Ladies, I have a confession: I teach women to be body positive, but I'm not always body positive.
And that's why I'm addicted to boudoir! Before I experienced boudoir, I never ever saw my body as something that could be sexy. And to be 100% transparent: sometimes, I still forget.
The "Before" Time
I'm the baby of the family and I had the immense displeasure of growing up watching my mom and sister get their hearts broken- over, over, and over again. Particularly my sister's heart.
Because of the pain I not only witnessed but experienced as a result of men coming & going in the family, I swore off dating before I was 18.
Once I got around that age, I started letting men into my life. Then I met X in the Spring, and for some reason I immediately fell head over heels for him. I spent as much time with him as I could, and within 3 months had moved in with him. But Fall came, and he kicked me out to start dating another girl. I was devastated.
Long story slightly shorter: we did end up back together. What followed was 3.5 more years of emotional abuse. Years of being told that my boobs were too big, my frame not as slight as his "type," of sticking by him and yet being put at fault for things that went wrong between us, of him telling lies about me to his family and our friends, of yelling and screaming, of catching him emailing and texting other girls and being on dating websites, of him hitting on my female friends, over and over and over.
The final straw was when HIS mother and long-distance female friend started berating my terminally-ill mother and myself on social media. They spent hours bullying me, and saying horrible things about my mom. I called him multiple times and cried and BEGGED him to ask them to stop... and he just let it happen. Leaving was the best decision I ever made for myself.
But the damage was done. Between the years I saw this crap happening to the women around me and the years I spent experiencing it, only to be topped off by bullshit societal standards for beauty, I felt the farthest thing from sexy.
Many of you who follow me know the next part of my story: I was lucky enough to be able to spend the last several months of my mother's life with her. I went to college for photography. I discovered how to connect with people, despite having social anxiety.
I used to run a network of photographers, and somehow met a bunch of boudoir photographers. One of them came to Houston in 2016, and I jumped on the opportunity to do a boudoir shoot for myself.
I'm normally a quiet person, but I just remember screaming.
When my photographer showed me the slideshow of my images, I couldn't believe it was me. THAT WOMAN ON THE SCREEN WHO IS OOZING SEX APPEAL..... was ME?! My life changed and took a drastic turn. Ever since then, I've thrown myself 110% into boudoir. So many wonderful things have come from it: meeting women, CONNECTING with women, helping women see that they are MORE than just their perceived flaws. Not only that, but I've discovered that I can run a business! I can't even imagine going back in time and telling 16 y/o - 23 y/o Ashlee that she'd be a business owner someday. I would have laughed in my own face and never believed it. With that, I've found oodles of confidence and a belief in my abilities that I am so thankful for.
All that being said....
Just like everyone else, I sometimes look in the mirror and think, "ew."
I'm having a fat day. Ugh, my waist size has grown. Is that boob bigger than the other? Wow, my ankles look fat AF today.
I'm most self conscious about my boobs. I wish they were smaller - I remember my C-cup days, I LOVED them then! But they kept growing.
About 3 weeks ago I went shopping for a bathing suit and left empty-handed. Some stores now sell swimsuits with bra-cup sizes, and I was super excited about that - but even those don't fit me properly because they lack support. I sulked through the whole store. It's so hard to find tops, bras, and swimsuits that are cute for my body type!
So what's different now? Before I discovered boudoir, the self hate and negative inner commentary would last a LOT longer. But now....
I no longer blame my body!
It's not my body's fault that the fashion industry doesn't celebrate all body types. Yes, it's more difficult to find cute clothes, but... I have a beautiful hourglass shape. My ass is amazing, I mean come on. My boobs are desirable (so many women wish they had my boobs!).
The gorgeous photos you're seeing of me in this post are by my incredible colleague and best friend over at Jen Needham Photography. This is my 4th shoot in less than 1.5 years! I love doing boudoir shoots to remind myself that I am sexy.
Yes, sometimes I forget. Sometimes I catch me being mean to myself. But then, I remember: oh yeah. I have 4 TANGIBLE reminders to go look at and admire my body! I LOVE MY BODY even though we don't always agree and get along! And that's OKAY. I'm ALLOWED!
I find that a good trick is to remind myself of the following:
1) Your body is your friend, so treat it like one.
2) There are ears around you. When you say out loud, "I'm so fat!" - other women hear you. Children hear you. And that only perpetuates the problem.
And by the way!!!
I found myself a real man. A man who deserves me. Who is kind to me. Who RESPECTS me. Who loves me as a person despite my quirks. And who fucking LOVES every inch of my body. So be patient; if you haven't found the right significant other yet, they are out there.
So why did I share all this? Because I want you to know you are not alone.
We are all in this together. If you ever need someone to talk to, I'm here for you.
If you have a story you'd like to share, please feel free to comment below, or in my VIP group. I've built the most amazing community of body-positive women. <3