Yes that's a line from 'Everybody's Free' by Baz Luhrmann and no it might not be the most profound or intellectual quote, but I listened to it recently and it stuck with me as I was considering writing this blog post. Because for me, doing a boudoir shoot was absolutely about not being afraid of my body. And yes, I did want to realise now, rather than in 20 years, how much possibility lay before me and how fabulous I was.
So anyway, towards the end of last year, I did a boudoir shoot with the wonderfully talented Alex at Ever Photography. It was a bit scary at first, but I'm so pleased I did it. I've encouraged several women since then to have a go because every girl deserves to feel like a model at least once. A few of them were persuaded and are now booked in for shoots, so here are a few tips based on my one experience with one photographer. NB: I'm writing this from a subject's perspective rather than a photographer's, as I'm yet to shoot boudoir myself, so I may revisit this from a different angle once I've been behind the lens.
1. RELAX. It's the most obvious thing in the world, but you'll probably be nervous, and that can very easily show on camera and make you look tense and uncomfortable. To help, let's cut this down to size: you've been on a beach or by a pool in a bikini, right? In front of hundreds of strangers, right? Okay. So this is just that, but you only have to deal with ONE person. And minus the sunshine and sand (probably). And if you haven't? Consider what The Worst That Could Happen is. Which is...what, exactly? A person sees a bit of skin, and takes a few photos? Not so scary, is it? Click. Done. Breathe.
2. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT. So, I don't know about you but I've certainly had confidence issues in the past and although I've learned to love my body now, I know how hard it is to not feel self-conscious. So imagine you're one of those girls, who, no matter what size or shape she is, just walks around like she's a QUEEN. With people like that, nobody EVER focuses on their flaws. They just think how wonderful it is that they don't give a shit. It's not easy, but visualising it helps, so act as confident as you can, and before long you'll realise the stabilisers came off ages ago and you didn't even notice you weren't faking it anymore.
3. BE A MODEL. Come on, it can't just be me who, in between analysing my body and berating myself for the imperfections, had a little pose in front of the mirror, trying to find the most flattering way to stand or pout or look nonchalant. Now is your chance to dance like nobody's watching. There's no time for feeling embarrassed about arching your back or stand on your tip toes or go a bit Blue Steel. Listen for the click of the shutter and hold a pose long enough, but make little changes along the way. Release your inner poser and don't be shy about it - this is the time to try things out and you'll regret it later if you don't.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR GREATEST HITS. I don't know a single girl who loves every part of her body. But I'm fairly sure most people have a feature or two they feel at least okay about. It could be your boobs/bum/face, or it could be something a bit less obvious like your collar bones or the dimples at the bottom of your back. Either way, make sure your photographer knows what you like about yourself. Sexy doesn't have to be bold: personally I think the subtleties are often more evocative and a sliver of skin on your hip or leg might be the thing to do it.
5. BE CREATIVE. Pinterest was a really good tool before I had my shoot to get an idea of what sort of images and poses I liked. It might depend on your photographer as ultimately they're the creative brains behind the operation but I'm sure they wouldn't object to you sharing a few ideas if you've seen anything you like. Having a browse on Pinterest or picking out a few photographs they've taken of other models might help you feel more comfortable, but remember they're the director so try not to take over.
6. BE PROUD. Finally, you need to be proud of yourself. Whether it's because you've been brave baring all, or that you were already brave but now you can sit back and smile in the knowledge that you've used your body to make some wonderful, creative artwork, be proud. Don't look for imperfections, don't wish you were thinner or taller or bustier, and certainly don't reject the compliments those who might see the shoot will give you. This is the body you have so celebrate it.
Beauty doesn't have to be what society has decided is beautiful; you have the power to make up your own mind. The only opinion about YOU that actually matters is YOURS, so be kind to yourself and make it a good one.