After 4 Kids and 40+ lbs Gained, I Chose to Do a Boudoir Photo Shoot

black and white photo of woman on bed in boudoir shoot with red rose background

I do not get to do much for myself these days. 

After all – I am a military spouse, a parent of four little kids under the age of seven, and living in a pandemic. I also work and have responsibilities outside of the four walls of my home. Most days, I am rocking sweatpants and a graphic t-shirt, and my dry shampooed hair is up in a scrunchie. I am admittedly a good 40 lbs heavier than I want, with a c-section “pooch” and saggy boobs. Does this sound familiar to you?

So when the photographer who took my youngest newborn photos approached me about a boudoir photoshoot, I literally laughed in her face (Sorry Meagan!). 

That was the last thing I would want. For a woman who has spent much of her adult life avoiding being in front of the camera, the idea of being the subject of a photo shoot when I was hardly wearing clothes was right up there with enduring a root canal sans novocaine. During everyday camera interactions, I would shout “No body shots!” as my friends or even my husband would point their cell phones at me.

And this isn’t just because I “feel fat.” I am not in denial; I know my size. This feeling of not wanting to be in front of the camera has been ingrained in my system even before kids, marriage, adulthood, and even when I was a size 6 (and not my current size of 14). 

The real problem I have is with sorting out within myself how I can be fat while also possessing positive qualities of beauty and desirability.

We live in a world that teaches us that this can’t possibly be true. We live in a world that tells us that women my size (any double digit size, really) are devoid of value, the most non-sexual creatures of all. After all, we are faced with a daily, constant barrage of impossible-to-reach, photo-shopped images telling us what constitutes “real” beauty.

But beauty is found in every shape and size. All people deserve to feel those positive feelings about themselves.

We find it difficult to take a step back and appreciate what we have and who we are. Boudoir helps a person celebrate their body and see themselves through someone else’s eyes. 

woman sitting on sofa for boudoir shoot
Photo by Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash

So I did it. I paid the large fee, upgrading to a package where I could even have a professional do my makeup, and scheduled the date. 

I shopped for lingerie (that was an experience in and of itself). I found a babysitter and showed up for the appointment. I had no clue what I was doing or if anything I bought would actually look good but in the end, but I did my best. 

Two months later, I found myself hesitantly knocking on the studio’s glass door. I was greeted by a petite beauty who smiled and welcomed me inside, where she quickly sat me down so we could discuss what kind of makeup look I wanted her to create. An hour later and half naked, I was ready to go. 

After the first few awkward shots, that feeling goes away and you begin to feel empowered.

It’s as if your body is going, “Yes, you’re doing it. Keep going.” She gave me words of encouragement and would show me how to pose. She made me look like I had a reason to be excited and not like a dog with its tail between its legs.

When Meagan took her last shot, I was sweating—physically exhausted and emotionally drained—and had a whole new respect for women who model for a living. I changed back into my normal clothes, gathered my things, picked up some Taco Bell and then headed back to my crew. On the outside, it was back to business, but on the inside, I was flying high! 

Here is the kicker. I never told my husband. 

woman posing for pictures
Photo by Luke Jeremiah on Unsplash

Not because I won’t be sharing those photos for a gift in the future or because he would be upset with me for spending the money. Not because I was embarrassed. I did it because I wanted to do it for me. In the end, I wanted to do it to prove something to myself. After my experience, here are my reasons why YOU should do a boudoir photo shoot: 

You deserve be pampered

You know that feeling you get after a really great haircut or a relaxing day at the spa? It’s a good feeling, right? We don’t allow ourselves to feel that way very often. So imagine walking into the studio, sitting down in the chair, and feeling all the stress melt away as you receive professional make-up and hair styling. Then once the lashes are on and the hair is curled, the next hour is spent dressing up in lingerie you never thought you would feel comfortable in. Yet somehow, you feel sexy, confident and amazing! THAT is the power of an amazing boudoir session. 

You step out of your comfort zone

We all have our “safe” place. It is the role that we have stepped into or have been placed in that we feel now defines us. Maybe that role is Mom or Teacher or Dr. or <insert any role you might have>. You put other needs ahead of your own and don’t always take the time to do something just for you.

Sometimes, stepping out of your comfort zone can help you break through any barriers you are feeling with taking that time for you. Nothing about a boudoir session is “natural,” which is part of the appeal. It’s a safe place to let loose and bring out the sexy side that usually gets buried beneath all the other roles you take on.

It reminds you that someone thinks you are beautiful just the way you are

Maybe it’s your significant other, or it could be your best friend. Either way, we all have someone that thinks we are pretty amazing just the way we are. We don’t always see ourselves the way they do. We see the imperfections and flaws, but they see beauty.

YOU ARE YOUR OWN WORST CRITIC! How often do you see a picture of yourself and focus on the tiny pooch in your stomach or the size of your arms. None of those things matter to those that love you the most. You are beautiful just the way you are….RIGHT NOW….right this moment. 

The boudoir photo shoot was worth it in the end

I was anxious to see how the photos looked. When I finally got them a couple weeks later, I was blown away. I did love not love all of them, and that’s normal with any portrait. But mostly, I was shocked that the woman in the photos was even me. I didn’t think I was capable of looking that good in pictures!

I was already empowered during the shoot but seeing the finished product really made me feel good about myself and confident in a way I never knew existed. It’s hard to describe unless you do it. You feel beautiful in a new way and after that point, I saw my transformation.

Would I ever do a boudoir shoot again? Absolutely!

And I would recommend it to any woman who wants a once in a lifetime opportunity. In fact, I encourage it! It’s tasteful and empowering and every decision is in your power. It’s your moment – do it for you and for no one else.

Noralee Jones headshotNoralee Jones is a MILSO of 12 years, mom of 4, and the writer/creator at Mrs. Navy Mama. Having experiences with 7 deployments, 4 PCS moves alone, and the author of the Self-Care Guide for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of taking the time to focus on filling our bodies, minds, and souls with our individual needs in order to make the most out of our lives. She is also the Co-Author of The Newbie’s Guide to Military Life and focuses on supporting MILSOs through the ups and downs of military life through Mrs. Navy Mama. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.