First of all, I want to congratulate Ashton who is one of our brand ambassadors in her strength and courage in sharing her story about how she used boudoir photography as trauma recovery.
Ashton grew up in small-town Canada with what she describes as a “very poor self-image.” She witnessed important women in her life speak poorly about their bodies and didn’t have a lot of body-positive experiences growing up. It was a cycle handed down from one generation to the next – choosing male counterparts who treated her poorly and reinforcing her low self-worth.
She escaped one long-term abusive relationship with the help of caring coworkers but still wasn’t convinced of her worth. A series of short-lived toxic relationships followed which only helped perpetuate her low self-esteem, making her feel smaller and smaller.
When she was raped on a date in 2018 the word “rape” wasn’t even the first thing that came to her mind. After years of thinking so little of herself, it took a therapist to help Ashton see the real weight of what had happened to her – an experience many women share.
Ashton is now someone we are proud to have as a brand ambassador here at Gabriela Cruz Photography. We’re sharing this post to celebrate the amazing personal recovery work Ashton has done – and it was hard work.
Boudoir photoshoot to boost body-positivity after trauma
According to Stats Can, “One in five victims of sexual assault—both women and men—felt blamed for their own victimization.” It’s no wonder, then, that many survivors of assault struggle with self-image, self-esteem, and body image. In study after study, the link between sexual assault and poor body image (or body shame) has been noted.
We’re firm believers that, when it’s done right, boudoir photography as trauma recovery can help women bolster their self-esteem by helping them see just how beautiful their bodies can be. It also helps them see the way their inner beauty shines through when they allow themselves to relax and let go. In speaking with other women, Ashton noticed the same thing.
Are you curious about boudoir but aren’t sure if some of the myths you’ve heard about it are right? Check out our myth-busting post HERE 👈
“I heard about the experiences others had doing a boudoir photoshoot, about how empowered they felt, how it boosted their confidence, how freeing and liberating it was. I just wanted to try and feel that for myself.”
As she signed up to win a free hour-long boudoir shoot with us, she worried about her figure. Ashton thought about the way other women look in boudoir pictures and didn’t think she fit the mould.
She wasn’t even planning to buy any of the photos when she won the free session and instead decided to use the experience to heal rather than to collect photos of herself. “But I did end up buying some – a lot, actually – and I look at them when I need a little confidence boost.”
Undressing in front of a stranger
It wasn’t just body image and the worry of not fitting the mould that held Ashton back when she first came through our doors.
“The thought of posing in lingerie having my pictures taken by a stranger was terrifying.”
But the right approach helped her feel at ease. It takes a calm, soothing, yet empowering approach to help a woman feel at ease in front of a camera when she has experienced such trauma. We strive to meet that challenge at Gabriela Cruz Photography.
“Yahozka was so helpful,” Ashton tells me. “She could tell when things were getting to be a little much emotionally for me and we would pause for a minute until I was OK again.”
If you’ve experienced abuse and are thinking of booking a boudoir session (with us or anyone else), consider having a consultation first to learn about the ways you will be emotionally supported throughout your experience.
Thinking about a boudoir shoot but not sure if you’re ready?
Check out this post: 11 Signs You are Ready for a Boudoir Shoot
Boudoir helps with the trauma healing process
Being physically exposed often means being emotionally exposed for many women. It brings with it a level of vulnerability they have tried to avoid as much as possible. Creating a safe and supportive atmosphere is key to helping them not only feel comfortable in front of the camera, but also to begin peeling back the layers of trauma they’ve had wrapped around their emotional and spiritual bodies for a long time.
“This photo, I would say, is a major moment in the photoshoot for me. It was the one moment where I almost burst into tears during the shoot. After I came down wrapped up in this white sheet, Heather and Yahozka just went quiet! They stared at me and they said, ‘Oh, my God. You look so beautiful. Like Aphrodite!’ I know it doesn’t sound like much but for me that was the moment where I actually felt beautiful. I felt so much love for myself. And for the rest of the shoot, all of the negative self-talk was gone. I wasn’t thinking about all the things that I normally criticize myself on. It truly was a freeing experience.”
For Ashton, and many other women, boudoir photography as trauma recovery (when done in a supportive way) helps them strip away the layers of shame they’ve built up around their body. It helps them see their bodies as beautiful reflections of the amazing people they are inside. It can also help them work through emotions and thoughts relating to the trauma they’ve experienced.
“I’d say the whole experience was pretty emotional for me. I don’t think there was a moment where I didn’t want to cry. Even while they were getting me ready, asking me about me why for doing the shoot. I think the most emotional part of the shoot for me was when I was going through the pictures with Yahozka. It was like I was looking at a completely different woman on the screen. She was absolutely beautiful, confident, strong, a GODDESS! It took a while to sink in that it was actually me. It took everything I had not to burst into tears looking at the photos.”
Contemplating an empowerment photoshoot?
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