body image · fat · Guest Post

On boudoir photos and plastic guitars (Guest post)

Body acceptance is a theme that has run through some of Sam’s posts and certainly I have strived to love the body I’ve got as I know I make better decisions for me when I feel good about myself. I recognize my privilege in even having body image issues. That it’s a big deal for me means I have enough money, food, shelter and love to have time to gaze at my navel. I want to tell you about a journey that lead me to having boudoir photos taken and it starts with a plastic guitar.

When I was a kid I just loved being the center of attention. I tap danced, sang, acted out and generally thought I was simply amazing. Grandad encouraged me, setting out plywood  impromptu stages while he worked at whatever project was on his “to do” list. They are some of my best memories of him. So it was no surprise when in 1977 he got me a plastic guitar to augment my performance repertoire.


I love this picture for a bunch of reasons but most importantly it is one of the few pictures I have of Grandad. He hated having his picture taken, preferring to be behind the lens, documenting the moment, rather than being the image subject. Somewhere between 1977 and adulthood I stopped liking having my picture taken too. Recently I flipped though some photos my mom gave me and I noticed a few things. First, there were photos of me doing lots of active things.


Check out that Sears special bike. I loved that thing. I biked and biked and biked. I loved running and swimming and just moving. The first picture where I made the “I hate getting my picture taken” face was in 1984. Puberty struck and I hated how I looked. My teeth were big and goofy so I stopped opening my mouth when I smiled. I thought my widening hips meant I was fat. I think now that as my body became more adult shaped I hated exercise too. Moving meant attention and I no longer liked that. I still played music and sang but swimsuits meant exposing jiggley bits, my thighs touched, or worse chaffed, when I biked. So for me body image informed my activity and fitness. I no longer saw myself as an active person or worthy of having my picture taken. I feel bad for this kid:


Fast forward to 2012 and there were few photos of me. I thought I was too fat to have my picture taken then a friend share this article:

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed . . .

And I realized that if I died my family would have no pictures of us as a family, of me, nothing. I would be virtually erased, invisible. I thought of how few photos of I have of Grandad, (one is at a funeral for crying out loud) so I booked family photos with Ruthless Images here in London, Ontario. I had her even take some profile type pictures for me, one of which is my blog profile pic. It’s a great photo of me and really does capture my personality.  I was very nervous but the results were so lovely and I cherish all the pictures from the fall of 2012. I made a promise to get professional photos done at least once a year.

It’s 2013 and fall was well underway when Ruthless Images announced an upcoming boudoir session. My year was up so I decided, what the heck. I wanted pictures of me, what I looked like and nothing says what you look like without any clothes on. I was excited and terrified, so much so that I seriously thought of turning my car around as I drove up to the studio. Of course I picked Ruth of Ruthless Images because I love her work, her queer feminist politics and her personality, which I told Sam was “gruff and caring”. Yes, I convinced Sam to do this mad thing too!

As I was getting my make-up put on Sam pulled into the driveway and I thought “what am I doing? She’s going to see this?” and also “yay! Sam’s here!” because she is very awesome and I love getting a chance to speak face to face with her.

The session started with some jeans and a bra poses. At one point I was leaning forward in my new $120 bra and it creaked, like an old fishing schooner at sea, and I completely cracked up. Ruth was sure to show me good shots as we went through the session. After seeing this one:


I exclaimed “I’m a total babe! oh, I look so good I want to date me, I should take me home and have some fun!” and we all laughed. I was surprised by how much fun I was having but I was not prepared for my reaction to seeing the edited pictures. When I left the studio I decided then and there that even if I hated the pictures it had been a worthwhile experience. Chatting with Sam, Ruth and Melanie (the make-up artist) was a great way to spend my morning. Amazingly enough I had a teaser photo that night and WOW. It was the one above and I was agog and proud. That was me and I liked the picture. Sure, the angle and focus were flattering, the makeup perfectly applied but that was ME. How I looked, and I looked GREAT.

My body does all kinds of great things for me like get me to work and hug my kids. I bike, swim, run and do yoga. None of it consistently but all of it happens thanks to my body. These are not “before” pictures, they are not “after” pictures, they just are and they are amazing. I was sure to post a review on Ruthless Images facebook page about the impact these photos is having on me.

“I feel so awesome about myself and I’ve been showing them to everyone. They are worth every penny, actually these photos are priceless, as they have helped me see the beauty in myself that everyone always tells me about but I never saw until now. If you think you want to book a session, do it! you won’t regret it.”

And really all I have left to say is …


Natalie is an attention seeking feminist who loves to sing, laugh, eat and spend time with friends & family. She has resolved to having lots of great pictures taken and to stop making the “I hate having my picture taken” face in 2014. Oh and to do the Kincardine triathlon…and maybe Lakeside but she has commitment issues.