"Nothing was hidden and everything was exposed."



 "Growing up I was always the bigger friend, classmate, and sibling. I was picked on occasionally, but learned to hold my head high and stay strong. I had tried everything when it came to weight loss. Diets, exercise, gimmicks,  you name it… I tried it. I was always active doing competitive cheer, and working out, but the weight was always still there. The images that society posted of what a woman was supposed to look like didn't match what I looked like. I tried to remain confident, and for the most part I stayed that way. However, I battled internally from time to time throughout the years. I battled with what I looked like and who I didn't look like. 

By the time I was in my mid to late 20s I was pushing 300 lbs. I decided to do something called the World Race. 11 countries in 11 months doing mission work. I had traveled the world, and still was being called all of the names (5 months in Asia, and all things "asian fit" will get to anybody). "You too big", "You fat", and it went on, and on, and on. The stipulation of what your body is supposed to look like is global. This was me, though. How was I supposed to change something that was unchangeable? I couldn't. I had been voluptuous and plus size my entire life, and nothing had changed. This was how I was made. I came back from overseas, and began to try to find validation through relationships, people, anything but through myself. Every time it failed miserably. At that point, I had to make a change for myself and myself alone. I decided to accept myself for me, love myself and not look back. I learned that only I could make myself happy, and nobody could do it for me. It was such a liberating experience! To love me, and the body I was given. I owned every part of my body, inside and out... I was free. 

 Right before my 30th birthday I began having health issues (pre-diabetic and high blood pressure). I had accepted myself for me, but was given these scary prognosis. I remember having a talk with my parents, and was given the opportunity for weight loss surgery. My initial reaction was no, because I didn't want to have to change who I was. I was loving everything about myself. However, after thinking it over and deliberating, I decided it was the smart thing to do and went for it. This surgery was not an "easy fix". Waking up after surgery I was in the most excruciating pain and thought "Great, I did this to better myself, but instead I'm going to go out trying to be healthy!" Everything didn't just magically go away. It was, and is, an everyday choice and battle with who I was and who I want to be. With it I've had to bust my ass to get where I am. I also, ironically, had to learn to love myself all over again. 140 lbs gone and I'm now on the other spectrum of things. I'm smaller, yes, but I have loose skin and stretch marks galore. I've had to find myself again and remember why I love myself.  My body still may not be "perfect" to some, but it is to me.  And you know what? I love it all. These are my battle scars and proof of what I've been through. All of the hard work. It shows and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

  I didn't know anything about boudoir photography until a friend of mine did a shoot as a wedding gift to her husband. I thought, "How cool is that!? I've got to do that whenever I get married". March 03, 2017 I got engaged. First thing I did? Search for a boudoir photographer. I remember asking around and people would tell me different names, but I had to ask specifically because they didn't advertise it. It made me feel like I was asking to do something inappropriate and sketchy. I came across The Boudoir Belle, read the info Kelley posted about her business, and knew that's who I wanted. It was more than just taking sexy photos with someone who would then edit the crap out of them. It was about embracing who you were as a woman and everything that comes with it…. No matter your shape, size, or age. To love you for YOU. Full on women empowerment... I was hooked! I was so pumped I couldn't stand it! When I booked my boudoir shoot with Kelley, I was so excited but had no idea what was about to happen. I thought, "This is going to be a great gift for the fiancée". Oh how the script flipped on me the day I arrived. It became more about me, my body, my experience and less about getting a "cool gift" done. It was a huge confidence booster and eye opener for myself. Nothing was hidden, and everything was exposed. I remember Kelley shifting me around, telling me to arch harder and giving me the workout of my life!  I left after the shoot that day with my head higher. The Image Reveal was another event that I thought I was ready for but was not even remotely prepared for what was about to happen. I walked in with my mom, sat down and was so excited for the slideshow. What I wasn't ready for was the flood of emotions to take over. Tears began to roll down my cheeks with each picture that I saw. She captured it all. Everything I had worked towards was in the pictures and I was overwhelmed with joy (I'm tearing up now thinking about it). Pictures of me fully exposed, skin out, stretch marks shining. It was such a beautiful moment; A memory I get to cherish every day and look at whenever I want! I even told the fiance that I was tempted to keep it all for myself, haha! His response, "You need to book another one so we can hang you up on the wall!" Even now I get emotional about the pictures and the process, because it shows victory! I can't wait to book my next shoot!"

Kelley Stafford5 Comments