Body Acceptance: How a body-positive boudoir photo shoot was a game changer
What is “Body Acceptance”?
We hear the terms “body love”, “body positivity”, and “body acceptance” tossed around a lot these days. But what do these things even mean? What is body acceptance?
There are some differences in how these terms are defined, but the base concept is: rejecting society’s unreasonable standard for physical appearance, and learning to accept the body that nature gave you.
Here’s the thing: it’s really easy for someone else to say “love your body!” But in practice, this can be very difficult. This is especially true if you aren’t anywhere near society’s standard of beauty: you’re not a size 6 or smaller, you don’t have flawless skin, and you aren’t completely hairless below your forehead.
For many women — no matter how thin, pretty, or flawless — it’s just hard to love yourself all the time. In fact, the pressure to try to love your body all the time can be as bad as the pressure to be thin and perfect! That’s why I love how Carlee Lightle defines body acceptance:
“Body acceptance means looking in the mirror and maybe not loving what you see, but being able to step back and realize that that’s okay.”
When you can’t love your body, you can probably at least accept it. After all, you still have to live in the body you have right now. Too many women put their lives on hold waiting to achieve an externally-motivated (and unrealistic) version of perfection. Body acceptance is much more important than most women realize for their happiness and long-term health.
What body acceptance is NOT
Body acceptance is not complacency. Nor is it an excuse to continue abusing your body.
Some women seem to fear that by accepting their bodies, they will somehow morph into immobile sloths who only feast on chocolate and Cheetos and never find the “motivation” to improve.
To these women I ask: has hating and fighting and railing against your body helped create positive and long-lasting healthy habits? Do you feel like going to the gym or taking care of yourself when you’ve told yourself you’re a fat pig for three weeks (or three decades)?
Others take body acceptance and use it as an excuse for bad behavior: “I love myself as I am, therefore I can and will eat three bags of Oreos in a single sitting while binge watching Breaking Bad…so f@ck you, kale!”
To these rebels I would ask: is eating anything and everything your heart desires, while refusing to do anything resembling exercise, respectful of the temple that is your body? Does it really make you feel good to live that way?
Body acceptance is way more than just accepting and even learning to love the curves, rolls, and dimples that make you unique. Body acceptance paves the way for body respect. And when you respect and love something, you care for it.
How can I cultivate body acceptance and a better self-image?
There are several important steps you can take to begin your journey to a better body image. This “internal work” is critical to the process.
Question. Question the status quo. Is a dress size 2 a realistic body type for 99% of women? Do the women in magazines really have flawless, stretch-mark and cellulite-free skin? Or is it just airbrushing? Is it really healthy for a woman to strive for less than 24% body fat?
Educate. Educate yourself about health and weight. Look at images of healthy bodies through history. You might be shocked to learn that the image most of us are striving for – the one depicted in fitness magazines – is not a healthy or realistic body type.
Redirect. Redirect your negative thoughts. We can’t control what other people think or say, but the majority of poor body image and nasty comments come straight from our own brains. Learn to catch yourself in the act of being mean to yourself. Replace those thoughts with something more positive. For example: “Ugh, my thighs are so huge!” becomes “My legs are strong and I thank them for carrying me from place to place.”
The internal work is really important and cannot be skipped. But there are other ways to work on body acceptance too.
Mind-body movement classes like tai chi, yoga, and belly dance can help you connect with and appreciate what your body is capable of. Buying beautiful and flattering clothing that fits your current body size can be a radical act of acceptance and selfcare. Listening to body-positive podcasts and Ted Talks is a great way to inspire and shift your brain to more positive thought patterns. Or…getting really radical and hiring a photographer – like, a boudoir photographer – to get photos of you to prove just how gorgeous you are.
How a body-positive boudoir photo shoot helped me foster a better self-image
I like to think outside of the box and get out of my comfort zone. Sometimes way out of my comfort zone. That’s why I was thrilled when I met Cassie from Blush Bloom Boudoir Photography.
