"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.
I started a personal project this week.
Sometimes telling my clients story is therapy enough.
Sometimes I need total creative freedom to create a story...
A story begging to be told in parts and pieces.
I guess that is part of my creative process and growth.
Not knowing what the end will look like,not sealed to the middle.
Ever changing, ever growing, ever evolving...
The process of transforming a common substance,usually of little value, into a
substance of great value.
ALCHEMY PT1: CHAINED
"How I March"
I get it.
I really do.
I understand and feel betrayed, hurt, and lied to.
But it didn’t start with him.
It didn’t start with the one before him, or the one before him.
It started when I realized that politics was a game played by the elite.
It started when I understood that political rallies and protests were not my calling.
It started when I realized that true rebellion could only be fought first within.
So, you see, I get it. I understand the fight. I understand the fire burning within.
Some need to march. Some need to pound the pavement in protest. Some need to carry signs written in rebellion.
My fight is here. My rebellion is close to home.
I have chosen my battle. It is fought daily. It is my territory. My life.
Its on the frontlines…..of womens minds.
I fight by showing women that they are enough, worthy,and brilliant.
The war I fight is waged when women resist negativity and seep love.
It is at the basic grassroots level -hidden in the deep pockets of our thoughts
It is in every…
Decision we make
Thought we choose
Burden we bare
That is my battlefield.
That is where my revolution begins.
Those are my weapons of choice.
This is my revolution.
This is how I march.
It is a place in Africa, on the west coast where:
The cultural idea of beauty encourages consumption of high fat foods such as camel's milk, to ensure that young women attain sufficient size. Overweight individuals would be considered attractive in this culture. Stretch marks are also considered attractive, as are large ankles and bottoms. Obesity is so revered among Mauritania's population that the young girls are sometimes force-fed to obtain a weight the government has described as "life-threatening". Force-feeding has now been officially outlawed but still takes place in some areas of the country.
This REALLY made me think.
I TRY not to be consumed about my weight or numbers.
Scales are lying whores.
If all day long I am THINKING about my weight or how I look...there is a problem.
That is the EXACT definition of a bullshit obsession..Right?
But...and it is a HUGE BUTT(no pun intended!)
Its hard NOT to be SOMEWHAT consumed.
In our society we are BOMBARDED with images, magazines, models, more images
THEN- to top it off Victoria Secret Fashion Shows.
So fucking bombarded.
From the time we are little girls we are ENSLAVED by a "THOUGHT".
We are taught to "think" that SKINNY is beautiful and "curvy" is fat.
Sometimes "skinny" IS beautiful.
But that doesnt mean that "curvy" is fat!
TRUTHFULLY....I have spent most of my life chasing "thin".
Wanting to be like her
REALLY-I would love to be thin,
I am NO LONGER willing to "sell my soul" to get it..
YET- on the other side of the globe there is a place where an entire society is "enslaved" by a "thought" also.
They are the EXACT opposite THOUGHTS of THIS society.
Being FORCE-FED and ONLY thinking about putting ON weight is also a cultural struggle.
It really made me realize that "beauty" IN ITSELF is a false idol.
Vanity comes in MANY ways.
It sneaks in where you least expect it.
Always stealing your joy.
We chase "thinness"
they chase "weight".
Now that I am aware..
It helps me to understand MY INNER "struggle".
I am more aware of the deception.
So I am more aware of the destruction.
Life is too short to waste time being molded by false thoughts and perceptions.
Life is too short to waste one more thought on the weight of the issue.
Live. Love. Learn..
.and be consumed by your children, your lover, yourself, and your LIFE.
Resist a thought process designed to rob you of every spare moment in the name of self doubt and fear.
You are so much more than how much you weigh....or don't weigh.
You are every meal you have with your family.
You are every walk you take with your children.
You are every late night dessert with your husband.
You are every long walk with your Father.
You are every cupcake at your bithday party.
You are every thing.
You ARE Everything.
All at once.
All bound together by your own beliefs.
Obsess on that today.
Be enslaved by that today..
Know that today.
When you decide that taking a chance is something you owe yourself....
there is a cost.
When you decide that you will live your life courageously..
there is a cost.
When you decide that NOT being brave is more detrimental to your life than being brave...
there is a cost.
The cost for deciding to live authentically...
is others acceptance of you and the way you live.
Because when you decide to take the first step in a journey that not everyone is willing to accept...you will alienate people.
You will hear them talk.
you will hear them criticize.
you will hear the fear
Because truth is often a mirror..
and they are not ready.
you will radiate
a light that will make others question their intentions.
You will shed fear and self doubt....and gain layers and layers of uncharted territory inside your mind.
You will start to create a space for yourself that is safe.
you will realize that....
Everything you once thought about yourself....will have to be reexamined.
This is the cost.
This is the wager.
This is the spot where you decide
It is in these moments that you create your future.
You decide who will shape your thoughts.
you decide what is truth...
you decide what is real...
you decide which path to walk...
Will you let them shame you for being brave
will you seep self love?
When you think about the cost...
Remember your worth.
fight with everything you have to reconstruct the tiny pieces of yourself that have cracked
in the fight for your self worth.
Fight for the chance to breathe fire and fully inhabit your life.
Fight for the chance to be truly happy.
Pay whatever the cost is....
Do whatever it take.
Decide your OWN worth.
I try and shoot creatively for me a couple times a month.
When I envision a session in my head...it is usually a story line of some sorts.
It usually has to do with something that has affected me or something that I have gone thru.
Alot of times its not boudoir. Its more of an artistic, fine art session.
Less sex appeal...more story.
This session was inspired by changes that we all go thru in life.
It is inspired by the fact that in life...we evolve.
If we are really living and really paying attention...we will change.
We will transform from one thing to another...
Sometimes it is a quick painless change...
We have to crumble to build.....
That is the beauty of life.
In those moments...
we have choices.
We can choose to stay there and sink in it...
We rise and come clean.
We have to choose to shed and change...
We have to choose to see the light inside of ourselves.
We have to relish in the mud and growth.
Without the pain...there is no pleasure.
Without the hurt..there is no healing.
Without the mess...there is no truth.
Without the old..there is no new.
Make a choice.
Muse: Kenzie Hardin
Assistant: Sheba Vallone