Updated: Dec 20, 2018
Kindness. It's the number one thing I desire to teach my children. Of course I am not perfect, so it's challenging sometimes to model it for them, though I certainly do my best every day. For the most part, though, I believe I am kind to others. I don't call people names or put them down. I don't exclude other women from my circle - I like it open and am welcoming to newcomers. I don't judge other women on their appearance, clothing, weight, or body shape. I make a point to compliment and encourage others as often as possible.
But do I extend the same kindness to the person who, inarguably, is the closest and most important to me? Am I kind to me?
I would never call a friend "fat," but I have said it to (and about) myself. I have never looked at a friend and felt disgust with what I perceived to be her physical flaws. I don't judge my friends for spending money on themselves or spending time taking care of themselves in body, mind, and soul. In fact, I encourage and applaud self-care in all forms. But for me? I heap on insults on top of guilt on top of derision and judgment. And the crazy part about it all is that I'm so much better to myself than I used to be. Today's me is far kinder than the me of 15 years ago. The even crazier thing is that I've started to get worse again lately... Why? Because I met a man who loves and adores me and thinks I'm incredibly beautiful and sexy ALL THE TIME... Even in sweats, a pony tail, and no makeup. Even with the previous night's eye makeup streaked down my cheeks and hair that hasn't been washed in three days. And somehow, that has triggered me. Instead of accepting and smiling about his praise, I argue with him when he compliments my looks or my body. I tell him I look terrible, and he's nuts for thinking otherwise. When did this happen to me? I heap compliments on people all the time... Why am I triggered by having them heaped on me? He thinks I'm wonderful, and I'm busy calling myself a bad mother, a bad girlfriend, old and decrepit... and yes, FAT.
I need to stop this right now. And so do you. Because, if you're like 95% of the women I know, you are probably horribly, tragically unkind to yourself. Even if you're better than you used to be, even if you don't think you are. You say you have good self-esteem, yet you say things to yourself that you would never say to a friend. And if a friend, family member, or loved one said those same things to you, you'd be very hurt and angry, wouldn't you?
"But Natalie... What does any of this have to do with boudoir photography?"
I'm so glad you asked, really.
I receive emails and texts regularly from my clients after their sessions. They write to me about how much they loved their boudoir photos, how happy their partners were when they shared the photos. They ask me "what color lipstick was that you used on me again?" They say all kinds of wonderful things about me that give me warm fuzzies and make me blush. But do you know what I hear most often? Do you know what I love to hear the most? Do you know what surprises my clients the most about their experiences with boudoir? Here it is:
"You helped me see myself as beautiful... for the first time in... forever."
Ladies. Do you know how amazing and powerful this is?
When you see yourself as beautiful, you can't help but treat yourself differently. You and kinder and gentler to yourself. You carry yourself differently. You say nicer things to and about yourself. And you have higher standards for how others treat you as well. This is what it means to be kind to yourself. Kindness and love. For you, from you. Live it. Build on it.