Sometimes, when we feel we’ve lost our power that sense of helplessness could manifest in a wide variety of ways. In this post, I will share my experience of working with Alicia. She helped me bring more into focus the importance of a body positive boudoir photo shoot as part of a therapeutic process that helps women take back control of their body’s and the way they see themselves.
Boudoir Photography with a Purpose
When I decided to become a boudoir photographer back in 2013 I knew I wanted my work to focus on body positivity.
Alicia of Austin
When I met first met Alicia she was recovering from an eating disorder. At one point it was so severe that she almost lost her fight. She had answered my model call on Facebook. She wasn’t looking to become a professional model. Answering the model call was something that would help build her sense of self-esteem. It would be a valid part of the therapeutic process that would lead to self-acceptance. It would affirm she was fine the way she was.
Meeting a model for the first time is like an interview. We ask each other questions. We share some personal history. Most of all, we come to an understanding of a vision for a photo shoot.
I shared with her why I chose boudoir photography and that I was like her, fighting to get better. She went on to share details about her personal life and I began to think of sunflowers.
I first read the poem, Sunflower Sutra by Allen Ginsberg, while on deployment for the Persian Gulf War. It helped me understand how dehumanizing it can be to feel like a utility or a part of some machine, which I was. What Alicia shared helped me understand that she too had been made to feel less than human.
There is a line that states:
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower!
Dignity and Esteem
No matter the amount of grime covering the sunflower in the poem, it was still a sunflower and it was beautiful.
I wanted to show Alicia she was never whatever she’d been made to feel about herself. Like the sunflower, she will always be beautiful.
The vision of our first session was to get her to see past all that grime her sense of self-image made her feel.
Body Positivity through Empowerment
For our first session, I wanted her to touch on her power and understand it. There had always been some controlling force that made her feel she had no say in her life.
So, we decided we were going to flip that around and have fun at the same time. She wanted to dress as if she’d been out all night and didn’t care. As an adult woman, it was her choice.
We met on Congress Avenue in Austin before sunrise and began our glamour photo shoot.
The First Step in Taking Control
Afterward, Alicia came up with the idea of moving our photo shoot over to the sculpture, Forever Bicycles, by Ai Weiwei.
She wanted to have a photograph taken of her asserting dominance over her personal space. She wanted to pose in a way that would make her feel like a superhero.
Out of our entire photo shoot, this was the most important photograph for her.
It made her feel she was on her way to taking control of every other area of her life.
I have worked with Alicia several more times since our first photo shoot. Each time we would always talk about doing the big one. A boudoir photo shoot where she would confront and conquer her triggers.
We spent considerable time brainstorming how to go about it. Months later Alicia decided she was ready. We found ourselves at a motel that would allow for our ideas for a boudoir photography session.
Before executing our ideas she needed to build up to the moment. As we talked about her journey I was taking her picture.
Confronting Her Fear
The second half of our session involved Cheetos and a cupcake.
A quick stop at Walmart before the photo shoot led to this.
I was so happy to see this young woman laugh, and come to terms with her relationship with food.
I am so proud of her.
Alicia has become a wonderful friend who is always ready to assist me on photo shoots in Austin.
My friend permitted me to share her story. She hopes it will help other women who may be battling, as she once did, and see, it doesn’t have to be like that.
If you’re someone who is dealing with an eating disorder, first seek medical attention.