Self Acceptance Isn’t a Dress Size; It’s a State of Mind.

IHang on tight…this joyride might be a bit long. Give me a break though…it’s been a while since I’ve made you read through a book-length post, and I think you’ll like this one.

I have so. many. women. that come into my studio because they are either on a downward spiral of self-hatred and are at their wits end, trying to crawl out of the bucket of mud they voluntarily crawled into, or they are on an upward trajectory from hitting that rock bottom place and have reached a point where they are proud of their efforts and hard work and want to celebrate with a session with me.

Wanna know something funny? Yeah, not “ha ha” funny, but “holy shit. Seriously??” funny? Both of those women I just told you about are truthfully in the same place emotionally about their state of self love and self acceptance. Yeah, one might be a bit more depressed than the other, but neither of those women have truly accepted themselves for who they are. And I mean, who they are after they’ve unzipped that klutzy thing we call a body and are left with nothing else but our souls.

Wanna know how I know that? Well, for one, I’ve photographed enough women in 13 years that I believe I qualify for a pretty darned-educated opinion. And for second, I just photographed one of each within a timespan of 2 days.

My title perfectly explains why: because self-acceptance isn’t a dress size; it’s a state of mind.

This beautiful, strong and incredible woman you see in these photos is a lovely example of all of this and in such a good way. Faced with some medical difficulties with her 2nd child, she had her moment of reckoning with her own self and decided enough was enough. She needed to make a change. A change for herself and a change for her family. So, one decision, lots of effort and hard work and 100 lbs. later, this GORGEOUS woman now helps women emotionally and physically reach a place of positive health. That’s amazing! I mean, that’s just simply incredible to me. And you know what? That’s what we women are built to do. We figure something out and we share it. We intuitively know that we are meant to build up love, tear down hate and when we learn the secret to both, we know it’s our job to make it right for others. And that’s what Amy does. She makes it right for others.

She told me how she’s in such a good place, but also a confusing place. No one told her what life is like once you lose the weight. No one told her what the stopping point was, or that really there is no stopping point. What amount of weightloss is enough? In the beginning you think “AH! I can’t wait to get there!” And then you do, and you don’t feel it. It doesn’t feel like the “there” you felt in your mind when you dreamed of it. It feels different “here”. Restlessness, confusion…is there more? Should there be less? No one told her how to reckon with the new self that was inevitable. The smaller self. The self that now weighs less and is what she thought would be the answer all along. What now? Where’s that feeling of **siiiiigggggggghhhhhhhhh…..I’m finally HERE!

We’ve all been there ladies. We’ve lost the weight, gained the weight, lost the weight…tell me truly: how many of you reached the point of 100% joyful once you lost the weight? And I don’t mean happiness. I mean joyful. One is fleeting and cannot be counted upon. The other is a state of being and is a foundation upon which the rest of your life is built upon. I’ve been there. Shit, I’m still there. I’ve gained and lost. And now I’m in the “gained” part again. Tell me if this sounds familiar: I now look back at the time I lost the weight, and just needed to lose 5 more. “If I could juuuuuust get down one more dress size….” Yep. And now I look back and I am so sad for that gal. Sad because I got there. I did the work and I got there and IT WASN’T ENOUGH. I did exactly what that weight loss program told me to do and it did for me exactly what it said it would AND IT DIDN’T DO ENOUGH.

And then I realized…IT’S NEVER ENOUGH. IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. I’LL NEVER BE ENOUGH.

Waiiiiiiit a minute. What? What did I just say? “I’ll never be enough?” Did I just say that??

My dears: when will you be enough? When the dress size is one lower? When the boobs are one size bigger? When the wrinkles aren’t so noticeable? And why? Why are you not enough? And what makes you enough? And who decides if you’re enough? Who makes these rules??

In my 13 years I have certainly learned one very important thing I want you to think about. The reason I say that self acceptance is a state of mind is because I have, as of yet, to meet a woman that doesn’t have a hang up about something about her body or physical appearance and I have photographed women from size 0 to size 24.

In fact, I’ve had more size 0 through 4’s have more self-loathing than my 14 through 24’s. It has nothing to do with size, my friends.

