Need. The word is thrown around too frivolously in my opinion. We sit there and swear to god we need a piece of candy or we will die. Do we die if we don’t get our bag of m&ms? No, not unless you are a diabetic with low blood sugar, then you might really need candy. We need to go get a pedicure or our toes will fall off. They won’t. It’s a want. You want the candy, you want the pedi, you want what you swear you need. I wanted to do this shoot. Well, most days I wanted to do it, other days I was seriously asking myself why in the actual fuck I would ever consider stripping down to lace and bits in front of a stranger with a camera and then allow her to display them for others to see. Why would I let her, and everyone she knows on Facebook, see me when I don’t even like to look in the mirror at myself? The little greedy voice in my head says, “you won it, remember?” I don’t win things often, like ever, so when I do, I try to enjoy them. Something else was there too, inside my brain, urging me to not back out. “You need this,” it whispered, so quietly I wasn’t even sure I’d heard it. But it was there, subconsciously changing my outlook on such a daunting prize.
Slowly, very much unmotivated, I began to look for something to wear. The never ending struggle of having to have something to wear had me sweating. I’d ordered things I hadn’t attempted to wear in many years or in many pounds gained. I received my first piece of lingerie, a long sleeved bodysuit. I liked it on the model, she was thicker. The sleeves promised safety, comfort, to hide my large arms. That’s why I chose it. But it was 9 dollars from China, so I wasn’t holding my breath. I slid it on. It fit. Ok, I thought, with an oddly satisfying feeling starting to flood my chest. At least it fit. Dare I turn around to see what it looked like? I did. But just barely. It took everything I had in me. Stupid right? I took a peek and to my surprise, I didn’t hate it. At the time, it didn’t fit quite right, but I didn’t hate it. The sleeves were gorgeous. For 9 bucks, it was well made and really stunning. I saw my rolls, that crease between my belly and thighs that sort of hangs in the way that it does after having a baby. But I also saw my breasts that looked pretty great behind that black shadow of lace. I saw how my hair fell down the back of my neck where my flesh was bare and stopped just short of where the fabric came to a “V” down my spine. I saw that it didn’t look too bad. There was something else too, something I wasn’t expecting. A sly smile had snuck across my mouth. I was pleased that something sexy actually fit, well, me!
I got braver. I ordered more things. Strappy things, see through things, sleeveless things. I continued to workout, as I had started to really take my health and physical ability seriously (again, for like the 134th time) right before I had the opportunity to entertain the idea of this shoot. I moisturized, rubbed, brushed, pampered in ways that I hadn’t in a long time. I started to care.
The night before the shoot, I looked in the mirror after a shower. Per usual, I wasn’t thrilled. I felt low and asked again, why was I doing this? The voice was back, the same apparitional pleading whisper. “You need this,” it implored. I decided to do a run through of all the shit I’d bought. The long sleeved bodysuit lay on the bed. I snaked it onto my body. Taken aback by the ease of putting it on, I pulled it all the way up. No seams groaning, threatening to bust. No contorting myself into weird ways to get it on. It was just easy. I’d lost some weight, I knew this, as I allowed myself to step on the scale once every week or so. But I was still pleasantly surprised at how good it felt.
I am the type to refuse to do something if I do not want to do it. No excuses, just flat no, I’m sorry, I won’t do it. My time here on this earth is finite, just like everyone else’s, and I don’t often waste it on shit I don’t enjoy. So, it is very likely that I would have backed out had I, in those final moments, decided I didn’t want to do this. That I didn’t want to put my work in progress body on display for Julia and myself and whoever else. I would have happily kissed the deposit goodbye, it was nothing to me if I truly didn’t want to do it. “You need this,” my subconscious urged. I threw my lace and satin into a suitcase and sealed my fate.
The day arrived and I felt at peace. My decision was made. I’d have expected to feel nervous, I didn’t. The location was stunning, instantly putting me in the mood for exactly the night ahead. Before me stood two professionals who’s jobs were quite literally to make me into something stunning. Solange pulled an entire Harry Potter on my face and hair. Like there had to have been magic in those make-up brushes because I do not fucking look like the beautiful creature she turned me into. Julia stood by quietly and supported what I wanted to look like, while lending her professional opinion on outfit choices. Solange left, her work was done. It was now just Julia and I.
She could probably tell I hadn’t an ounce of self confidence. Not nervous, just no confidence. I felt very much like the line in that Mack Miller song, “Well, this is what it look like.” She allowed me to do some shots in a oversized sweater I’d found. The aesthetic of a cozy December night in a giant sweater just seemed right for me. After taking the first picture, she showed me. I’d had my chin tucked down to my chest and was certain all three of them would be visible in the shot.
I’ve never been so wrong in my life.
I WAS HOT! I was fucking shining, glowing, gorgeous.
“Now do you trust me?” She asked. After screaming, “what the fuck,” about 12 times in total disbelief, I nodded because it was all I could come up with. Yes, I trusted her implicitly. If Solange was Harry Potter, Julia was fucking Dumbledore.
I was promised pictures, the product of our night spent together. I got so much more than that. Yes, I got photos, but I also got to see myself in a light that I didn’t know how desperately I needed to see myself in. I have not felt like that in years. I got to love myself, my current self, for the first time, ever. I have never loved this version of myself, I pick it apart so frequently that the open wounds have festered. She helped me to see a side of this body that I’d never noticed, that I chose to ignore. Yes, I want a healthier body, a slimmer body, and it’s coming. I’ve stuck to this longer than I have in the past with trying. This shoot was a giant motivator to just keep being consistent. But this body, the one that got me through nursing school with a simultaneous surprise pregnancy, the body that gave me a beautiful baby boy, the body that continues to get up and make him meals and play with him and chase him around the world, deserves so much praise and so much love. It deserved to glow in such a flattering light. It deserved to shine.
I needed this.
-Miss C, Jacksonville, FL