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naked but not afraid

I cannot live my life in survival mode anymore | Naked but NOT AFRAID | Part 3 |

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I cannot live my life in survival mode anymore | Naked but NOT AFRAID | Part 3 |

Being naked is not just about removing your clothes. It's about stripping down the walls you have been building up your entire life. It's about finding the beauty in vulnerability. Katie captured my attention by emailing me with the subject "The TERRIFYING Naked and not afraid shoot." I read her story probably 10 times over and was captured by her vulnerability, and even more so impressed by her strength. This year she turns 30 and what better way to turn 30 then to celebrate who you are!

As you may already know, the goal of my Naked but NOT AFRAID series is to show the world that beauty isn't a definition, it is a way of truly being free. Beauty is vulnerable and authentic, and more importantly, messy. Beauty is being who you are, the good and the bad. EVERY woman deserves to feel beautiful despite the constant pressure from society to be 'perfect'.

I narrowed it down to 5 women. 5 women with unique stories that gave me the feels, women with stories of how they put their middle finger up to the man and said THIS IS WHO I AM AND I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK. This is their journey to finding confidence again, despite setbacks. These are 5 of the strongest women I have had the pleasure of getting to know. These Women are NAKED but not afraid.

THIS IS KATIE'S STORY

All of my life I was the skinny girl.  Too skinny. My friends were hitting puberty and getting cute little figures and I stayed the same.  I was called anorexic even though I ate whatever I wanted.  I was told on multiple occasions to “go eat a cheeseburger” or “you need to gain some weight” or “nobody likes to snuggle with skin and bones. You need some meat on you.” I had heard it all and couldn’t wait to break out of my small town.  If these other girls had curves and could feel beautiful then why couldn’t I feel beautiful being small?

I had just turned 20 years old, going to the college of my choice and living my life like any other free spirited college girl.   I had everything in order and was exactly where I wanted to be.  Went to all of my classes, hung out with friends, had good grades, partied …… I was the girl that had all of her stuff together. Invincible.

 Suddenly, I found myself in the darkest part of my life.  Pregnant and feeling very, very alone.  In survival mode. I felt like I had let down everyone that had ever known me.  How would I break the news to my parents and the rest of my family? How would I financially be able to support a kid at this stage in my life?  My life was over. I was so consumed with what everyone else thought about this “little girl” who didn’t have a ring on her finger, didn’t have a steady income, and who still looked like she was 14.  Doctor’s appointments were a nightmare. I would get stared at and talked about as if I wasn’t even in the room by all of the other moms waiting. I dreaded going every. Single. Time.  When I could turn off all of the noise in my head though, for the first time in my life, I felt like a real woman.  I had boobs, I had hips, I had real woman curves! I felt beautiful. Every single inch of me felt beautiful.

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Flash forward to the day my baby boy was born. August 26, 2008 changed that life.  I went from worried about what the entire world thought of me to staring into the eyes of my son and knowing that every aspect of my life had just changed.  He was my reason, he was my light. He was what made me feel beautiful.  Nothing could break me now, right?  My son’s father and I had stayed together and I felt like everything was turning around. I was working full time to support my son, our new townhouse, we were doing well.  His father and I got married one year after he was born.  Life was perfect.  Then two months after our wedding I found out that he had been unfaithful multiple times.  We tried church, counseling, asking for support from family. Nothing seemed to be working.  The day that he decided to get violent, I took my son and walked out for good. 

Here I was, now 21 and single, with a one year old baby boy. Back to survival mode. I went from feeling unstoppable and gorgeous to undesirable and like another statistic.  I did everything possible to make sure that nobody else would see a single bit of my struggle.   Being vulnerable in this stage of life was not an option……or so I thought.  Who would want to be with a 21 year old, single mom, who was now living back at home with her parents?  I did my own thing for a few years, getting back up on my feet and pushing forward because I refused to let someone else control my emotions anymore.  I was my own person, I had to be strong for my son. I couldn’t be afraid anymore. There was no other choice but to pick myself up, dust the crap off, and save me.  The night I consciously made that decision, life started to change again.