I think the reason we have such problems with our bodies is because we somehow inherently know that it’s the body that’s the issue. They’re clunky, heavy, they damage way too easily, they get in the way, they require so much care…I mean honestly, what the hell good are they anyway?? We’re all just souls trying to figure out how to operate with these crazy suits of skin and man, it is freaking hard.

So what does this mean and what do we do? It means you have to reset your mind, ladies. Remember, YOU define what success is. YOU define what joy is. YOU define what is ENOUGH. And may I let you in on a bit of a secret? You’re enough. You’re worthy because you are. You are here. You are walking around on this earth, and that means that you are worthy.

Have you ever looked at another woman and thought ‘She’s not worthy. She’s not worthy of love because she’s too skinny/too fat. She’s not worthy of love or self acceptance because she’s not dressed this way or that way?’

Then what makes you so unworthy??

I don’t know about you, but from now on, I’ve decided I’m going to start taking my soul for a walk. My soul is the perfect size at all times. My soul is kind, generous, curious, funny and smart. My soul deeply cares about other souls and believes deeply in the kindness of other souls. My soul never judges any other soul and in fact honors every other soul. And most importantly, my soul would never ever judge my soul.

It’s not easy, ladies. I know it. You know it. I’m not saying anything here you don’t already know. But what I’m trying to tell you is that this life isn’t about your dress size. Do you agree with me that there are so many other, super duper more important things in this life to experience and learn? You have so much to learn in this life. You have so much to experience.

Are you just as exasperated as I am that we’re wasting all this time on a fucking dress size? Of all the miracles in this universe…from the smiles of our babies, to the free fall of falling in love, to the shock and awe of simple human gestures of kindness and love…and we’re worried about the number on that tag inside that piece of clothing.

“She was a woman of size 14. Her size is what defined her and her size is what made her successful. Because of her size, her children have learned what is most important in this life. Her size is what embodied our friendship. Her size is what her husband will remember and cherish the most. There are so many amazing memories we shared, but her size is what I will remember the most. Her size changed the world.” –read no eulogy ever.

We are not our resumes. We are not our deeds. We are not our dress sizes. No one will remember or care what you did for a living. No one will remember or care what you did on a daily basis or how you made your money or what you did with it. No one will remember most of what you’ve ever even said to them. But they will remember how you made them feel.

And that, my beautiful souls, will have absolutely nothing to do with your dress size.

Are you ready for a body revolution? Then #putthefuckingbathingsuiton

Who’s with me?
Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-1Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-2Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-3Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-4Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-6Believing in Your Self Worth | Elizabeth Craig Photography-7Makeover by At Home Beauty.

Me vs. You

Pittsburgh Beauty Portrait Photographer-3No, I’m not talking about a competition, or even a hierarchy, contest or who comes first in a life-saving, dramatic moment of crisis. I’m talking about something way more important than all of that….I’m talking about fashion.

You: play it safe, bring things that cover you and every inch of every part of your body that you’re uncomfortable with. You bring things that make you blend into the background, making damn sure no one pays attention to you. You play it safe. To you, “stepping outside of your comfort zone” means buying white jeans instead of blue jeans, or maybe getting really crazy and buying a tank top instead of a shirt with sleeves (but then you ask me to photoshop the hell out of those arms).

Me: does not play it safe. I push you in places you think you don’t want to go. I explain how it all works and you doubt, but realize you kinda have to try it because….I mean…I have more experience than you in this area. I tell you that you can be clothed from head to toe and still be soooooo sexy. I present clothing you never ever thought you’d even consider. And then you put it on and….magic. I see that twinkle in your eye, that glow in your smile and I know: game on.

And this is how it went for us. She sent the images below of what she bought to bring to her beauty session, which her husband bought for her. You see, he looks at her and sees the mother of his children, his life partner and best friend. He also happens to see the most beautiful and sexiest woman alive. She looks at herself and she sees something else. She didn’t want the session. She was terrified of it. But we got her there. I’m happy to say she put a lot of effort into trusting me just even to show up that day. And goodness you guys….she was a nervous wreck. I felt so bad and so excited for her all at the same time because I knew how she felt, but I also knew what was coming.

