Like many little girls I had a dream of being beautiful, desired and loved by that special man who would sweep me off my feet and carry me into the sunset. To my delight I got that wish(the special and may I add amazing man who swept me off my feet) but not without a few setbacks. For many years I didn’t feel desired or that I ever would be. I would watch my friends and even strangers and study the outer beauty they possessed. I longed for lovely delicate hands. I dreamed of being able to point my toes and wear a pair of gorgeous heals to prom or on my wedding day. I admired jaw lines and the landscape of a toned woman’s leg… all things that I could never have.
At the age of four, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. By 14 my hands, feet and jaw were severely deformed and thus began a never ending run of corrective surgeries. Fused fingers, wrists, toes, joint replacements and reconstructive jaw surgeries. 42 surgeries and counting. Many of my muscles haven’t formed normally due to not walking correctly or being physically limited- heck at 11yrs old I could barely walk at all. Now don’t think for one minute this is a pity party. Nope, I have a point so please keep reading, I’m almost there. You see, despite my outer lack of socially *accepted* beauty, I never hid away in shame. I faked a confidence that I began to believe in. I spent hours drawing and doodling the feminine features I wished that I had and in doing so I came to appreciate the beauty that I did have, both inside and out.
Through the years I came to realize one very important difference between men and women. You see women look at beauty in individual forms. She may see a great pair of legs but still notice the lack of a chest endowment, or maybe not the prettiest feet. Men, however, or at least most men as I strongly believe, see the whole package. They might look at the same girl and see beauty from head to toe- quite literally. And despite the popular belief that men really only want supermodels, well when I say they look at the whole package I mean inside and out! It’s as if they are blinded to any of the flaws that we see in ourselves. Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds since meeting your significant other, yet does he still get excited when he sees you step out of the shower? That’s the blindness I’m talking about! To him you are gorgeous. Sure I might pass the mirror naked and cringe a little bit because my butt dimples seem to be having a party and just invited a few more friends. But then I walk into the bedroom to see my hubby grinning in delight like a kid in a candy store which often leaves me a little bewildered that he actually likes what he sees. In a sense I have come to see the beauty in women the way a man does. Simply put, all us ladies are beautiful and we all have features to be proud of and should celebrate. The feminine form is gorgeous- from the curve of a hip to the bend of a wrist.
Ok, here’s that point I was getting to… after years of wanting to look different, I finally embraced my own beauty, this doesn’t mean I don’t still have some physical insecurities- note the previously mention dimples not found on my face. I truly saw beauty all around me. I saw beauty in art, in people, in nature, in crafting, and when I began photographing people over ten years ago I started capturing their beauty as well. It wasn’t until this last year after photographing women at different stages in their lives that I realized my true passion. I LOVED hearing the feedback from very pregnant moms-to-be about how beautiful she looked in those photographs despite her unenthusiastic self-image and hesitation to even be in front of the camera. I was proud to hear my girlfriends say they loved the way I captured them. Even the simple “Wow, that’s me?” Or “I look great!” made my heart soar. Why? Because she did look great, they all did, and I want to show every woman that she is beautiful as well.
I’m not suggesting that every woman is perfect. We all have our personal problem areas or insecurities and that is completely normal. What I am saying is that my job is to photograph you in a way that pulls out the beauty that I see in you, that others see in you. The beauty you might doubt. The beauty you may feel you have lost, or maybe the beauty you want to hold on to and cherish. I want to give you that confidence, that “ego boost” that will make you hold your head high and proud. If there’s one thing I know for sure, you aren’t just a great set of legs or a chest to die for. You are definitely the “whole package” and I can prove it to you if you give me the chance.
*Besides, if I can publicly wear flip flops with confidence, smiling at the faces that stare at me like I’m from Mars, then you can brave an amazing, pampering and liberating photo session behind closed doors- I promise!