticity…to focus more on photographing hearts instead of ‘perfect appearances’. Does that mean I’m going to completely not care about making women look as flattering as possible? Absolutely not! But that’s not going to be the priority of every image.
The only way that we’re going to feel fully loved is to accept ALL of who we are. Every pound on our bodies is part of our story. Maybe you’ve had your own health struggle, or have given birth and still have baby weight (even if your youngest is 10 years old 😉 ), or you have the distinctive ‘family nose’. Can we stop looking at ourselves as flawed and quit measuring ourselves against what others say is right?
You. Are. Beautiful. Just the way you are. It might not be where you hope to be in the future but that’s okay. You’re here now and there is beauty in it. The journey of life is full of twists and turns. That’s what makes it interesting. Let’s quit wasting so much time worrying about what isn’t important and instead make it a priority to live fully alive investing in what truly matters. <3