I spend a lot of time writing posts about self-love.
Encouraging women to nurture themselves so we can show up in our relationships intentionally and strong. I created a business around supporting women in moving out of their unworthiness, into their superpower, through their lingerie.
It is through my brokenness that I know, all too well, what it feels like to put yourself last. To not feel worthy of the relationships around you, to be so exhausted you don’t know how to love yourself, to not recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror each morning. As I write these words of encouragement for my Sisterhood, I often wonder what it would be like to feel an even deeper love for myself. What does it feel like to show up in my sexiness, my strength, and have so much love for myself that I get to give the overflow away?
For the past three years, I’ve seen an advertisement for beautiful Mother’s Day photos from a local photographer, Emily Jane Photography Inc. They’re stunning. She beautifully captures the bond between a mother and daughter. And for the past three years, I’ve longed to borrow my mom from heaven so we could do a shoot like that together. I told myself that someday I was going to invest in a photography shoot like that for the simple reason of seeing myself through someone else’s lens. A curiosity if the photographer would be able to capture the beauty I wasn’t seeing in me.
I thought about it long and hard. And when I was tired of enrolling myself, I sat my husband down to hear my enrolment speech out loud. I told him I wanted to do a self-confidence shoot. Not a boudoir but an empowering shoot so I could see my strength and love my body. He silently listened to me, to what now sounds like a sales pitch, waiting for me to finish. He said he thought it would be a great idea, and that I needed to see what he sees in me.
So I booked it.
Up until now, my inability to show up vulnerably has been crippling. I showed up to that meeting very serious, protective and buttoned up. If you’ve ever met Emily Jane, then you’ll know how gentle, loving, and safe she is. I called Emily Jane and we met a few weeks later to discuss my vision.
I shared my vision of wanting to empower women to feed their souls. That for too long the lingerie industry has been a circus for men. Women showing up submissive, powerless, and less than to the opposite sex. The fantasy that sexiness is determined by our body shape. But you and I both know, sexiness is a way of being, not what we put on our body.
My goal is to gift that power back to women around the globe. To show that investing in a piece of lingerie for yourself, to love your body, to be equal, has massive value! We get to show up lovingly, empowered, vulnerable in our relationships because it’s a ripple effect.
When we learn to love ourselves we teach our spouses and others how we want to receive love, we inspire our children to love themselves, we impact the women around us to be authentic.
Emily listened, and when I stopped speaking she confidently said: “I got it!”.
The day of the shoot…
I was nervous. I was going to be naked (nearly naked) and on camera in front of a team. The familiar questions swirling in my mind, What if I didn’t like all the photos? What if this was a waste of money? Why did I eat so much last night?
As I entered the room I was greeted with freshness, light, and candles. Emily introduced me to Katie who owns Polished Chaos, the amazing woman who did my makeup, and off she went to prep. She explained that we were going to move through the shoot with the most amount of clothes to the least. I thought this was courtesy of my comfort level. What I know now is, she was capturing a vulnerable woman coming into her strength. The photos with the most amount of clothes are my most vulnerable!
The day was amazing, the team made the shoot comfortable, friendly, and fun! They showered me with compliments (as I’m sure all photographers do) and we shared some giggles! The day wrapped up and I headed home.
And then I waited.
The best way to describe Emily Jane’s packages is her finishing touches are like tying the bow on a beautifully wrapped gift. The final step of the shoot is an unveiling session. Most photographers and what I've experienced in other shoots I’ve done, I received a shared doc where I can view my photos in private for me to judge and select silently while completely alone. Not here. Emily explained she will have all my photos on the wall and we’ll select our picks together. Three times she suggested I bring support. At first, I was like, “no way”. I get to decide, these are my photos to judge and my body. However, after the third gentle nudge from Emily, I finally surrendered.
I was watching a movie with Bruce and I glanced over at him, then looked away. Wavering if this was the vulnerable moment I should share with him. After all, this shoot wasn’t for him, it was for me. Five minutes later I looked at him again, silently deciding if I should ask. Of course, this time he looked back at me “What?”. Busted. In a low voice, I asked, “Would you like to come with me to the unveiling session?” His eyes lit up and respectfully because let’s be real, Bruce knows all about my inability to be vulnerable, he said he would love to.
This question came with a hefty disclosure, “This shoot is about empowerment, you know? I want to pick photos I can share with my sisterhood and not allow them to get dusty in a drawer to never be looked at again.”
He just smiled at my disclosure statement and we finished our movie.
As we walked up the stairs to the studio I could feel the emotion bubbling in my throat. I desperately swallowed the emotion. Emily peeked her head through the door with a warm smile and said she would just be a moment. We sat without saying a word until she opened the door and invited us in. She explained the photos would be on the right and for us to just take them all in. After a moment we’ll start picking. Each of us will pick two photos, starting with our favourites to our least favourite. Again, I had this resistance, protection, that these were my photos. Why are we all picking? What I know now, the gentle nudge to bring support was because they were going to see something I wouldn’t be able to.
We walked around the corner and I broke down. I’m not sure I even saw my face in a photo but the built-up emotion of this vulnerable moment of being on display. I turned around to look at her as tears ran down my face and I silently mouthed the words “Thank you”.
I took it all in. What I saw was strength, empowerment, vulnerability, beauty. Even writing these words sounds like I’m writing about another woman.
After our selections, she beautifully wrapped the photos in the paper and tied it with a bow. However, the real gift was the moment of self-discovery. This investment allowed me to peel back the layers of a hard shell, bad self-language, and years of hiding.
-Shauna Allan is the founder of Modern Match Lingerie Inc. and The Bra Bra Sisterhood – armed with a cup of java and her favourite pieces of lingerie, she hosts a safe space where women can simply just be women! Join our community here
Photography by: Emily Jane Photography Inc.
Hair and Make-Up by: Polished Chaos – Katie