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How Boudoir Changed More Than Just My Body Image

by Hailey Thompson

Did I ever imagine I would pose for a boudoir photoshoot? No. Did I ever think, if I did pose for said photoshoot that I would share my photos and behind-the-scenes video with the world? Definitely not! Here’s my story about how those no’s all turned to yes and why I’m so thankful they did.

When the opportunity came up to pose for a boudoir photoshoot for an upcoming project at Rosy, my initial response was “no way.” Why?

Growing up, I was always very thin and while I was young, I thought nothing of it. People told me I was lucky and I just took it at face value. I didn’t have a perception about my body one way or the other. As I got older, those comments changed from “you’re so thin and lucky” to “you’re too skinny,” “are you eating enough?” “you look sick.” I hadn’t changed anything about my body but all the sudden, because I wasn’t gaining the weight society thought a woman should or is used to seeing as she grows up, my thin figure became something to criticize. It all comes too easily, someone saw a picture of me and pointed out that one of my eyes is small and “weird,” so I believed it. Overtime, I started to internalize those comments and boy do they add up.

I struggle with body image and have insecurities just like everyone else. In the same way that there is no perfect body type that people should strive to have, there is not only one body type that experiences body image issues.

Struggling with body image seeps into other areas of your life more than you realize. I probably didn’t realize it until going through this experience. I think it started with body image and insecurities - I’d shy away from cameras because my skinny legs are showing or my eyebrows are crooked or the list goes on…but naturally that really turned into not putting myself out there. Not only shying away from cameras but from opportunities. Do I want to speak at this event? No. Do I want to dance? Are there people watching? No. So many no's.

I can’t even say I went into this experience and said yes to this photoshoot to combat those fears because at the time I had no idea any of that would be affected.

I made a goal for myself in 2021 to try new things, put myself out there and challenge myself. I did a lot of work on myself last year and I was ready to face this year head-on. Simple, I thought! I’d say yes to like skydiving or a blind date. Wrong, just two days into the new year I was pulling up to Cathy’s studio to pose nearly nude for 2 people at the time but knowing full well thousands of people would see the next few hours of my life.

After really reflecting on the goals I had set for myself and realized the powerful message this project would share with women who share the same body insecurities as me, I changed my mind and said yes.

As soon as I got inside of the studio, it became a “one step at a time” process. I, of course, first told Cathy about the parts of body I didn’t like or (thought) I didn’t want on camera. I had my makeup professionally done for the first time (woah, I really was doing the bare minimum). I got changed into my first outfit and we got started. She assured me everything would be fine, helped me relax and she really held my hand throughout the entire photoshoot.

It was honestly over in a flash. During those few hours, I remember having fun, laughing at myself, thinking to myself “who cares, you’re already doing this, it’s happening.” Not once did I think about those parts of my body I was so scared of being photographed. It was so freeing to just live those few hours in the moment, not worried about what others would think about my body or what I would think.

I left that day feeling excited that I did something new and eager to see how the photos turned out! I didn’t have to wait long, I was back in studio the next day absolutely blown away by the results. I just did this for myself, so I figured maybe I’d buy a photo or 2….I bought 12. Trust me, when you see your butt in photos like these…you lay down your credit card with 0 buyers remorse.

Ahh! Done! I did the photoshoot, I got the photos, it’s over. Wrong again, now I was waiting a month for the behind-the-scenes video to go live and my story be told to the Rosy community. I think this is the part of the process that really surprised me. The time after the shoot.

It gave me time to doubt myself, it gave me time to think about what others would say. Here’s the weird part though, something about putting myself out there and going through that experience really gave me new a perspective of how I would tackle other scary or intimidating obstacles on a more every day basis.

It doesn’t change everything over night. It’s more of a subtle (but very powerful) change. I still have days I wake up, look in the mirror and find something to criticize, but now I notice myself pulling this experience up as a reminder and literally think to myself “never mind, remember those photos, my body is perfect just the way it is." When my initial reaction to something outside my comfort zone is “no,” I now stop myself and say “why the hell not, I just did that, I can do anything.” (Hence….me publishing this blog and me going on Instagram live to talk about my experience tomorrow 😬)

This is what I mean, just like negative body image can negatively impact so many areas of your life, positive body image can have the exact same effect. I’m proud of myself and that’s something we don’t say about ourselves a lot. I’m excited to see what else I will say yes to!

To Recap:
Did I cry before I walked into the studio and almost ghost the photographer? Yes.
Did I nervously shake through the entire photoshoot? Yes.
Did I try to back out more than once before releasing the bts video? Yes.
Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat.

Bottom line. I am so thankful for this experience and I just hope sharing my story will allow even just one other woman to experience such an empowering mindset shift and get love herself the way she deserves. It’s the most incredible experience and the photoshoot is only the beginning! I can’t recommend this enough. Do it for yourself, your mind and your body. You deserve it.

Tips From A First-Timer:

Don’t overthink your outfits: I went crazy looking for lingerie, mainly because I had only worn lingerie once before this. I ended up wearing one borrowed, one I already had and then I was naked under a blanket. Find one or 2 pieces you feel good in and your photographer will do the rest!

Don’t overthink your poses: Okay, laying face-down, half on a circle chair with your legs up in the air…is not normal…doesn’t feel normal…couldn’t possibly be cute…. Wrong, that’s one of my favorite pictures! Trust your photographer, a lot of the shoot won’t feel natural.

Let go of your pinterest-esque expectations: I had a very clear idea of the kind of photos I wanted to walk away with. And yes, Cathy helped me create them…but that is not what I ended up choosing. It’s your first time, you don’t know what you want.

P.S. I'm a couponer at heart!

My amazing boudoir photographer was Catherine Cooper of Catherine Cooper Studio in Dallas, TX. She’s incredible and makes you feel at ease and comfortable throughout the entire process. If you’re in Dallas (or coming to visit), book a photoshoot with Catherine!

Hailey Thompson is a Rosy content contributor