I Can’t Fix “I Hate Myself” in Photoshop

So, this is a sort of “reblog” of a post I did back in 2014. Lately I have been running into SO MANY women that are beautiful inside and out and have mates and loved ones that wouldn’t even consider changing one tiny thing about them, yet they just cannot seem to quit picking out THE MOST insignificant “flaws” they see in themselves. These women that bless my studio have just about ruined their sessions with me because instead of seeing this gorgeous photo in its entirety, they only see the hair they think is out of place, the wrinkle under her eye, the completely non-existent fat in the arm. I watch as they drive themselves CRAZY throughout the entire shoot for the most insignificant things that absolutely no one but themselves can see.

Ladies: I give this post…

Now, take a moment and just breathe. Let me ask you this: what would happen if you treated anyone else in this whole wide world the way you treat yourself? Make the cycle stop right now. Because here’s the thing: whether it stops now or continues on for your whole life, you still have to wake up everyday and live that life. How you do it is up to you.

It has been a rough few weeks with you ladies (she says while scratching her head, one eyebrow raised). Lately I have had a rash of women that do not like themselves, fiercely, come in to get photographed. If I pointed out every single physical characteristic of myself that I believed were unpleasing to others I’d be here all day.

In fact, let’s just start with the face. Yes, ladies, that’s me. In all my glory. Unwashed hair, no makeup…lest you’re thinking: “What would she know?? She can Photoshop herself into Gisele Bundchen status if she wanted to!” Well here I am.photo-on-11-3-14-at-12-03-pm

So let’s see here. My eyes are too close together, I have bags under my eyes, I have a big overbite, blemishes on my chin, wrinkles on my forehead, crows feet, frizzy-ass hair, gray roots…and this is just the face gals. I don’t have time to run you through the body.

And even if I juuuuuust take a few moments and do this:dsc-501-2

I am still fully aware of what I really look like.

It is one of the most interesting things in the world to work with women. So many walks of life, so many trials, tribulations, celebrations, milestones…so much to commemorate. I get why you come to me. Whether it’s for you, for him…whatever: you come to me to feel beautiful and get proof that you are beautiful. I’m a girl. I know.

But I simply cannot Photoshop you into liking yourself.

We all have insecurities. I have a ton! I just went through a 5 year battle of just hating myself physically. And I had a good grip on things, I thought. I am not a 41 year old woman that wants to forever be 25. I know it’s impossible and I have no desire to botox my way into fighting the fact that I’m getting older. It’s just not for me. But what I finally realized was that I am actually fine looking at who I have become in the mirror; it was the perception I thought others had of me that was getting in the way. And listen, this doesn’t come from nowhere. We have each been in lots of situations where friends or loved ones thought they were doing us a favor by pointing out the things we want to hide the most (like my ass) so we can’t blame it all on the magazines. My husband, God love him, has made more than one “helpful” comment about my ass looking like a shelf. Why did he think he was actually being complimentary? Because he noticed I dropped a few pounds for whatever reason and thought I would be happy when he exclaimed “Hey! You lost your shelf butt!” But what it really made me think was: How long had I been walking past him with him thinking “Damn her ass is getting f-a-t. You could set a drink on that thing!” And yes, you may not believe this, but I have actually found out that some women that knew me when I was a size 4 have been just WAITING for me to get fat and, in fact, were disappointed when I either hadn’t gotten fat yet or wasn’t fat enough to make them feel better about themselves. No I am not kidding and it was so disappointing on so many levels. So when I hit 36 and the metabolism starting to snail to a turtle crawl it was devastating for me. We all go through it, I know.

But I had let my entire self worth become about my body. It was so predictable. It was so disappointing. I was so angry with myself for obsessing about something that was so insignificant. I was a size 4. I am now a size 8 on my top and an 10 on my bottom. **GASP!!!** How can I live with myself?!?