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Now we are in 2011.  One of my best friends of 5 years at that point was a single father of a beautiful little girl whom I adored.  We decided to go out for dinner one night and my whole world got rocked.  For the first time ever, when I saw him that night, he looked totally different to me.  This was the beginning of my new life.  He had a way of showing me that I was worth it. 

We have been happily married for 5 years now.  We agreed early on that we both wanted more children. We were both at a stage in our lives where everything was perfect to bring more kids into the loving household we had created together.  We have now been trying for three years with no luck.  It is exhausting. I want to give my husband another opportunity to be a father, I want to give our kids a sibling, and I selfishly want to give myself the feeling of redemption.  I want to feel beautiful again.

Lying in bed one night I was telling my husband how exhausted I was, how emotionally drained I have been, how I was really losing hope, and how much of a failure I felt like.  He looked at me and said he was feeling all the same things.  What were we doing to ourselves? We aren’t the only ones struggling with fertility issues. We aren’t alone in this chaotic roller coaster of a ride.  I decided that it was time to change my thinking.

And in comes Alexandria Kenyon.

The day of my shoot was invigorating! Freeing. Incredible.  For the first time in a long time, I am able to recognize that my journey had molded me into exactly who I am today and that’s exactly what I need to be.  I cannot live my life in survival mode anymore. I am missing out on so much life.  We haven’t lost time in our journey to be parents again.  It has taken each and every situation that we have encountered to bring to me where I am now and now is right on time! It’s ok and necessary to know that with or without another baby, my life is complete, I am whole, I am perfectly imperfect, I am beautiful, and most importantly….I matter.

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Please leave this brave woman some love! She is incredibly difficult to step out of you comfort zone and share you story with the world! Can you relate? Share!

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My ACNE doesn't define me | Naked but NOT AFRAID | Part 2 |

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My ACNE doesn't define me | Naked but NOT AFRAID | Part 2 |

Something I pride myself on is shooting and connecting with REAL women. So when I announced my idea of naked but not afraid, I got an overwhelming amount of emails from women with very inspiring stories. I honestly wish I could take every story and bring it to life, because each and every woman deserves that. I am thankful for you all.

As you may already know, the goal of my Naked but NOT AFRAID series is to show the world that beauty isn't a definition, it is a way of truly being free. Beauty is vulnerable and authentic, and more importantly, messy. Beauty is being who you are, the good and the bad. EVERY woman deserves to feel beautiful despite the constant pressure from society to be 'perfect'.

I narrowed it down to 5 women. 5 women with unique stories that gave me the feels, women with stories of how they put their middle finger up to the man and said THIS IS WHO I AM AND I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK. This is their journey to finding confidence again, despite setbacks. These are 5 of the strongest women I know.  These Women are NAKED but not afraid.

After reading a lot of "it would be cool" and "I want to model just because" emails I stumbled upon Megan's email and it quickly caught my attention! I read it and immediately broke down in tears. I was so sad that she felt that way about her skin, I was so sad that society made her feel ashamed over something she couldn't control.  She was the first person that spoke to my heart and I knew her story needed to be shared because of how many women likely feel them same way and their skin. I truly appreciated how candid and vulnerable Megan was with me from the start. When we met for coffee to plan out how we were going to share her strength with the world we instantly clicked. I knew we were going to create something very special.

That being said, this is naked but NOT AFRAID part 2 featuring Megan. A story of how Megan dealt with cystic acne, but overcame her insecurities to pose MAKEUP free, to show the world she is NAKED but not afraid. I hope you feel this, I hope this speaks to you like it speaks to me.

HERE IS MEGAN'S STORY:

"I applied for this model call because it spoke to me. I knew Alexandria would not only take beautiful photos, but my story would be told and could potentially inspire others to not be afraid to be themselves. It seemed so raw and empowering and the final "step" to feeling free. Those who know me know that I rarely go out without makeup, so to do an entire photoshoot without it not only faced my insecurities but it told them to 'f off'. I own my thoughts and I own my confidence."

