Do you have a pet? If not, I am sure you have spent at least some time in your life observing a cat or a dog. They are so good at simply being unapologetically themselves. When they are tired, they sleep. When they want something, they let you know. They never hold love back and they do not pretend to be something they are not. Just like little children. We all used to be fully accepting of ourselves at one very early point in our lives. What happened?
Call it conditioning, call it passing down of cultural and familial values, call it traditions, education, society, civilization – somewhere along the line of growing up we started creating thought models in our heads about what is acceptable and what not, how we should be/act/speak/present ourselves. When we were babies every part of our body was regarded as precious and everyone wanted to grab a hold of our fluffy rosy cheeks. However, later on in life we realize that being chubby equals to being made fun of. And that’s no fun.
We all come in different colors, shapes and sizes and shaming and ridiculing our God-given image serves no purpose and is a waste of precious energy. Media has played a huge role in creating unrealistic standards of what we should look like, in order to market products that can help us become something that we are not. Fortunately, more and more people are brining awareness to that and the number of major brands promoting positive body image is constantly increasing.
When I was first approached to do boudoir photography some years ago, I was very hesitant about it. A lot of the images I had seen online were heavily retouched and manipulated, making women look skinnier, younger and sometimes not even remotely resembling themselves. My initial response was to decline to be part of that, until I saw it from a different perspective. I could do boudoir my way, using natural light and the right angle, to show women their true beauty just the way they were.
What if I told you that instead of adding more things to yourself and constantly striving to become more than you already are, you can just be and rest in the unique expression of divinity which is your birthright? Typing this, I exhale a sigh of relief… Knowing this, when I go out tomorrow I can decide to wear make up or not, dress up or dress down, wear a bra or not based on what I want/feel like, versus what I have to do to appear a certain way. This is freedom. I love being free.
So how exactly do you celebrate yourself? By honoring who you are and the ways in which you wish to express yourself in this fascinating dance we call life AND holding the same space of acceptance for others. Sometimes in our attempts to liberate ourselves from oppression, the roles flip and we end up being the new oppressors, endlessly perpetuating the artificial division. Some models are tall and skinny, others are short and curvy, and there is room for everyone in the world. Putting somebody down so we can be on top comes from a mentality of lack. Celebrating ourselves is all about abundance and embracing the beauty of being more than one way. Life is short and precious and we will all die someday. All skeletons look the same, so let’s not take ourselves so seriously and simply enjoy our brief appearance in a unique form on this planet.
Some years ago, I was asked why I take pictures of myself. I had to give the question some thought before I answered it. I’d been doing it almost instinctively, on a whim, when the light was good, or inspiration struck and I did not have anybody else to photograph. Looking closely and examining my images, I realized that I have been unearthing and reclaiming different pieces of myself. Parts of me that were begging to be seen, acknowledged and released/reunited. The process resembled that of an archeologist carefully picking up pieces of a newly found relic, gently dusting them off with her brush and putting them together bringing the puzzle back to wholeness.
Variety is the spice of life and we have so many different facets to all of us – our little girl, the warrior, the wise woman, the seductress, the sensual natural nymph, the mother, the goddess, the masculine part of us, cat woman (did I type that? ;-)), etc. At different times/stages in life, we can reach inside and pull out the archetype/persona we need the most – all we have to do is to sit still, ask and wait to connect to it. If there is a side of you that you feel you would like to bring out/give more expression to, I would love to assist the process with the “Celebrate Yourself” Sessions.
The “Celebrate Yourself” Sessions are fluid and undefinable, creative and allowing, nurturing and empowering – much like the feminine nature. They expand beyond boudoir (nobody knows hot to pronounce this word anyway), but still carry the essence of it ( if you did not know, it translates into a woman’s bedroom or private room). To Celebrate Yourself with a session with me would be like sinking into your personal space within you and brining out something that wants to be expressed and captured in a photograph. Maybe it’s a mood, maybe it’s an image, maybe it’s a certain look – there are no rules about this and no any particular framework of how it should be. Because we are all free to be ourselves and be accepted just the way we are. However, all we desire from without, must come from within first. Which brings us to self-acceptance, self-care, self-love and self-celebration.
“You are so selfish, Slava!” I can hear you say, as I am typing this sitting in my bed surrounded by the warm glow of flickering candlelight at night. Let me tell you that I did not come up with the “Put your own oxygen mask first.” rule. It’s a given – if we do not take care of ourselves first, we cannot take care of others. If your cup was empty, could you fill the cup of another? Unless you did some serious magic, and the best magic I know is “believing in yourself. If you can do that, anything is possible.” You are possible, you are worthy, and you deserve to celebrate yourself so everyone else can celebrate you too. Beauty to me is to have your cup overflowing and be met by others who also want to share their abundance with you. Let’s flip the script and start to look within for what we wish to see without. Let’s play dress up and take photos. Let’s Celebrate Ourselves for the divine miracles in human bodies that we are.
Ready? I am.
You recovered from an illness. You want to unleash your sensuality. You just got engaged. You realized Superwoman lives inside of you. You lost a bunch of weight. You got divorced/a relationship ended. You are a warrior goddess. You want to start a new chapter in life. You are happy in your skin. You want to be happier in your skin. You pretend to be happy on the outside but deep sadness lives inside of you. You are sexy and you know it. You have three children and you are proud of the miracles your body is capable of. You wish you could love your scars. You want to emulate your role model. You desire to connect to your strength and have an image to remind you of that. You are overflowing with joy and juiciness. You just like to play dress up. So many scripts and stories live inside of us, the possibilities are endless.
Let’s celebrate that!
To inquire more about a “Celebrate Yourself” session and to curate yours, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314.799.8831.
P.S. To celebrate this new direction I am taking in my photography journey, I’ll be offering a special for the “Celebrate Yourself” sessions on my Facebook page. Stay posted!
P.P.S. These sessions are mostly geared towards women, however I do not want to exclude men and leave them out. We all have both – the feminine and the masculine energies inside of us, and balance is the key. Currently I am focusing on working with women, but I honor and respect your depths.