Finding the Way Back to Herself

April 23, 2018

Melanie was so quiet from the moment she walked into my studio. I made sure to amp up my pep and engage her as much as I could because I knew inside her nerves were just reeling. We talked about all the fun things, and she was doing her very best to keep up with our conversation, but I could tell that inside her mind was a totally different chatter. With every passing minute I could feel her pulling inward, becoming more quiet, and beginning to panic.

Nerves are plenty in my studio before a session, so I am no stranger to them. Melanie’s struggle was much different than the typical anxiety and fear that Erin and I see in that chair. The closer we got to the end of the glam portion the more her hands started to shake and the more fear I saw in her eyes. She didn’t know it then, but I was connecting with her so hard watching her battle with herself and I was ready to do anything and everything I could to make this day unforgettable for her. I was ready to pour every ounce of goodness I had in me into her, to show her that she was amazing, and strong, and worthy!

Her session went amazingly. I watched this woman break open right in front of me, I watched her fears slowly melt away and a real, genuine smile cover her whole face. She was laughing, she was having fun, she was rediscovering herself and her beauty. Witnessing a person going through a transformation… there is nothing like it. I still get goosebumps thinking about her session.

A couple days after her session I got a message from her in my inbox that broke me right down. I want to connect with women. I want to show women that they have value and worth. This is the greatest gift I can get from the amazing women I get to work with.

“This whole experience has changed my life in such a way that it is almost unbelievable. After spending over 3 years in an abusive relationship, (which I didn’t know it at the time ) I had absolutely nothing left in me. I was broken and not just my heart; my self-esteem, my self-worth, my will to do anything with my life.
Most days it was just hard to get out of bed. On weekends, when my son was gone, I would spend most time in bed. I hated getting ready because I had to look in the mirror and I hated what I saw. I only saw what he made me believe about myself and it was horrifying.
If I managed to have a decent day and take myself shopping more times than not I found myself on the dressing room floor crying because those words that I had heard for so long were screaming in the back of my head. This kind of abuse doesn’t happen suddenly, it creeps in slowly, until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. It is the epitome of domestic violence, slowly dehumanizing you. I lived this way for 8 months after the relationship ended, unable to connect with anyone else.
I was miserable with and about myself. I was just getting by, I wasn’t living.
I was added to this group and followed all these strong women watching them put themselves out there and thinking “my god they look amazing, I wish I could do that.” But no, I couldn’t, I don’t have any confidence to do that, I don’t have the body for that, I certainly don’t want to see myself half naked and no one else will want to either.
When the opportunity came along to do a model call, I submitted a little blurb about what this might mean to me, how I would like to see myself in a different, more positive light. After finding out I got that chance I began to stress out. It took me what felt like forever to send the forms back in. Do I really want people seeing this, laughing at me??
On the day of the session I was a complete wreck. I almost cancelled, I’m so thankful I did not. I cried in the chair while getting my hair done, I remember thinking holy shit its almost time to do this. I wanted to leave rather than face the camera and see what I knew was going to be an ugly and out of shape person. I absolutely was dreading my pictures being posted…

Crystal started me out easy and simple poses and mostly covered to ease me into it. After she took the first few pictures I started to relax and decided to just have fun and enjoy this experience. Half-way through she showed me a picture from the back of her camera and I said that’s not me… it looked amazing. It gave me a little more confidence to keep on going. I ended up having a blast, she was uplifting, and so positive it was hard to have any negative thoughts about yourself. We finished the session and I felt great. I felt beautiful which was something I hadn’t felt in a long time.
When we sat down to do the viewing that night I cried for 40 minutes. When I saw images I was beaming with pride!! Yup that’s my ass!! I was amazed it was me and I looked hot! Something I hadn’t felt in such a long time.
Now, I feel whole again. I feel happy and ready to start living again. What she is doing for these women is incredible She is an angel! She is helping women become themselves again no matter what their situation is or what they’ve been through. I will never forget this experience and the 2 women who helped me feel confident again…..
Stella got her groove back.”

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