When this beauty came to me and told me about her journey, I was speechless.
She has lost 80 pounds and really transformed her life!
Learning to love yourself is not always orderly. Sometimes we grow overnight, sometimes it takes longer.
Then sometimes we have moments when our truth is revealed in all its beauty.
It's in those moments that we can feel the potential of who we are.. no past shit weighing us down, no pain, no negativity.. just possibilities and self love.
I saw that moment tonight when Maggie had her session reveal and saw her photos...Proud isn't a strong enough word.
This process isn't easy. Bravery can be fleeting....I honor each and every one of you that moves on their bravery.
When you seize that tiny moment and make a commitment to a session.... you are my heros.
It is this kind of bravery that sears itself into your mind. When you leave I always wonder...What will she do next? XOXOX- Jana V
Angela drove more than 16 hours just to get here.
But in reality... it was more like a lifetime.
It took her a lifetime of tears and shame, many years of pent up fear... and then finally coming to a simple realization.
Love is Love.
And its ok to be undeniably authentic and real.... with everyone in your life.
Because ....this is what bravery looks like.
This is what it looks like when someone comes home to themselves.
This is what it looks like when things come full circle.
This Is what it looks like to abandon your fears and put it all on the line.
I am beyond proud of her.
I First met her when she contacted me about mentoring her for her boudoir photography business. And our business mentoring Turned more to a conversation about being true to yourself and how that can affect every part of your life. After that conversation she did something very brave and she came out to her VIP group. She put her fear aside and decided to honor herself....it was an empowering day for both of us.
It was my full circle. This is why I love this work.
These photo shoots force us to move towards the deeper parts of our mind.
Because we have layers of shit we have to put down in order to get to a place in our heart where we are ready.
We carry insecurities and pain like we need them to survive.
We can be true to ourselves and brave enough to say LOVE is LOVE... Finally.
Venda was such fun to work with! We hit it off immediately when she came into the studio. She has an amazing , genuine spirit! She really brought her A game for her session. I love that shit. To me, when a woman comes into the studio ready to FULLY EMBRACE this process.. it SHOWS!!!! Thank you for trusting me Venda... You are amazing!
“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. 'Time' for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
― Roman Payne
As women we talk ourselves out of confidence so much that we actually don't even recognize it when we feel it.
It is so foreign to us to actually FEEL GOOD that when we do feel it.... we literally reject it. We keep ourselves in a self made cage.
We shy away from feeling good just because you aren't used to it.
Because it feels too heavy we choose to run.
I think it's time to start letting those feeling sink in.
It's time to let your confidence move forward.
I think we have been sitting in the back long enough.
MUSE: Sarah Cheshire
Yep. JUST Fishnets.
I think they are beyond sexy and really show off your ASSets.
It gives your session an edge and there is no feeling like seeing an image of yourself in nothing but fishnets.
Its not something alot of clients even consider.. but I always encourage you to push past your comfort zone..
Sometimes this is a perfect way to bring out your wilder side!
"I know this is not very humble or yogi of me,
but I really feel like Jana & I are bad asses right now." She said.
Me: "Are you kidding? What is yogi? is self love and appreciation not yogi?
We are so conditioned to feel GUILT when we feel good.
You have earned that warmth!"
That conversation happened a few weeks ago between Leigh and I
when an image of ours was awarded a DMWL Award for 2017.
It sat on my heart for weeks.
Why can't we even accept the fact that-
we may in fact.... be a badass.
It is so ingrained in us to feel GUILTY when we feel GOOD or PROUD.
We have been relentlessly taught that we don't have room for that emotion.
We can't be both PROUD and HUMBLE
at the same time.
We can't feel good and beautiful if somewhere deep inside
we don't really believe it 100%.
If there is one shred of doubt in our minds we fall to THAT.
We CHOOSE that.
I do it too.
We let that simple SHRED of self doubt
rob us of the mountain of joy we have in front of us.
Why does negativity weigh more on the scale
of our mind than positive self love?
Because we have given up our control.
We have given up our mental freedom for a brutal regime of self loathing.
We completely surrendered.
I mean... FUCK...
we can even win awards for that shit
and we STILL refuse to accept our beauty and power.
Because we have fallen to a belief system designed to hold us down.
We actually believe that if we aren't "perfect" ..
we don't deserve to FEEL GOOD.
We have bought into that shit so completely
that we don't even recognize it.
We don't even know we are suffocating
because it's ALWAYS been hard to breathe.
JUST FUCKING STOP.
Decide that your self worth is no longer
determined by your previous beliefs.
Start to recognize your strength..
Start to accept your worth.
Take back your power.
MUSE: Leigh Jacob
Let me explain something...
I hear all the time, " I would do a session... if I looked like THAT" or "I would do a session.... if I was thin like HER". When I hear this it puts fire in my soul... because I hear all of your stories and struggles. I see all of your pain. The truth is... it honestly doesn't matter if you weigh 110 pounds or 375 pounds...we all see a distorted version of ourselves if we haven't known anything else. Society teaches us that... "if you look like this everything will be perfect in your life" or "if you are a size 0 you will be eternally happy and all problems will be solved.