I learned about Cassie through a mutual friend. I had no initial intentions of stripping down to let a stranger photograph me…after all, I’m almost FORTY. But what really sold me on Blush Bloom was the fact that Cassie puts her focus on a body-positive experience. She photographs women of all shapes and sizes. She refuses to do major airbrushing or body resizing because it detracts from the unique qualities and beauty of each individual. Cassie even offers body positivity classes (and I’m hosting one in September…more details below)!
I knew right then and there that this was right up my anti-diet-diva-body-acceptance alley!
What I learned about myself from this experience
I clean up pretty good. My comfy sweatpants have special place in my heart and always will…but it probably wouldn’t kill me to actually get dressed and put on some makeup from time to time. It felt good to take care of myself in this way.
It forced me to find a self-confidence I didn’t know I had. Any time you get naked in front of a stranger holding a camera, you have to dig pretty deep. What this experience helped me realize was that the confidence wasn’t fake or external…it came from within me…and I have access to this feeling of confidence every day, if I choose it.
Doing something for myself — and only for myself — isn’t selfish or wasteful. Spending money and time, taking a day to be pampered and catered to, is not self-centered! Filling your tank and feeling good about yourself will make you more available to loved ones, more productive at work, and more likely to engage in healthy behaviors.
Feeling pretty makes me want to take better care of myself. This is the part about body acceptance that so many people miss: when you feel good about yourself — flaws and all — you are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, like exercising or eating a healthy lunch.
I have flaws and I will probably never love every part of my body. I could see things about my body that I didn’t like in the photos. I could also see that I was still beautiful in spite of all those things I like to pick apart. This knowledge, and the acceptance of it, is tremendously freeing. I can stop ruminating over every bulge, stretch mark, or dimple because those parts of me probably aren’t going away any time soon. I am beautiful with those flaws and I can be happy without the perfect body. I am good enough just as I am.
More about Cassie and Blush Bloom Boudoir Photography
Meet Cassie Trebar of Blush Bloom Boudoir! Cassie is a body positive boudoir photographer and women's empowerment advocate. She runs a full service boudoir-specializing studio in Cleveland and works with women of all shapes and sizes showing them their beauty through the art of intimate portraiture. She also leads a body love Facebook community of five thousand women and empowers ladies through her daily inspiring content and her body love workshops, in addition to her work in the studio. She is a body positivity and self love advocate who dedicates her life to showing each and every woman she works with how absolutely perfect she is made and how important it is that she loves herself.
This beautiful strong woman knows a thing or two about how individually difficult the self love journey is for each woman. Ladies leaving her studio always know that they are amazing creations worthy of self love, self confidence, and body acceptance. You can learn more about Cassie and reach out to her on her website or find her on social media at any of the links below!
Facebook business page: www.facebook.com/blushbloomboudoir
The body love Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/blushbloomboudoir
Join Cassie and Kelly for a Body Positive Workshop!
I am incredibly excited to be partnering with Cassie and Blush Bloom Boudoir to offer a full-day Intuitive Eating and Body Love Workshop for women!
We believe that EVERY woman deserves to feel beautiful and confident in her skin — no matter her size!
When: September 22, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Where: Kelly’s private farmstead in Spencer, Ohio
Cost: $75 per person
What’s included: During the morning session Kelly will teach you the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and how they can help you achieve health and happiness at any size…without dieting! A wonderful catered lunch, including a guided Intuitive Eating experience, will be provided at noon. In the afternoon, Cassie will help you embrace your body during her signature Body Love Workshop! Cassie will also give each lady an opportunity to experience boudoir photography by doing short micro-sessions! How exciting is that?!?
How to sign up: Click HERE to be taken to Cassie’s secure sign-up and payment website. Once you are signed up, you should join her FREE body love community on Facebook — 6,000 women strong! To join the movement, click here.
This workshop is for women only.
I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading!
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Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.