But then I hit a crossroad and everything changed. I realized I could turn left and spend the rest of my life predictably and boringly being the woman that obsesses over her weight, her ass, her wrinkles, her size 8 bottom and continue to live on the diet roller coaster and actively volunteer in the love/hate relationship of “Yay! I lost a pound! I rock!” and then “Boo! I gained a pound! I’m worthless!”. Or I could turn right and simply put, accept myself. And at that moment the only thing that mattered was what I thought about myself. And at that moment it hit me that, for some reason, I didn’t care what others opinions were of me. And then in the next moment, something beautiful happened:

The gap between what I thought I looked like (ugly, old and fat) and what I actually look like and what the world sees me as (normal, pretty and of average weight) closed.

Well, it didn’t close completely, but wow did it get a ton smaller. I don’t know why all of a sudden I accepted myself but I did. I am now accepting of who I am, I love myself and yes I could lose a few pounds but who the hell cares?? I realized I would MUCH rather eat the foods I like, while still making healthy choices of course, be active and healthy and enjoy my life rather than count calories/points and hate myself into an early grave (all while starving and eating ridiculous things like rice cakes…what in the name of all things big and small are those damn tasteless things anyway??) And you know what happened?

I lost weight. And then I put it back on, and I don’t give a shit.The funny thing is I still weigh just as much as I did when I was trying to starve myself into happiness. So poop on it: I chose to have a life and enjoy it while I can rather than starve it and be miserable. Join me…it’s so fun here. 

I know…that’s a lot of talk you didn’t ask for but I wanted you to know my journey so you know that when I say this it’s with love, understanding and empathy:

Quit picking corn out of chicken shit. Yes, I said it.

Please stop looking at a photo of yourself that I took and say “Oh my God…I’m so fat.” or “Wow where did those wrinkles come from”….my boobs look weird in that photo, my hair isn’t laying right, my waist looks fat there, my ass looks fat….etc etc and please stop doing the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” thing. It’s not that you did a bad job; I’m just that ugly/fat/hard to work with…etc etc. Just stop it. Quit looking at these photos and seeing these phantom “issues” you have with yourself because you know what? You are the ONLY one obsessing about it and the moral of the story is: obsessing will not change it. Quit obsessing over something you either will not or cannot change. Enough. ENOUGH!

If you hate yourself walking into my studio you will not like yourself in my photos. No amount of harassing yourself will change that. And no amount of Photoshopping a smaller waist, smaller ass, bigger boobs or whatever will change that for you.

So here is a gift from me to you.  I believe each of you self-haters will find this awesome TedTalk video quite  interesting. It’s only 15 minutes and please, take a moment and watch it. Not for me, for you.

So…tell me about yourself.



Photography that Heals

Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-7Follow me on this…who would have ever thought that visually capturing the very thing that makes you so uncomfortable, placing an infinite telescope and spotlight upon that which you think you loathe, to see and view and then memorialize for all time, would actually be the very thing that heals your wounds?

That’s what photography does. At least in my studio.

Lately I have been sent emails, had phone calls and even been in just random, chance situations that have consisted of some of the deepest, most sincere, painful, beautiful and tumultuous stories of women’s journeys into relationships with their Self. It has been both miraculous, awe-inspiring and yet so agonizing and torturous. These words that I read and the voices that I hear on the other end of the phone, filled with so much pain and so much hope, can’t help but make me speechless in their courage to finally come clean to themselves. Yet it’s so lovely to watch as this woman’s journey begins, this woman’s journey is well on its way, this one hits a bump in the road while another is simply soaring.

These women. They tell me all about their scars, both physical and emotional. The bullying as a child, the abuse from a spouse. I hear and read tails of yo-yo diets, self-loathing and eating disorders. Stories that depict full circles of lessons learned, like putting every hope, dollar in the bank, dream they’ve ever dreamt and every ounce of responsibility to make herself FINALLY happy poured into a cosmetic procedure, only to then sit in misery because it wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as she wished, with all her might. To then realize that her every hope, dollar and dream was always sitting right there, right in front her, just waiting to be noticed.