My journey begins in 2014 when I decided to make skincare my career. I dealt with some teenage acne and had a passion for makeup that I wanted to use to help other people. So, I went to school to become an Esthetician and began working at Sephora as a skincare specialist.

Fast forward about two years and I got off birth-control to let my body do its thing naturally. That’s when things started to change. My face began slowly breaking out. Me, knowing and understanding skin, was doing what I could to manage it and nothing was working due to hormones. It was frustrating…but I was coping.

Finally, I went to a doctor who put me on medication. I finished the prescription, my face had cleared and I was very optimistic. Within a week of finishing it my face broke out in cystic, painful acne, over my entire face. I was mortified, depressed, and feeling like a failure. This is my career. How can I help others feel beautiful and how will they trust me looking like this? I cried every day, could not look in the mirror (tearing up just thinking about it), and was so sad.

People said things; telling me I must have had an allergic reaction to something, kids asking me what was on my face and even asking how I could be happy. People would stare. It was so, so painful. I vividly remember this 8 year old girl coming up to me while I was sitting on a bench... 

She said, "what's on your face?" I replied," Just some boo boos but they will go away." And she looked at me and said," How can you be happy like that?" And I teared up and told her that I try to always be happy and then her dad came up and grabbed her hand and guided her away. And then I burst into tears.

The day before a women that owned a little restaurant I loved, saw me and commented "oh my, you must have had an allergic reaction." And I turned to my friend who looked mortified, tried to force a smile, and then I placed my order.

So one day I decided if I couldn't fix my skin right away, I could work on myself. So every day I started telling myself that I was beautiful. I started working out so I'd feel good about my body, and even though my husband told me I was beautiful, I knew I had to learn how to love myself and to believe that I really was beautiful- inside and out.  I needed to look in the mirror and not burst into tears at the reflection I saw, both literally and figuratively with myself.

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I began working out more, cooking, and journaling. I would do my best to wake up every morning and get my mind in a positive place. I’d reflect on who I am and focus on loving all the parts; learning that it is okay to simultaneously love yourself while tweaking the parts that you want to improve.

My body started transforming. And then my mind. I started to feel good, regardless of my acne. Sure, I had PLENTY of setbacks (and still do) but it was the beginning of my relationship with myself.

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The most important part of the session was letting go. Not worrying about how my hair looked, how my makeup looked, how my body looked. Simply being in touch with who I am and not worrying what anyone else thinks.
— Megan
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After my session I absolutely believe that I'm naked but not afraid. I came feeling strong and left feeling stronger. I felt beautiful, confident, and sexy and as much as I love the power of makeup, I learned that I can feel all of those things (and more) without it.

If I could give any advice to those coming into a boudoir session, it'd be to let go. Don't worry about who will see what or what they will think. Do this for you. When you let go of all of that, you come alive. 

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A year later, my skin is now clear, and it feels so good. I do have some light scars (that I'm still treating). With those scars though, I'm reminded of my journey to loving myself, no matter what my skin looks like. I'm also reminded humbly, of why I became an esthetician and it's to help other women feel beautiful and find their self-love, and I understand more than ever the hurt and pain of that journey.
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"The last time I felt beautiful prior to our experience, was that morning. I was so happy with how far I had come- the fact that I was getting ready to do an entire photoshoot sans makeup!"

I have learned to love all my little pieces and my wish is for everyone to have that kind of love. I have so much empathy and compassion for everyone that is on their own journey. This entire experience has given me purpose and direction in my life. It’s strengthened me in ways I could not imagine and I hope that I can inspire others to not only love themselves, but to be fearless and embrace your struggle.

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"Don’t wilt. Nourish your soul and blossom."

xx -Megan

I am crying happy tears! AHHH Megan I am so happy for you! You are so fierce in your pursuit of life!

If you love her story leave some love below! Share the post! If you have an insecurity you would like to overcome tell me your story below!

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