All, of which, are fucking bullshit.
Instead of buying into that shit......
Maybe consider this:
-your physical size on the outside has nothing to do with the weight you carry on the inside.
-consider that everyone has their own issues with their body- no matter what their size.
-Maybe even -love YOURSELF enough to consider the fact that ....just because you lose 20 pounds doesn't mean you are 20 pounds lighter.
This is the truth--
how you see yourself really has very little to do with the shape of your body. It has so much more to do with the shape of your mind.
then -consider booking your session...because maybe it's actually 20 pounds of issues that are weighing you down.
From the very beginning I KNEW this work was home.
Self hate and body shaming have been a part of my life since I was a little girl.
But back then.. there was no "self love" movement.
No one talked about body confidence or self image back then.
I fought an internal war FOR 30 YEARS silently....Then in February of 2016 I made a kind of off hand decision to shoot some "sexy shoots". It was valentines day.. why not?
As I did those sessions, something changed inside of me.
There was a spark.
It was like all the sudden I knew what all that misguided rebellion had come from. Because this is so much about confronting the things we have been taught about our bodies and our self image,
I started really go to battle with all those things inside myself.
I started to face off against the real root of all my pain.
I realized It was my war....and I realized, as women, we are all on the battlefield of our own heart. We all fight an invisible enemy.
And it is a choice.
We have a choice.
It was then that I realized... I wanted a revolution.
So 16 months later-here we sit.... Welcome to the battlefield my love.
XOXO- Jana V.
When I get letters and gifts like these from dear clients who are now friends....
I know we are winning.
Thank you Dee Wallace Garrett for the amazing letter and gift. It means more than you will ever know. XOXOX- Jana V
Below is the letter and gift I received from this amazing lady!
A Simple Thank you…
As I look in the mirror every morning, I ask myself…Who am I? Who is this older woman looking back at me? I see gray hairs. I see new wrinkles. I see saggy knees and tone loss. I look online to search skincare and plastic surgery. I compare my 42 yr. old self to 25 yr. old hard bodies. I compare my REAL self to photo shopped faux bodies. I am old, I am tired. I am trapped in my own mind.
I am told I am “beautiful”, I am told I “look great” and I reply with arguments pointing out my flaws. Why is it so hard to love myself? I’m a good person. I take care of others. I put everyone before me and I love unconditionally, yet… I am still my worst critic. Why do I allow myself to judge myself as a physical being and not as a wonderful being? I am everyone’s cheerleader, highlighting their greatness, yet constantly denying my own. Why? Who am I? Who is this woman?
A self-critic? A negative Nancy? A joy killer? A hypocrite? All the things I preach to my children NOT to be; yet I live, breath and self-reticule myself daily in their presence. I feel the struggles of perfection; to be perfect in every way. Something so unattainable but for some reason, so desirable. Why? Perfection to me is not perfection to you. So why constantly beat myself up trying to achieve it? Because I am a woman and that is my struggle as is every woman’s struggle.
I had no idea I was anything more than these things until I saw myself through your camera. I saw what my husband is constantly telling me every day. I am beautiful! I am sexy! I am hot! I am a woman! I am feminine! I am appealing and attractive! Wow! I have never known those things were attainable. It sounds so ignorant to think so little of myself but I do as all women do. We should be ashamed! We are unique beings and our “better” halves see us as such, and to be able to experience this through a simple little photoshoot. Crazy to think that simple little photos allow us to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes. But these aren’t just little photos. These are artistic and beautiful and sensual and amazing portraits.
It was the most freeing experience I've ever had with my own body taking these pictures. It's like I had no barriers of self doubt. The shoot was meant for my husband as a gift but ended up being a freeing and erotic experience for me instead. This truly was a gift to myself that keeps on giving. Every woman needs this! They need this self-discovery! We are all perfectly imperfect and we owe it to ourselves to celebrate those imperfections. We should own our imperfections. Who knows…. those imperfections may be what draws others to us. We all have a story waiting to be told...even if we are the only ones that will ever read it. We as woman NEED it! We need to feel good in our own skin and love who we are no matter what we look like.
I am more than a mother. I am more than a friend. I am more than a lover. And for a hour and a half for that one Sunday afternoon, I was able to realize that. I will always have my struggles but I will, more importantly, always have these pics to remind me of my alter ego. My badass self. I am sexy! I am hot! I am desirable and I am free! And when I doubt those things and fall back into my critical self, I will look at my amazing portraits so artistically and beautifully done and remind myself of who I am in the eyes of someone else. I am a badass and I have you to thank for helping me see and discover that. As cliché as it seems. You really did help me see ME! I know who I am. I am a woman waiting to break free of societies barriers and riticule, I am ME and that’s all I should strive to be!
