“I like you…just as you are.” Mark Darcy to Bridget Jones.
One day my friend Rachel, a very talented photographer approached me to do a boudoir shoot for her portfolio. I couldn’t believe she asked me. Of all the woman in her life I could not understand why she would want pictures of me in my underwear. She clearly had no idea that I would rather eat live spiders than pose in my skivvies.
But I said, “Sure, I’ll do it.” while in the back of my head I thought, “In 3 months so I have a little extra gym time and can drink more water and blah blah blah.”
You all know exactly what I’m talking about.
But Rachel didn’t have 3 months. She had about two weeks. So feet to the fire, I could say no and regret it, or embrace this opportunity and say yes. So I sad yes.
I wasn’t 100% confident in the way I looked but I made a choice. This is me. This is me. I can either fight with myself everyday and constantly bash my body or I can do something revolutionary and CELEBRATE AND EMBRACE it.
Embrace it for everything it is and how it gives me the freedom to do what I want. It allows me to run, dance, and play with my dog. It allows me to express myself through clothes and inspire other to do the same.
For the next two weeks I lived my life the way that works for me. I worked out because I liked how I felt after a hard barre class, I ate food that made me feel fulfilled and joyous because I like to cook and eat beautiful things, and I shopped for “not so racey” lacey bohemian lingerie because that is what makes me feel sexy.
The day of the shoot I was a NERVOUS wreck. My internal dialogue ricocheted back and forth . From “Who do you think you are to think you can pull this off?” to “Rachel asked me to do this for a reason, so be confident” back to “You should have worked out harder before this.” to “I’m gonna rock this!” After I got hair and makeup done my crazy thoughts started to quiet down (it’s amazing what I pair of fake eyelashes can do for ones self-esteem) and I was ready.
The shoot ended up being one of most liberating experiences of my life. First off, Rachel has a way of making you feel so sexy and gorgeous. She’s perfect at her job. But the truth was I decided to LET MYSELF FEEL GORGOUS. I relaxed and took in the moment, I didn’t stress about the right angle or if my arm looked gross. I just let the moment unfold naturally. I laughed and smiled big. I danced to Beyoncé while wearing almost nothing. I thought about how much my husband would love the photos. I thought about how beautiful I felt. I thought about how much better the moment is when you decide to shut out the not so nice thoughts.
The shoot took about three hours and when it was over I cried. Happy tears for actually facing my fears and doing it. For allowing myself to like me-just as I am. And also some sad tears. Tears of regret, for how many times I’ve said no to something outside my comfort zone just because I didn’t feel like enough.
The pictures came out amazing. I thought about getting one put on a billboard on the highway that’s how much I liked them. I shared the photos with the closest women in my life. I wanted to share my story and inspire them to do their own shoot. I was so passionate about the project that it started to catch on.
Rachel initiated a small change in me, and I in turn initiated a moment of beautiful change in my own circle of women. This is the cornerstone of Circles of Change- small moments with big transformations that come from our own circles. Three other women tentatively followed my path and booked shoots of their own. Three very different women, in very different stages of their lives, but all with their own similar set of body insecurities. All three of them did their own shoots and although the style of the pictures all look wildly different they all said the same thing after ‘I love them and I am so proud of myself for doing this. I look so beautiful.”
About the author: Shauna Mae Diliberto, a warrior for change, is a Syracuse native (and a self proclaimed New Yorker after living there for 10 years) who moved back upstate to follow her dream of owning a vintage clothing boutique. In 2013, she opened Maeflowers Vintage, a pop-up shop that sells vintage to stylishly fun ladies who share a love of polyester floral prints. Maeflowers prides itself on the belief that shopping for clothes is a celebration of your love for your body and an expression of you. When Shauna is not shopping for vintage she is curled up in her Tipp Hill apartment with her handsome husband and dog baby watching Netflix, drinking champagne and eating cheese off gold plates.