Practically every woman I know hates something about the way she looks, if not harbouring a general meh feeling about her overall looks. Instead of it being a little feeling, like, “I wish my hair were thicker/my waist thinner/my thighs firmer but I’ve got so many beautiful features”, it translates into a poisonous creeping feeling of hating ourselves.
We avoid wearing certain clothes.
We don’t look in the mirror.
We start to think we don’t really deserve to feel good about ourselves because we are ugly (nevermind the content of our hearts and minds).
Beauty and being a parent
After we have babies — a period during which our bodies change dramatically and seemingly permanently — the situation becomes even more problematic. It’s harder to devote time to “upkeep” such as exercising, brow plucking and hair styling, and we have these little humans around us all day.
They think we’re beautiful because we are their mummies. If they begin to understand how harshly we judge our own appearance, it hurts them. Even worse, it prompts them to judge themselves harshly. This is something none of us wants.
Now, this may not apply to you. You may have a healthy self-image and a positive, generous appreciation of your looks. To that I say, Hurrah! Text me your secrets.
But the event that revealed to me just how negatively I thought about myself was a photo session BritMums had last year with the talented Julia Boggio. Because suddenly I realised, Hey, I look good.
The secret of Boggio Studios
Julia is the owner of Boggio Studios, one of London’s top portraiture photography studios. Home by Midnight is her service that caters to women. She puts her clients at ease and creates images that are playful, professional, themed, sexy…the whole gamut.
Her real talent is understanding her subjects and revealing their beauty and personality.
For the shoot with my BritMums co-founder Susanna and me, she asked us what type of pictures we wanted and instructed us to bring a suitcase full of outfits and accessories. She gave us some basic posing tips (listed below) and she showed us that every woman (even us!) has beauty and glamour inside her.
Yes, it does take some effort if you want to look as polished as a celebrity you see in a magazine. Yet when regular people like us add in a professional hair and makeup stylist, and get the right light, and are art-directed by a professional, we can look that good. (Check out these stunning before-and-after pictures of other Home By Midnight clients.)
Only for the vain?
It’s easy to dismiss these type of shoots as simple exercises in vanity, something for people who start every conversation with I and mount poster-sized head shots above their fireplaces. But in actuality, it’s an opportunity to think differently about yourself, and only yourself.
It doesn’t matter about that niggling little list in your head. I realised that I had been carrying that list around, referring to it frequently (“Don’t eat that biscuit; look at the state of your thighs!”). Since then, little by little, I’ve been tearing up that mental list and figuratively tossing the pieces over my shoulder.
Blogger experiences at Boggio Studios
I’m not the only one who feels that way after a day with Boggio Studios. Domestic Goddesque aka Kelly had a similar a-ha moment from her shoot. T from Mummy Barrow took her teenage daughter for an “Innocent and Wild” experience at Boggio Studios, aimed at girls. And we love these images from presenter, BritMums Live emcee and friend Katy Hill with her family.
As a mother herself, Julia understands how nervous getting a picture taken can make some of us. Her Home By Midnight shoots make the process fun. There are props, there are costumes (superhero cape, anyone?), there is a stylist, there is a glass of bubbly to hand.
Best of all, there is the feeling that you come away with: You are beautiful.
Isn’t it about time we all realised that?
Scroll down for Julia’s tips for the perfect pose.
Julia Boggio’s tips for the perfect pose:
- Sit or stand with your shoulders back
- Pull your chin out and down to avoid the double-chin effect
- Angle your body sideways for a flattering silhouette
- Do “Barbie toe” — one foot in front of the other, with your pointed front toe just touching the floor — for a red-carpet-ready pose (see Victoria Beckham)
Top image: Woman hiding face by Kamira / Shutterstock