We’ve all seen it happen. A woman has a kid or two and gradually begins to lose herself in the all-encompassing requirements of motherhood. Before you know it, that once beautiful and confident woman has been replaced by an exhausted, pony-tailed, yoga-pant-wearing lady with a negative self image who can no longer remember or see her beauty.
One of the biggest perks of being a photographer is that I have the ability to remind women of their beauty and bring back their confidence with just an hour or two in front of my camera. However, with the economy the way it is, we’ve all been feeling the crunch and I know it’s hard for many women to justify spending money on a photo session when there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. So, in light of this, I’ve decided to jazz things up with a contest for a free photo session for one deserving mom.
I am doing this because I want to change the way that women look and think about themselves. I hear comments from women all the time that make me so angry that society has brainwashed us into believing that we have to look like models in magazines. “I don’t photograph well.” “Maybe I’ll call you for some pictures when I’ve lost weight.” “No way. I could never get half naked in front of a camera, I’d break the lens.”
I even had one lady tell me the other day, “You couldn’t possibly understand. Look at you – you’ve probably always been in awesome shape.” Uhm, no, I haven’t.
Those of you who’ve known me for a long time may recall that during my last two years of high school and for a couple of years following, I weighed a lot more than I do now – twenty pounds more, in fact. Despite the fact that I played basketball and volleyball and figure skated, I still carried around about twenty extra pounds of chunk for a few years. During that time I felt ugly and fat and, despite all of the sports I played, I just couldn’t seem to lose the weight. Then, I was talking to my Stepmom one day and asking her how she’d managed to stay so thin even after having two kids, and she told me something that completely changed my attitude toward my body and appearance. She told me that she used to obsess about her weight and exercise all the time when she was younger, but when she turned 30, she just decided to stop worrying about it and stop thinking about it so much. She stopped exercising so much and made sure she ate healthy food and just like that the weight came off. Once she stopped her mind from fixating on her weight and appearance, her body transformed into it’s natural state. We hear all the time that the mind is a powerful instrument and that mind over matter works and in her case it was totally true.
After she told me that, I made the decision to stop obsessing over the negative aspects of my appearance and to start focusing on the positive ones. It was impossibly difficult at first and I had many arguments with myself over whether or not I should step on that scale or try on those old pants that used to fit, etc., but each day it became easier and easier to let it go and to focus on the positives. For instance, a guy once told me that I had beautiful eyes. He was a friend’s boyfriend and he said it as we were all sitting together, hanging out, so he wasn’t trying to schmooze me or anything – he was just being honest. That night, I went home and had a good, long look at my eyes and, wouldn’t you know it, he was right! My eyes are really pretty. Not quite green and not quite golden, but a nice mix of both. I’d never noticed my eyes were pretty before he pointed it out to me. Just like many women don’t notice the positive parts about themselves until someone mentions it or points it out in a photograph. It’s so easy to look at the overall package and think, “Ick,” than to find the good parts and isolate them. I did the same thing my Stepmom did and forced myself to stop obsessing and, wouldn’t you know it, I dropped 20 pounds just like that. I didn’t step up my exercise routine. I didn’t change my eating habits and become a health nut. I just stopped obsessing and let it be and started being proud of the parts of myself that I did like – my eyes, my lips, my legs, etc. – and the weight just melted off as though it was just waiting around for me to come to my sense.
No matter what a woman sees when she looks at her overall self and says, “Ick,” I guarantee she will start to feel differently if she finds just one or two parts of herself that she can like. It’s not as hard as it sounds and, as a photographer, it is my forte. I am constantly looking at my clients and assessing their best and worst features before photographing them with those best features in mind. It’s just a small leap from doing that to showing other women how to look for the best in themselves.
You can’t change the world in a day, but if I can use my talents to change one woman at a time, then I’m well on my way to starting to change it. Hence, this contest. Every woman deserves to see how beautiful she is and moms deserve it more than most, I think.
Here are the contest rules:
- Any mom can enter herself and anyone can enter a hard-working mom who they feel deserves a confidence boost.
- You must live in the Kamloops area and must submit your entry by midnight, August 15, 2009.
- In 500 words or less (and it doesn’t have to be beautifully written or have perfect grammar or anything like that), explain why you think you (or the mom you are entering in the contest) deserve a free photo shoot. My intent with this is to get women thinking about how a photo shoot would help their self image and to overcome the fear of getting in front of the camera.
The winning response will be chosen by an out of town mom who is a friend of mine and the winner will be able to choose between a Boudoir and Anytime shoot sometime in early September.
Please be generous and forward the link to all of the hard-working mom’s you know so that everyone will have a chance at winning.
Good luck. I can’t wait to hear all of your responses and I can’t wait to show the lucky winner how easy it is to remember that she’s beautiful.
And, because every post is better with a picture, here’s a couple of our little Charlie Cat, hanging out in the raspberry bushes, stalking grasshoppers.