UNSWEET TEA

  • Alia

I Want To See YOU Be Brave (NSFW)

Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Losing 100+ pounds does something to you. The effects are so pronounced that they will require a psychiatric evaluation prior to approving you for surgery. I passed my evaluation, but I distinctly remember telling the evaluator that I wouldn't know how I'd feel about my body until I saw it for what it was, that I wouldn't be able to commit to acceptance. Never was that more clear than when I first saw myself naked and liked what I saw, when I danced around my house nude, or when I first let a man see me naked. However, as time passes by, and doubt sets in, you see things that you shouldn't. Instead of seeing how far you've come, you start to beat yourself up in the same way that you did when you were larger.


"I have excess skin."

"I look like I've given birth to children I can't even conceive."

"Don't pay attention to my post partum pooch."

These are all things I've said about myself and they all steal joy; they rip away the pride in what I have accomplished.


This isn't the first time I've bared it all in front of the camera. I did it for a friend of mine in a Memphis when she needed a model and I was so proud of myself then, it gave me a memory and a frame (of reference) in which to put it. This is different.


Enter Dan of Personal Images Boudoir Photography. This is the part where I try not to cry and commit profuse typo sins.



I first reached out to Dan because we were two people looking for each other. He needed a model in advance of Valentine's Day and I was looking for a photographer who specialized in boudoir so that I could find my way back to a love for who I was as I was. I knew he was the right man for the job because he asked me if I had considered this for a while (I had,) and he asked that I share my Pinterest board with him. When we scheduled our session, he arrived with printouts of the photos I had pinned. (This was a big deal for me because I'm the kind of person that pulls out her iPad and tried to recreate pinterest everything.) We sat and talked and got to know each other in the interests of becoming more comfortable and familiar with one another, again, a big help, and then I went to change. During this time, he began to set him his equipment. I just knew I was going to need a glass of wine, but funny thing, I never once took a sip. I was completely at ease.


It goes without saying that you the reader, and I, the Alia, aren't the same person and won't respond the same way to anything, but feeling comfortable around someone is important to me. See, I've been in situations in the past that have made me entirely uncomfortable and I didn't feel that way with Dan. (Thank you for everything. You couldn't have known that.)


First: let me say this, if you didn't bat an eyelash at Beyonce's pregnancy pictures, or "Partition" video, or her whole self-titled album, then you can have a seat because you don't get to bash me in any way. I am allowed to celebrate myself and I will not tolerate anyone thinking that it's okay to try and ruin me or my life because you're too uptight. You can make the best decisions for your own life and leave all of the decisions that pertain to me, to me.


Society taught me to hate myself, my skin, my stretch marks, my weight, my eye color, my hair, my disability, and while I've lived life, men and women reinforced that. So I'll take my power back now, thank you very much.






I just could not be more happy. I look at these photos and cry, they're happy tears. We aren't always going to love what we look like, we aren't perfect people, but damn if you beat yourself up because the world already does enough of that for you!


I talked to two of my sorority sisters about why I wanted to do this and we had two very different conversations. One of them asked me why I was interested in doing something like this in the first place. I told her that it was something that I had wanted to do for a while, but I think the truth is that I put it off because I didn't like my body or the way that it looked without clothes at this stage in the game. However, I knew that I needed to do this for me, so that I could learn to love what I look like at any stage in the weight-loss process.


My other sister was contemplating a boudoir shoot to celebrate turning 30 in glorious fashion. I encouraged this, hell, I still support it. She postponed her shoot because she was unhappy with her physical appearance at this moment in time. To her I said, "I can't argue with you about how you feel. I can only show you the pictures of what I did and say that I didn't like all of my pictures, I just DIDN'T (no reflection on Dan, sometimes you just can't put your insecurities on the back burner, as much as you'd like to.) I hate my body, so much, but there were many [pictures] that hit me in the feels." I saw photos from this session and cried because I was so proud. I pushed myself, I took myself to a new place.


I know what insecure feels like, so I wanted to try strong, I wanted to try self-assured, I wanted to try brave. Now, I want to see you be brave.

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