I’m sure when people meet me they would assume I’m a confident gal who is comfortable in her own skin – wrong! Behind the smile and bubbly nature is someone who has never been comfortable in her own skin. Someone who could point out ten things she would love to change about herself and some days struggle to say two things she likes. When I look in the mirror I see my flaws and regularly beat myself up for not being ‘perfect’. Perfect, it’s an interesting word isn’t it, because what is perfect?
We all have different perceptions and ideas about what beauty is and what makes a woman perfect? Long legs? Luscious mane of hair? Big boobs? Great Skin ? Perky Bum ? Blue eyes? I guess it depends who you are asking, everyone has a different idea. Is a size 10 perfect or is a size 8? These are the questions I’ve asked myself for years. After having my babies I’ve had highs and lows in the confidence department but one thing has stayed consistent, my internal thoughts telling me there is still some work to do.
Recently I stumbled across a photo of me when I was 23, blonde hair, big sparkling eyes and long toned legs, I was a bloody babe! Wow, why had I never remembered looking like that? I quickly cast my mind back and it hit me – I was on the brink of an eating disorder and felt like an ugly duckling, refusing to go out if I didn’t feel comfortable in what I was wearing. My early 20’s were filled with moments like this, I cried many tears over how I looked or more to the point – how I thought I looked. Mr Tink used to tell me all the time how ‘hot’ he thought I was but I remember thinking ‘he’s just being nice’. Looking back I now realise it was a very challenging time for him also trying to battle with my internal thoughts.
When I fell pregnant at 26 with Master 6, all of my rubbish stopped because I felt like I had a purpose. I felt I was ‘special’ and ‘lucky’ that I was pregnant with a beautiful baby boy and I was going to be someone’s mum. I put on 27kgs and was more swollen than the Michelin Man. I gave birth and dropped all but 7 kgs and felt like superwoman. I was so proud of myself for labouring a baby and I had a new appreciation for my body.
When Master 6 turned 3, all the horrible thoughts returned and I went back to feeling awkward and unattractive. I trained non stop and regularly ‘forgot’ to eat throughout the day. This went on until I embarked on a 12 week challenge and dropped all my baby weight, I was in the best shape of my life and eating great food. I felt amazing and attractive and for a few months I was back to feeling like superwoman again. After a few short months we decided it was time to have another baby, and just like that I was pregnant again!
With Miss One’s pregnancy I put on 25kgs and throughout it all I felt like a big fat hormonal blimp. This time the baby weight did not fall off and I was left 17kgs heavier. My confidence plummeted as I lived in maternity jeans and track pants, rarely wearing make up or wanting to go out.
When Miss One turned 6 months old I stopped breastfeeding and started training again, and within a few weeks I started to feel like me again. I decided it was time to do something I’d always wanted to do… Get my boobs done! Goodbye A cup, hello D. After 6 weeks of healing, I felt like a new woman. I poured myself back into my training and bit by bit I started to feel confident and more comfortable in my own skin again.
Now fast forward a year and my confidence is growing, the internal voices are toning down, and the opportunity for an Ultimate Makeover and photoshoot with the amazingly talented Paula Brennan comes my way! I’d admired Paula’s work for years, lusting over the gorgeous images she produced but never considering doing it for myself. So when the opportunity presented itself I was excited and terrified all at once. Was now the right time? Should I do a cleanse or diet for a month first? After some gentle persuasion from my team, I nodded and started choosing outfits – ready to take the bull by the horns and soak up the experience.
On the day of my shoot I met Paula and instantly felt at ease, her bubbly nature and fun personality drew me in and filled me with excitement. Paula gave me a glass of bubbles and told me to enjoy being pampered, so I jumped in the makeup chair and the gorgeous Kirra started to work her magic.
Within 20 minutes I was out of the chair and into the studio. As Paula was buzzing around the room the energy was high and with the fun about to begin my nerves were gone, I felt fierce and ready. Paula took the time to explain each shot and what she visualised – I was in awe listening to her with the way she made it all seem so easy. Each shot took a few minutes and then boom! I was in another outfit. Paula took lots of different shots: fun, corporate, evening, casual, sporty – you name it, we did it. Paula captured each different side to my personality, bringing out all my energy and filling me with confidence. I was pinching myself in the dressing room, not believing this was how I was spending my Friday – how lucky was I?
My cheeks were glowing and I felt fabulous, and then it hit me – I was ready. Ready to drop my guard and expose my true self. I pulled Paula aside and asked her if she would take some nudes for me to give Mr Tink? After the words left my mouth I couldn’t believe I had said it. I’m a wife, a mother, a businesswoman… Nudes really? But I can’t explain it, something in my soul pushed me to do it. Paula got the set just right and I stripped off, hiding all my ‘bits’ with a sheet (Marilyn Monroe style) and within seconds I felt at ease. In that very moment I really felt as though I had turned a huge corner mentally.
After an hour and half of shooting we were finished, I was beaming and bouncing so excited to see the photos.
I counted down the days until I could go in and see Paula for my photo showing, and when the day finally arrived I bounded in like an excited bunny. Paula dimmed the lights and started my slide show. Each shot filled me with happiness and I was wowed that she had been able to turn me from an awkward mess into a model. When we moved onto the nude shots I got a lump in my throat and before I knew it the tears were streaming. When I saw myself onscreen reality smacked me hard in the chest, I was no longer an awkward 20 year old, I was a woman. For the first time ever I really saw myself, and it made me extremely emotional. I may not be perfect but I’ve travelled a long road to get here, I’ve birthed 2 babies and I’m finally a woman. For the first time in my life I felt free from all my harsh internal judgements and proud of myself.
Paula had done more for me in one and half hours than I’d been able to do for myself in 33 years. She’s an incredible photographer who will forever have a piece of my heart for the journey of self awareness she took me on. Her photos that cover the walls in her studios don’t lie – she is amazing at making women feel strong, sexy, confident and most importantly comfortable in their own skin.
I will forever be grateful for my experience.
Paula is passionate about helping women shine and is running a ‘Hot Mumma’ competition which will take one lucky person on the same transformation I went on. You enter by clicking on the link : http://s.heyo.com/199405
A winner will be announced on the 24th of March 2016, so get in quick and enter – you won’t regret it!