You're gonna be scrolling for a long ass time. This mega post features over 40 images from one client's boudoir session with us here at The Girlfriend Experience Boudoir. I decided while talking to her during hair and makeup, if I could help it, I wasn't going to have her images retouched. The reason why is extremely personal. It isn't my story to tell. If she wants to, we will tell it in another blog post. She recently won a give away for another session we were offering in our Exclusive VIP facebook group. For now, I want to tell you why I chose to not retouch her and why I love retouching.
The old lady part of me was completely enamored by her flawless milky skin and found it hard to believe it was real in the first place. She didn't have a zit or a pore on her entire face. Once Dessa was done doing that patent pending Dessa Effect, as I call it, I thought, "She will look fake, any more smooth and she won't be real."
But see, real, is exactly what she is and real was what brought her to me. Yes, she is young. Yes, she is beautiful. But that doesn't absolve her of the same insecurities we all face. Life changes and so do our bodies. But because of shame, we hid the changes our bodies go through from other women. As if they aren't experiencing them too.
I had my big girl body in 8th grade and my pediatrician told my mother I was morbidly obese; except I was 5'3, weighed 125 lbs, complete with D cups and a 15 inch waist to hip ratio. And I hid every single inch of it for as long as I could. I wore shorts 1 time in high school. I lived in hoodies. I wasn't shaped like everyone else and I was ashamed. I'd kill anyone I know for that body again. I didn't know what I had when I had it. My body never felt like it compared to those around me and it only became more of an issue when I became pregnant at 19. My body certainly never looked like other 20 year old bodies at the same time, my body looked 20 when it was 14 and looked 35 by the time I was 21.
Sometimes you aren't where you think you should be and sometimes you are fighting so hard to be what you think you should be, that you never stop to recognize what is in front of you. In front of my camera wasn't a 35 year mama of 3 who couldn't see past her post baby body issues to realize she isn't giving herself enough credit instead I had very young woman who was already battling insecurities and needed to see that what IS, is incredible with out any additional assistance.
Flesh moves. It reacts to pressure. Skin puckers and pinches when constrained. I've had many clients complain about body issues that don't exist without certain articles of clothing. Standing this way or that way will change the shape of your body regardless of what you are wearing. Tensing your muscles will make you tighter. Slouching will give you a tummy. Lighting will either show all your cellulite or you will have none. Where your garment sits on your body can make you look wider or slimmer. And none of this has to with boudoir photography. This is life. This what so many of us don't know. We live inside these bodies and most of us are dissatisfied, myself included. But why are we dissatisfied?
Are we dissatisfied because there is actually something wrong with our bodies? Is there something wrong with the bodies we see portrayed to us? The answer is not cut and dry. Yes, perfect bodies are glorified. This is nothing new. If you think every woman in the 1940's actually had a 20 inch waist, you're crazy. That is the shape that was glorified at the time. Right now you either have to have an ass of steel in an Instagram worthy thong from Australia or be a bodacious plus sized babe that just happens to have the inflated proportions of a Barbie doll. Oh you're a regular normal gal who doesn't fit into either of those two columns? Sorry, there is nothing for you to look to for affirmation that your body is in fact, ok. And you new mom? We have a wrap for that tummy.
Women with body issues raise daughters with body issues, boys and men who only ever see a someones glorified idea of perfect bodies in the media or in fucking kill me now, porn, sure as shit don't help the situation. I am all for doing what ever it takes for you to feel content in your skin. Body Positivity isn't my jam. I've never looked at my cellulite and been like, "Oh hey, you're lookin' extra dimply today. I like it." But I have been able to flip the script and say "Hey, you're here. We might as well do the damn thing.", and move on and sometimes I call friends in Candada from a dressing room in target because I have to buy a bathing suit for a last minute pool invite when I am out of town and all my logical faculties have shit the bed and I need someone else to to help me rally because that is life.
I see bodies all the time. I see more real bodies then most. Real raw women bring their bodies all the time and want me to show them something other than what they see. And I can, like a fucking boss.
So I looked at her and I saw myself.
Young. Beautiful. Already battling body demons and completely unaware of just how remarkable she is. I thought, I don't have daughters. I will likely never impact another young woman this way. So I made the decision to not retouch her. For her to see and for you to see. To show her that what IS, right now is beautiful. So that for at least 1 day she could revel in this moment of realization that what she may see in the mirror isn't always that the world sees.
If you've hung in this long, it might sound like I am anti retouching. Just the opposite. I fucking love my retoucher. Why? Because a woman with scars isn't always able to look past that pain. A woman who has spent more years sad that she is happy doesn't see the beauty in her wrinkles. A new mom who is trying to reclaim her sexuality so she can be more intimate with her husband doesn't want to gaze upon the stretch marks that helped her body grow a baby. That is the fastest way I know to make her feel unsexy. Our partners can tell us we are sexy, beautiful, silly or even dumb for feeling the way we do about our bodies but sometimes we just need a little help seeing it for ourselves. So I work with a retoucher to take those things away for you. So you can see the whole picture and not just what you're afraid of seeing. Retouching my clients doesn't make them less real it just helps their insecurities to feel a little less raw.