To BARE Oneself

Love Yourself-1-2Ahhhhhhhh……this shoot. This shoot. This shoot. This shoot was so special to me. When I hooked up with Amanda over at GRLPWRPGH to collaborate on some fab group photo sessions aimed at woman-focused spotlighting on such things as body positivity, self acceptance/love and community, I knew we were getting into some special things, but this is my heartbeat right here.

We have covered some really lovely topics, and we have a lot more to go, but when I mentioned to Amanda that this theme was something I had been thinking about for a while, she agreed we were onto something.

And so BARE was born. It was important to me to convey a deep relationship between a woman’s perception of herself, just as she is (bare) and the difficulty in keeping that a positive journey. Very little makeup, very little hairstyling. This represented a deliberate coming out of accepting oneself as-is, with reverence, respect and honor. Does this mean that these women have bested the reckoning they’ve had with themselves, coming to a place of complete self love? No. But it does show that these women have openly begun this very important journey of loving themselves just a little more, each and every day.

Make no mistake, that’s not easy and it’s so very brave. Every single one of us: big, small, stretch marks, wobbly bits, tall, short….you name it…we are each a walking daily reminder of what the magazines and television like to point out as “flawed”. From head to toe we are exactly what billions of dollars are invested into every year to make us believe we are not what we should be, but could be if we drink their juice.

But lately, there’s been a tribal reckoning with us women. We women, we’re taking it back. Ladies: we are taking FLAWED back and we are reveling in it, we are reimagining it, we are reclaiming it, we are revolutionizing the concept and taking back what we were always told that definition meant and we are REDEFINING it.

Yessssss……my lovely sisters. That word belongs to us. It’s all ours and we can do with it what we please. Each and every day I see a woman or group of women that are stepping up and out and boldly proclaiming what beauty REALLY is.

And guess what? Beauty is FLAWED…and the more flaws…the more beautiful it is.

So get out there. Revolutionize beauty, ladies. Reclaim and proclaim.

HUGE shout out to AtHome Beauty for the fab hair & makeup styling! And don’t miss John’s behind-the-scenes film!

Ta’lor: Being a part of this BARE shoot meant so much to me because I have been wanting to be a part of something like this for a long time. I was addicted to wearing some form of makeup when I was in high school. When I was in college, I gained the “freshman fifteen” and lost my confidence in my body. I then got pregnant a few months before I graduated and after I had my daughter, my stretch marks and cellulite enhanced greatly. I was ashamed of my body in many ways and by becoming a Self-love Coach and journeying through my own path of self-love, I have truly found acceptance in my body. I am loving my body in a way that I never did, like going braless more and hosting #nomakeupmondays every other month as a challenge for women on social media. I have found my joy in being BARE and I am so thankful to Elizabeth Craig and GRLPWRPGH for allowing me to be a part of this BARE + BOPO Shoot.

And this is a poem that Ta’lor wrote for her blog, which I thought you might like. She has so many that I think would speak right to your heart, but I thought this one was perfect for our day:

“I am here for the women who have cellulite.

I am here for the women who have belly rolls.

I am here for the women with back fat.

I am here for the women with a double chin.

I am here for the women with flabby arms.

I am here for the women with chunky knees.

I am here for the women with stretch marks.

I AM HERE FOR EVERY WOMAN”

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Sophia: Before coming into the BARE shoot I felt very much like I wasn’t at all photoshoot ready! I had a very rough weekend full of heavy emotions and lack of sleep and I just thought it would show right through the images. I was unhappy with my eyebrows I had gotten threaded the day before and my hair was not cooperating per usual. Coming out of the shoot I felt the complete opposite I did coming in. I felt like I was 10 feet tall. Literally. I listened to that song by Afrojack the whole way home and reminisced with myself about how the people you surround yourself with should make you feel like that no matter how you yourself feel! The BARE shoot did just that for me. It lifted my spirits and made me feel supported and beautiful like I was a candidate on America’s next top. Everything I was unhappy with about myself coming in was complimented and through that came a love and gratitude for those things on my way out. I felt like I left that photoshoot with a brand new girl squad of superheroes ready to take on the world together.Love Yourself-18Love Yourself-17

 

Julia: Empowered women, empower women. Through every “Damn girl!”, “You look amazing!”, “Your hair is to die for!”, “Your skin looks amazing!”, “You are so beautiful!” this quote was felt full heartedly at the BARE shoot. Empowering, connecting, and supporting women is what it is all about here at GRL PWR PGHLove Yourself-14Love Yourself-13

 

Tori: I had an absolutely fantastic experience being BARE. After a slight dental mishap right before the shoot, all of the girls rallied behind me made me feel even more beautiful. It made me realize that makeup and great hair doesn’t make you beautiful; it’s your laugh, and smile, and ways you connect with those surrounding you that make you powerful and beautiful. Love Yourself-10Love Yourself-9

