Body acceptance and self-confidence for me has been lacking for many years.
In fairness, it has probably been missing since becoming a parent. Fluctuating body size and a string of destructive relationships took their toll.
I have the most amazing family now who I know love and support me but yet in my head I had never accepted the past. Never accepted it’s ok to have a past and that past doesn’t define you or the path yet to walk on.
With an accumulation of surgeries and weight gain over the last couple of years I my confidence has never been lower.
Being fat has been my comfort blanket, if I am just the fat girl then no one will be interested in getting to know me and therefore I don’t have to put myself out there to new people. I can hide in a corner in one of my 7 plain black T-shirts and hope I don’t have to lift my head up and converse with anyone.
After emotionally tackling some demons over the domestic violence I suffered 16 years ago by undertaking a charity campaign over Christmas it left me even more delicate than I cared to admit.
Since Christmas I have been going around in circles trying to make myself feel worthy and so when I was invited to Chester to try out a portrait makeover session with Red Shoe I was anxious but excited in equal measure.
When I first chatted to Sarah online about the plan for the day and it was referred to as an “experience” I honestly wondered what I was going to do, photos are just photos aren’t they?
Well, I can categorically tell you that a Portrait Makeover session at Red Shoe is not just having photos taken!
I stayed over at a local hotel the night before and if I am honest I panicked … laying yourself open to a camera is something I am not comfortable with and I avoid cameras like the plague.
We chatted like we had known each other for years and I opened up about my fear of being in front of a camera. I told the ladies about my hatred of my own body, of my past experiences with domestic violence and my inability to accept myself.
…. And I cried…. A lot.
It was quite a cathartic cry, not a full-blown snot snivel but a proper from the gut overwhelming cry and after hugs and more chat I pulled my big girl panties up and sat with Mandy while she made up my face and hair and headed into the studio for a chat with Sarah about what clothes I was going to wear.
One of my first freak-out about the experience was over what I was going to wear and Sarah had told me just bring what you have. Obviously, I left 6 of the 7 black t-shirts at home and only brought one and then brought a handful of other randomly coloured tops to at least break up the black.
Thankfully Sarah picked out 5 tops to work with and I felt immediately better about my shocking wardrobe and how I feel about my body.
Next was a lesson in how to pose … I am never going to be as graceful but I gave it my best shot and Sarah did the rest!
Throughout the shoot Sarah was so complimentary that I felt so relaxed at times that I forgot I was being photographed, we chatted and laughed a lot.
By the time we got to the end of the shoot I was honestly gutted it was over. I felt strong, I felt powerful, I felt in control …. Because the thing that the Red Shoe experience has taught me more than anything is that I am worthy.
I have travelled my path, the good and the bad and I am as powerful as I want to make myself.
Over the following weeks since the photo shoot I have emotionally felt empowered, strong and in control. I have embraced who I am and where I came from and I can’t thank Sarah, Mandy and Nicole … The team behind Red Shoe.
You are 3 of the most amazing women and I will certainly be back …
Disclaimer: I received this experience for the purposes of this post. All thoughts and opinions were independently formed by members of The Oliver’s Madhouse.