How amazing it still is to me that these are the women that come to me to stand in front of my camera, so bravely, to document allllllllllllll of that. All of those fears, hopes, loathing, breakthroughs, joy, depression, milestones, set backs just standing there waiting to be acknowledged for all time.

The human condition….it’s a confusing one. You would think that the women that fall under these umbrellas that I described above would RUN from my camera, screaming all the way. Yet, it is the very and complete opposite.

Have you ever watched a woman reckon with her Self?

It’s a bold occurrence and one that if you’ve been privy to, you’ll never forget it. I am privileged enough to get to see it every time I lift my camera to my eye. There she is, staring into a black hole, mustering all that is inside her, nervous that she won’t like what she sees when she looks back at herself in that image, so excited at the prospect that she will, filled with all that hope that for once, just once, she will find herself beautiful.

Have you ever watched a woman unexpectedly find peace in the image of her Self?

It’s mighty. The delight, calm and acceptance that washes over her is powerful. But more importantly, it’s healing.  Suddenly, the enemy becomes the friend and a whole new relationship begins.

Instinctively, she somehow knew that to heal, she actually had to memorialize, celebrate and hold up high that which she detested and despised.

How magnificent is that?Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-2Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-5Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-4Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-1Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-6Your Are Beautiful Just As You Are-3Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Finding Your Peace

Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-1-2To you from me: you’ll only ever find the peace you’re looking for within yourself. No one can give it to you, define it for you or create it for you. You already have it. It’s already there waiting for you to tap into it and own it. It may seem shaken right at the times you need it the most, but it’s those moments it’s actually at its strongest.

Dig deep. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for exactly when you need it the most.Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-4Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-1Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-3Elizabeth Craig Boudoir Photography | Pittsburgh-2Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Insert Glamour Here

Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-24That’s what this entire shoot was about. Straight up Hollywood Glamour. Michelle loved the 20’s so we did give it a bit of nod here and there. These 2 sets were a bit more of a super subtle nod, but the red dress in my previous post was a bit more apparent. We started off saying we were going to do 2 outfits, and then ended up with 5. But the dresses and gowns we had were just way too scrumptious not to use them all.

Michelle had a natural connection with the lens. She pretty much floated through the day and from what I can gather, had a pret-ty good time. I’m not sure who wouldn’t….hair, makeup, gowns, dresses and a day designed and directed just for you? Yep…sounds like a recipe for glamour to the max.

This was my 2nd favorite dress, the first being the pink one in my first post. The pink dress from my first post was seriously glamorous, sexy and Michelle just ooooooooozed confidence and sensuality. This glittery dress you see above was absolutely stunning, but just a touch more conservative, which I loved. Mac Duggal is my go-to for glamour. He simply knows how to get it right….

Sprinkle me in glitter and let me go!Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-22Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-20Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-21Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-13Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-9Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-11Pittsburgh Beauty Photographer-12Makeover by AtHome Beauty.

Your One Job in This Life is to Be You

Loving Your Beautiful Curves | Elizabeth Craig Photography-6“Comparing yourself to others is poison. Your one job in this life is to be you.” –India Arie

I was walking along, huffing and puffing, getting my daily walk in while listening to a podcast that was featuring India Arie. Goodness she is so….soulful. She made so many lovely statements during this podcast, but the statement above is the one that really caught me.

So I really started to think about it: how many times in a day do I compare myself to other women? Physically, mentally, humorously, professionally, financially…and then I caught my breath. I do this. A lot. Like…A LOT. Ew. Ewwwwwwww! I stopped mid-walk and a terrible layer of ick came over me. It was as if I could feel all the weight and layers of all the skin of other women I had compared myself to just laying on top of my own skin. There my beautiful body was, trying to gasp for air, get some attention from me…just a hint of recognition for what it has done for me for 44 years. It has walked so many miles, been with me through heartbreaks, a car accident or 2, anxiety and depression, walked me down the aisle, grew an alien being, I now call Ella, inside itself. It has listened to every horrible thing I’ve ever said to it and absorbed every scowling look of disappointment it sees every time I pass by a mirror. It has, all of my entire life, lived with the heavy burden of absolutely never being enough. It always needed to lose 5 more pounds (or 20 nowadays), its skin never smooth enough, the belly never flat enough, the boobs never big enough…it never looked like “her” body…whoever “her” was at the moment.