 

Victoria: Here’s my few sentences on pre & post shoot feels. Floating into the 2nd floor studio of Elizabeth Craig photography, greeted by GRLPWRPGH founder, Amanda Cowan with Champagne to toast, I was instantly comfortable. Amanda’s email instructions were clear and welcoming, putting the group of woman at ease from the start. The company was fabulous and each woman was instructed to wear no make-up and neutral clothing. We lounge around Elizabeth’s pose, plush studio where we ordered Postmates and took turns getting our hair and make-up done by Lee Ann of At Home Beauty, talk about a happy Monday! The theme of BARE felt so fitting in this comfortable place of supportive women. We all laugh and celebrated each other’s beauty, as we share our passions and work purpose. One woman even lost the cap of her tooth and instead of tears it was all laughter, if that doesn’t convey a loving environment on photoshoot day, nothing does! When it was my turn in Lee Ann’s make-up chair it was a quick application of concealer and lip gloss and a messy bun up-doe, which everyone dotted really highlighted my bone structure (giving me a great confidence boost). In front of Elizabeth’s lens was a breeze, she give specific directions and positive, fun feedback. We saved the group shots for last, all giggling and giving fierce poses, it was the icing on the cake for the afternoon. Leave the shoot and exiting the street I felt fabulous and light, at home in my own skin. Love Yourself-16Love Yourself-15

 

Aryanna: As the mother of three, two of which are daughters, I tell them all the time it is who they are that is beautiful and what people see is the manifestation of that beauty. Yet, I showed up to this photo shoot scared to show my bare face and my hair in its natural state – afraid of being judged. The gut punch of love and energy from all the women who participated showed me that I must take more time absorbing my own advice so that my daughters realize the manifestation and not just the rhetoric.Love Yourself-6Love Yourself-7

 

Jordan: Before: Going into this shoot, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. While I live my life as an open book through Listen, Lucy, I still get butterflies in my stomach when I am in a vulnerable position. I am a public speaker, not a model. I am also SUPER awkward in front of the camera and not being able to do my hair or use make up to cover physical flaws scared. But, I left there feeling empowered and beautiful. I not only felt like Beyonce, but had the opportunity to meet and hang with group of fierce women who are making their marks on the world and came to slay.Love Yourself-4Love Yourself-5

 

Hilary: I’ve never done a photoshoot before, and I was undoubtedly nervous walking into a room of strangers without mascara on! My nerves quickly dissipated after meeting such an incredible group of women. Everyone lifted each other up and made going “bare” easier than I thought it would be. It felt great to put my rawest self on display. Since I was a little girl, my body had been failing me. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Endometriosis, Psoriasis and a list of conditions that go along with them. My body might fail me, but that doesn’t mean that my mind has to. Going bare for me was about overcoming my personal obstacles (both mental and physical) and laying exactly who I am out on the table – a boss a$$ b*tch who no longer will let anything, even illness, bring me down. The photoshoot made me feel empowered. It made me feel loved. And it reminded me that if we can make all women feel like this – we can conquer the world.
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AmandaLove Yourself-19Love Yourself-20

Women Celebrating Women

Women Celebrating Women-2That is, no joke, the one thing that makes me shake my bootie in a happy dance. Women celebrating women and our power, individuality, ethnicity, diversity, love, similarities, and respecting that each and every one of us is a story that no one has ever read before.

This is what our shoot was on this day. It was pure magic. As you know, I’ve hooked up with Amanda Cowan of GRLPWRPGH to work with her on what has been termed “Body Positivity Photo Shoots”. We’re trying each month to celebrate women in a beautiful way that exemplifies all of our complexities and similarities, while showing off all that also makes us different, but together.

In this latest photo shoot, we wanted to celebrate womanhood, body positivity and ethnicity. Meet the incredible ladies that fiercely stepped up to take part in this lovely endeavor. Each of these incredible woman came together on this day to not only celebrate their own richness within their own ethnicity, but to discover and unite with everyone else’s diversity.