These were the items she purchased that she thought pushed her out of her comfort zone:Untitled-1

I showed her my choices for her wardrobe. Her eyebrows went way up and her mouth dropped. And then I could see the sweat. Hahahahahaha! But I knew she could do it. I’ve never had a more quiet client sit in Lee Ann’s chair. She watched every stroke of a brush and every curl of the iron. Barely saying one word. And then when it was all finished the first thing she said, eyes aglow: “I feel so pretty!!” Yessssss….game on.

We decided to include one outfit that she brought with her, and that’s what we started with. Just one photo that really looks like her everyday look. She didn’t like any of them, and trust me I did not take it personally. I knew she was so excited about the other items I had available that she was really just waiting to get into them. Pittsburgh Beauty Portrait Photographer-1

And just look at her. This is one badass, sexy, gorgeous, confident woman. And wow did she not want to get out of this dress. I don’t blame her…do you see what I’m seeing?? I won’t be showing you the uber sexy black patent trench coat I had her wear for a set after this, complete with high heels….and nothing else. That’s just for her and her husband, you see. But I think you get the idea of how she felt when she was leaving my studio.

I do not proclaim to be a fashionista one bit. But I do proclaim that I will do you right. I know what you’re self-conscious about. I know what drives you crazy about your body. And I also know what clothing will camouflage those parts while emphasizing what you love. Ladies: this is what you pay me for, and lucky you, I’m damn good at it.

Let’s do this.Pittsburgh Beauty Portrait Photographer-2Pittsburgh Beauty Portrait Photographer-4Makeover by At Home Beauty.

Like a Daydream

Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-57That’s how it all was….kinda like this dreamy, gauzy day that moved in slow motion. Every time Julia began to dance it was like watching air begin to take shape. It floated right along side her and it was like a daydream. I swear it. Of course, Julia being a Principal dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre certainly helped for this all to come together (soon to retire from her 17-year career as a ballerina this October….how incredible).

I wanted this shoot to be so whimsical, sort of like watching an old movie through a sheer curtain. There was so much romance to this day. It just overflowed with it and I truly didn’t have to work that much at all. I think getting the concept narrowed down was the hardest part (and keeping the wardrobe changes to a realistic minimum….always my greatest challenge).

Yes, that’s a backdrop on the floor. Why not?? This is a daydream, after all. Yes, that’s framed wallpaper, generously lent to me by the wonderful JPC Event Group. Yes, those florals are simply divine, the designs conjured up by the ever-so-dreamy-herself, Carmel, of Mt. Lebanon Floral. And that hair and makeup…so obviously Lee Ann, of At Home Beauty.

This is what happens when a dream team comes together to create a daydream.Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-50Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-58Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-54Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-52Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-56Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-51Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-53Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-50-2

Celebrating 50

Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-1-2Can you believe this?? She’s celebrating turning 50 years old. I didn’t look this at 25. Teensy note: she’s a personal trainer so she absolutely should be so very proud of not only her body, but also every other big and small thing that has made her the beautiful woman she is today.

She said nudes were a definite and she wanted them to be artful, dark, moody and to show the curves and lines her body. I think we nailed it.

Happy Birthday, Gorgeous. May your next 50 years be full of love, peace, joy, buckets of laughter and the wisdom to sit back and enjoy it all.Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-6Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-3Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-1Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-2Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-4Celebrating Your 50th | Pittsburgh Boudoir Photographer-5Makeover by At Home Beauty.

Such Elegance

Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-1-2She loves Downton Abby, singing, dancing and acting. She adores all the glamour of Hollywood and knows the difference between being an actress and a star. She wanted a day to shine and feel what it would be like to be under the lights, adored and made to look like a genuine screen siren. Mission. Accomplished.

Meet Michelle Flynn. A mover and shaker in Pittsburgh, always on the go and onto the next thing in her career. Right now she’s preparing to record her first album, which I can’t wait to hear. We found ourselves getting pretty excited one afternoon talking about beauty and glamour and before we knew it, this shoot was in the works. I found these gowns and had to have them for her. This post only shows 2 and we have 3 more to show you. She poured herself into each as if they were all made just for her and as you can see, they kinda were. Our collective favorite is this beaded number by Mac Duggal. It was just sooooooo elegant.

Be sure to watch the behind the scenes film. With so much glitz and sparkles I just couldn’t help myself but make sure to capture all the little details on film.

Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-2-2Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-3Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-4Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-5Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-6Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-7Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-8Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-25Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-26Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-27Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-28Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-29Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-30Makeover by At Home Beauty.