I prefer to be myself and embrace what I have been given

I have always had issues with society’s beauty standards, but then, I am not one to try to keep up with them. I prefer to be myself and embrace what I have been given. I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, other than eyeliner and mascara. I remember in high school, my dad always told me that I didn’t need makeup, but I wouldn’t leave home without putting the whole face on. Then I went to college and decided that twenty extra minutes of sleep was worth so much more than a made up face!

So, you could say that my journey to self-love began in college and has taken many twists and turns throughout the years. There was a period of time where I went through some severe female-health related issues and that was a huge struggle because I didn’t feel well and hated what my body was going through and what it wouldn’t do for me. Then a few years ago I went through more general and overall health related problems where I just felt awful, everything hurt, my hair was falling out, I couldn’t sleep night, I wanted to sleep all day and was gaining weight that wouldn’t budge. I finally found help, totally changed my lifestyle (especially what I ate) and discovered a whole new me.

I no longer color my hair, worry about my weight, fret about wrinkles or care what others think about my appearance. I feel fabulous and think that I’m doing a pretty good job at rocking 50 (in a couple of months that is)!! I am constantly telling anyone who asks for my advice that my secret is to, “Own it!” Every choice-good or bad, every decision-wise or not, every perfection/imperfection… Own it!! I love myself and the woman that I’ve become. I’m strong, I’m kind, I’m intelligent, I’m blessed and I’m worthy of respect.

I wasn’t really afraid of booking a photo shoot, I’ve done one before. I never thought I would do one again, because I didn’t know anyone in the area that did them. When I found out that my friend was doing one and she shared her source, I was excited about doing it again. I thought, “This is a perfect 50th birthday present for me!” The only nerves that I had was about finding the perfect outfits for “me” and would what I think look good on me, actually represent the “me” I was trying to show. So, tried on a lot of things, sent regular pics to Kristen to get her opinion and on the day of the photo shoot, I piled a bunch of outfits in a suitcase and hauled them to her and let her pick for me.

What I found when I got to Kristen’s studio is an upbeat, positive, enthusiastic woman who does her best to make every woman be her best. Not just look her best, but actually find her best self.

That is inspiring in today’s age of instant and constant judgment. That said, I wasn’t nervous about my shoot per say, but I was concerned about the makeup. I don’t wear a lot of makeup and was sure that I would look overdone and not like myself at all. Meghan and Kristen chatted with me the whole time I was in the MUAH chair and that was just the beginning of the fun. They make you feel comfortable and put you at ease, like you’ve been friends forever and this is just another get together. Meghan kept going on about my “natural” hair and my “natural” eye brows, and that made me feel good too! Then Meghan leaves, the door locks and Kristen begins her magic! Kristen explains every pose that she wants; she models it for you if needed and moves you like a mannequin when required.

Seeing the pictures, that Kristen took, was jaw-dropping moment for me… I felt absolutely stunned, incredible, amazed, etc. The images of me on the screen were breath-taking. Kristen is a fabulous photographer and what she is doing for women is amazing! As I tried to pick out my favorites and choose images for my album, I had an extremely difficult time. She makes you look so gorgeous! I hate most pictures that are taken of me, so, it was nice to see so many that I love…it also made decisions difficult. I kept telling her that she made it too hard to choose and she kept saying, “It’s not me on the screen girl, it’s you!”

Honestly, I really enjoyed the whole experience. This time around was way more comfortable and relaxed compared to the first boudoir shoot I did 25 years ago. The hair and makeup was also way better this time. Like I said, I don’t wear makeup on the daily, except eye-liner and mascara, and haven’t since my high school/early college days. So getting made-over and having my hair styled was a treat. Meghan and Kristen made the whole experience fun and it felt like a sleepover at a friend’s house.

I would say to any woman, whether they are thinking about having one or not, DO THIS! I know a lot of women do this for their spouse, boyfriend, fiancé, partner, etc. Even if you don’t have a significant other, DO THIS! Do it for yourself! This was my gift to myself. I turn 50 this year and I am confident in saying that, “I ABSOLUTELY ROCK 50!” Not because I’m vain or think I’m all that, but because I’m still here and I’m still standing; in spite of everything that life has thrown at me.