I can’t even begin to explain to you how honored I am to now know each of these ladies.Women Celebrating Women-6Women Celebrating Women-9Women Celebrating Women-12Women Celebrating Women-3

Peachie
OG, awareness-bringer, carrier of coolest purses ever and proud mama to Wiz Khalifa.Women Celebrating Women-4

Nicole
Girlboss, professional cupid, + mental health & lifestyle blogger empowered by the love and fire within.Women Celebrating Women-13

Elysia
Brand manager and everything Pittsburgh fashion, connector, builder and developer of local community meets fashion.Women Celebrating Women-5

Keara
Cyclist master, Irish wanderer and food lover.Women Celebrating Women-8

Alycia
Old soul, young spirit, storyteller, painter and proud member of the #naturalhairgang.Women Celebrating Women-11

Ta’lor Pinkston
Self love coach, poet, inspirational speaker and all professional bringer of hope and all that is good.Women Celebrating Women-7

I also want to give the biggest of all shout outs to the amazing and talented stylists we had the lovely pleasure of hanging out with: Dominika Bronner Makeup, Stephanie Storm Beauty and See Jane Blush. PLUS a GIANT THANK YOU to Democracy Clothing for not only sponsoring this photoshoot but for giving each and every one of us a FREE pair of your AMAZING jeans! I cannot say this enough, ladies: their jeans feel like you’re in your pjs!! GET A PAIR NOW!!!Women Celebrating Women-1Women Celebrating Women-14Women Celebrating Women-10Stay tuned for the next shoot! You’re gonna love it!

The Body Positivity Shoot

Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-14So….holy moly. Let’s grab a cup of coffee for this one, ladies. Where shall I begin? I was approached by a fabulous and talented Pittsburgh business owner, Amanda Cowan, owner and operator of AFaye PR and chief señorita at GRLPWRPGH, a female-centric networking and collaborative group that meets monthly.  Amanda had this amazing idea to get a group of amazing women together for a fun, empowering and crazy day in my studio, which was alllllll centered around body positivity.

And The Body Positivity Shoot was born.

So, each woman thought about what body part they most struggle with and why. And then….bravely stood in front my camera so that I could specifically hone in on that specific body part and show it off to the world. Can we say c.o.u.r.a.g.e.o.u.s??? I mean, really think about this ladies….could you do it? I don’t know that I could, truthfully.

And can I say to you, I had the TIME of my life! Each of these ladies were so incredibly powerful in their own way. Each were their own stories in this life and were filled to the brim with so much support and love for one another. And no, they did not even all know each other. There were a few that did, but otherwise, we were a studio of 10 women, most of which met each other on that day, and made a collective decision to fill that space with so much support, acceptance, absolutely no judgment and a shit ton of love and laughs.

I could not have been more excited and honored to have been the photographer that got to be there with each and every one of these ladies. I am so THRILLED to have been a part of this project. And I would like to throw out some giant special THANK YOU’s to At Home Beauty, Ciel Cosmetics and Caviar and Curls for all the glamorous hair and makeup styling. You ladies are SO TALENTED!

So, without further ado…

Autumn. Breasts. “I am a body activist. Growing up I was the girl that got made fun of for having big boobs but now embrace my boobs and my curves.” Hair: Caviar and Curls. Makeup: Ciel Cosmetics.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-12Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-11

 

Kelsey: Legs. “Growing up I was teased and called thunder thighs and it really stuck with me. I’ve come to have a friendship with my legs. They may be big and have cellulite but they are strong and take me where I need to go.” HMUA: At Home Beauty.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-8Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-7

 

Julianna. Breasts. “I always felt self-conscious about having big breasts but I have really come to love them and accept them and I’m so much more confident of them now.” HMUA: At Home Beauty.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-2Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-1

 

Chelsey: Hips and Legs. “I have always been self conscious about my legs and hips. I think they are disproportionate and bow but I have come to terms with the fact that they have gotten me from place to place and have supported me and I try to remember to think of the good things about them.” Hair: Caviar and Curls. Makeup: Ciel Cosmetics.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-3Body Positivity Photo Shoot-1

 

Mallory: Stomach. “I used to be very large and have lost weight and now my stomach is a bit deflated. I love my body, it gets me strong and gets me through my workouts. My belly is what it is but I still love it.” Hair: Caviar and Curls. Makeup: Ciel Cosmetics.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-10Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-9

 

Amanda: Stretch marks on stomach and thighs. “When I got pregnant and through my pregnancy, my body stretched in places and ways I didn’t even know were possible. After having my daughter, Willow (now almost 3), I was left with incredibly visible and intense stretchmarks, particularly on my stomach, hips and thighs. My times of sporting 2 piece string bikinis were long gone, and though I’m happy with the shape I’ve been able to get back in, the scars and stretchmarks still remain. I’ve been self-conscious of these marks ever since. I’ve had to re-center and remind myself how I got these, and why I still have them. They show the beautiful transition my body went through, and I now have my little Willow to show for these marks. For that, I am learning day-to-day to accept that these are apart of me, and I am learning to love my tiger stripes. They make me who I am today.”  Hair: Caviar and Curls. Makeup: Ciel Cosmetics.Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-6Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-5

You ladies are my new heroes! Here’s to fat thighs, droopy boobs, more stretch marks than we can count and saggy tummies. May they continue to encourage self-love, empowerment and, of course, one hell of a #giveszerofucks attitude! Body Positivity Photo Shoot | Elizabeth Craig Photography-13