Thank you Jana! You are amazingly artistic! You have a gift and a purpose and you are killin’ it! I can’t wait for my next shoot! XOXOX- Dee
Getting to know you ladies and hearing your stories is something that always captures my heart.
Knowing your thoughts and feelings about your session and what led you here is something I feel like differs for everyone!
I want to know your story.
Your feelings, your heart.
I want to feel your experience.
That is why....every session will get a chance on the blog.
Every brave woman that wants to tell her story..
The first one I asked was my dear friend Cindy.
She wanted to do a........
Well- Ill let her tell it......
The Sadness.......By Cindy Marshall
As the months led up to turning 40 I was terrified the moment would come that every over 40 year old woman dreads...
I've heard so much about how awful it is to turn 40. That life just seems to go downhill after that. But I had not really felt or seen it in that light, and I was just dreading the moment it came as it grew closer and closer to the day.
I had a different feeling coming over me...you see my personality tends to be funny, witty, laughable, and I don't tend to take a whole lot of things too seriously. So, I began planning a "fun" 40th birthday shoot with my dear friend Jana. Photographer to photographer I knew she would get my vision...a fun tutu, a glittery 40 on top of a cake. A shirt mocking the one year old shoots and some champagne popping! Screw this turning 40 sucks, I'm going to laugh at the world who says 40 isn't fun!
As we talked and planned it, Jana suggested doing a boudoir shoot as well. You see, my dear friend also happens to be one of the top boudoir photographers you can ever ask to know. In fact, I push people her way when I get asked to take that style....she's THAT good!
Ok, ok Jana I'm thinking in my head...I'll appease you and take these pics, but they just aren't my style. I'm not going to actually like them.
You see, I could sit here all day and tell you I laugh at turning 40, because it's true. I really do! I'm ok with it in every aspect....but maybe one. I do feel sexy in my own way. I'm not tone but I'm on the slim side. I have great legs (yes, I said it! It's not cocky to admit a part of you is great, it's confidence). But sexy to me wasn't my body. It was who I was. I am the guys girl and I loved being her. I am obsessed with sports, I work in sports, I don't just pretend to like them...I actually truly love them! Especially football and soccer. You can't pull me away when it's on and usually I'm at some kind of live sporting event. To me that was sexy! But Jana is talking about a whole different kind of sexy.....like you want me, in barely any clothes, posing without cracking up hysterically at myself and look sexy? Not going to happen Jana, but good luck trying!!
Fast forward the next few months and we do my fun shoot. I have a blast, shake my tu tu around, I'm laughing, and drinking mimosas...what else could be better?
Then my girl wants to do her thing. And we do. I'm not going to describe the shoot. You get the drift. More than likely you have seen your pics and you know her style. Still didn't leave there feeling any other way than I made my friend happy by taking some of her style and I got my super awesome cake smash style photos that I can't wait to see.
Then the thing I feared most happened....
She sent me the photos.
And the thing I feared most happened...
The sadness hit.
Why that I'm opening these pics did I now feel the sadness?
Here it is, let me explain it to you.
Truth was, I did feel sexy for being that super cool guys girl. Always have, always will. But three years before this, I had my heart broken. No not broken, that doesn't do it justice. I had someone hold my heart in his hand....all of my heart. Every part of me that made up who all the good parts were was in that heart, and he took it and held it and after he was done loving it he took and ice pick to it and shattered it into a million little pieces that would take three years to put back together. My truth, I had not felt the kind of sexy a woman should feel for the last 5 years. I saw cute and funny but never hot, and beautiful. I saw beaten and scarred but smiling through it, not confident and controlling and smiling for pure bliss.
And at that moment, I looked at each photo tears streaming down my eyes, and my sadness came at me all at once. I was sad because I let a man take away a woman who was always there and hide her in a shell for a very long time. And I realized no man was ever worth enough to do that to you!
My sadness and tears would only last a few minutes;
I think I just needed that moment. It was my healing moment. It was my F you moment to him.
And then the smile came....
the really really big and full on ear to ear smile and I swiped through each picture and thought "I'm hot!" Like no really, I look pretty damn good in these!!!
ow the hell did Jana do this? Being a photographer, yes I know it takes an amazing camera, all the right set up, and some incredible software to make it all come together....But, what you can't do, is pull fake out of a photo.
She captured me in the essence of me. My absolute favorite ones were the ones I was laughing
. It was true,
it was genuine,
it was me.....and she showed my legs....my legs that I loved so much.
I just felt sexy! And it felt so incredible to feel sexy again!
After I put the pics away, I realized that women need to do shoots like this for so many different reasons. Mine happened to be to heal from something stripped away long ago that I needed to be shown I still carried inside of me.
I can't thank you enough for helping me find that woman inside of me again my lovely Jana. You are my soul sister in love or the camera and I can't thank you enough. That inner goddess loves you for letting her surface back to my light....
And to the man who held my heart and an ice pick...
I reinvented myself in your absence.