Who I am today : self image and portraits

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Warning: This is a more personal post than usual. I don't often blog about my fears and feelings, but something in me wanted to get these thoughts in writing this morning.

I had a "mini - maternity" session recently. A close friend of mine was looking to add to her maternity portfolio. I was happy to oblige.

When she sent me the images, she preemptively said "I know you think that you're fat. You are not! I know how you'll react when you see these but please look past that to see what a truly beautiful woman you are!" 

She was right. I did exactly what she told me not to do, because it's so trained into me as a women in today's world. I've ALWAYS been so hyper critical of myself. So yes - naturally I went right to "Oh my God, am I really that big? No one told me that my butt would match my baby belly in size! Where did those wrinkles come from? And I have got to work on my arms…"

Now here's the disclaimer: She had done nothing wrong, she photographed me as she saw me, and did a fantastic job. Her photographs are beautiful. However, through absolutely no fault of her own, I began to pick myself apart and tear myself down. I've learned that it's not hard to do in a 7 month pregnant, over - emotional state.

Whether pregnant or not, we all want to look like we did 10 years ago, or if not that, Angelina Jolie. We all want perfect arms or a stellar backside. And the pregnant ladies all want the perfect baby bump, with NO extra rolls to go with it.

After a night out with a few of my favorite ladies, I realized that the only person that sees me as a beach ball with legs, is me. They don't see it, and they love me regardless. Same with my husband. Heck, even my dog doesn't care that there's a big bump in my lap, she still lays there regardless. So why do I continue to let it get to me?

As a photographer, I want all of my clients to feel beautiful and realize that we don't see their so called flaws. We see a beautiful family, or gorgeous happy bride, or a happy new mom. Will we always try to show you in your best light? You bet. But we can't make you see yourself as we do - that's up to you.

So at first, I wanted to keep the maternity photographs to myself and hide myself away from showing the world what I actually look like pregnant. But then I thought about it again. How can I expect my clients to believe they're beautiful if I can't even believe it about myself?

No - I don't look like I did in high school, and I know that I never will again. I've gained weight in places I didn't know that I could, and yes wrinkles are beginning to form as well. After the baby is born, I do plan to get back in the gym. But not to be high school Erin again (or Angelina Jolie)  - but to be healthy again and have more energy than I do now.

The person I am today doesn't look like the person I did then. And that's ok, because I know I'm loved despite all of that. So here they are, a few of my favorites from the maternity photographs I was afraid to show you. And now, I'm not AS afraid, because the people around me love me - and that's what I have to remember.

Next time you have your portrait taken, it's what we want you to remember too. ~ Erin

A big thank you to Linda Hayes of Hayes Photography for these photographs, and for all of the help, love and guidance over these past few months!!

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