I realized in that moment what a truly horrifying friend I have been to my body all my life. I could just feel it screaming out to me, begging me to show it just the teeniest bit of love and acknowledgement for all that it had done for me, and all it will do for me for all of my days.

That day, I decided to start writing my body love notes. Real love notes… I tell my body how beautiful it is. I tell my body how grateful I am for her and that after all I’ve said to her, she still keeps me alive and trucking along. I run my hands on her skin, appreciating ever bump and divot. I even tell the part of my body I have always and forever had difficulties with, my tummy, that it is absolutely 100% perfect in every way, though the status quo and Cosmo may disagree. She is a miracle, a lifesaver and my best friend and no matter what anyone else says, she is the purest example of true beauty in all her ways.

This woman you see in these photos is a living example of that, and not because she’s a curvy woman. I’m not going to say “She’s so beautiful because she accepts herself as she is in a world that daily tells her she is not beautiful enough.” I’m saying it because, after working with women in all my ways over the last 13 years, I have come to realize that size doesn’t matter in your level of self-acceptance. This stunning woman is a living example of what beauty really is because she accepts herself. Period. I have had fitness coaches that honestly could not lose one more pound still find things about their body that drives them crazy (that was yesterday’s shoot). I have had size zeros a nervous wreck in my studio because they didn’t lose the extra 5 pounds they intended to for their session day. I’ve had curvy women love every wobbly bit, tall women shrink to make themselves shorter, short women revel in their petite-ness, thin women wish they could have a bigger bum, and women with big bums find that the most sexiest part of their body while others find their big bum the biggest nuisance of their existence.

The point is, there is no such thing as perfection.

This lovely gal knew this and this is why I chose her for this shoot. Her curves were so incredible, her legs went on for days and I could have literally just taken a bite out of every wobbly bit. She was so sexy, so confident and radiated love for herself. Does this mean she has no issues with her body? Absolutely not. But she had a level of intimacy and friendship with her body that just made you want to stare at her and try to absorb some of that just by standing next to her. She gets it.

This “accept yo-self” thing seems to be quite the theme for me lately in my blog posts and I want to share with you why. Pay attention here, this is important:

If you think you are the only woman that has an issue with some or all of your body, you are wrong. If you think you are alone in your self-loathing or just in the fact that you believe you need to do one more thing to get it right, you are wrong. We ALL struggle and the more we talk about it and share our struggles, the more we understand that we are all in the same boat. We are together in this. We are not alone. This is our tribe. We are a tribe. Tribes are made of warriors and miracle-makers.

Warriors and miracle-makers have no time for this bullshit. What we do have time for is supporting each other, loving each other, taking care of one another and joining together to make it our mission, as a tribe, to uplift, cheer on and otherwise be the biggest fans of each other.

So here is what I want you to start doing. I want you to find at least one woman every single day and pay her a compliment. I want you to make sure you put your cheerleader glasses on and look for that one woman in a day that you know could use a compliment. It could be a co-worker, your mother, a stranger on the street…I don’t care. The second thing I want you to start doing every single day is looking at yourself in the mirror and giving yourself at least one compliment a day. If you can’t do it while looking in the mirror, then do it when you’re driving, walking, cooking…whatever. I don’t care if you have to lie to yourself at first, just do it. I already practice the former and have for years and it makes me feel SO DAMN GOOD to get that surprised smile from a woman after I compliment her and she says Thank You in that shy but happy kind of “that just made my day” way. I just started doing the latter and it feels SO DAMN GOOD to get that from my own damn self.

I promise you, it will make a difference. It will. It will begin to rework your brain. It will begin to rework your body and yes, then your soul. I had a friend tell me once that if you have a negative thought about yourself, but can prove it wrong, that thought then becomes powerless.

Ladies: let’s start proving ourselves wrong. #putthefuckingbathingsuiton Who’s with me??

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